Name: Janice Beetle
Job Title and Description: Principal of Beetle Press, a public relations and communications firm in Easthampton, Massachusetts; and an author
College Name/Major: Westfield State University, Bachelor’s in English with a minor in journalism
Website:www.beetlepress.com and www.janicebeetle.com
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Running a small business primarily requires seriously good organizational and people skills. While each new day is a bit different from the last, I can usually be found in meetings—with creative colleagues, prospects or clients—or preparing proposals, conducting interviews with sources and writing or editing articles, blogs, enewsletters and books. I also find time in each week for creative writing; I have published a memoir, called Divine Renovations, and I am working on a second memoir and a work of fiction, both due out in the next year (I hope). I blog about these more creative pursuits at www.janicebeetle.com.
What is the best part of your job?
Without a doubt, it is telling other peoples’ stories. No matter what genre I am working in—whether I’m posting on social media or ghostwriting a full-length book—I love sharing the details of successes, transformations and the poignant, special moments in other peoples’ lives. I feel privileged when people share their thoughts with me and then moved when I craft their stories.
What inspired you to start Beetle Press?
In 1998, I had worked as a journalist for several local newspapers for about 15 years and realized I had amassed writing, editing and graphic design skills as well as a strong network of people in the community who knew and respected me and my work. I had two young daughters in school at the time and wanted a more flexible schedule so that I could spent more time with them, and that meant I needed a new career. I quit my job as a newspaper editor and dove right into crafting a business plan.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
I will call it a “long” mistake as opposed to “one” mistake, as it was an error in thinking that carried on over time. After I graduated from Westfield State and had worked as a reporter for several years, I thought I knew most everything there was to know about writing; I accepted suggestions and advice from editors, but begrudgingly. I didn’t realize that professional learning is ongoing; that we are always learning every day, from everybody, and that we should be eager to learn and embrace what others have to offer. This concept finally took hold over the past few years, in part through work I did with a business coach and in part through collaborations with colleagues I admire.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
In 2005, I was hired by a client to take a full-time job; I continued to run Beetle Press part time, serving two anchor clients, but the pressure for finding work was gone; I was simply doing work. In 2010, I was laid off from the full-time position, and four days later, my husband died. It was a stunning life shift. I felt I was sent back to “go,” and I had no energy for the work of rebuilding my business that loomed ahead of me. I worked nights, weekends, all the time, to redevelop Beetle Press and maintain my lifestyle. But because I caught on to the importance of nurturing learning and professional development, I have grown my business to one that is far stronger than it ever was before. I have control over my life now; this winter, I spent a month living and writing in the South Pacific, and I am sure that summer will find me kayaking and boating on the Connecticut River as well as working in my office.
What advice would you offer to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
Work hard and take your profession seriously; your job is not just a way to kill eight hours during the day. It is your life, your identity, your unique challenge in the world. Do your best work every day; don’t just get it done. And embrace learning from the start. Look for what others can teach you in your life and your work, and take care of all of the relationships you make with colleagues along the way. Be respectful of them, value their opinions, keep in touch with them when you move on to something new and look for the ways you can give back.