Garrendenny Lane Closing: What Lorna Did Next
Many of you will know Lorna Sixsmith from her successful business Garrendenny Lane, or Write on Track, or the Blog Awards Ireland 2012 or as a contributor to Tweak your Biz. Maybe you have read Lorna’s articles in My Waterford, Munster Interiors or Irish Interiors. You probably know her from the hugely successful KCLK Bloggers Network. All that and the family life with her children and running the dairy farm with her husband – I feel exhausted just writing it all out!
Recently Lorna made the decision to close her Garrendenny Lane business even though it is a profitable business – not something you see these days. I’ve known Lorna through Tweak Your Biz for a few years and always enjoy reading her posts but I didn’t know much else so of course I had to ask. In this interview Lorna explains why she is closing down one business and what else is going on, plus how she juggles it all so well.
You write very successful blogs and magazine articles – how did you get into writing?
I studied English and History at college and was an English secondary school teacher for a few years so I guess I’ve always had an interest in reading and writing. I’ve had an idea for a novel in my head for a few years too but it is constantly on the ‘long finger’ – it’s a new years resolution to get it written this year – It may never be published but I do want to write it!
How did Write on Track with Marie Ennis O’Connor come about?
Blogging has always been my favourite part of my Garrendenny Lane business. I think that even if it hadn’t been bringing in business, I would still have blogged for the fun of it. I had been mulling over starting a social media / ghost blogging business and when the Garrendenny Lane blog was in the finals of the Blog Awards and Social Media awards in 2011, I thought to myself that maybe there was a message there. However, I just couldn’t see how I could get it off the ground on my own (in terms of time).
Marie had become a firm friend and as she had similar interests, we decided to set it up together. I hadn’t realised my reputation for blogging and once we announced the new business, I had clients and training opportunities straightaway. Marie and I complement each other nicely – she specialises in health / coaching / virtual book tours and I focus on business / retail blogging and social media training. I’ve also been training in collaboration with some of the Enterprise boards.
It must have been a big decision to give up the successful Garrendenny Lane Interiors?
It was a huge decision, it had been at the back of my mind for some time and once the blog awards was over and I had some ‘space’ and time to make the decision, it seemed the right thing to do. Running two businesses with a family had become a challenge and I felt that both were suffering with my divided loyalties. Social media is my favourite part of Garrendenny Lane and I can work on social media all day with Write on Track. I like nothing better than discussing social media strategies with clients in a mentoring session.
Would you consider selling it as a going concern?
Yes, I had initially thought I might keep it on with non-stock items such as wallpaper but I realised even that is eating into too much time. There is a stock clearance sale in operation at the moment and I’d imagine that will end in another 4 weeks. The website and business are for sale.
And now you have another new venture with Amanda Webb – what can you tell me about that?
Yes, Write on Track and Spiderworking are coming together in one joint venture to create We Teach Social offering online training courses in various social media. The courses will range from 4-8 weeks and cover topics such as ‘How to run a Facebook competition’, Improving your Business Blog’, ‘Introduction to blogging’, ‘How to use Pinterest for your business’ and more. They will be targeted short courses that people can do from the comfort and convenience of their own office or home and we hope that the short and focused nature of the courses will prove popular.
It is hoped that this will launch at the beginning of April this year. People can now sign up on the home page and they will receive notifications of upcoming courses.
Are you on board for Blog Awards 2013 after the huge success of last year?
Yes, very much so. We’ve been working on the plans for the last month and the website will soon be updated with all the details for the 2013 Blog Awards which will happen on 12th October in the Osprey in Naas. Many of the 2012 sponsors are sponsoring again this year, being very happy with the publicity received and there are more sponsorship opportunities available.
We are adding another category this year, partly due to requests for it last year and partly because of The Gathering – it is the ‘Best Diaspora blog’ and will be open to all bloggers living abroad that have some connection to Ireland. They don’t have to be Irish-born, just some Irish ancestory. The category is open to all subject areas so it will be an interesting one.
Finally, Lorna, how on earth do you juggle all that you do as well as a family life and farm?
With difficulty sometimes yet it all seems to work somehow! My office hours are school hours 9-3:30 and then depending on homework / kids activities / calf feeding at this time of the year, I will resume work in the evenings. I’m a night owl so I’m happy enough working late into the evening. Most training sessions are for half days (as a full day can often be too long, particularly when people are beginners) so it works well with the children being in school.
Being married to a dairy farmer means that my husband can be around to meet them from school if necessary. I like variety (though I felt two businesses and the blog awards stretched me last year) and I love the mix of ghost blogging / working from home / training.
If you have any questions for Lorna I’m sure she’d be happy to answer them below – she will fit the time in somehow. :)
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