Behind the Business: Annie Ridout Writer & Founder of The Robora

As we're in week one of 2021 I felt like Annie would be a good person to chat to this month. I love reading Annie's real talk on Instagram  (I never listen to stories with the sound on) about business and motherhood. Her new kitten pics are also giving me life!

I was first introduced to Annie when her book, The Freelance Mum launched in early 2019. I devoured it and re-read the handy guide when I was going full time with my freelance work and That Mum Moment.

In between those two reads I signed up to a couple of Annie's courses. After one too many video calls in a large corporate company I knew I needed something to change in my career. 

You can follow Annie and The Robora on Instagram.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a writer (books, articles, online courses) and founder of The Robora - an online business platform for women. I live in London with my husband, Rich - who’s also my business partner - and our three kids, aged 6, 3 and 1.

What inspired you start The Robora?

I launched an online course on a whim, in early 2019, teaching people how to get press coverage for themselves. And when it unexpectedly took off, and kept selling out, I built a business round it. Back then, I ran the courses from my personal website - annieridout.com - but when I could see there was a future in it, we launched The Robora (in March 2020).

We’ve had so many amazing women join our courses and go on to get press coverage in the Guardian, Telegraph, Times - and more. Also, they've launched courses and made thousands of pounds. Some are now running their own online courses businesses, and loving the flexibility of working online. So I launched The Robora to support women looking to start and grow online businesses - or the online side to an existing business - and it seems to be working well. For them and us.

What is the most popular course at The Robora?

My most popular course is How to launch a successful online course - teaching women how to design, launch and sell their own online courses. It's for women who are ready to turn their skills into an online course. The programme helps you work through a series of online materials, three months of consultancy with us via the dedicated Facebook group and ongoing access to training materials.

A lot of parents started working from home for the first time last year - How do you and Rich manage running a business and living together whilst also raising a family? 

As we already worked together, it was a bit easier for us. We didn’t have to navigate the relationship side of this new arrangement. Plus we work online, from home - so again, we could just continue on with that. But we have three kids, two of whom would usually be at school/nursery. And the third was a baby. So that added a huge strain, as we were constantly having too work out whose work should be prioritised.

We’d taken on 15 clients, and I was the point of contact so I worked more, Rich did more childcare. But we both felt uncomfortable about that - and wanted to do more of the other. We muddled on through, though, feeling grateful that we hadn’t lost any work (we were lucky to have a ‘pandemic-proof’ business, though the idea of being furloughed did rather appeal at times!). We both know the importance of time alone, without kids - so we make sure we each have enough of that.

You started The Early Hour for parents with early risers. What's the one thing you would say to a parent that has their very own early bird?

Go to bed early! My boys have both been early-risers - today, I’ve been up since 4.30am. So I go to bed before 10pm every night, just in case. During periods where I’m not coping so well, I put the kids to bed then follow them up at 8pm. It means I don’t ‘have an evening’ but I’ll sacrifice that for better mental health/general wellbeing.

If you had to recommend one podcast or book for mums in business what would it be? (feel free to choose your own!)

I don’t listen to podcasts specifically for mums, and in fact while I do listen to some business ones I’d actually recommend a general wellbeing podcast like Oprah's Supersoul Sundays. It’s all about owning your ‘failures’ and living the best life you can. It’s really empowering. I like to do lots of mindset work, and bring that into my business.

Share your most memorable ‘mum moment’ - good or bad!

Good: the birth of my daughter, my firstborn. The joy just thrummed in my body for months. I felt so lucky. And because she was my only baby at that point, I could focus all my attention on just loving her.

Bad: both my boys have been seriously ill in hospital in the past two years. The middle one was rushed to A&E with terrible pneumonia when he was 2 and they weren’t sure he’d make it. We spent a week in hospital. The following year, almost a year to the day, his brother had something similar but was only three months old and was on life-support. It was harrowing, and life-changing.