Eman Ismail is a full-time professional copywriter and the owner of InkHouse, a copywriting company that helps businesses and nonprofit organizations communicate their brands. She has worked with 27 companies and charities (and counting) such as Mercy Mission, Charity Right, Penny Appeal and more.
I’m happy to interview her, find out more about her and have her share valuable information and inspiration that would benefit us all.
1. Assalaam ‘alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh Sister Eman. I’m excited to have the opportunity to interview you and can’t wait to learn more about you! Welcome to Working Muslimahs.
Eman: Wa alaikum salaam warahmatullahi wabaraktu, Umm Sumayyah. Thank you for having me here. I’m excited to talk to you!
2. Please tell us a little more about yourself.
Eman: My name’s Eman, I’m a copywriter and the founder of InkHouse. I write websites, blog posts, and marketing materials for businesses and non-profits. I’m also mum to a little boy, so I’m juggling my full-time business with motherhood.
3. Just so we’re all on the same page, could you please explain what copywriting is?
Eman: That’s a good question.
Copywriting is writing that sells and promotes. It’s the writing that you find on marketing and promotional materials and at the crux of it, it’s writing that has the aim of getting your audience to act in a certain way. That might be getting them to make a donation, to sign up to your mailing list, to download your brochure, to visit your store, or to hire your services.
4. At what point did you decide to make copywriting your main earning source? What were the deciding factors?
Eman: After I had my son, I went back into full-time work and managed the communications department of a food charity. The job itself was great – I learnt a lot there – but it was in a different city and the commute was extremely hard on me and my son. The logistics of getting there and the effect that it had on my life was quite difficult to deal with.
In the end I just had to sit down and evaluate the situation because I was really unhappy. I was working so I could give me and my son the life that I wanted, but it felt like all I was ever doing was working.
After months of going back and forth and trying to work out what to do, I decided to take the leap and quit my job. At this point I had nothing else to turn to. I had no back-ups.
What I really wanted was to feel in control of my life, to live life on my own terms and to be the mum that I wanted to be, which for me meant being my own boss. So I set up InkHouse and started offering copywriting services to businesses and non-profits.
I now get to spend a lot more time with my son alhamdulillah. I can do all the school drop offs and pick-ups, which I couldn’t do before. I get to decide when and where I work, and having that power, that control, that agency, has made my life so much better alhamdulillah.
5. Did you face any challenges at the beginning?
Eman: I faced so many challenges, and I’m still facing challenges. Every day I face a new one.
At the beginning, my biggest challenge was not having a huge amount of confidence. I had no idea how I’d turn this thing into a full-time business. I found it really hard to believe that people would trust me enough to hire me.
I didn’t even know how to have conversations about money with my clients. I felt so embarrassed when it came to sending invoices. I felt like I was begging people for money rather than just asking for what was mine, having provided them with a service they’d agreed to pay for.
It was a really difficult time, and knowing that I had a son to take care of meant I was under a lot of pressure. But that pressure is also what motivated me to keep going.
Eventually I decided to get a mentor who has been amazing in helping me overcome my self-esteem and confidence issues. We’ve worked on mindset, and she’s helped me to become a better business owner and copywriter. That’s been amazing and its really transformed my business.
6. What did you do to start getting clients to make your business a reality?
Eman: The first thing I did was just put myself out there. Before I’d even left my old job, I started posting on LinkedIn. I let everybody know that I was leaving my job, that I was setting up my own copywriting business, and that I’d be available for hire.
Alhamdulillah, a few messages came in just from that those first few posts. That’s how I got my first couple of clients. I actually got a job opportunity as well, and I thought about taking it rather than continuing on with InkHouse just because of the stability it would have provided me.
But in the end, I turned it down because I thought: “I’ve taken this leap, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to stop being scared. I’m just going to open this door to self-employment and see what happens.” I wanted to give myself the chance to do this properly, not half-heartedly. I wanted to throw everything I had into this and see what happened next.
Ever since, I’ve just been putting myself out there. I’m active on social media, especially LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where I get a lot of my clients, just by being present and not necessarily by talking about my copywriting services. I talk about my experiences as a business owner, and as a mum as well. I also showcase the work that I do and the clients that I work with.
Social media has been great, but my biggest source of clients has been word of mouth. When you take care of your clients and produce good work for them, they’ll recommend you to other people. That’s how a lot of my work has come in.
General marketing was also helpful. I’ve been on a podcast, which was really fun. Taking up opportunities like this one and just speaking and connecting with people is how I’ve been able to get new clients and meet new people.
7. Why did you choose entrepreneurship? Why not a job as a copywriter for another company?
Eman: I chose to work for myself because I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to be in control of my time and my life, because working for someone else was really affecting me in a negative way. I wasn’t happy at all and there were a lot of things that frustrated me.
For example, I didn’t like the fact that I had to check in with someone else when I wanted to take my son to the doctors, which is a completely normal thing to do when you’re employed by somebody else.
If you want to take time off work, you have to ask your employer for time off, and that’s a perfectly reasonable thing…but to me it was entirely unreasonable. I used to think: “I’m a grown adult and I want to make these choices for myself.” I guess it was about regaining control of my life in every way that I could.
In the end, I knew that I’d be able to trust myself as my own boss, and I wanted to give myself a shot.
8. How do you stay focused and disciplined? Do you have any time management tricks?
Eman: I find it really easy to stay focused and disciplined alhamdulillah. That’s something that has always come easily to me.
The issue for me is switching off and finding a way to stop working. So time management is hugely important to me, because it’s the only way I can establish some kind of work-life balance.
I’ve not perfected this yet – I’m still working on it! But I do have some tips to share.
I know I’m a morning person so I do all my writing when I’m at my best in the mornings. I don’t take any calls and I try not to get distracted by emails.
Then, by the afternoon when my mind is feeling a little foggy, I turn my attention to things like admin. That’s also when I book in my client calls and when I speak to prospective clients. I start replying to emails and working on my business, as opposed to copywriting.
I think it’s important to know yourself and to establish when you work best. Once you know that, you can create a schedule that works around your strengths and weaknesses.
I’m also a big fan of to-do lists. But instead of just writing down the big tasks that I need to do, I write down every single thing, from going to the gym, to replying to emails, to making a phone call.
We take all these little things for granted, but they do take up time. When you write everything on your to-do list, you can really appreciate all the things you’ve achieved that day.
9. How do you deal with ‘bad days’ and ‘negative thoughts,’ if you sometimes have them?
Eman: Yes, I have them.
The first thing I do is go to the gym. I love exercising. Of course, I have dreams about looking a certain way, but the main reason I go is for my mental well-being.
I think exercising is a great way to switch off and turn the volume down on those negative thoughts. You’re so focused on exercising and breathing and getting through the task at hand that you don’t have time to entertain any negative thoughts. I leave the gym feeling on top of the world.
So that’s the first thing: exercise. I do struggle to get to the gym sometimes, so on those days I go for a walk and listen to a podcast.
My mentor gave me another helpful tip. She says when you’re having negative thoughts, or when you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, go through your testimonials and reviews from clients and read all the lovely things people have to say about you. Let it increase your confidence and self-esteem, because these are people who believe that you are worthy.
Of course, we shouldn’t seek self-worth in other people’s opinions, but it’s helpful to read nice things about yourself sometimes.
She also recommends that every time someone sends you a nice email, put them in a dedicated folder. On those days that you don’t feel great about life or business, just open up the folder and have a read of all those emails and smile.
10. How do you maintain a balance between work and personal life?
Eman: I’m still trying to work this out.
One thing I do is switch off my email notifications when I pick my son up from school. That means no more interruptions and I can focus on being a mum.
Another thing that I do between finishing work and picking up my son is dedicating ten or fifteen minutes to doing something completely unrelated to work. That gives me some time to transition from businesswoman to mum again.
I try not to work weekends, but sometimes it happens. I’m not too hard on myself about that anymore because at the end of the day, I’m a mum running a full-time business and sometimes those things are going to overlap.
My physical space is also important to me. I have an office that’s away from home so I can create a physical and psychological divide. That’s been really helpful in establishing boundaries.
11. As a Muslim woman, how does Islam impact your entrepreneurship journey?
Eman: The biggest way that Islam impacts my work and my entrepreneurship is the way that I work with and treat people. I was very wary coming into business because there’s a lot of responsibility on me. As a businesswoman, I have to be fair to people, I have to treat people well, pay people properly and be just. I’m very aware of the fact that Allah (swt) will ask me about this.
A hadith that is always at the forefront of my mind is of Rasulul Allah (saw) telling us to pay the worker before his sweat dries. If I’m able to pay a worker as soon as they send me an invoice, I do. I try my best to pay it instantly because there’s no reason for me not to.
I’m also careful about the projects I choose to work on. A copywriter promotes things, and I can’t promote something that doesn’t align with my values. Sometimes, that means saying no to money. But I firmly believe that Allah (swt) will compensate my losses – and He always does. It’s important to me that there’s barakah in my business and earnings.
I think that as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, I’m clearly representing Islam whether or not I want to, so I’m very aware of how I behave. Publicly, I try to be myself. I want to show people who aren’t Muslim that Muslim women are just normal women. I’m relatable, I’m like you. I work with both Muslim and non-Muslim clients and organisations, and I’m happy to work with both.
The great thing is that I’m opened up to a whole range of Muslim organisations and I don’t even have to market myself as a Muslim copywriter. I just market myself as a copywriter, and my hijab markets me as a Muslim.
12. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far as an entrepreneur?
Eman: I come from a family of entrepreneurs so alhamdulillah I’ve always had a huge amount of support and input from my family. Last year, my uncle told me something I’ve never forgotten.
One day, I was worried about work being quiet and I was wondering where my next job would come from. He told me that my Rizq is from Allah (swt) and that my clients are just a means for me to receive this Rizq. The money is Allah’s gift to me.
He reminded me that I don’t need to worry about where clients will come from or even how much clients are going to pay me. All I need to do is work hard and know that clients are just the vessel through which Allah’s Rizq reaches me. As long as I’m doing that which pleases Allah (azza wa jal), Allah will be with me and He will take care of me and my family.
13. What advice do you have for other Muslimah entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs; especially those wanting to pursue copywriting?
Eman: My advice to you is: do it. Go for it. And don’t hold back.
We can be our own worst enemy, and that’s scary because we’re stopping ourselves from achieving our own potential, from fulfilling our own dreams. Sometimes that’s because we’re scared of failure and other times, it’s because we’re scared of success.
But just do it and see what happens. If you feel like you can’t throw yourself into full-time entrepreneurship, do it in small steps. Do it part-time if you have to, alongside another job. The important thing is that you do it.
For those wanting to pursue copywriting, I would say write, write and write some more. Get experience, write for as many different people, organisations and publications as you can. Try to find a mentor or at least a copywriter that you can look up to and follow.
Watch what they’re doing and learn from the people they’re learning from. Email them and see if they have any advice for you. I’ve found that the copywriting community is absolutely amazing and most people are so friendly and willing to help.
14. Where do you find inspiration?
Eman: Everywhere. I find inspiration in everything.
I find it in my son. I find it very easy to look at him and be excited about all the things that I can give him inshallah. And I don’t just mean material things. If I’m able to make this work, I can give him myself in the way that I want to give myself to him.
I find inspiration in my family. Again (alhamdulillah) I’m from a family of highly intelligent and successful entrepreneurs. I don’t think I would’ve considered it to be a serious option had I not had that influence around me growing up.
I find inspiration in other people as well. I consume a lot of content, I read a lot, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I love podcasts, and I just allow myself to dream and to just think about everything I could possibly achieve and then I work towards that.
15. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Eman: My mother taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I grew up believing this and I never had any doubt that it was true.
Now, I look back as an adult and understand what an amazing belief that is. I would love for more people in the world to have parents and people around them who teach them the same thing, “you can do anything you put your mind to.”
So in case no-one has told you, I’m telling you, you can do anything you want to do. All it takes is hard work and tawwakul (trust in Allah).
16. Where can you be reached?
Eman: If you join my email list Here, you can stay in touch with me and get a copy of my free ebook ‘6 Secrets to Writing Web Copy that Converts: A simple guide for struggling non-writers.’
17. Thank you very much for your time sister Eman. Assalaam ‘alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.
Eman: Wa alaikum salaam warahmatullahi wabaraktu