Most people I meet on the road are awestruck when I tell them I have my own writing and web design business. I get it. It’s an unbelievable setup – I explore the world and get paid to do creative work that excites me. I’m super lucky!
And I also worked hard and made some very intentional choices to make this my reality.
I thought it would be fun to dive into my career story today, both to give you a better picture of my background, and to show you the steps I took to realize my dream of location independence.
First, I learned to write and coach.
College is a good place to start. I majored in English at the University of Puget Sound and while there, I got my first few jobs that made me realize that I wanted writing to be a big part of my career.
I worked as a writer and an editor of our campus newspaper, but even more influential was my job as a writing advisor. This is where I learned how to embody the role of a coach in the writing process, and also that I loved doing so. I loved the collaboration and partnership, and I got such joy out of helping someone make their creative vision come alive on the page.
In college, I also participated in a 9-month study abroad program that took me and 24 other students to 9 different countries in Asia. To say that this changed my life is an understatement! This is obviously where my wanderlust was born, and it was here that I gained the confidence and skills to travel on my own. (More on that later!)
Then I got my dream job, or so I thought.
After college, I pretty quickly got hired as an editor of a cake decorating magazine. It was my absolute dream, and it’s here that I learned about how to write for online audiences. The magazine ended up going under 6 months after I started, which left me with a lot of unwanted time on my hands.
I knew that online media was where I wanted to be, so I decided to take the opportunity to build my own website on Wordpress. My mom soon requested that I build a site for her as well, and not long after that I started my food/wellness blog, Gracefully Primal.
These few months of unemployment were highly stressful and angst-ridden, but they proved to be a time of great creative freedom and learning. By building my blog, I learned how to grow my own audience online and how to transfer my writing skills to social media. It also helped me realize that I could find work outside the traditional employment model.
A few months after I lost my first full-time job, I got my second one at an online publishing company in Seattle where I was hired as a Content Coordinator. This company published a lot of content related to charity, human rights and other delicate topics, so it’s here that I learned how to garner attention and support around a topic while still infusing my writing with soul and human connection. These are important lessons that have served me well.
I hopped around a bit at this company, eventually being promoted to a more strategic and editing role. It was in this position that I began to understand how to skillfully use content as a vehicle for business growth, something that is central to my client work today.
My mind never stopped wandering.
Even though I was writing every day at my dayjob and building my beloved blog by night, the dream in my heart at the time was to turn my blog into an income stream. I kept my eye out for other job opportunities that could open up my schedule and give me more experience with the blogging world. Lucky for me, in early 2015 the health website Autoimmune Wellness posted an ad for a part-time social media assistant and I got the job!
I began working about 10 hours/week for them, in addition to my regular dayjob hours, so I was definitely busy. But this period was hugely informative for me. For one thing, it gave me the confidence that rather than stick to the full-time, 40-hour-per-week employment model, I could instead organize my life around freelance-style work. There were people out there who needed my skills!
It also gave me HUGE experience in the more mundane yet crucial aspects of running a business, like invoicing, making my own schedule, communicating via email, choosing my rates, writing contracts, etc. It’s here that I got my first taste of career autonomy and freedom, and I savored it.
I still work for Autoimmune Wellness today (though my role has evolved) and it’s been the most fruitful and rewarding working experience I’ve ever had.
So, you may be wondering where all the travel fits into my story, and how I went from full-time work (plus an extra job!) to the self-owned business I’m running how. Excellent questions! And I’ll answer all of them in Part 2 of My Business Story (So Far).