A Brand New Chapter: Why I’m Returning to the 9-5

I’ve never been the one to take the conventional route when it comes to making big leaps.

Most of the entrepreneurs I know who took the leap into this adventure did it in a somewhat conventional way. They had a steady job and a side-hustle, which then became their business. They had savings. They had the experience before leaping into action on their own. They followed a path their passion somehow built for them.

Me?

I jumped and built my wings on the way down. Sort of.

My compass was always pointed at becoming a lawyer. But I dabbled in communications, had a passion for being online, and when I lost my last true full-time traditional job, I leapt into the unknown.

I didn’t have the marketing skills, nor did I have any savings whatsoever. In fact, I had a lot of debt.

But I had passion and gusto and the willingness to learn. I was also lucky to have found mentors along the way who took a chance on me and taught me more about myself, as well as this industry, than I could’ve ever gotten out of a textbook. As long as I could have a roof over my head, I didn’t care too much about what I was getting paid since I kept growing and learning.

This may or may not be a humblebrag but I have accomplished a lot in the past eight years.

However, the unconventional path I’ve chosen, with its struggles, has reached the end of its current road. I’m facing a cliff and sure, I could jump again but I’ve decided to take a different approach.

Growth comes in different forms

Some people may look at my decision as a failure but I look at it as an opportunity for growth, which will in turn make my business even stronger. Most people who are driven by entrepreneurial fire can never see themselves as part of the 9-5 grind again. And for most, that never has to be a consideration – especially if they took a safer path for slow & steady growth.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I want my business, and more importantly, life, to look like in the next year or five years. That picture has evolved and changed over the years but one thing has remained the same: I am never driven by money. Yes, I deserve to get paid what I am worth but the amount of money I’ll make is never the deciding factor when weighing my options.

For me, at this stage in my life and business, growth looks like a full-time job. Not a full-time contract, but joining a company and proudly declaring it.

A decision like this doesn’t come easily. There were a lot of factors that went into deciding where to apply, what I look for in a company, and how this will help me serve my community better.

Here are the questions I asked myself, and in turn, the companies I interviewed with before accepting an offer.

  • Will I be challenged in the right way? I’ve had a variety of incredible opportunities, and therefore experiences, over the past decade. But as I narrowed my focus and began working with small businesses, that also narrowed certain learning opportunities for me. As a consultant, I’m beholden to the tools and software my clients can afford, which usually means software I already know. But technology moves pretty fast, so I’ve felt like I’ve really hit a plateau as far as keeping up to date with different challenges. I’ve also truly honed my skills as a content marketing strategist, but that means my social media & community management skills have become a little dull. While it would’ve been easier for me to slip into a senior level content strategist or director role at a company, I looked for a different kind of challenge that would also help me continue to grow.
  • Do I still crave variety? This was a major factor in deciding whether or not I would go in-house at a company or leap into agency world. The answer is “yes, I still need a little bit of variety” so even if I’m focused on a single client, an agency can offer me more opportunities to touch on different campaigns.
  • Are the company values aligned with mine? Just like I’ve fired clients over the past couple of years whose values stopped being aligned with mine, this was a major factor in which jobs I even applied for. I have had a “dream company” list since I moved to Seattle that I always keep an eye on for openings.
  • What opportunities will I have to grow within the organization? Hiring a new employee is a major investment for a company, and it’s also an investment for me as an employee. I would never want to join a company if there is no clear growth opportunity, which would mean I would have one foot out the door at all times. I actually turned down a few job offers over the past couple of years because I knew this to be the case.
  • Where does my well-being fall on the benefits chart? A steady income plus health benefits are nothing to scoff at, but what does this job actually mean for my well-being? Work-life harmony is an important factor and not only does this company value that, they’re also actively involved in community & volunteering. Let’s not forget about the benefits of being part of a team again after working solo for so long.
  • How will this impact my business and personal growth outside of this job? Starting a full-time job isn’t my way of quitting my business, or leaving everything I love about my online communities behind. I’m excited to work for a company and manager who not only values personal growth, they encourage it. So while I’ll be busier during the day, this will actually a lot more beneficial for my business and personal brand in the long run.

Stability is the key to growing my business

I’ll be writing a longer post about this but we don’t talk enough about the toll anxiety and the stresses running a business takes on an individual’s psyche. As a creative soul, I’m looking forward to leaving the “hustle” part of my business behind so that I can create the kind of resources I talked about in my last post.

Yes, I am a little (read: a lot) nervous

This is an exciting new challenge for me on many levels, including getting out of my comfort zone to let a new set of humans see me on a regular basis. I’m going to try not to embarrass myself too often in front of my new coworkers.

 

But wait, where are you going to be working?

With a resounding yes, I accepted an offer with an incredible B2B agency in Seattle. Be sure to follow me on Twitter & Instagram to find out where and how I will be adjusting to the office life once again.

Breaking Out of the Marketing Echo Chamber

I am really good at what I do. Despite what impostor syndrome screams at me at times, I know this. I have spent the past decade working hard to grow and learn so that I can say that with confidence.

I am also really good at talking about what I do with others in my field. You’ll regularly find me participating in Twitter chats and I love sharing insights with fellow colleagues in my industry who are at different points in their careers. The landscape for digital marketing is constantly evolving, so we should continue to keep each other in check and learn from each other.

When I first started this blog, it was without a plan. All I knew was that I wanted a place to talk about the things I’m passionate about, in my voice, painted with my experience. There’s always the never ending struggle of “Why should I even bother when there are so many established websites/blogs out there?” My answer to that question has always been “Because no one else out there has had the same exact experience.”

This is how Amplify Yourself/Your Biz was born as a philosophy and business. As a storyteller, I’m good at helping those around me think differently about their story, their business, and how they should bring it to light.

Unfortunately, I have not been very good at doing this in my own business. It’s the curse of the business owner. Majority of my creative and strategic energy has been spent on my clients for the past few years, as expected. So this blog in particular has been in a kind of limbo.

Every time I sit down to make an editorial plan for this site, I freeze. I get stuck. I keep going in circles and then I give up because there are other more important things to focus on.

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had is taking my own advice. I tell my clients to figure out what makes them unique. I ask them to identify their target audience. I make them think about the kind of community they want to build beyond making a single sale. I remind them over and over not to be tone-deaf.

I’ve become tone-deaf because it’s easier for me to talk about marketing to other marketers instead of serving my audience and community.

The client that challenged me to think differently.

As a consultant, I have been lucky to work on projects that served small businesses but I didn’t always work directly with small businesses. I’ve worked with other marketers and journalists who shared a common passion and audience. It wasn’t until I had my first ongoing small business client that wasn’t another agency that things finally started to click.

My client was a professional right here in Seattle who is extremely good at what he does, and what he does has nothing to do with marketing. Every conversation we had felt like a challenge to me because there was a lot more educating than I was used to.

I had become rusty talking to other small business owners because I was so used to talking to marketers. 

This client challenged me beyond belief but we made good progress. More importantly, this client reminded me who I want to serve, especially with this blog.

I don’t want to talk to other marketers on this platform.

Yes, there will be occasions where the content will overlap and will help serve other marketers who are in the same boat. Like this post where I share content marketing lessons from my unexpectedly viral tweet. But I don’t want to go in circles about the same topics with other marketers.

I don’t want to talk about best practices.

I don’t want to keep having the same conversations.

I want to break free of this echo chamber.

So, who will I be talking to on this blog?

When I first began freelancing, there weren’t a lot of great resources for people like me. I was lucky enough to have an incredible network of professionals in DC who took me under their wing and gave me chances on projects, but there wasn’t a community of freelancers. Most of the resources for “working for yourself” were related to sales, or being a virtual assistant, or a writer traveling the world.

These days, I’m part of a lot of communities of entrepreneurs and one of the things I love about them is the variety. They’re not all writers. They’re not all great marketers. They’re makers who are following their passion and yes, some of them don’t have the first clue about social media or content marketing.

I want Amplify Your Biz to become a resource for these individuals who are really good at what they do but don’t have the time or money to invest in help when it comes to content marketing. Or they are ready to hire their first employee to help with marketing but they’re not sure of what they should be looking for.

I don’t want to sell my services to these individuals anymore. I want to become a resource. Trying to focus on the business aspect has stripped away my passion, energy, and most of all, mental capacity to truly be a resource.

I want to tell the stories of these small business owners. I want to break down the reports that have become second-nature to us marketers and translate them in an actionable way for them.

I’ve lost my voice along the way because I was trying to sound like everyone else. I’ve become tone-deaf not only to my audience but to myself.

What’s next for Amplify Your Biz?

I’ll be focusing more on lessons from my own adventures as a consultant/business owner, spotlighting other small business owners to share their lessons, and creating tangible resources for solopreneurs who need a little extra help other journeys.

Marketers? Don’t worry – I’ll still be around for our awesome conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other blogs. But Amplify Your Biz is breaking free of the echo chamber.

See you around.

Lessons from My Debut as a Public Speaker

Be careful what you wish for because it just might happen.

This is something I’ve been repeating to myself ever since I started on this journey. Setting your intentions and letting the universe know about those intentions lead to results.

Before we go any further, you should know that I have intense stage fright. I’m an introverted writer, and the second you put me in front of people, I get tongue-tied. Or worse, I get overly chatty, and not always in a delightful way. (I even snort).

At the end of 2016, I told a few close friends that I wanted to add “Speaker” to my list of titles. I submitted proposals to a couple of conferences. I received a few lovely rejections, which I fully expected. Thanks to the incredible group of people who have been my support system this past year, I got my first speaking opportunity at this year’s Content Marketing World as part of a panel for a session on Leveraging Content to Elevate Community.

I was going to be a speaker at my favorite conference!

I WAS GOING TO BE A SPEAKER. (more…)

Lean Content Marketing Tips for Startups

When it comes to content marketing, you don’t need a full newsroom or a large budget to be effective. Whether you’re an enterprise-level organization or a startup, a lean content marketing strategy can take you a long way.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Seattle Startup Week 2017 about building a content team, creating a content marketing strategy that goes the distance, and getting to know your audience – on a budget.

When it comes to statistics around content marketing, my go-to resource is The State of Content Marketing from CMI and they didn’t disappoint. Here are the numbers I focused on at the beginning of my presentation.

  • 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.
  • 70% of people would rather learn more about a company through articles rather than an ad.
  • 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing

These numbers alone prove that content marketing is here to stay. The methods and the platforms may be evolving, but at the heart of it, great content marketing builds trust, loyalty, and engagement.

So, if you’re a startup or a small business, where do you begin? (more…)

Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Content Marketing World

(I wrote this post right before heading to Content Marketing World in 2017. Lucky for us, the community and the conference are consistent in their amazingness , making these tips evergreen.)

It’s that time of year again – the orange takes over, excitement fills the air, and we all descend on to Cleveland to attend Content Marketing World.

It’s no secret that Content Marketing World has a special place in my heart, along with the entire CMI team, and the incredible people I’ve met over the past three years.

But it can also be overwhelming. I’m an ambivert and conferences where I am “on” all the time for 4 days straight can take a lot out of me. My energy gets zapped once the adrenaline wears off, especially if I’m not practicing self-care throughout the conference. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot better at preserving my energy in order to survive the week as an introvert.

I want to share a few of those tricks with you. I also reached out to the #CMWorld Slack Community to get their input.

So, here are a few ways you can survive Content Marketing World as an introvert. (more…)