Current City & Hometown: Buffalo, NY
“I started searching for any and all part time work that I could pair with a couple freelance projects to get started. It all fell into place about three months later, I made the decision to quit, and I’ve never looked back.”
You have an incredible background in the areas of writing and social media content development. Tell me about your current businesses and freelance work.
I started my freelance career slowly, albeit after taking a giant leap. I quit my 9-5 job in advertising, took on a couple small-scale clients, secured a retail job, and the rest is history! No, but really. It has taken a ton of hard work, consistency, and stepping outside of my comfort zones to be where I am today professionally. I started my business in 2012 with one PR client and a couple projects lined up, and I currently have seven monthly retainer clients that I do social media, content development, and copywriting work for – as well as contract clients that vary month-to-month for small- to medium-sized copywriting and proofreading projects.
When did you start blogging, and what motivated you to start?
Ever since I was young, I have been gravitated to words. I wrote my first published piece in Kindergarten (a thrilling story about our family cat who got bit on the ear by a spider), published in our school’s yearbook 😉 It was my claim to fame! All kidding aside, I have always communicated best when I can get my thoughts out onto paper. So when I discovered blogging, it seemed like a no-brainer.
I have been blogging basically since the MySpace days, but I started actually using a blogging platform (Blogspot) back in college, I think my sophomore year. I would write about day-to-day events and use it as an online diary of sorts. I am an introvert and a major homebody by nature, so I used my blog initially to get my feelings out with being away from home and adapting to life as a young adult. When my husband and I got married after college, I switched things up a bit. I wrote about our newlywed life and adventures for a little while, until we found out I was pregnant with our first child three months later and that totally changed everything! My blog quickly morphed into a mommy blog, then in time turned more into a family / lifestyle blog, and now I’m in the process of re-branding again to incorporate more of our adventures and travels, my personal style, and glimpses into “real life” as a mother.
I think it’s so inspiring that you quit your day job to pursue your passions. Taking that leap of faith takes strength and courage! What truly motivated you to change your lifestyle and pursue a career while working from home?
After we had our daughter (Marleigh), I was working in Amherst at an advertising agency and we were living in Lakeview, just outside of Hamburg. We were fortunate to have my mom watching the baby for us while we were at work, but with my long commute, I quickly realized that I was only seeing our daughter for about an hour a day at home. It really wore on me emotionally, and I felt trapped in a place where I wasn’t giving my full attention to any aspect of my life – whether it was my work, our new baby, or my husband and our home. I knew something had to give, so my husband (Luke) and I sat down one night and “ran numbers.” He’s a budget guy, so it helped tremendously that he was willing to sit with me and listen to me cry about my mom guilt. We found a number that we would have to hit to be able to make ends meet financially, and I started searching for any and all part time work that I could pair with a couple freelance projects to get started. It all fell into place about three months later, I made the decision to quit, and I’ve never looked back. It was a slow start – still working away from home three days a week at first, then as my client work picked up, I slowly started cutting back on my hours at my random “day jobs.” I worked for a bit in retail while doing social media and email marketing for a local boutique, then worked transcription for a law firm downtown, and eventually moved to answering phones at a real estate agency before I finally had enough consistent client work to completely make a go of it on my own. Four years later, here I am!
Today’s age is all about ‘The Digital Age’ I notice your feed is engaging and has strong content. How do you use Instagram to help build your brand?
If I’m being honest, I’m still trying to find my footing on Instagram. It can be difficult finding a good balance between home life, lifestyle, and showing what I’m up to professionally… especially because I’m always tempted to post 1,000 pictures of my kids every day! #momlife.
Besides Instagram, what other social media platforms do you use? Which platform do you find the most appealing for your brand(s)?
I love Twitter for the entertainment aspect, but I find that people connect most with my blog and business on Facebook. It allows me to post links and captions, share between pages, and tag other businesses and people for collaborations easily.
What challenges have you come across while building your brand(s)? Are there any tools out there that have helped you overcome these challenges?
My business brand has been in a slow building process, mainly because it falls to the backburner, which I think many business owners and/or bloggers can probably relate to! As far as my personal brand goes, I live and work from my home in Eden, which is a tiny town with not a whole lot going on, so it can be difficult to make my feeds seem relevant to other people. I’m working to achieve a healthy mix of family, food/drink/recipe, home, and nature photos and I’m slowly but surely getting there. I’m really excited to continue working on building my brand with my blog re-launch this summer, as we have a ton of adventures planned which means a lot more interesting content to share!
Tell me about any recent collaborations you’ve done, and are there any creatives in Buffalo (or outside of the city) that you’d like to network with?
My favorite recent collaboration is actually with a client of mine, BloomsyBox. I have been running their social media for a little over a year now and we just launched a new blog campaign, inspired by the movie “Julie and Julia.” I am personally working my way through a floral arrangement “recipe book” of sorts with a professional photographer coming to my home to capture photos of the process, and I have been blogging about it at blog.bloomsybox.com. It’s been new to me because I always feel like such a nerd in front of the camera, but it has also really helped to give me an extra boost in my creativity and confidence. The fact that I’m working with stunning flowers that get sent to my house monthly as part of the gig doesn’t hurt, either!
Ok, first of all I have to say that your children are absolutely adorable! Why are they so cute?! Some mothers may feel that it’s impossible to quit their job and work from home, or may feel that they can’t handle a side job in addition to their 9 to 5. Tell me, what advice would you give to other mom’s out there who want to become a Mompreneur and follow their passions?
Thank you! They’re my favorite people, for sure. First off, let me just say… being a mom is hard. It’s more than a full time job, and doing it on top of a full time job can certainly be exhausting. The best advice I would give to a mom hoping to branch off on her own or start a “passion project” would be to find something that you are going to truly love doing. If not, you will get worn down and burned out faster than you can imagine. There have been times when I have doubted my decision to do what I am doing, but when I put it all in perspective, it all makes sense again. Those early mornings and late nights spent getting my client hours in at my computer are all worth it when I realize I don’t have to miss out on any of my childrens’ milestones while I am in the process of achieving my dreams. The bottom line is, you need to always keep your priorities in check. If that means climbing the corporate ladder to provide for your family financially, by all means, do it! But if you feel like you are lacking either professionally or personally, it’s never too late to take the leap. There’s always a way if you’re willing to work hard enough for it.
Now let’s get a little more personal! Tell me your favorites:
Band or music artist: I’m really loving on Ed Sheeran lately (no judgies). But my go-to listening picks are either James Taylor or Ray LaMontagne.
Restaurant in Buffalo: I’m a southtowns girl, so I have to give love to Hamburg with the Grange Community Kitchen!
Clothing boutique: If money grew on trees, I’d scoop up every single clothing item at Blush or Research & Design.
Favorite neighborhood in Buffalo: I’m partial to the Main and Washington area of downtown. Public Espresso, the library, and the farmer’s market on Main are some of my favorite things about the city.
Lipstick: My top lip is basically non-existent, so I don’t rock the red lip very often. When I do wear lipstick, I tend to go with more of a neutral, although I braved a bright pink lip the other night and didn’t hate it, so… baby steps!
Netflix show or movie: My husband and I have watched The Office straight through more times than I care to admit. My guilty pleasure, however, is Jane the Virgin. I’m obsessed.
And let’s get a little more personal, shall we:
What was your favorite cartoon or show on Nickelodeon? (there are no wrong answers) Oh man! Rocko’s Modern Life, for sure. Doug is a very close second.
Has anyone ever mistaken you for somebody famous? Nope!
How many times a day do people mistake you and your sister as twins? Haha. This definitely happens often. We get more lingering stares than anything, where you can tell the people are wondering but don’t want to come out and ask! It’s funny – the older we both get, the more we look alike!
What’s your favorite song on your current dance playlist? Anything Bruno Mars. My 4-year old daughter is also obsessed with him, so we have lots of Bruno dance parties around here!
What is your favorite kind of ice cream? Chocolate chip cookie dough.
Which Madonna era do you most identify with? (There are wrong answers lol!): Ooh boy. I’m going to have to go with the Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera VMA days.
Who is your male celebrity crush? It’s so weird, but Patrick Dempsey! He’s basically old enough to be my dad, but I cannot resist those piercing blue eyes!
3 things on your bucket list? Our family is starting on our bucket list to visit and/or camp at every National Park in the continental US, which I’m really excited about! I also need to see the Northern Lights someday, and I would love to have a piece of my work published in an actual publication (not just my elementary school yearbook!).
Thank you so much Samantha for being a part of our diary! Ladies, you can find more of Samantha linked below.