Talking Freelance & Life | WELL in L.A.

Grab a cuppah coffee or tea. Settle in.
Time to get real up IN HERRRRRRRRE. 

Launching your passion into a business is brain melting work. It should come with a combustion – explosives – ‘hazardous for your health’ kind of warning label. When I bought my blog domain in January of 2010 I had no idea that this journey of starting to share my life online would lead me away from an office job – where I was miserable – to having a blog and business that I love. I wake up in the morning excited to start the day. Can you say that? Do you want to say that? Dreading “Mondays” is a thing of the past. Without my calendar I wouldn’t know the day of the week, for that matter. Work begins at 10:00am or a little later some days (I’m up around 7:00, but mornings are for reading/thinking/moving/writing/walking my dog… slow and quiet). After three years of hacking away I am finally pointed in the direction I want in life. I’m also taking stock of how much I’ve had to learn to get here. How much I’ve taught myself along the way. Understanding the investment I’ve made in myself building to this point.

This post is a love letter. Or at least I tried my best to make it one. 
Caution: I’m more pragmatic than romantic.

For me this place started with two questions: (1) What do you want out of life? (2) How are you going to get there? Easy questions to answer? No. Are you going to struggle? Yes. But you’re asking the questions because you want something more out of life than a paycheck and a routine. Most of us building a presence online are not out in search of money, fame or being the next ‘big thing’ (although I do love this picture that states the contrary). We want community and connection. There is an obsession or passion that underlines everything and the desire to intentionally cultivate a life on our terms. The individual vision of what that life looks like varies, of course. Achieving a lifestyle on your terms is more accessible than ever before because of the internet. The tools and platforms exist, but it’s up to you to invest time into learning which tools, how your going to package them and the execution. The internet has leveled the playing field for so many areas of life, including creating a life on your terms. Business, freelance, coaching – whatever it is that lights your fire and gets you excited about life.

When people tell me they want their business to be online and follow up that statement with statements like “I just don’t understand _______” (“websites”, “social media”, “Mailchimp” – any online tool) I hear excuses. You really don’t want it. Not bad enough. Not bad enough to block off time in your day or invest in learning or finding the right people to help you get the skills and tools needed. Another excuse that doesn’t fly: “… but I didn’t go to school for this”.

This – this was not taught in school. Everything changes too fast to keep pace with traditional education.

School teaches us how to learn. And to be excited about learning. Life is here, begging you to learn, implement, create and build beyond the walls of your formal education. Still not sold? Excuses are fine. After all there are plenty of cubes that need to be filled. Every day I am reminded how swiftly the world online changes, how important it is to continue learning and how being in this position is through working to be here. Daily.

I didn’t go to school for design or development. I studied public health. And behavioral psychology. That means I know how to listen and I can crunch spreadsheet data like no one’s business. Grad school and my first few jobs helped me eliminate what I didn’t want to do in the “9 to 5” part of my day. Grad school and my first few jobs also taught me how to get my shit together, the value of being organized and skills for analyzing and creating systems. Talent will get you 50% of the way there; if you don’t know how to execute your strategy you will fail. Do you know what will happen?

Someone with lesser talent but more savvy, grit and determination will slide in and corner your piece of the market.

Or maybe like me, you will try, get scared, fail, get another “9 to 5” job, realize you hate working for someone else and leap again when you finally find the necessary blend of drive, hustle and courage. If I could bottle it up and sell it to you I would. And I would sell it at a premium because I know the value (finding your value is another blog post in itself but you would be smart to download this resource found here as a start).

Maybe you are genuinely too busy (if that’s the case then you probably have already achieved some degree of success and can hire help or delegate web-based projects to your employees). When you’re a one-person army starting out, it’s all you, the internet and a whole lotta hustle. It starts with researching, trying and making mistakes. I spent countless week and weekend nights holed up at home reading blogs, watching videos, testing, breaking and trying again. Publicly failing and publicly learning. I’m still not sure if that’s bold or foolish; likely it’s a little of both. My evolution online has been visible at every stage. I wince when code breaks or a color doesn’t work on my websites, but having people see my mistakes and the subsequent growth makes me human. Real. Approachable.

It also helps to be a little crazy AND in pursuit of something bigger than a bank account. I started my blog while working full-time, fresh out of grad school with $50k debt for my two masters degrees. The idea of “leaping” into freelance wasn’t even an option. I live in an expensive city (Los Angeles). I have at least $3000 a month in bills between rent, life and student loans. So I came home after my workday, after my workout, after making dinner and I hunched over my desk. I wanted so badly to connect with people who had made the leap to working for themselves, pursuing their creative ventures full-time. I read their blogs, awed at their journey and “stalked them” online. I did what I do best: I analyzed, tracked patterns and made sense of the “data” I was observing. I wanted to be a part of the movement that valued happiness and quality life over a paycheck and needed to understand how to get there. And I wanted to create and write every damn day.

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
– Joseph Campbell

So where does this blog go next? The answer is ‘anywhere’. Everywhere. In the literal sense I am headed to Australia for an entire month and I want MORE of that travel in my life. The ‘rules’ are being created, broken and re-written as I go. This blog is me sharing how I get ‘there’ and all the people and pieces of life supporting me. It is my journey and my evolution. It is my space for sharing what inspires, drives, fascinates, motivates, encourages, delights and supports me on my journey to live life well. To living a life on my terms more fully and completely every day. I love color, good design, clean lines, simplicity, personality, good-clean-food, passionate people and community. That’s what I’m cultivating on the blog and what I’m moving toward in my everyday life. More authenticity, sharing more lessons learned and more opinions (yes, I have plenty and probably too many of those).

You in for the ride? Subscribe. Get the love-notes from me and exclusive giveaways from companies I love sharing this vision and view of life. Thank you for reading. Thank you believing in the value of a life and living more fully with each day. Let me know what questions you have and how I can support you via blogging and sharing my experiences.

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  1. I’m sooooo happy we’re friends! Girl- You inspire the SH*T out of me everyday! Thank you for sharing bits of your story and your hustle.

    • erin m. says:

      Thank you love-lovah! I know how hard you work and can only imagine you were nodding your head “yes” at certain parts of this post!! I bow down to the #cyberdomination queen!

  2. Darcy says:

    Erin, hands-down, you are the most kick-ass role model I could ever want. Thank you a thousand times over again for doing what you are doing! XOXO

  3. Heather says:

    I am in love with this post, and you. Frankly my LA girlfriends are the bomb.com (in all seriousness) and I am so thankful for each of you. You’re quite the woman Ms. Erin! Keep on rocking people’s worlds with your design magic and contagious spirit. We NEED IT!

    • erin m. says:

      My amazing fellow fierce females who are hustlin’ hustlin’ inspire me. It’s not easy going out on your own and certainly not easy when the living is $$$. The price we pay for freedom to enjoy this life with all its palm trees, avocados and lots o’ sunshine, right!?

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you for such an inspiring post! I’m just starting out with my blog, and this is the kind of encouragement I needed. :)

  5. Lauren says:

    This post is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. I’m working a full time job, starting my design+marketing company on the side, running a lifestyle blog, AND planning my wedding. Shit’s hard! But also so so so so worth it and I have the exact same values and aspirations as you. I bought my domain in January as well (this year, not 2010) and can only hope I make the progress you have. Thanks for the daily inspiration! xx

    • erin m. says:

      Doesn’t it feel like you bought a one-way ticket on the crazy train most days!?! It’s the daily persistent effort that pays off. And making sure you find time to appreciate life along the way. Best of luck with the wedding planning, too!

  6. Carson says:

    Erin – you always motivate & inspire. Cannot wait to see where your adventure takes you (and us readers) next! Cheers!

    • erin m. says:

      I hope one day it means I can work with you and Kathleen and have a glitter-neon-crazy fun party to celebrate all of my amazing entrepreneurial friends & peers!

  7. Tamar says:

    Great post Erin! I resonate with so much of what you say here. Your hustle and hard work and dedication shows. Thanks for sharing so openly with us :-)

    • erin m. says:

      Thank you, Tamar! I know you’re putting in the ‘elbow grease’ when it comes to the online hustle! Thank you so much for your comment and community.

  8. Jesse says:

    This post resonates with me on so many levels. Thank you for your honesty and courage. Seeing others like yourself live their passions without bowing to the fear of the unknown is so incredibly empowering. You rock Erin! Thank you for inspiring! Have an amazing time in Aussie!

    • erin m. says:

      You and Rachel – you inspire ME! I love how the internet allows us to show our “underbellies” as my friend Mary Beth would say! It allows for people to be transparent and authentic – make real connections. So happy that it led me to meeting you two!

  9. love this post and am excited about all your AUSSIE ADVENTURES

    • erin m. says:

      Learning from one of my fave bloggers! You are sharing your story and your “real” everyday and that’s why everyone loves Lynn! and I can hardly believe I’m indulging in a whole month away from L.A.! Going to be a blast.

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