What We’re Into: Summer 2016

Summer 2016

The summer of 2016 was a mixed bag. In the spring I suffered a miscarriage and assumed I’d be pregnant again by summer’s end, but I’m not. My childhood friend, and maid of honor in my wedding, was killed in a boating accident in June. I struggled with my grief compounded by the fact that I hadn’t spoken with her in years. Her death opened my eyes to our time not being guaranteed. Since then, I’ve tried to be more present in my life, make amends with people from my past, and be more appreciative of what I have.

While there were some supremely negative events this summer, we also had a lot of joy. Norah turned two! We spent the summer taking her to swim lessons and play dates. This was our first summer in our new house and we thoroughly enjoyed our big backyard. We had lots of ice cream (Norah had her first cone!) and s’mores. We took a day trip to Madison, Wisconsin that included a visit to Henry Villas Zoo. We attended a few picnics, farmer’s markets, fairs and outdoor events in Rockford including a kid’s concert.

Family at Henry Villas Zoo
Our family at Henry Villas Zoo in Madison, WI. Taken with a selfie stick!

The summer is typically a slower time for business and I enjoy that, but I look forward to things ramping back up and working with new clients! If you know anyone who needs copywriting, content, or social media work done – let me know.

Here are some things we loved this summer:

Erin (32 years old)

Stranger Things

This show hit all the right notes for me. I love horror and coming of age stories and I have the biggest soft spot for nostalgia. Stranger Things perfectly encapsulated the 80s, had a great storyline, and was sweet and scary at the same time. I absolutely loved this series and cannot wait for season two. You can catch this series on Netflix.

The Fireman by Joe Hill

This was my favorite book of the summer. I love Joe Hill almost as much as I love his father, Stephen King. This was an epic pandemic story about a virus that causes people to burst into flames. If you want to see what else I read this summer, follow me on Goodreads.


After all of the negative things that happened this summer, I wanted to refocus and get some inner peace. I read several self-help books including Mastering Your Mean Girl and The Charge that helped me get my head in the right place. Every self-help book I’ve ever read talks about the importance of a meditation routine. I finally started using Stop, Breathe, & Think app for near-daily meditation. I have noticed a calmer mind and less anxiety. It also helped with my grieving process.

Daily Journaling

I’ve taken to writing in a journal daily about how I’m feeling and what I’m grateful for. It’s been helping me process my feelings and start the day with a clear mind.

Norah (2 years old)


Easily one of Norah’s most requested items. After almost every dinner she asks for a bomb pop. The traditional red, white, and blue popsicles were a staple in my house growing up, but with four kids the box didn’t last for more than a few days. We don’t let her have one everyday, but she gets them for dessert fairly often. The struggle is convincing her to wait until after dinner instead of giving her one when she first requests it which is usually five minutes after waking up in the morning.

Playing outside

Norah loves to push her ride-on car up and down the driveway and run down the large hill we have in our backyard. She received two bikes for her birthday and has been practicing using the pedals. She doesn’t quite have it, but probably will by next year.


This summer we did some bucket gardening and Norah loved it. Every day she helped water the plants and pick the ripe vegetables. In the process, she ate about 100 cherry tomatoes. We had good luck with romaine lettuce, green peppers, and cherry tomatoes. Our strawberries produced about 10 berries and then stopped growing and our cucumbers never became ripe and rotted on the vine. We’ll try bucket gardening again next year and think about dedicating a plot in the yard in the future.

Bucket garden
Norah in front of her bucket garden

Fall is my favorite time of year and I can’t wait for all of the good things coming our way including trips to Edward’s Apple Orchard, having our first bonfire in our firepit, and taking our daughter Trick or Treating for the second time. Until next season!

Making the Leap from Side Hustler to Full-Time Freelancer

Side Hustler

Many people start off freelancing as a side hustle while they work in a traditional full or part time job. Starting a side hustle is a great way to get experience in a new area or use creative muscles that you don’t get to stretch in your day job. In my previous life, I was an information specialist who searched market research reports and purchased scientific papers. I also handled all of the internal communications for our department including a newsletter, brochure, and website.

I used my knowledge from those job duties to find my first client, a computer software company that needed a blogger. From there, I was able to take on their Twitter account based on my experience maintaining my own Twitter account. I supplemented what I already knew with constant learning. I read articles about blogging and social media until I felt that I had a grasp on what my objectives were.

Keeping my skills sharp is important to me so I stay up-to-date with new posts on social media and marketing. I do this by adding websites that are good resources like Social Media Marketing World, Buffer, Moz, and Copyblogger to my Feedly. I spend 20-30 minute each morning reading the day’s articles.

When I started out, I was only earning about $200-300 per month for 10 hours of side-hustle work. That was not enough to support our household or match what I made in my full-time job. Eventually, I was able to make the leap from side hustler to full-time freelancer. Here are the steps you can take to do the same.

Find Your First Client

I’ve written about where you can find clients and how to find the best client for you. However, the first thing you want to do is find any client at all. This may not be a client you keep forever. The objective is not to find the perfect person right out of the gate, it’s to find someone who will pay you for the work you want to do. It’s a lot like dating, you need to put yourself out there to find out who is interested. What services can you offer right now? If those services are blog posts then check out ProBlogger Job Board and Upwork.

Expand Your Services

Once you have a few clients, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about how you can expand your services. Although I initially started by offering blog writing, I quickly learned that blog writing is one of the most time-consuming tasks for me. Some people, like my husband, are quick writers who get their ideas on the page and only read through once or twice for edits. I’m a methodical writer who takes around one hour to produce a 500 word blog post including several rounds of edits. Although I enjoy writing, it is not my best option for making money.

I am much faster at finding content and creating short, snappy social media updates. One update typically takes me about five minutes to compose, less time if it’s for a client whose business I’m already interested in. Whereas I might get $25 for an hour of blog writing work, I can get around $75 for an hour of social media work.

Market Yourself

The only way you’re going to increase your side hustle is to let people know what you’re doing. That’s true for online businesses as well as brick and mortar shops. No one can buy your product or services if they don’t know where to find you. Make sure you have a website with clear directives and engaging copy (if you need help, this is a service I offer). Using search engine optimization (SEO) will get your website to show up in the results for keywords pertaining to what you do.

Set a Date and Do It

Once you’ve gathered a few clients, you may find that you can work for a quarter of the time and make as much as you did in a traditional job. This is especially the case if you live in a low cost-of-living area like I do. The median household income where I live in Rockford, IL is $38,157. If you work remotely you have the potential to earn big city wages while living in a small town. One of the full-time positions I applied for, but did not get, was working at Buffer where pay started at $80,000 per year!

At the end of the day, you have to make a decision to leap into freelancing. It can be scary. There are no guarantees of success. Your income may vary greatly month to month. It can be feast or famine which means you need a financial plan in place that will help distribute your earnings throughout the year. You may need to save some percentage of your earnings and request retainer fees from long-time or recurrent clients.

Many people make the leap to full-time freelancer only when their hand is forced. They lose their job and scramble for something in the meantime. In my case, I desperately wanted to stay home with my daughter and was willing to take a risk to do so. Thankfully, my husband believed in me enough to support my dream.

Once you are able to produce 75% of your full-time income doing your side hustle, you should quit your full-time job.

After you do, you will have much more time to work on your side hustle and you can make up the other 25% of your previous income in a variety of ways. You could budget and reduce expenses or you could put in more hours. There are freelancers doing things like dog walking, nannying, and Ubering to make ends meet while they build up their client base.

The life of a freelancer can be unpredictable and sometimes nerve-wracking, but it is also freeing and empowering. You ultimately have much more control of what you can make in a year than you would at job with set parameters on raises and bonuses. Your success is directly related to how hard you work, how much you put yourself out there, how well you market your services or product, and how much you network. Finally, the best reason to make your side hustle into your full-time job is because you are passionate about it. It feels very different to work on something you care deeply about than to punch the clock and count down the days to retirement.

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 8/22/16)

Mama's Favorites Aug 26

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, marketing, and parenting with occasional wild cards thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.


CloudPeeps shares seven tips for avoiding bad freelance hires. As a freelancer, read this article with an eye towards how you can improve your chances of getting a good gig.

Need to set up your online writing portfolio? Meryl Williams at The Write Life created a simple checklist to get your site in tip-top shape.

Even if you don’t work in an office, you can use these seven creative tips to get ahead in your career. As a freelancer, it’s especially important to network in your network and express gratitude for any help that you receive.


Before you set up a pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement, read Neil Patel’s detailed data-driven post. He’s spent big money on advertising and knows what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re ready to go from a one-person shop to an agency model, read this Hubspot post on how to make the leap. I’ll keep these tips in mind as I plan to expand and hopefully employ people in the future.

If you’re wondering why no one’s reading your blog, check out Apurva Chiranewala’s list of five reasons. Even if people are reading your blog, these tips could help improve your conversion rate.


One second grade teacher’s decision to not assign any homework for the year is going viral. Research is showing too much homework too early can create negative attitudes about school. This teacher recommends having dinner together, playing outside and going to sleep early – all things that have proven positive effects in children’s lives. Hopefully, this no homework trend will continue.

This Science of Us article explains how people attach morality to danger when it comes to judging parenting. People don’t completely rely on facts when making judgments, they also infuse the situation with whether they think something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to do.

Wildcard: Lifestyle

This long read from Benjamin Hardy lists 50 ways happier, healthier, and more successful people live on their own terms. If you focus on a few of these tips, you could find yourself in a better place tomorrow than you are today. I’ve been concentrating on making meditation a regular part of my daily routine for the past week and I’m already feeling the benefits.

I WIll Talk About My Miscarriage

I'm Talking About My Miscarriage

It’s no secret that my daughter changed my life. She opened a part of my heart that I didn’t know existed. She is the reason I started my own business and she’s the reason I work so hard; I want to give her the best possible female role model. Adding a child to our lives has been nothing but positive so when it came to motherhood and pregnancy, I was naive.

We want more children. We started trying for our second baby about six months before Norah turned two years old. I didn’t want siblings too close in age, but I’m 32 and wasn’t comfortable waiting too long either.

I found out I was pregnant on April 7th, a few days before my missed period. I took a test the day before, but the line was so faint that my husband didn’t believe that it was positive. The next morning I took a digital test which read “Pregnant 1-2 weeks” and we celebrated. On April 18th, I started spotting after a weekend of yard work in hot weather. I assumed I pushed it a little too hard and took it easy on Monday. After going to the bathroom on April 20th and seeing bright red blood, I was certain that I was miscarrying.

My first pregnancy was rife with symptoms. A few days after the positive test, I began feeling incredibly nauseous. I threw up within the first week and didn’t stop until week 20 even with the help of anti-nausea medication. This time, I couldn’t believe that I felt so good and normal while pregnant. Instead of assuming something was wrong, I had hoped that I was just having one of those unicorn pregnancies. I imagined myself exercising, having a ton of energy, and being one of those rare women who claim they feel better pregnant than not. I had such a rough first pregnancy that I felt like I was getting a good second one to balance things out.

On April 20th, I spent six hours in the ER, but left with no concrete answers. The doctor couldn’t tell me whether I was having an ectopic pregnancy, a threatened abortion or a normal pregnancy. Ten days of going to the doctor every other day to get blood tests and ultrasounds followed. My hopes kept being lifted only to crash again. My HCG was going up, but not with the regularity that they expected which pointed to an ectopic pregnancy. My ultrasounds showed only an empty gestational sac, a blighted ovum, too small for the six weeks I was supposed to be. Finally, things accelerated and I had a natural miscarriage. My HCG numbers dropped from 1300 to 100 in a day. Three weeks later my number was 2.

My sadness waxed and waned. I would feel fine for hours then all of a sudden it would hit me that I wasn’t having a baby in December anymore. Was I ever pregnant? It hadn’t felt like it. I waited for pregnancy symptoms, but nothing had happened.

Uncertainty makes me uncomfortable. I like to know what’s going to happen and when. This experience made me feel very small. It made me realize that the amount of things I actually have control of in life is tiny.

I read a lot of other mother’s accounts of their feelings and experiences having a miscarriage and they gave me comfort. Unfortunately, my experience is not unique and many, many women have lost a pregnancy. I decided I wanted to write about this because not talking about it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. This was a big life event for me, even though it was a negative one. I am simultaneously extremely grateful to my body for giving me my daughter, but angry at it for failing me this time.

In the months that followed the miscarriage, I had a wonderful heart-to-heart talk with a pastor that gave me a huge sense of peace. I typically don’t cry in front of people, but this experience caused me to break down in front of several people. At first, I was embarrassed, but ultimately I realized that I was being true to my pain and my loss. I read many blogs about miscarriages. I watched many YouTube videos of women discussing their miscarriages and cried with them. I was as gentle with myself as I could be and tried not to play the ‘what if’ or ‘could have, would have, should have’ game.

We plan to continue trying to expand our family with hopes that this will not happen again. This will always be a part of my history, but I’ve made peace with it. I am grateful for the beautiful family I already have and optimistic for the family I want. As I said, this situation is too common and everyone deals with it in a different way. It is still a topic that women don’t always feel comfortable discussing with others. So yes, I will talk about my miscarriage. And if you’ve also had this experience, I invite you to talk about it too.

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Best Content (Week of 8/15/16)

Mama's Favorites Aug 19

This is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, parenting, and marketing, but occasional wild cards will be thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.


This Entrepreneur article talks about how freelancing has grown 500% from 2000 to 2014. The most popular freelance category in the US is graphic design with writing in second place. I shared my reasons for becoming a freelancer in this post.

Alicia Glenn talks about how she made $5000 in one week of freelancing. Her strategy involved using a successful Upwork profile to pitch as a “team member.” It worked for her, but I would suggest taking the time to build your own brand and freelance portfolio for better long-term growth.

These seven benefits of freelancing include some of the reasons why I love the work I do. However, being a freelancing mama means that some of them don’t apply to me – I don’t work from different locations or go to the gym in the middle of the day because I’m also the primary caregiver for my daughter.


Brian Sutter talks about the four types of social media marketers – the newbie, the pro, the influencer, and the rising star. The good news is after about three years in the business, you’re well on your way to becoming a pro.

It’s getting harder to get your content noticed. Jayson DeMers shared some ideas on how companies can increase visibility. It’s no surprise the number one suggestion is to produce content worth sharing.


Books are one of the most important factors in your child’s future success. Not only does this new study make my book hoarding husband happy, but it reinforces what we already expected. Children who have more than 10 non-school books in their home are 21% more likely to double their lifetime earning potential.

Parenting children in the digital age is not easy especially when social media can be toxic to their self-esteem. This Time article discusses the link between body image issues and social media use in teenage girls. I hope to raise my daughter to know her self-esteem is built on inherent worth and not other people’s opinions and ideals.

Are You a Multipotentialite?


When you were a child how did you answer the question,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Were you quick to answer “veterinarian” or “ballerina” or were you part of the group that couldn’t decide? From the first time I was asked that question until now, I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist, a writer, an archeologist, a journalist, a teacher, a mother, and a business owner.

If you have a lot of interests and talents, should you double down and focus on one to the exclusion of others? No way! You just need to learn a new term for yourself, you’re a multipotentialite.

Being a multipotentialite means you have multiple skills and many interests. You may have numerous careers in different fields throughout your lifetime. If you’re a Millennial, this is almost a guarantee. The new normal is four job changes by the time you’re 32, according to CNN.

I recently watched a great Ted talk on being a multipotentialite. The speaker, Emilie Wapnick, talks about how she’s had many different interests throughout her lifetime. She didn’t want to be limited by the “what do you want to do when you grow up?” conversation. Instead, she believes that her varied interests give her a competitive advantage.

She talks about how she would find a topic she was interested in and spend a lot of time learning about it. When she started to master the topic, it would become boring and she’d want to move on to the next thing. I’ve experienced the same thing throughout my life. Each new thing I learnt would completely captivate my attention until I felt comfortable with it and then it would lose its shine. Soon after, I’d find something else to focus on.

These interests have overlapped to make me a more well-rounded person. For a long time, I felt like my passions were random and unrelated. I still haven’t integrated everything that I’m passionate about into my daily life or my career. I want to do more with nonprofits and become more involved in my local community. I enjoy public speaking and want to have more opportunities to do it. I’m also passionate about education. Some of these passions are active in my day-to-day while others may come into play in the future.

As a multipotentialite how do you approach life?

  • Keep pursuing whatever strikes your fancy. Follow any leads! Research your interests, get involved, and keep adding to your list of passions.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed by all of your passions, instead, focus on one thing at a time. For a few months, concentrate on the passion that makes you most excited and gets you motivated to put in work. Follow that thread and it will lead to other passions. You may not be able to see how things will connect, but eventually, they will.
  • Appreciate your unique point of view and zest for life. You are a lifelong learner and will never be bored.
  • If you can find the intersection of your passions, you’ll find a career that will be fulfilling and very successful. Not looking for a new job? Think of ways you can incorporate your passions into your current career. Could your report writing be more creative? Could you get involved with a special interest group within your company? If you have spare time after work, could you start a hobby or side hustle to pursue your passions?

Let me know, are you a multipotentialite? How do you combine your passions into one cohesive life?

Mama’s Favorites: This Week’s Can’t Miss Content (Week of 8/8/16)

Mama's Favorites

Mama’s Favorites is a weekly collection of content that I found valuable, interesting, entertaining – or all three! Topics mostly center on freelancing, parenting and marketing, but occasional wild cards will be thrown in. If you like what I’m sharing, follow me on Twitter for more content suggestions.


Bitch Media discusses the reasons why more women are choosing freelancing. Women are not only going into business for increased work/life balance flexibility but also for better pay. After you read this, check out my post on the same topic.

Tessa at CloudPeeps talks about how to maintain a positive client relationship after the job ends. As a freelancer, it’s so important to keep your connections strong and your reputation stellar. You never know how you and a former client might help each other in the future.

Improve your writing in two minutes with Josh Spector’s tips. I love Josh’s suggestions. Getting rid of “I think” can make your writing so much stronger. He doesn’t mention removing “just” from your written (and spoken) vocabulary, but it’s worth doing too.

Belle Beth Cooper was a former Buffer employee who has been freelancing for over a year now. She shares her insights on the pros and cons. I can relate to the entrepreneur life being a bit lonely. I have the company of my daughter, but she’s not old enough to brainstorm with me…yet.


My husband wrote a tongue-in-cheek post on the 10 commandments of content. I’m biased, but it’s a funny read and offers some good suggestions – like less listicles!


A new study shows mothers feel more judged than fathers and are less likely to rate themselves as “a really good parent”. This one hits close to home; I find that my expectations for myself as a mother are much higher than my expectations for my husband as a father.

On the Creative Process and Just Doing It Already

Virtual Assistant (1)

The most important part of the creative process is getting started. When I was younger, I wrote daily. I didn’t have much to do and was often grounded so I spent a lot of time in my room with only my thoughts for entertainment. I enjoyed reading, but I’d read most of the books in my house by the time I turned 11. To pass the time and keep myself sane, I created stories by writing out dreams, plans for the future, or plots of TV shows that I would want to watch. I also wrote a lot of poetry. When we got our first home computer, I spent hours figuring out basic HTML and creating an Angelfire website dedicated to my poetry. I updated it every few days. I was flattered when classmates told me they read my poems, but I didn’t really care if I had an audience.

I only wanted to write.

I wasn’t worried about running out of ideas. I wasn’t worried about whether I was producing my best content. I just did the work.

As I got older, I’d wait to feel inspired to write something. This was particularly true with my poetry. I’d have to be going through some intense emotional stuff to feel the desire to write anything. This produced some great pieces, but I only wrote a poem every six months or so. In college, not wanting to force the creative process led to many late nights writing final papers the day before they were due.

As I’ve made steps to make writing my career, I realize that like many things, you have to just do it. I can’t worry too much about the end product and whether it’s perfect. I can’t worry about who will read it and who won’t. I can’t worry about whether I’m contributing to the greater good every time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I just have to write. Sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s terrible. But I just have to keep doing it. That’s the only way to improve, that’s the only way to keep moving forward.

So I’ll write every day. I’ll sit down, turn on classical music or brain-stimulating ambient noise, try to focus my monkey mind and get my ideas on the page.

And like all things I wrote, I ultimately wrote this for myself, to remind myself that it’s what I need to do. Maybe you need to hear it too. My writing might be your anything. Whatever you need to be doing – whatever you want to be doing, but put off because it’s damn scary to actually do the work – go on now and get it done. You’ll thank yourself later.