From backpacking in Africa for six months to writing a book while living with her parents at age 27, Alexis is as experienced as she is accomplished. As a writer, journalist, social media strategist, and entrepreneur with a degree in journalism, she has worked with U.S. News & World Report, covering career and hiring trends and career strategy. However, five months ago Alexis left her job. She is now located in D.C. working in the social media business full-time, and doing better than ever. As a social media strategist, she spends a lot of time on blog-related projects, writes paid and free newsletters and e-guides, and works with start-ups and entrepreneurs to help them strategize and build their online communities. Lucky us, Alexis lets us in on her secrets to success in the interview below… read on!
Q: You have worked for many well-known, reputable publications; what led you to leave your job to pursue solopreneurship? Was there a specific impetus or aha! moment? How did you reflect upon this idea prior to making the final commitment to leave?
A: I really didn’t see it coming; I loved my job and had a hard time even thinking about leaving journalism.But my day job wasn’t allowing me to be as creative as I wanted, and I was spending more and more evenings and weekends on my side business. I knew I wanted to put more effort into creating eguides and helping small businesses with social media.
I decided to make the leap when I got an offer from a career website to serve as blog editor. It was the perfect use of my skills, and the job was only part time, which left me plenty of hours to work on my other projects.
In retrospect, I did a few things that put me in a position to leave my job:
- I networked strategically, building up connections with people who would want to help me down the road. And I closely watched how other entrepreneurs were making a run at this, so I could learn from their success.
- I padded my savings account with money from my side biz, so I had a financial
- I grew my blog community. While I provide lots of free content on my blog, that platform is really what has allowed me to go in this unique direction. My blog readers have supported me along the way, and the platform lends me credibility so I can land social media clients and sell eguides and courses.
Q: Where/how did you pick up your social media skills that now finance your life?
A: Honestly, I learned it all myself. The beauty of the Internet is you don’t need a fancy class. You can watch a free video, read blog post, etc. And I worked for free, helping a campaign that aimed to free a journalist in Iran, to show that I really knew how to use my skills. That experience was pivotal because it allowed me to reach out to other potential clients and transition to paid work.
I’m a huge fan of the side hustle – if you want to do something, you should just start doing it, build skills and credibility until you can charge for your work. Every ambitious 20-something has a side hustle these days. With all the free online tools and resources out there now, it’s more feasible than ever to start your own business. If you’re interested in starting a social media business, check out my consulting guide. I also offer a weekly newsletter about transitioning from working for an employer to working for yourself, called Solopreneur Secrets.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A: I love that I’m always learning. When you work for yourself in a changing field, you really have to teach yourself what you don’t know, so you have an unlimited number of opportunities to learn.
I also enjoy creating content – and having full say over what I create. I don’t have to wait for someone else to approve my next project or publish my ebook. Instead, I create what I think is important for my readers.
There’s also a part of me that really likes helping others find fulfillment in their own professional lives, so I feel lucky I’m able to work that into my routine.
Q: What is your next step and what are you looking forward to down the road?
A: When I was a journalist, I had a clear path for my career, I knew exactly what my next move should be. But now my path isn’t so clear – and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I’m in the digital publishing space, which is changing rapidly, so I need to be able to adapt to whatever pops up next. My long-term vision includes continuing to write – whether that’s books, ebooks, courses, blogging, etc. – and create community online. Those are the things that get me excited.
In the short term, I’m traveling to Nicaragua and Costa Rica in February, which will be my first test of whether I can travel while continuing to grow my business. Fitting travel into my lifestyle is one of my big goals.
Q: What is one of the most memorable experiences you had during your travels?
A: During my 2008 backpacking trip, I got to return to the village in Cameroon where I’d studied during college, which was such an awesome experience. I’d stayed there six years earlier with a polygamous family, and they didn’t know I was coming for a visit. Remembering the shock on their faces to see me in their village still makes me smile!
Q: From your experience, what is the best advice young female professionals should take heed of when looking to develop their careers?
A: Be proactive about going after what you want. Seek out others who are going after their own dreams, and surround yourself with those go-getters. Often, the difference between accomplishing a professional dream and getting stuck in a rut is simply having the determination to take baby steps. We all have challenges and obstacles, but if you really are passionate about your goals, you will figure out how to make them happen. No one else is going to do it for you – and once you realize that, you’re already ahead of your peers.
Oh! And one more thing. Check out my new social media course: Make Your Own Luck. This is something I talk a lot about on my blog, and now I’m finally teaching folks how to make luck with social media – aka grow your network strategically so opportunities come to you. If you have ambitious career goals, that will help you reach them.