When I first met Amanda Holstein she gave me advice on starting this little creative business here called Vérité Woman. Seems totally accurate for someone who has built blossoming career from a blog called Advice From a Twenty Something. It’s successful not just because she gives really, really good guidance, but due to her open book, hustlers mentality. She’s wise beyond her years in career, self-care, and internet-entrepeuneurship but the thing that makes her most approachable is she’s authentic in her “we’re all figuring it out” approach. I wanted to share some of her nuggets of gold with you — whether you’re starting your own company, trying to get on top of those finances in 2018, or just love a good lady success story Amanda’s your go-to girl.
Vérité Woman: What were you doing career wise when you launched Advice From A Twenty Something?
Amanda Holstein: I was working for a media company/influencer network representing bloggers in the Women’s Lifestyle category. I actually had launched a different blog prior to Advice from a 20 Something when I first graduated from college. I was having trouble finding a career path I felt passionate about, so I launched that first blog simply as a creative outlet. That first blog introduced me to a whole new world and helped me land my job at the media company. From there, I was lucky enough to get to work with some of today’s most successful bloggers just as they were launching their careers (like Gal Meets Glam, The Everygirl, Design Sponge, sfgirlbybay, Glitter Guide, and many more). Getting an insider’s look at what made these blogs successful and what brands were looking for in a partner inspired me to launch Advice from a 20 Something with a more strategic plan in mind.
VW: What made you want to jump the 9-5 ship and go out on your own?
AH: The longer I worked for a 9-5 company while simultaneously running my blog, the more I realized how much more passionate I was about working on my own projects. I just didn’t feel that same passion for the job I was doing, even though it was very much related to my blog. I just loved the ownership of running my own website. The effort I put in was directly associated with the results, and I really loved that. I was also never a fan of the arbitrary expectations of working for a 9-5 company. Getting in at a certain time, staying at the same desk all day, and leaving late enough to show your commitment — I hated all of that. It didn’t inspire me or even allow me to do my best work.
VW: How did you know you were ready to go freelance?
AH: It’s funny because I always said my goal with my blog was never to go full time. But what I realized was that I was just afraid that if I went full time, I might fail. Once I realized that fear was the only thing holding me back from doing it, it was a total wake up call. I did not want to let fear control my life so I said f*ck it and decided to take the plunge. I did it slowly, first by working part-time at a startup and part-time on my blog. But eventually, it became more and more clear that my passion for my blog was growing and once I felt comfortable enough financially, I made the jump.
VW: What are your key tactics for being financially smart in your business and in your personal life?
AH: I would say being financially smart is always something I’m working on perfecting. But I do keep track of everything when it comes to my business in google spreadsheets and that helps a ton. Every campaign, when it’s paid, etc. Keeping this type of data is helpful in so many ways. I can look back at see what I made this time last year and that helps me plan ahead, since income fluctuates monthly in the freelance world. Besides keeping track of everything, I really take the time to think about where I want to spend my money and if it’s worthwhile. For example, the first year I went freelance I decided to spend my money on a photographer, The second year, I felt it was necessary to invest in a full redesign. Those decisions were definitely worthwhile, but only because I made them at the right time.
AH: I use Quickbooks and I absolutely love it! It’s super helpful for tracking my income & expenses. Getting a separate credit card for my business expenses was incredibly helpful as well because I could track all of my business purchases in one place.
VW: Are you a written calendar or phone calendar girl?
AH: Phone! Which is funny because I write everything down on paper — notes, lists, you name it. But when it comes to my calendar, I like the simplicity of using my phone.
VW: I know all too well that when you’re hustling your own endeavor you’ve got your hands in everything from content creation to the tiny admin details — how do you stay focused on the tasks at hand?
AH: That’s definitely something I’m constantly working on. It’s really about prioritizing and planning out what you’re going to work on each day. It’s so important to step back and see the bigger picture before deciding where to spend my time. One thing I’ve been trying recently is to assign each day of the week to a different category. So Monday’s I focus on social, Tuesday’s is blog content, Wednesday’s is all campaign focused, Thursday’s are for affiliate strategy, and Friday is reserved for admin stuff. Now I definitely don’t stick to this exclusively, but it’s a nice way to get my mind focused on my main priority that day.
VW: Tell us your favorite ways to decompress after a long week!
VW: What do you think of all this Millennial work ethic talk? Do you think the stereotypes ring true?
AH: I think there’s a pretty clear divide in that Millennials have gone in one of two ways. Some have seen influencers become wildly successful in a short amount of time and believe that success is instantaneous. I receive messages all the time asking how to monetize a blog that hasn’t even launched yet. However, I believe there is another group of Millennials who see the opportunity they have to create the career they want. I think seeing this wave of freelancers, startups, and and self-employed girl bosses has inspired many to go after what they want, knowing that it’s hard work and enjoying the grind.
VW: Are there any books that have changed the way you work/ think?
AH: Yes, for sure! I read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life and that was super helpful in getting me to refocus on what’s truly important to me and to take some of the unnecessary pressure off of myself. I also really enjoy Jess Lively’s Podcast, The Lively Show. She talks a lot about living in alignment and listening to your intuition. I highly recommend it! To be honest, the biggest thing that has changed the way I work/think is therapy. It’s one of those experiences that can’t be replaced by books or podcasts and can have long-term effects on the way you think and live your life.
VW: You’ve been candid and transparent with your followers about your struggle with depression — your openness to talk about it was beneficial for me and I’m sure so many others — and I’m wondering how you keep focused and moving forward when you’re feeling bouts of anxiety, or depression?
AH: Dealing with depression while owning our own business is definitely not easy, but what I’ve learned is to try and show myself some compassion. Rather than getting down on myself about not being productive when I’m already feeling depressed, I try to just wait it out and give myself a break. I know I’m not going to do my best work when I’m in a depressed state. My head gets cloudy, that negative voice gets really strong, and it’s just not worth struggling through those feelings just to get some work done. I try to remind myself that my health needs to come first, and mental health is part of that. I’ve also found that talking about my experience with depression openly with my readers has helped a lot. It not only makes me realize that I’m the only one putting the pressure on myself, but also reminds me that I’m definitely not alone in what I’m going through.