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Ok, so I promised I’d get you an updated post today and give you more details about the new job offer and moving plans (if you missed it, here is that first post from last week). Because as far as this blog goes, both of those things will impact my future posts significantly. And progress on the house. And even, as this past day and a half has proven, ALL THE THINGS. Including my cell phone service (why do simple things sometimes have to turn into a big complicated mess?. Ugh).
Anyway, let’s cut right down to a few key details. I’ll try to answer some of the bigger questions first (I asked last week on Facebook for you guys to tell me what you were most curious about, and there were definitely some common threads), and then if you have more specific ones, just leave ’em in the comments.
This new job offer came so unexpectedly, and it’s not really possible to pinpoint any one thing in particular that caused it to happen. When I think about it, the blog, learning how to do web design and development, my Pinterest following, getting my MBA, and working in software – all played a part. Without each of those things, I’m convinced that the dominoes would not have fallen the way they did.
To start, my background is in software. When I started at my soon-to-be-former company several years ago (shortly after beginning the blog), it was a business of about 50 people total. We were very competitive in the market, and that drew the attention of our largest (and publicly traded) competitor who also does a lot of acquisitions. Which is exactly what happened to us. The company culture experienced a significant shift when the transition happened, our office moved, and we lost a lot of good people right away. I wasn’t interested in trying to find another job while I was also finishing school, so I hung around as best I could to keep at least one thing in my life stable until I figured things out. But during that time, I felt that my career was definitely in a holding pattern. I felt both ambitious and stunted; after not finding opportunity to move up in the company (it seemed that once you had a specific role, you just sort of stayed there… especially in my department), I grew even more unhappy. I wasn’t giving 100%, and both of those things influenced the other in an endless cycle of negativity. I wanted to move on, but wasn’t interested in starting over again; I wanted to use the skills I’ve been working on for the last few years and see where it would lead. Take the next step.
My web design business, Sweet Theory Designs, was growing to the point of evaporating nearly all of my free time at night. I was thrilled at the idea of moving on to do more things like that, but I was at that awkward growth stage of having too much work to keep doing both it and my job long-term, and not enough to do just the design work full time…. yet. The game plan for the last year had been to save up enough to give myself a grace period to test things out on my own, and I had been thinking about new ways of taking the business to the next level. Maybe with just a little more time, I’d figure out how to get through it.
But that didn’t mean I wasn’t considering other opportunities if the right one came along. I started writing with sites like Answers.com, taking on internet TV shows, etc. I wasn’t sure where things would go, but I was keeping my options open and following what I found exciting.
The New Job
My new job? Short and sweet: I’m going to be the Web Editor for a new online magazine, Society South!
To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I mentioned their work toward a launch a few months ago when I was doing freelance writing for them (contributing short articles for their design category). A few months after I started writing for them though, the CEO met with each of the contributors to give us a better idea of what Society South was all about and where he hoped it would lead. We sat down for a bit to mainly discuss the idea of my doing a few DIY videos a couple times a year in addition to writing, but somehow, we began talking about my web design work-hobby. I’ve learned a ton over the last few years in designing and growing blogs, and I have absolutely loved the path that it’s taken so far. As it happened, they were looking to add a new team member to their staff, specifically with experience in web design, blogging, creating content, and social media. And would I be interested in considering it? Um, yes!
What I didn’t realize at first was that considering the job also meant considering moving to where Society South has their office: Auburn, Alabama (I’d assumed that a web-based job was something that can be done remotely; oops!).
Auburn is also a college town (Auburn University, of course). Which just so happens to be a rival of my alma mater, The University of Georgia (Bulldawgs, baby!). For those of you that don’t live in an area where you can see SEC football, it’s harder to explain, but this culture runs deep. It’s not just a college town; it’s a football town. And obviously, much smaller than living in a metropolis like Atlanta. This news wasn’t really as well-received as the idea of the job. But if I was willing, they’d have me come visit, meet the rest of the staff, take a few tours around Auburn, and maybe, just maybe, I’d consider moving there? Um… maybe.
Immediately, my mind raced with all of the projects going on in the house. Um… that wouldn’t be possible. Would it?
I took two days off work to visit the staff and take a look around the town. It’s actually only about two and a half hours driving distance door to door from my house, so was pretty easy to pull off. Still, I was about 75% convinced at this point that I wasn’t willing to move. I told myself to keep an open mind and give it a chance; a house wasn’t enough reason to say no.
When I got there, every person I met on staff was friendly and funny. The actual office itself was an old house with original plaster walls and architecture I could easily spend hours drooling over (wish I’d snapped pics, but I’ll do that on my next visit – pic above is from their feed!). They showed me around to a few restaurants (that all had local craft brews, interestingly enough). They then drove me around to neighborhoods where I’d likely find a place to rent temporarily, and then to neighborhoods where I’d more than likely be interested in buying after I’d gotten to know the area, since they knew I wanted to keep the blog going. On the second day, they had me sit down with some of their friends and family to get an idea of what it’s like to live in a college town when you’re not a college student (all I kept thinking was, I’m likely about 10 years older than the average person living there). In other words: these guys know how to make a good sales pitch. I told them it was a lot to take in, and that I would take a couple weeks to think about it.
Talking to Friends and Family
Right after I left, I was already back to blogging business in the car: SheKnows had sent me an email earlier that day about doing another season, and my mind was still spinning from the idea of picking up my life and moving it for a job. Could I really consider this? Could I do it? The house was nowhere near ready to sell, but does that mean it would be impossible? What, really, was keeping me in Atlanta? I had lots of conflicting thoughts. And I knew that talking to friends about it would help make my mind up.
To my surprise, all of them immediately encouraged me to go for it. ALL. OF. THEM. Some shouted, even. My friend, Lindsey, has been one of my biggest cheerleaders for me quitting my current job. She’s been specifically asking that I bring glitter in my pocket to work to announce that I’d quit. I didn’t do that, but I did bring a handful of glitter to our dinner date to tell her what was going on. She was ecstatic. Not about the idea of moving away, but she agreed that a 2-hour road trip wasn’t much between good friends. Especially when it comes to a job that would make me a lot happier.
While at that same restaurant, I noticed a large group of folks having a private party in the back. They were clearly celebrating some type of company milestone (a retirement? an anniversary? I wasn’t sure). But they all seemed thrilled. It was only a small crowd, maybe 30 or 40 people max. And I was suddenly calm. I thought, “I want that. Let’s DO THIS.” I want to be involved in something; turn a small business into a growing success. And that wasn’t going to happen where I was. Time to make a change. And it was going to be great.
The idea of moving is still not something I’m happy about. But for a job that I know I’ll kick the shit out of, I’m willing to take a leap of faith. If it winds up that the whole thing was a terrible mistake, the worst is that I move back to Atlanta (or some other city) with a lot more experience for something I’d enjoy doing already behind me. Career-wise, this was the right choice. And if you spend 8 hours or more per day doing something you like instead of something that makes you unhappy, it’s worth the risk, right?
So, I’m doing it. I’m moving. Eventually. The first question I seemed to get asked lately is when? But the truth is, the house would have to be ready to sell before that could be a reality. There’s a lot of things to finish before that can happen. So the honest answer is that I don’t really know. I’ve been itemizing a giant list of things I must get done with the house before I can move on. Some of it I can hire help for; most of it is a list of tiny unfinished things that I can do on my own when I finally have the time to (such as when I’m able to work from home & complete small tasks at various points during the day). All of the time each day that I spent commuting to work can now be spent on projects. I’ll have a completely separate post with that list (this one’s getting way too long!).
So, hopefully, that also answers the second most common question (I mentioned it in the first announcement, but there were still questions). I don’t plan on renting it out. That seems like too much work and stress. So I’m planning on selling it as soon as it is ready to begin showing. Let’s hope that happens quickly! Society South has been very understanding with this speed bump so far, so I’m hopeful that this will continue and the process won’t cause me to lose the rest of my already strained brain cells.
Sweet Theory Designs
As for design work, it’s a significant factor in why I even have the skills to do the new job. So because it’s a passion for me (and a source of income), I don’t plan on quitting my new little business. But, I have been thinking of transitioning into more template design than one-on-one custom designs per website. I’ve found that when it comes to a lot of the work I get asked to do, there are common requests that overlap nearly 100% of the time. So my goal is to transition into providing these more often than doing custom work, with several template design options, available for purchase direct from SweetTheoryDesigns.com. I’m nearly finished with the first! I’m planning to start this transition by stepping back a bit on the case-by-case stuff in order to be able to give the appropriate attention to the new job. I figure that this will be the best way to keep things balanced and learn the new role’s needs for now.
There you have it. Not sure I could ever cover everything, but hopefully plenty of info for ya. Like I said, if you have more questions, go ahead and comment & I’ll try to answer them; if they repeat, I’ll include them in the next post about the house to-do-list.
And two more things: First, THANK YOU for all of your support. I was touched by all of your well wishes when I made the announcement last Friday. You guys are awesome. Period.
Also? It’s my blogiversary today. Four years of writing! I’ve always found it incredibly appropriate that this goofy-ass blog began on April Fool’s Day. Here’s to one more year!
UPDATE: Once I move (or depending on the amount of travel, before then), there’s a good chance you’ll see me doing things from time to time behind the scenes. So just in case you’d like to follow along with all of that, you can find Society South’s social media accounts here: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Google+ / Youtube. Feel free to say hello!