Work

On Following Your Dreams

September 1, 2017
Following your dreams

It’s always important to have many an impossible dream in life, I reckon. As I heard Tamsin Greig say recently, “if something looks completely impossible, it’s probably the very thing you should be doing”.

Which is why, at different times in my life, I have had aspirations to do the following: own a restaurant, star in Hollyoaks and/or Neighbours, write a book, have three kids, live by the sea, own a business, do stand-up comedy and fall in love. Some of these dreams I’ve achieved, some of these dreams I’ve grown out of and some I am still working towards. I’ll let you decide which is which.

One dream I never realised I had until I became a mother was that of being my own boss.

It happened by total accident: I’d had a successful career heading up a Digital Marketing team at a youth media company, and once I left to go on maternity leave I felt a bit lost. Eight weeks in to my leave I had an email from an old work contact asking if I’d be interested in a little freelance project – it was some online PR for Orange’s sponsorship of Glastonbury –  and I realised I was.

One small project led to another, and I used the remainder of my KIT days to investigate the possibility of setting up on my own and collect some clients; once Elfie was 6 months old I went for it proper.

It’s been an amazing 7 years of self-employment. I’ve led site re-designs that cost more than my first house, launched online magazines, carried out huge strategy reviews, won industry awards, spoken at massive events… all with the flexibility for me to be home in time for the school run.

I took a year back in 9-5 employment to hone my skills as a director within a couple of Marketing agencies, but this time just served as a demonstrator that being employed by someone else is not for me. In my lifestyle as a single parent I need the flexibility to drop everything if one of the kids becomes ill, or to stop work at 2pm on a Friday to go to the school Harvest Festival, and the only way I can guarantee that is if I’m the boss and CEO of my own life.

My career hasn’t been easy – I’ve had times when I’ve worked 60 hour weeks and have had less sleep than as the mother of a newborn – but it’s taken me from a place where I was in debt and worried about where the next paycheck will come from to a comfortable Waitrose-shopping occasional Jimmy Choo-buying bank balance. And as the only person in my household that’s been earning a wage for the last 4 and a half years, that makes me really proud.

This blog has been one constant during my career. I designed my first website, a blog where I wrote about boys and makeup (er, not much has changed then), at the age of 15 and have written in some form online ever since. This platform started making money almost by accident back in 2012 and the online blogging world has become more and more commercialised in the years since. It’s been incredible that something I love so much – a little website I started because I was so freaked out about having a baby at 24 – has grown to become something that helps financially support that same child.

More Than Toast now welcomes around 60,000 people a month (this still makes me feel weird) and the people I’ve met via the site and my Social Media platforms have become some of my closest friends. Yet I still barely write about toast.

It’s gone from earning me pocket money pennies to being half of my income, and in the last three months the blog and associated projects – event hosting, speaking engagements, writing, teaching and mentoring – has slowly crept up to bringing in enough money for me to earn my previous full-time wage from it.

Following your dreams

Which is why, when I was reviewing my figures and More Than Toast projects a couple of months ago, wondering where I was going to squeeze in my corporate project work, I had a lightbulb moment. As much as I have always absolutely adored my consultancy and the work I’ve done with my clients, More Than Toast is my third baby, my passion, the love of my life. The writing I do here and the discussion it sparks always inspires me, and the community I’ve built via Social Media gives me drive I feel lacking elsewhere. If I want to write my book, do stand-up comedy, star in Hollyoaks, start a Tshirt line, run online courses, make videos…I simply don’t have time to do all that when I’m spending two days a week working with corporate clients.

And so I made a slightly terrifying decision: I gave notice to my big client, the one whose monthly fees would support my family should the worst happen and no other work come in. The one I loved and adored and cherished. The one whose work was nourishing and fun but ultimately, was not my blog: the contrast between the creativity I felt every time I worked on my own website and the client-facing corporate work had become huge, and I wanted to my work life to solely be More Than Toast.

Eek!

So now when someone asks me “what do you do?” I no longer reply with the job title Digital Consultant. I now say I’m a blogger, a writer, a hopeful Social entrepreneur: a thinker, a doer, maybe a little bit of a hustler. Since July I’ve taken a break for holidays and family time and then have been working on events, partnerships, the book and an ecourse for aspiring bloggers. It’s more than slightly terrifying to not know where my next paycheck is coming from but that fear is fuelling my fire and I believe that being more content will lead to further opportunities.

I’m always transparent when I work with clients on the blog and I hope that you, my lovely readers and community of friends, will continue to support me and the people who allow me to follow my dreams. The time I’ve freed up will give me more scope to work on the features we all love: not just the drivel about my love life but the inspiring Work That Works interviews and gorgeous Home Tours, and more exclusive email content and fun videos (I have four waiting to go live – subscribe here!).

I’m so excited to not only be on this journey but to have you all along with me, and am incredibly thankful for all the support, well-wishes and relationship advice you’ve given me along the way.

As my very first client Orange used to say: The Future’s Bright. And when it comes to More Than Toast, I know that’s true.

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  • Reply Lucy Davies September 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Wow, what an inspirational story. Hope all continues to glitter for you :-)

    • Reply alice September 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Thank-you, Lucy!

  • Reply Jamie Klingler September 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Yo rock babes. As someone at the baby steps of my own agency, needed to read this…

  • Reply Peta September 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Oh my goodness, how exciting!! Wishing you all the luck in the world, although I just know you won’t need it. You have worked every so hard for so long for this. Thank you for your honesty, so often we see what we think are “over night successes” when in fact years and years of very hard work are accountable for the success of a business, an entrepreneur and ultimately a person’s biggest dreams.
    Peta xx

  • Reply Lizzi September 1, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    So proud of you, matey. I will always remember finding MTT by Googling ’14 weeks pregnant jersey’ to find out if my obsession with the super stretchy material was hormonal or normal and your page popped up. The rest is history! Can’t wait to follow More Than Toast on its new journeys x X

  • Reply Anna September 1, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Bon chance my love. Yay to doing what you love x

  • Reply Vickie Neave September 1, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    You will fly. Soar through the skies on this journey. The passion for your work will ensure this will be the best decision you have made!
    I cannot wait to read, watch and enjoy the journey with you.
    Go for it!
    Vx

  • Reply Lizzie September 1, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Good luck Alice. I know it will be a success because of your strong, warm personal brand. I really enjoy your blogs and, as a single mum making my way blinking into the sunshine of post divorce life, I love to follow the arc of your story. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Kate Charman September 1, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    This is amazing Alice…I’m always so jealous of people who make moves like this because I’m never brave enough. I remember your original blog and you were always so good at writing at school. In fact you probably don’t realise this but you inspired my degree choice which in turn led to the career I have today so thank you ????
    Good luck with MTT. I am a massive fan, the blog is bookmarked and I love crawling into bed at night and reading what you’ve been up to.
    Love Kate xx

  • Reply Kate Charman September 1, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    This is amazing Alice…I’m always so jealous of people who make moves like this because I’m never brave enough. I remember your original blog and you were always so good at writing at school. In fact you probably don’t realise this but you inspired my degree choice which in turn led to the career I have today so thank you ????
    Good luck with MTT. I am a massive fan, the blog is bookmarked and I love crawling into bed at night and reading what you’ve been up to.
    Love Kate xx

  • Reply Kate Charman September 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    (there was supposed to be an emoji where the question marks are!!!)

  • Reply Carolyn September 1, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Bravo! What an inspiring move. It’s going to be amazing, we’ve all got your back! X

  • Reply Sarie September 1, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Bloody amazing and I applaud you so much, I have always admired ,you and you are one of my favourite internet people, I just find your drive so inspiring. Here’s to your success and a long and prosperous career xx

  • Reply Andrew Taylor September 1, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Congrats and good luck.
    PS – Is “bricking it” a legitimate scientific / medical term?

  • Reply Candy Pop September 1, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Yay, how exciting. Congratulations lovely! x

  • Reply Emma King September 1, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Congratulations Alice! Fan-bloody-tastic! What an awesome role model you’re also providing for your kids. I’m a newbie starting out here & it appears to be daunting & I feel as though I’m having to learn another language!

    Enjoy!

  • Reply Lottie | Oyster & Pearl September 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    YES! Alice! Nice one, I’m so happy for you. This is amazing news. Can we meet one day in real life? I’m a bit squiffy now but really, is live to come and hang out with you one day. Is that a possibility seeing as we’re both #mumboss #mumpreneurs now???

  • Reply Pen September 1, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    This sounds really exciting Alice. Can’t wait to see where More Than Toast goes to next. Pen x

  • Reply Pauline September 1, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    Wow! What a well written piece and well done and congratulations to you for following your dreams. It’s been great watching and reading your journey and I look forward to watching you grow and progress in the future.

  • Reply Fritha September 1, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    Yes Alice!! You always inspire me, loved reading this and know you’re going to rock it! Xx

  • Reply Tasha Goddard September 2, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Good for you! An inspiration to us all :)

  • Reply Emma September 2, 2017 at 7:28 am

    Wow, scary stuff but exciting and you will be glad you made the right choice! Go girl!

  • Reply Nyomi September 2, 2017 at 7:33 am

    Best of luck!

  • Reply Eleanor (TheBristolParent) September 2, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Go on lass! Terrific news!

  • Reply BySarahMostly September 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    I’d wish you good luck but something tells me you won’t need it! Amazing news Alice!

  • Reply Ruth Anderson September 3, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Wow!! Inspiring read Alice. Making decisions to chase ‘big’ goals as a single parent is double scary but also double rewarding. The only person giving you the motivation is YOU and the person you can praise when you achieve it is YOU. You go superwomanl!! ????????

  • Reply Julia @ Rainbeaubelle September 4, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Yes Alice! Such an inspiring read and it seems you’ve made such a success of your blog and your working life that this will only take you from strength to strength. Love and luck to you! X

  • Reply Gem September 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

    A really great post, I’m now ‘ following’. Really inspiring! Thank you. Great read!

  • Reply Alice September 8, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Very inspirational read! Thank you for sharingit really struck a cord with me x

  • Reply VickyFlipFlop November 24, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Oh that must’ve been so exciting! I hope the past few months have allowed you to focus more on what you want to be doing with your blog and work away from clients. I’ve been a freelance blogger for a few years now and absolutely love the flexibility :).

    • Reply alice November 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Thanks Vicky, the flexibility is so amazing!

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