Kayla Hollatz is a writer and social media strategist. But that's not all... she's an expert brand builder, coach, founder of the #CreateLounge Twitter chat and podcast, and a generally amazing human. Here we discuss what it's really like to work for yourself, the people that keep her inspired and her top tips for building your own creative community, virtually or otherwise.
You left your day job to launch your own business. How was that transition? It was as fulfilling and exciting as it was absolutely terrifying. Before taking the leap, I had about two years of consistent blogging under my belt, but I left my agency job the first month I launched my coaching business. I don't think anything quite prepares you for taking the leap but I actively listened to myself, trusted my instincts, and knew if I was ever going to take the leap, it was going to be when I was young with no debt and some savings in the bank. I've looked at my transition of running my business full-time as a big experiment and growing experience from day one. I think it's the only way I stay sane sometimes!
Can you tell us a little bit about #createlounge? What are your hopes for its evolution? Wow, where to start? I started my #createlounge community as a Twitter chat community in January 2015 after seeing there weren't any chats for creative bloggers and entrepreneurs which I wanted to change. I was essentially building the kind of community I needed too and what resulted was this incredible collective of creatives who endlessly inspire me as well as one another. Although we started as a Twitter chat, and that continues to be our community hub, we've also expanded into a podcast and book club along with having a dedicated website last May. I've always been very intentional with exactly where I grow #createlounge as I want to ensure it's moving in the right direction for the community members. I'm still in the planning stage for our 3.0 version, as I like to call it, so we'll see what happens!
As part of #createlounge, you also run an excellent podcast. Do you have any tips for anyone considering starting their own? Thank you so much! The podcast came after my first year of hosting the #createlounge Twitter chat because I wanted to create a platform for our community members to share their stories beyond 140 characters. It's been the best complement to the weekly chat.
For anyone who is interested in starting a podcast, I'd say to spend time in the envisioning stage. Part of my brain wanted to jump right into figuring out the technical part of podcasting since I was a little nervous about it to begin with but devoting time to clarifying my vision for the podcast, its purpose, and how I wanted to conduct my interviews made a world of a difference in keeping the passion alive throughout the creation process.
Also, if you're not sure if you want to launch a full-blown podcast, start with a smaller audio related passion project before you commit to a regular podcast. For me, I started with a 10 episode audio series called The Power of We where I interviewed business owners and bloggers on how they built their online communities on different platforms. It now acts as my main mailing list opt-in but really, it gave me the confidence I needed to start a weekly podcast since I knew my audience loved the audio series.
A subject I'm really interested in is "expectations". Can you speak to the idea of career expectations? How has your idea of working for yourself compared to the reality? These are really great questions. I'd say the biggest career expectations I have are those I put on myself. I've always had a hard time choosing one single career path because my aspirations have always evolved with me. My parents urged me when I was young to find what I was passionate in but like many kids, none of the traditional jobs interested in me. I've always wanted to make my parents proud with my hard work ethic, but it's also important for me to feel fulfilled and purposeful in my position.
Being self-employed isn't exactly as I had pictured it. One of my expectations was that I would have a completely open schedule and could work whenever I wanted but in reality, I still work around the schedules of my coaching and freelance clients which means I work normal work hours nearly every day (and then some!). I have just as hard of a time carving out time for self-care just like when I was working full-time agency hours too. If anything, being self-employed has just helped me become more aware of my everyday routine. There is some freedom, though. One of the major perks about working for yourself is going to the grocery store at 2 PM when no one else is there. It's magical!
Lastly, who should we be following? What blogs/people/publications keep you inspired? There are SO many inspiring creatives I could name. Some of my favorites include Elizabeth Gilbert for her podcast Magic Lessons, Caroline Kelso of Made Vibrant and Paige Poppe for their art, Emily P. Freeman for her transparent newsletters, Nicole Antoinette for her podcast Real Talk Radio, and Sarah Von Bargen of Yes and Yes for rocking her non-niched blog. As a community builder, it's so hard for me to narrow down who I'm inspired by. I believe everyone's story has the power to inspire.
Follow Kayla on Twitter @KaylaHollatz