Welcome, Carrie Ashley, owner of Carried Away Creative Co and guest today on KaylaRoof.com.
How A Looming Deployment Led Me to My Work-From-Anywhere Career
I know what you might be thinking after your eyes just scanned the headline above:
Carrie, seriously? Your husband’s looming deployment led you to your work-from-anywhere career?!
Yes, it did, friend. And, I’m happy (and honestly slightly still shocked) to say that. Especially because we all know deployments can come at us like a wrecking ball, and throw the routine we’ve gotten “used to” completely out the window.
That said, I’m here to give you the full scoop today—from start to finish—on how exactly I made my career dreams come true, and how you can, too!
Here’s the background story for you.
I was working as a marketing associate at a women-owned, modern travel agency in Williamsburg, Virginia, when BAM…my husband got orders to deploy. That’s when the lightbulb went off.
It took some serious effort for me to find the position when we first moved to the area. But, the last thing I wanted was to punch the clock from 8:30-5:30 Monday through Friday, 30 to 40 minutes away from our home, with very limited vacation time to go back to our hometown for the holidays—all while counting down the days until homecoming.
So, I took matters into my own hands, and…
I went to my employer and pitched the idea of moving from full-time into a virtual contract position.
No, my hours and pay wouldn’t be the same. But, I would continue to assist them with their marketing efforts on an as-needed basis, which gifted me so much more in return—a flexible schedule, plenty of days off, and the ability to uproot my career when the time came to move again.
Eager to know their response? Well, they said “yes.” And, that welcomed answer helped ignite this little, and completely accidental, idea I had—Carried Away Creative Co., a virtual marketing boutique dedicated to lightening writing workloads and helping readers to get carried away by brands.
So, how did that small seed of an idea eventually turn into a thriving business?
It all boils down to a copious amount of grit and grace. Oh, and how could I forget… patience (which I absolutely did not have at the very beginning). You see, I think hearing about other milspouses crushing it at a PCS-proof career can make it easy to want success to come to us in a day.
And, if it doesn’t, we beat ourselves up and wonder what the heck we’re doing wrong and if we’ll ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m talking about a solid revenue stream and the ability to brush off whatever the military throws at you—deployments, cross-country moves, TDYs, and so much more. You know, the things that could bring a traditional in-office career to a screeching halt.
I know, I know. Why would I need patience when I was basically gifted with a client (aka my former full-time employer) right off the bat? Let me tell you; it wasn’t all puppies and rainbows.
Work was slow to come in. And, when it did, it either wasn’t what I considered my “specialty” (content creation and strategy) or would only take up about four hours of my time. I found myself having conversations with others saying, “I just wish I could find more clients to help pass the time and continue doing what I love to do each and every day.”
As soon as I got serious about making that happen, however, everything changed.
I joined the Work from Anywhere Business Academy, connected with fellow milspouse entrepreneurs in Facebook mastermind groups (Milspo Project’s Member Mastermind and MilSpouse Creative), and put my heart and soul into small projects to win some of those prized testimonials.
To be completely honest with you, it took me about six months to really get my feet off the ground and build up a solid roster of business BFFs (my clients). And, a solid year to double my income.
But, as the famous saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The long days and late nights, however, were 100% worth it and helped pass the time on the deployment clock.
All that said, what are my key takeaways for creating a work-from-anywhere career?
Well, if I had to narrow it down to my top five favorites, I’d say:
- Have the courage to ask your current employer “the question.” Your work-from-anywhere career opportunity could, in fact, be right in front of you. If you love what you’re doing with your full-time employer, yet you got orders to PCS, consider asking them “the question”—if they’d be interested in converting your full-time role into a virtual contract position. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! And, there are many benefits of virtual work arrangements for your employer (think reduced costs and turnover, more office space, and enhanced productivity to name a few). If you never ask, however, the answer will always be “no.”
- Don’t be afraid to wear multiple hats you might not consider “stylish.” You’re going to be a one-woman show for a while, so you need to be fearless when it comes to wearing many hats. Most importantly, hats you aren’t very familiar with just yet such as bookkeeping and accounting, technology (troubleshooting and even building your own website), sales and marketing, and much more depending on what it is you offer. The good news? As you grow, you’ll have the opportunity to outsource tasks you either dread or aren’t an expert on.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. You need to put yourself out there, try new things, and take risks, which can be very uncomfortable. Things won’t always go as planned and you’ll make mistakes along the way. But, on the plus side, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone will lead you to achieve your goals and grab hold of success!
- Break free from “hobby” status. As soon as you get serious about your work-from-anywhere gig, people will start taking you seriously. Join entrepreneur mastermind groups, attend virtual or in-person trainings or conferences to grow your network and skillset, put together a simple and inviting website, set working hours, build out your social pages… you get the idea. Yes, this requires some hard work, but it also helps you position yourself as a credible person in your industry.
- And, most importantly, don’t let the military lifestyle hold you back. There are so many opportunities out there to help you follow your dreams and do what you love—wherever you are. That doesn’t have to stop as soon as you become a military spouse. In fact, I think the military lifestyle can inspire and motivate us to take that leap and make a big change to build and grow a career that not only makes us happy, but also challenges us day-in and day-out.
Well, there you have it. A deployment did, in fact, lead me to my work-from-anywhere content creation career. And, while that might not be the same case for you, no matter where you are in your military spouse journey, know that a virtual career is possible. And, that upcoming PCS or overseas assignment might just be the perfect excuse to make those dreams of yours a reality!