Welcome to the Get Gutsy interview series! Each month, I interview people who are getting gutsy– stepping outside their comfort zones to reach their goals and live a life that makes them truly happy.
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to one of my very good friends…and a woman who inspires me to no end, Sara Frandina.
Here’s a quick story about me and Sara:
Back in 2012, I attended my first tourism conference for my full-time job. I met an awesome girl named Sara Paduano (now Frandina). We chatted about all things tourism and even about my blog. In 2013, we reconnected via email. Sara had quit her full-time job and was going out on her own to start her copywriting biz. We stayed in touch via my blog and newsletter and made an even deeper connection through one of my personal branding bootcamp sessions. From there, Sara and I realized how much we had in common and how we could help one another through this journey. We decided to become accountability partners and chat every Monday morning about what we accomplished the previous week and our goals for the week ahead. I look forward to those calls each week! Now, Sara and I are traveling to World Domination Summit together! (Oh, I should also mention, Sara was one of the winners of the 2015 Get Gutsy Essay Contest!) Read on to be inspired by Sara’s story.
1. Hi Sara! Thanks for being on the blog today. Could you please give us your best Twitter-style introduction? (140 characters or less!)
2. Tell us about how you are getting gutsy.
There are two distinct turning points I see in my past where I learned to get gutsy. The first was when I studied abroad in Italy as a junior in college. I was never one to separate myself too far from the safety net of family + friends, so being dropped off at JFK and boarding a plane across the Atlantic for 10 weeks in a foreign land was huge for me. Little did I know, it would spark a travel bug that has yet to subside — and it has changed me for the better in so many ways. Travel is one of the ways I continue to get gutsy. (More about that in this post that won me the Get Gutsy essay contest — which I’m still blushing about!)
The second turning point came when I realized solopreneurship was an option. Instead of searching for another traditional 9-5 to replace the job I was no longer happy at, I took a (giant) leap of faith and started freelancing for free in preparation for quitting my job. Six months later, I was a full-time solopreneur with a full client roster. Prior to leaving my day job + every day since, it’s taken a boatload of hustle, heart, and learning. I’m constantly pushed beyond my comfort zone as a solo business owner.
3. Tell us about your career…what kind of work do you do? Who do you love to work with?
I am a writer, through and through. I was writing before I went to kindergarten (thank you, mom!). Today, I work with words day-in and day-out, whether I’m copywriting, editing, or putting together content strategy. I write website copy, ghostwrite blogs, manage the content strategy + writing team behind a multi-author blog, and more. If it has words, I’ll try my hand at it.
In addition, I co-run the amazing community of female business owners at One Woman Shop, partnering with Cristina (who was also featured in the Get Gutsy interview series!) to create an engaged community and an ever-growing resource hub. When it comes to my copywriting business, I love working with solopreneurs, startups, and small businesses who value the power of what words can do to grow their brand. When it comes to One Woman Shop, nothing lights me up like working with female solopreneurs who know what hustle + heart are and aren’t afraid to put themselves out there for something they truly believe in. I am so, so grateful for what I get to do on a daily basis.
4. What made you decide to quit your full-time job and go out on your own?
I was unhappy at my full-time job for quite a while. I was in love with the work itself, which made it hard to leave, but I was stuck in a toxic environment that showed no signs of getting better. The day I decided to leave was the day that my misery at work started to wear on my then-fiance. He’s the most patient guy I’ve ever met, so the minute I saw my cynical attitude + general unhappiness affecting him, I knew it was time to make the move.
Fortunately, I had begun freelancing months in advance, working for free so as not to compromise my full-time position, while also soaking up as much knowledge as possible from fantastic solopreneurs like you!
5. What has life been like since you became a solopreneur? What’s the BEST thing about working for yourself and what’s the WORST thing?
Life has been a constant rollercoaster (it’s a good thing I love rollercoasters). There are days when I am absolutely in awe that I get to be a solopreneur; that this is working. Then there are days when I doubt every step I take and wonder if I’ll ever “make it.”
The best thing about working for yourself? You are in the driver’s seat. You answer to yourself. You hit bumps and will inevitably take on misfits for clients, but you learn, you pivot, and you know that with each decision, you’re creating your own future. (Also, getting to spend a substantial amount of time with my nieces is pretty freakin’ fantastic.)
The worst thing about working for yourself? The comparison trap. When you don’t have others around you to bounce ideas off or validate you, it’s all too easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of comparison. There are two ways I combat this: a post-it note on my computer that reminds me “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”, and constant community — an accountabili-buddy (hey, girl!), a business coach, a mastermind, and One Woman Shop. Solopreneurship cannot happen in a silo. Trying to do it “solo” is the biggest mistake that can be made.
6. You recently took an entire month off of work to travel to Australia and New Zealand. What was that like? Were you nervous to take a whole month off of work?
I literally swoon when I talk about this. Spending five weeks in the Southern Hemisphere was nothing short of incredible. We spent our first 10 days touring the South Island of New Zealand in a rental car, staying at AirBNBs along the way. We saw penguins come in from a day at sea, we swam with blue dolphins, we hiked Fox + Franz Glaciers, we did an overnight cruise through Doubtful Sound, and we explored Queenstown. We met amazing people, saw fantastic views, and ran into the most one-lane bridges we’ve ever encountered. From there, we spent four weeks in Australia, beginning in Uluru (Ayers Rock), over to Perth on the West Coast, down to Tasmania, landing in Melbourne at the time of Australia Day and the Australian Open (I’m a tennis fanatic — the trip was sparked by this!), and ending in Sydney. We were hosted by amazingly accommodating people, felt heat like we’ve never felt before, saw wild kangaroos, and gently pet koalas so as not to wake them. Sorry if I’m babbling — it’s tough to skip over anything, but there’s so, so much to share. Traveling is an amazing thing: it opens your mind, it teaches you, and it gives you stories to tell for a lifetime.
Was I nervous to take a whole month off of work? Absolutely. When you’re a solo business owner, you realize how detrimental just a little cold can be. To voluntarily take five weeks away seemed ludicrous. What it meant for me was triple the hustle in November and December as I got ahead on work. Fortunately, most of my clients at the time had been with me for a while, and they were completely supportive of the trip. My stress far outweighed their concern! Though the weeks before were chaotic to say the least, I wouldn’t change it for the world. (And yes, I got my laptop out on occasion while we were away.)
7. I’m sure there have been many challenges along the way in your journey. What’s your approach to tackling setbacks?
Growing up, my mom saw me through many-a-tearful nights, mostly due to stress. She promised one thing: it will always be better in the morning. So, when I’m at the end of the day and feeling like I didn’t accomplish enough, I failed at something, or I’m simply not enough, I know that I’m done. I step away, knowing that I’ll come back stronger the next day. (Moms are always right.)
If something truly hasn’t gone the way I’d hoped, I look at what I can learn from it. My other favorite reminder is that we can’t help those that don’t help themselves. I’m not afraid of change, and I’m not afraid to work. Learning experiences just mean that I need to invoke change and work harder.
And when all else fails? A bowl of popcorn and a glass of red wine will do the trick just fine.
8. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to follow your path?
Be yourself + find your community. If you can’t find it, build it. Community is so important to succeeding in a solo business, but in order to build a loyal, nurturing community, you have to be authentic. It’s so easy to live behind a screen online — but remember that your vulnerabilities made you relatable and asking for help makes you stronger.
Also, a lyric from one of my all-time favorite bands, Train: give it if you’ve got it. Lend your skills, offer your advice, always be helpful. I firmly believe that what you give away comes back in spades.
9. What does your life look like five years from now? More importantly, how do you hope to feel?
Five years from now, I’m celebrating my seventh anniversary married to the most amazing man, Pete, and we’re more in love each and every day. If we’re fortunate, we have grown our family. Most importantly, I feel abundant, accomplished, and have learned to strike the balance between constant multipassionate overachieving and learning to just be still and enjoy the moment.
10. What does getting gutsy mean to you?
Going back to my Get Gutsy essay, to me, the key to getting gutsy is opening your mind to what you never thought possible for yourself. The things you think of as dreams are your calling to get gutsy. The ideas that keep you awake at night are your invitation to get gutsy. Getting gutsy means learning; it means growth; it means finding happiness.
Want to connect with Sara?
Know someone you think I should chat with for the Get Gutsy interview series? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments below!
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