After the birth of her son, Emily Smith launched her blog The Best of this Life as an outlet to document joyful moments with her new little one. Her husband was deployed with the U.S. Navy and she had so many mixed emotions – elation with the arrival of her first child and sadness from being apart from her husband with a new baby – launching a blog was a way for her to work through this new chapter in her life. But then the blog grew into something more than she could have imagined. Emily began writing about recipes she was creating, places in her own city of Ottawa she was rediscovering as a new mom. After 2 years of mostly food blogging, she expanded to include life and style articles and her blog traffic really started to grow. With a background in women’s retail buying and visual merchandising, Emily was able to share her experience in beauty, fashion and decor quite easily. “It’s always what comes natural that will really help your blog to flourish,” explains Emily. Two years later Emily became pregnant with her second child and took a break from her blog. During this break she discovered that she had some amazing and very supportive blog readers. Today, the Best of this Life has grown into a women’s lifestyle brand and expanded into an online magazine. It’s a trusted resource for gluten-free recipes, product reviews, mom fashion and event happenings in Ottawa.
Name: Emily Smith
Business: The Best of this Life
Title: Owner & Creative Director
Education: Fashion Merchandising and Design Degree, Social Media Certification
Describe your most recent business success and tell us about your next big goal. What’s up next? – Recently I had the opportunity to be featured in a video product review for a major beauty brand. It was such a neat experience to be on set all day with an amazing crew! The campaign will be launching soon and I’m really excited about being a part of it. It was definitely a moment of business success, to see my personal brand reach a new height. Because I receive questions regularly about how to start a blog and how to build social media, a big goal for 2016 is to create tools to help my readers network so they can grow their brands.
How would you define success? – Success is creating content (writing, photography, video) that aligns with my core values, while delivering a positive message to its recipient. When I can make a person’s day better, easier, more fun and encourage them to share their light with the world around them – then I feel successful. That may come by way of a great recipe, time saving hack, a personal story, a stellar fashion tip or even a simple Instagram picture. You wouldn’t believe the messages I’ve received over a post I wrote about how to freeze bananas the right way! You just never know how you’ll help someone out. In that same vein, success is loving what I do – which is creating and connecting.
Give us the ‘inside scoop’ – what does a day in your business life look like?- I wake up with my two children and husband around 7:30am. Coffee’s brewing first thing! I usually hop into my gym clothes right away, which serves as a reminder to head there once my son is on the bus to school. We have breakfast, usually a super smoothie or oatmeal and I get the kids dressed. I check in with my website, making sure that day’s article has gone live on schedule, scan for important emails, and write an action plan for the day (if I haven’t already done it the night before!). My husband works from home with me, so once our son is on the bus, he takes care of our daughter while I head to the gym. I love to swim, especially during the cold months I find it so refreshing and enjoyable. I’ll take my shower there and do my hair with a light touch of makeup. Once I’m back home, I spend an hour with my daughter playing, reading, cleaning the house (she’s at the age where chores are fun!). Then I get to work. I squeeze a lot into 3-5 hours. From whipping up a recipe, to styling a photo shoot, or writing a blog post. I keep to a schedule, but I am also flexible because I’m a mother first. My daughter loves being part of all the action, she’s a great little helper.
What types of customers are in your business ‘pink book’ and who are you looking to connect with? – Mompreneurs, bloggers, small business owners and creatives – who’s business I can help grow. I offer consulting on many things including photo styling, photo shoots, online presence, brand campaigns, working with bloggers and site monetization. This year, I am working on creating online products and resources for my network that will help them grow their audience.
If you were not doing this job, what is your plan B? Are you still chasing your dream job? – I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, I didn’t choose this life it chose me. That’s perfectly applicable. After taking a brief hiatus from the fashion industry and living with my husband abroad for a year, coming home to give birth and finding myself a stay at home mom – blogging knocked on my door. It was a friend of mine who had shared her blog with me about her travels and I thought, this is a thing? As I mentioned, it was the right outlet to talk about the best things that were happening in my life, in spite of a lot of sadness I was feeling from my husband being away. From that small place grew a job that I fell in love with. I am the Creative Director of the Best of this Life. Whether that day’s hat means working on a styled shoot, writing a personal story, drafting an authentic sponsored post or collaborating with other creative individuals. It’s a bit of everything and I can only see it evolving from here.
Do you think it’s important to love what you do, or make good money? – Love what you do. But if you can’t yet get by on it, you can work on what you love while you continue doing what makes you money. Another way to look at it: if doing what you love to can cover your basic human needs (food, shelter, clothing) – then go for it and grow in it. If it can’t yet sustain you, work towards it. Make a plan and do it in your spare time. Don’t just shelf your dream job.
Be open minded, hungry, and always the best version of yourself. Don’t turn your nose up at an opportunity that isn’t shiny and bright – you’d be surprised what a great team, environment and spirit can do for your success. If you’re starting out on your own, be organized, create a plan, be consistent, and be patient. And always be authentic, even when you slip up, go back to that core value.
Is owning your own business as glamorous as it sounds? – Not when it comes to accounting! That is an element I could do without. Because I work with many different PR agencies, brands, and vendors – all of the paperwork can add up. It’s tax season right now, and I’m tackling my excel spreadsheets and file folders full of invoices.
What inspired you to start your own business? What made you decide to take the leap? – It was a natural transition for me. Even though at first it was a decision of doing what I love over making money, my husband and I were in agreement that the risk to do what I had became so passionate about full-time was worth it. I guess in some way, I’ve always known that at some point in my life I would be an entrepreneur. I really love the freedom of owning my own business.
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the workplace? – In the business of online media, the only honest tip I can give is be yourself. We are all created uniquely. You are your brand, therefore by being yourself, you’re already setting yourself apart.
How do you achieve work/ life balance? How do you unplug?- This is a huge focus for me in 2016. As I mentioned before, when the kids go to bed, I will still head back to work. Balancing work hours has been a juggling act and I’m learning how to make more time for myself and my husband. We’re also planning more family activities together outside of the home, where I’m completely unplugged. We love to swim, visit museums and go on mini-adventures together. I’m very much a family gal.
What are your plans for expansion? – I’ve been working with a few mentors on creating a defined strategy for The Best of this Life and my brand. It has grown incredibly in the last year and I want to really connect with the audience that I already have. These are my readers, my friends, my colleagues and I want to bring valuable assets to their lives. There are a lot of ideas in the works – from small group workshops to an online seminar. It’s a very exciting time right now and I look forward to what the future holds.