It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a full-time content, branding, and writing professional (samlanda.com) who’s launching a new company (brandcafe.co) this summer. That’s “by day.” I’m also a metal drummer “by night.” Born and raised in Richmond, I now live in Mount Pleasant with my boyfriend and husky. I have a dusty geography degree from UBC and I love meeting new people. Overachievers unite–you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
What drew you to the content and branding world?
I’ve been writing all my life–I’m pretty sure I was born with a pen in my hand. That later became a Windows 3.1 PC. And that later became a MacBook. As a creative writer, I always dreamed of being a novelist. I may not be one yet (although I finished writing one a few years ago), but I do get paid to do what I love, which at the moment is helping companies tell their stories and find an interesting voice–especially those in traditionally non-exciting industries.
Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?
I love a great ad campaign, especially one that makes me think or makes me laugh. There are a million ways to promote a product, service, or cause, but there are only a few ways to do it right. Most of all, however, it’s people who inspire me, both in my content work and my music. I love making people happy.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start doing what you do?
For those wanting to write for businesses: volunteer a lot, if you aren’t walking out of school with a communications degree (and even then, you should get experience your own way). There are plenty of people looking for writing help, and you can plump up your resume very quickly. Go to networking events. Check Meetup.com. There are tons out there!
For those wanting to quit the day job and work for yourself: do it. But have a plan, and a backup plan. Start moonlighting and meeting people who could become potential clients. Just don’t let the planning get in the way of your dreams. It’s never going to be the perfect time, which means now is the perfect time.
For those wanting to learn drums: you’re going to suck after just a few tries. Don’t give up. The number of people who say “I’m a horrible drummer” but have only sat down on the drums once, is astounding. I was a terrible drummer for a long time, and I’m a musical person; I just didn’t want to practice enough. Find your passion and do whatever it takes to get there, no matter how long you need to struggle. Rent an hourly rehearsal space (there are plenty in town) and get a good teacher.
What are the biggest challenges for writers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?
The biggest challenge for many writers–especially freelancers–is setting one’s self apart from hundreds of other Vancouver writing professionals. There are many of you out there, but there’s more than enough work to go around. Shake hands. Get outside. Make and receive referrals. Be a good writer (“maybe she’s born with it”). But most importantly, be genuine, and people will respect you and trust you to do good work. Then go in there and prove how awesome you are, champ.
Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?
I’m biased, but I work a few days a week (when I can) at Spacekraft, a great coworking space in Burnaby. It has everything I need to be productive, but it also provides the social setting I miss from when I used to work in a corporate office.
Also, my patio is awesome.
Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?
The most helpful resource I’ve found so far has been a closed Facebook group called Girl Gang. I’ve found clients, contractors, referral partners, and friends through this group. I highly recommend finding Meetup groups like this, or starting your own accountability group, especially if you’re a solopreneur or a new small business owner.
What’s in the works for you right now?
I’m launching my company, Brandcafe, this summer. It takes the SaaS package business model and applies it to the content world (to the uninformed, it means businesses sign up for a package to get ongoing custom content every month). And my band is recording our second album!