The Social Media CEO Spotlight: Ashleigh & Leah | Digital Nomads
It’s almost summertime (here in the States, at least)! With warmer weather, longer days, and the sun luring us outside, the travel bug begins to set in.
Many Social Media CEOs are running fully remote social media agencies, which opens up unique opportunities to travel and work in different places all over the world.
When it comes to traveling and maintaining a successful SMCEO businesses, our Clubhouse members, Ashleigh and Leah are the pros. They both quit their day-jobs to not only pursue building a fully remote social media agency, but they’re doing it while living in an RV and traveling across the great USA!
They both have unique stories of how they got to be where they are today and share both the positives and harder realities of life on the road. Read on to get inspired…
Tell us more about your social media business! What is your "elevator pitch"?
Ashleigh: I help small business owners who wear all the hats do all the things in digital marketing.
Leah: Breathe Social is a boutique social media agency for female-owned wellness, beauty and lifestyle brands.
How did you get started as a social media CEO? Give us a brief history, or your career trajectory --- what ultimately led you here?
Ashleigh: Back in early 2017, the multi-store retail company I planned to co-lead one day sold. This left me seriously questioning my future. Shortly after the company sold, I was marketing my handmade jewelry business all over social media to help pay the bills. For the next year and half, selling jewelry was my primary source of income. It wasn't long before I realized how much I loved marketing on social media MORE than I enjoyed making earrings.
In early 2018, I secured my first social media client, and after that I was hooked! During these years, I was full time college student, taking 18-21 hours each semester. Since my class load was so heavy, there wasn't a lot of time available for multiple clients. I would take on short term projects due to these time constraints. Now that I'm a recent graduate, my business will be officially launching in July.
Throughout the last few years I've taken multiple courses, networked with other experts in my field, and carefully planned out exactly how I want my business to operate. All the time, education, and financial investments I've made has prepared me for this. Here's to taking this business to the next level!
Leah: I opened a medical spa in 2013 with a business partner. I was the head of marketing and social. I thought this was it. I have always wanted to be a successful entrepreneur and this seemed like the golden ticket.
But in 2016 I decided to leave the the business, even though it was thriving, it wasn't a great fit for me. It was scary to have spent 3 years building this business, but I am thankful for the lessons I learned and the fact that it allowed me to realize that my passion was social media. With no job, I put all my eggs in one basket and gave myself a year to build Breathe Social. 3 years later and heyyyy... my social media business is thriving and I get to lead the digital nomad life I've always wanted!
What do you love about being a social media CEO?
Ashleigh: While the term "CEO" means a lot of things to different people-- I love that I get to choose how I spend my time, how much money I want to make, who I get to work with, and be a part of a community of like-minded individuals who thrive off the same energy.
Leah: I love the diversity of the business. Every day is different. I get easily bored with repetitive tasks and having the ability to create content or write copy or dig into the metrics on any day keeps me stimulated! I also love the freedom. I am a full time RV-er & part time traveler and you can't beat being able to work anywhere in the world!
What is your biggest challenge as a social media CEO?
Ashleigh: For someone who's in the process of their first official launch like myself, it's a challenge to refrain from applying to every single open social media manager position you find. While I'm very excited to grow this business, it's more important to me that I find clients who mesh well with my niche.
Leah: It WAS staying organized. That's not one of my strong suits. But after taking Stephanie's The Social Media CEO Masterclass, I was able to employ the tools and processes she uses and it really helped me transform my business from "I'm flying by the seat of my pants" to "I got this, yo!".
If you could give your younger self some words of wisdom, what would they be?
Ashleigh: Oh this is fun! #1 Never be afraid to walk up, shake the hand and introduce yourself to the top person at your company.
I used to be intimidated by people who exuded power and confidence, until my aunt taught me that I had just as much (if not more) to bring to the table. I became the CEO of my story, and this mindset has helped me in many different areas of my life.
#2 If the people in your life don't support your dreams (whatever they may be), don't waste energy trying to make them believe in you. Take their actions and their words at face value, and move on. Find your people because they are out there! I've made some incredible friends through a FB group (i.e. The Social Media CEO Clubhouse).
#3 Celebrate the small victories along the way! Write them down in your planner. Paste them on the mirror. On the days when you feel like the world is falling off its axis, these small wins will keep you going.
Leah: Omg. So many. LOL. But probably, don't doubt yourself or your vision for your life. I was a wild child and definitely never wanted a traditional job. I lost that dream a few times in my journey to where I am now, giving in to the 9-5 and thinking that that was the only way to lead a successful, fulfilling life. As I got older, I was able to reconnect with my entrepreneurial goals and I couldn't be more happy that I did.
You are both SMCEOs that work full-time from your RV! (Super Cool!) Tell us how you came to be a full-time digital nomad.
Ashleigh: Ah, this is a fun story to tell. My husband Jake and I were living in a rental house in my hometown of Durant, OK at the time of the retail store sale. After it sold, I had made the decision to enroll back in college online. At this point we were paying rent, utilities etc for two different places. Jake has been on the road since we met back in 2015.
We made the decision together to pack up all our things, put them in storage, and for me to come on the road with him while I finished school. It's been almost two years now that I've been living in an RV, and while it has it's challenges, I've truly enjoyed getting to visit different places every few months. I'm always on the hunt for the neatest local coffee shops whenever we visit someplace new.
Leah: My boyfriend and I took a road trip to North Carolina in 2017. On the way back we got talking about how we didn't want the trip to end. We actually passed a school bus that had been converted into an RV and we were so inspired.
I was already in the position to be able to work remotely, so living in an RV seemed totally doable. We bought our vintage RV a year later and spent 6 months renovating it, rented out our house and moved into the RV in August 2018! This year, we took on a new project and built a tiny camper! We are currently on the road with it for the next 6 weeks!
What’s something you never expected to happen when you decided to go “full digital nomad”?
Ashleigh: How difficult it would be to take pictures or shoot video! Most campers come with dark wood, and overhead yellow lighting. This style is not meant for photo shoots or recording video, so you have to get creative.
Leah: For me, it was the guilt of not working 40+ hours a week. It sounds weird, but in the beginning of my digital nomad life, I would feel like if i wasn't working Monday-Friday, 8 hours a day, I was being "lazy". I've since let that go and have embraced "work smarter, not harder"! I chose this lifestyle to be able to live my life, not work 40+ hours a week and that's nothing to feel guilty about!
Give us three brands you are loving on social media right now!
Am I allowed to say @SocialMedia.ceo?? 🤣(the answer is yes!)
@PunoDosTres (she is hilarious!)
@jasminedowling (love her grid!)
#RealTalk We like to keep it real & even though you’ve obviously been successful in your business, can you remember a time when shit hit the fan, or when something you tried failed miserably? How you were able to bounce back or what that incident inevitably taught you?
Ashleigh: Oh yes, absolutely. Early on I was fascinated with website design, and thought just because I was interested meant it was going to be my zone of genius. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. I tried to design a template for my first official website a few years ago, and it went horribly wrong. It was so bad I ended up deleting everything, and even got rid of the domain because even thinking about the name drove me insane. It did not make me happy to sit down and work at all day, and I wasn't good at it. There's a lesson in there somewhere! So if it has to do with CSS, HTML, or any of that other stuff - COUNT ME OUT.
Leah: Not a miserable fail, but a good lesson: I took on a client that I knew wasn't the best fit for me. I hung on for a few months, but was totally miserable. I eventually let her go, which was tough for me as I do not like uncomfortable conversations, but it was a good reminder that if my gut says "no", I need to listen to it, no matter how good the money is. And whaddaya know, the day I let her go I got a new opportunity that was right in line with my business goals!
Ok...now for a fun one— where are you located right now?
Ashleigh: Forney, TX - known for it's unique antique shops!
Leah: Last night I was in Big Spring, TX & tonight I'll be sleeping in Alamogordo, NM!
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