Meet Sam Walsh
What is your name, where are you based, and what do you do?
Hi everyone waves, I’m Sam Walsh and I’m based in Sevenoaks, Kent. What do I do? Weeelllll, until a few weeks ago I was DGM (deputy general manager) for the UK flagship of a French beauty retailer. I was working long-ass days with a three-hour round commute to the West End thrown on top, just for fun. I love all things beauty, but my absolute overriding passion is writing. Recently my inner voice was getting louder and louder until it became a high-pitched scream that I could no longer ignore, so I took the bold (crazy?) step to resign from my job of 8.5 years in order to focus all my efforts on establishing a writing career.
Do you have a plan B and can you tell us what stage you are at?
Writing was my Plan B, but now it’s very much my Plan A. I have been travel blogging for around a decade, but only in the last two years have I written regularly under one title. My current blog is called Life: A Bird’s Eye View (www.lifeabirdseyeview.com). I write about a whole host of topics, but the ones which seem to touch people the most and get the most engagement are around women’s health, drawing on my own experiences with cervical cancer, infertility, failed IVF and premature menopause. Sounds like a right laugh, eh? But seriously, I’ve found writing to help others to be a very cathartic and deeply rewarding pastime - one which I credit with pulling me out of the deep depression I fell into whilst grieving for the children I’d never have and my subsequent marriage breakdown. I am a shortlisted finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2018, Health and Social Care category, and contribute regularly to the HuffPost Lifestyle section. I campaign and raise awareness around gynae cancers for charities such as The Eve Appeal. Last year I created an online community for Non-Mums like myself: a Facebook group called The Non-Mum Network. I also intend this to be the year I finish writing my book (she says!).
What support did you have from family and friends on your journey?
My family and friends were all fantastic, especially my amazing mum Pat and sister Karen, who listened to me cry tears of joy when I thought the IVF might just work; sadness when it didn’t; envy when all my friends and colleagues produced an endless stream of babies, and agony when I had to come to terms with remaining childless. It must have been tough to watch, but they remained upbeat and helped change my mindset; my childless-to-childfree cheerleaders.
Do you use any professional support resources? Do you have any recommendations to share?
I hired Laura at Anchor & Dash to import and redesign my blog from Blogger to Wordpress when I decided to go self-hosted about 1.5yrs ago, and she helped me with the technical side of blogging. I’ve mostly learnt about SEO, blog design and working with brands purely by reading other people’s blogs, connecting with bloggers and watching endless YouTube videos. I’m a bit of a technophobe so I probably watch the videos more times than I care to admit, but I get there in the end!
What app or website could you not live without, and why?
Twitter! I didn’t ‘get’ it until maybe a year or so ago, but since then it’s been amazing for connecting with bloggers, authors, Non-Mums and PRs for writing opportunities. I also love Instagram and Facebook, of course, but Twitter for business opportunities, definitely. The Notes app on my iPhone is useful for writing on the go, and the Wordpress app for my blog. I use Bloglovin’ for following my favourite blogs; I find The Bloglancer and ProBlogger informative, and Bloggers Required for blog-related opportunities. The Yoast plugin helps me optimise blog posts, and I use UpdraftPlus for backing everything up.
What advice would you give to anyone looking for an alternative direction?
Go for it! I am a very impulsive person, so I did save up some money before taking the leap, but I could have planned it for longer and saved more. Money buys you time and freedom. Do your research and make as many contacts in your new field as possible. Then it just comes down to putting the hours in. If it’s truly your calling - your absolute passion in life - you don’t see it as ‘work’ at all - it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing before going to bed. A mentor would be useful too - I’m about to use the professional services of Stephanie Varda, life coach.
What are the most notable things you have learnt about running a business, changing your career or about yourself?
Ask me that one again in a year’s time! At the moment, I’m feeling very strong, positive and ballsy - proud that I dared to jump. Only time will tell if I made the right decision…
What is your ultimate professional goal?
To have my book published! Scrap that - to have lots of books published. Why stop at one, eh? I’d also love to expand and develop The Non-Mum Network to include quarterly meet-ups and workshops.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SamanthaWalsh76 (Life:ABirdsEyeView)
The Non-Mum Network: https://www.facebook.com/groups/752469014913024/