Jaime Derringer – Design Milk: From Creative Escape to Business Reality.

I have always liked to do my own thing. Growing up, I made up silly games, wore shoes that no one else wore, and dreamed of being a writer. As I began working, it was hard for me to follow along with corporate rules, but the experience that I gained during ten years of being a project manager in companies both large and small was invaluable. Running my blog on the side was like a glorious creative escape and, when it became my full-time job, I felt a wave of relief wash over me (along with a wave of fear, of course!). It’s a dream come true, but hasn’t come easy. I probably put in twice as many hours per week as I did when I had my previous full-time job, and I’ve had to learn things I never imagined I would need to know – from how to keep track of accounts payable to CSS and HTML to social media. And I’m still learning on the fly, every day. Because blogging and social media is such a new industry, there isn’t really any precedent or outline on how to balance it all successfully yet, so I still feel like I’m making it up as I go along. But I think that’s why I like it so much – there’s no leader to follow and I get to figure it all out on my own.

I’ve always felt like if you’re passionate about something enough, you can make it into something successful. Passion is contagious. But the best thing about passion is it makes you work harder than you ever thought you could or would – without making it feel like work.

After running the blog and the business on the side for a few years, I quit my day job in mid-2009, and I’ve been at it full-time since then. In early 2011, though, I found out I was pregnant and I knew that starting a family would require a larger part of my time. At that point, I needed to make a decision – I had to give up part of my “baby” to make room for my new (real) baby. And that meant expansion… something I was not really ready for. I’m such a Type A personality that offering up control over any aspect was difficult for me, but I realized that in order for my business to grow, I’d eventually need to give up parts of it anyway. I was glad that something so important forced me to do so. Giving specific duties to others and delegating has actually increased revenue and helped the business grow. Plus, it’s helped me achieve a better work/life balance, which is crucial even for workaholics – we all need to come up for air every once in a while.

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