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‘Digital Mom’ Audrey McClelland on Her Shift From Full-Time Fashion to Freelance

Let’s be honest, raising a kid feels like a full-time job. Between bestowing the lessons of life, helping with algebra homework, and managing Fortnite addictions, preoccupation levels can hit an all-time high. And that’s just for one kid. One. Before making any money. Now imagine if you had five of them and was on the hook for running a popular parenting/lifestyle blog called MomGenerations.com. That’s when you might start to understand Audrey McClelland, who lives with her “brood of boys” (and a girl) in Rhode Island, all while juggling the daily management responsibilities of being an influencer/mompreneur.

Rather than trying to encapsulate what this world feels like through my eyes (a dad/writer currently on the hook for delivering only one child across the healthy/well-adjusted goal line), I thought it better to have McClelland speak for herself. She’s the one who defected from the world of high fashion to appear on the ‘Today Show’, ‘Good Morning America’, and ‘Nightline’ amongst other TV shows. She’s the one who co-authored ‘The Digital Mom Handbook‘. She’s the one who has served as a spokesperson for brands such as Pampers, Suave, Tide, TJ Maxx/Marshalls, Healthy Choice, Land’s End and others. She’s the one who had the chutzpah to leave the world of predictable income and dive head-first into the unknown world of the freelance independent business owner

And she did it quite swimmingly.

Here’s what Audrey had to say about her career reboot as a blogger/influencer/entrepreneur:

How to shift from being a full-time employee to a digital mompreneur.

How difficult did you find the transition from the full-time world at Donna Karan to freelance mompreneur?

For me, it was both an easy and tough transition. On the easy side, I loved being able to be home with my newborn son William at the time. Nothing was more precious than being there with him day in and day out. I loved that piece of it at the beginning…

It was tough for me at times, because when you work for yourself it’s literally me, myself and I! You don’t have a team of people around you every single day. You don’t have people to chat with and strategize with on projects. You don’t have colleagues to grab lunch with or a quick cup of coffee. It was tough being alone and not having that outlet of an office, teammates, etc.

How does freelancing with five kids work exactly?

I created my business MomGenerations.com about being a mom. It’s funny — my business is actually that of being a mom. I created a business built around my schedule and my needs. It’s not easy with five kids running a business; especially since I travel quite a bit for work now. There are always moving pieces, but I try my best to get it all done. I work from the second the kids go off to school until they come home. Then I’m “off” for a couple of hours doing homework and rushing them to activities.

When everyone heads to bed, I’m back at it again. The life of an entrepreneur never stops. You can’t let it stop, even with five kids. You just need to look at your daily schedule and work around everything you’ve got. My kids are my top priority, so I do my best to make everything work around them.

Freelancers often long for the steady paycheck, so the idea of holding a full-time job can hold appeal to some. What rewards do the freelance life bring to you that can’t be replicated with a full-time role?

Owning your own business isn’t for everyone. This I can tell you. It’s terrifying not to know where your paycheck is going to come from in three months or six months. There have been dry months when I can’t sleep at night because I just don’t know what to do. So believe me — over the last 12 years — I’ve (come to) know that this work isn’t cut out for everyone.

But — and this is my big “but” — I love it. It gives me a drive to work hard and push. It makes me want to work hard and go after work as best as can be. The rewards for me are simple: I’m able to work my work schedule around my kids. That’s the bonus. I also love creating something on my own… and knowing that I created this business. I love being the driver. I love being in charge of my own destiny.

'Digital Mom' interview with Audrey McClelland, on landing new clients.

What’s the ballsiest thing you’ve ever done to land a client or freelance assignment?

Hmmm… I don’t know what the ballsiest thing is that I’ve ever done, but I’m determined. I don’t give up. I work hard and I pitch hard. I’m also conscious that everyone behind a brand or company that I’m working with is a mom or dad… a son or daughter… a friend… someone’s aunt or uncle. So I’m always aware of that piece and think it’s key to get to know people and work on relationship building. I’m a big believer in that the relationship and who you are and how you behave… and how you react… gets you business, or doesn’t get you business.

What’s the most embarrassing place you’ve ever taken a conference call or finished a blog piece?

Oh! Man! I remember being on a conference call with the Pampers team once. I was outside taking it because the kids were all so loud in the house. I told the boys to watch their sister, she was about three years old at the time. I was out front taking the call when my son Alex called out to me, “Victoria is hiding on us and we can’t find her!” I muted the call and said to him, “Tell her that mommy is on the phone and she needs to stop hiding right now!”

He came back outside about two minutes later to tell me, “We found her! But now she locked herself in the bathroom!” I wanted to die having to tell the team that I needed to go, but they completely understood and were amazing about it. But that story — that will be remembered forever!

When it comes to being a successful independent business owner, where do you succeed where others fail?

I’m an entrepreneur now, too, for survival. I don’t give up easily. Actually, I don’t give up. I need to work to pay my bills. My why is my family. I don’t let myself not succeed because I know I need to. Does that make sense? There’s something really raw and real about needing to succeed: It’s in your blood. And I will say this: I’m an idea girl. I love coming up with ideas and strategies. I know that I can integrate something I love into my work easily. This is something I love doing with brands.

How important are having passion and a unique point-of-view to what you do?

How important are having passion and a unique point-of-view to what you do?

It’s everything. Passion is everything. You can see it. You can feel it. You can smell it. You can’t fake passion. You either have it or you don’t. If you want to succeed in something, this is the secret to the sauce. Your passion is your unique point of view. There’s no passion that is the same. If you can reflect passion through your work, you’re a lucky person.

When do you have to say “no?”

I have to say “no” if it’s something that my family doesn’t want me to do. Plain and simple. Whether I’m going to be away for something important… or it’s a campaign that they don’t feel comfortable with me working on.

Any hard lessons you learned as a freelancer that you swore you’d never repeat?

I think working as an entrepreneur is all about trial and error. Some things work and some things don’t. You’ll never know if you don’t try. I’ve had some misses and some hits throughout the years, but if I never tried something… would never have known.

The best is being able to share the hard lessons with others. There’s always got to be a first to do something, and if you can help someone else out along the way, even better.

As a freelancer, how do you avoid the peaks and valleys to ensure it never gets slow?

As a freelancer, how do you avoid the peaks and valleys to ensure it never gets slow?

This is the toughest. When it’s slow, that’s usually when I’m head down pitching out ideas like a crazy lady or coming up with additional ideas for my businesses.

Looking to the future, what changes in the influencer industry concern you most right now?

I think it’s just an ever-changing space. You need to be able to adapt as an influencer. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. You need to be everywhere and try everything.

When I started – blogging was the only thing we could do. Now there’s Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Pinterest… You need to be present on them all. Making sure you’re covered in every space is key. You never know when something is going to change or go away. You need to always be ready for that.

Finish this sentence: The best thing about the freelance life is that it _____________.

The best thing about the freelance life is that it affords me the chance to be who I want to be.

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Gregg Rosenzweig

About Gregg

Over the past two decades, Gregg Rosenzweig has spent his career writing, producing and publishing engaging content for American mass consumption in the digital, TV and branded content spaces. From serving as a Creative Director on commercial spots to pitching/winning/executing branded content campaigns for Fortune 100 companies, Gregg's been fortunate to work for (and with) top advertising and digital media agencies... as well as some of the most highly respected publishers across the media landscape.

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