Angela McKeller, 37, is an Author, Writer and Recipe Developer with her company, Jella Enterprises, LLC. Born in Augusta, GA and residing in Decatur, GA, she has a BA in Spanish from State University of West Georgia (2001). Angela currently lives in Liege, Belgium, with her partner, Shiva, French bulldog, Kosmo, and English bulldog, Butch. Read more about Angela and her work on her Website and Blog or connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Let’s start from where it all began! I began working from home six years ago when Time Magazine profiled YouTube as a growing phenomenon. I thought, “Now that's interesting. The internet is making people famous. I can do that!” Working from home was a necessity because I had become chronically ill, and I needed something that was going to generate income while giving me the space to heal. I did not have a business plan. It was an intuitive process. I created videos on YouTube and then people asked for a cookbook. I created a cookbook and then it didn't sell. Over time, I shifted to a gluten-free diet for my cystic acne and created a new book to reflect my new path.
Obstacles and benefits: Finding my niche! When I first began, I was trying to reach everyone. I later created an avatar of myself, where I asked myself what was important, and I began by asking myself some tough questions. Then when I really honed in on what would help me develop personally, that's what I began creating - what excited me and made a difference in my own life. Suddenly, my market was there. I experienced balance in my life, because I was creating what I needed, rather than focusing on what others needed. I achieved peace not only because I was creating it for myself, but also because the people around me were finding peace through my work. I also experienced freedom. I live by my schedule rather than someone else's schedule and it feels great!
Financial, emotional and social aspects: Financially, I did horrible at first! As I went on, I redefined what ‘rich’ means and while I make plenty of money now, it's not the money that matters to me. It's the richness in experiences and the experiences that others share with me and how amazing it feels to help others create what they want in their lives - be it happiness, a great meal, or a creative new path to freedom! Emotionally, it was a roller coaster in the beginning. I was invited to be on Paula Deen's show on The Food Network, to be a guest on "Carolina Kitchen" and later on PBS with Chef Marvin Woods' "Georgia Cooks" and while the publicity is great fun, it doesn't pay the bills! Socially, I excelled. That is the wonderful thing about being in business for yourself. You have a great excuse to get out and meet new people. Get out there, talk, and don't be afraid to tell others how great your new venture is! I found that when I shared what was working for me rather than the services I hoped they would buy, people were intrigued by my authentic peace and happiness and they would share my story with others.
Memorable factors that helped get started: Don't worry about how things will unfold in the future. Focus on the resources (friends, family, office supplies, space in your home) that you have right now and ask yourself how you can begin creating what you want here and now. Define what "ideal" means to you. Let go of your current definition of ideal. Things can be less than perfect and when you don't mind imperfection, you'll have the space to create something that perhaps isn't even on your radar right now! Don't worry about money. I know that sounds really hard to do, but if you focus on the money rather than how you can create something meaningful, ideas will be few and far between. Focus on what you want and need in your life and begin creating from there. If it makes your life great, other people will naturally want it!
Currently, Angela writes books and develops recipes.. She loves the creativity behind cooking but writing books inspiring others to create meaningful change in their lives is where her passion lies. “I do not have my own team, but I work with others. Bilal Choudhry is my online marketing guru and he's phenomenal. I have a few different folks that design book covers. Jenny with Jigsaw Indexing does the indexing. Never feel like you have to do everything alone. Elance and oDesk are great resources. It's so true that we all get by with a little (or a lot!) of help from our friends!”
Average day? Work schedule? I get up around 4 a.m., eat a light breakfast, go back to bed until about 8 a.m., and have a snack. I reflect on what I've learned from the previous day. I write blogs, update Facebook, write recipes, return emails, and get administrative things done. I eat a light lunch, take the dogs for a walk, spend about two hours catching up with my better half, connecting with nature and really allowing myself to experience peace (not just think about peace!). Then I return to my computer, continue writing recipes or working on current books, and around 6-8 p.m. we enjoy dinner and I call it a day. Then it's time for another walk with the dogs, X-Files, The Twilight Zone (I love the old 60s version) or even "Brave" - I love Pixar! I personally don't adhere to a schedule. I find that every time I try to make plans, something comes up or gets in the way. I do what feels right and everything falls into place just as it should. Trust yourself. Allow mistakes and learn from them. I work Monday through Sunday, and take days off when I feel I need a break. I find that if I feel super creative on Monday, why force that creativity into five days? If I want to write for 12 hours and take two days off, that's what I allow myself to do.
Biggest challenges: Bad days! It can be so hard for me to accept that I'm having a bad day. I don't feel creative, I feel lazy because I slept too long (or didn't sleep enough), I feel worthless because I'm fighting fatigue, then I'll try to force myself to write. It doesn't work. It's like my bad days try to tell me that no matter how much I want to turn a bad day into a good day, a day is just a day. None of them are really bad, the "bad" is just telling me to slow down.
Celebrated moments: When I can go outside and paint, walk with the dogs, play badminton with the neighbor's son after school. A 9-5 job would have me missing out on moments like that. It's the little things that I celebrate most. The little things that I never even knew existed.
Liberties/restrictions of being 100% work from home: The liberties are being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. The restrictions? Being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. I have to remind myself that it's all about balance. Don't focus on restrictions, otherwise they'll keep showing up. Don't focus on liberty or it will be elusive. I just do what feels right, moment by moment.
Work you enjoy the most or least? I despise the pressure of deadlines. So I ask my clients to tell me what they need for the whole month or year. This way, I can do the work as my creativity flows, rather than trying to schedule my creativity. Monet didn't schedule the water lilies - he painted it when it felt right! So what I enjoy most? Creating an environment of creativity rather than work!
Do you have a support network? I am a member of "The End of Fear Project" and that has been instrumental in helping me create balance by eliminating fear. Are the people there perfect? No. Sometimes we behave quite poorly, but we work through it! That said…are the people there inspiring? Yes. By seeing people consistently face their fears without shame or embarrassment, I have been inspired to do the same. Personally, my better half balances me extraordinarily well. It's so important to have the support of a partner, to encourage you, and help you work through the obstacles.
What are your tools/mechanisms to success? For several months, I talked with Jessica Schab and Diego Kricek Fontanive as mentors. Now I have reached a point where I no longer need to be mentored one on one, but maintaining a presence in the End of Fear Project keeps me on track. I have learned that it's who the mentor is that is important, but who makes me help myself is most important. If I'm stressed out, I give myself the freedom to take a break from it all.
Current financial, social and emotional status: I'm happy with my finances, which were practically non-existent up until about six months ago! I have created enough passive income with my first book, "Gluten-Free Made Easy as 1,2,3: Essentials for Living a Gluten-Free Life" that I can work part-time developing recipes. Soon I am publishing a cookbook, "Vol 1: The Gluten-Free Shopping Made Easy Cookbook: 25 Gluten-Free, Egg-Free & Dairy-Free Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes". Another book I am in the process of writing is "Releasing Fear Now: Freedom from Belief in the Mind". So many people are afraid of working from home because they believe it isn't possible for so many reasons. It has been incredible to help people see the source of these fears so I'm really excited about writing this book. Socially, fantastic! I don't attend networking events any more, but I love meeting people when I travel. Emotionally, it's night and day from when I first started. My perspective on life has shifted, and this has enabled me to create a work from home experience that is not perfect, but wonderful.
Networking, social media and marketing: I network the most on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Word of mouth has been most instrumental in my success. When others feel that you have peace and balance in your life, they'll naturally think about mentioning you to others more often. I don't schedule time for social media, but when something pops up in my feed I respond. I keep my posts timely and relevant. Marketing is huge. My colleague Bilal would be the one to ask about that!
Finding clients: Face to face networking almost never worked for finding new clients. A great example of this is how I met Ruksana. At the time, I wasn't writing books, so I never considered the possibility that I would need her services. She and I became friends on Facebook and years after I met her, I saw it pop up in my feed that she was an editor. Synchronicity? Serendipity? Maybe. LinkedIn and word-of-mouth has been the most helpful for finding clients.
Do you find time to indulge in pursuits that are non-professional? Absolutely! I tell people that life is a game, so have fun with it. I paint like a 5-year-old (and yes, it looks extremely amateur!), go bowling, hula hoop, sing karaoke, make a fool of myself in front of strangers. I just do not care what others think. I march to the beat of my own drum and while I may not love every minute of it, life is a fantastic adventure!
Your best achievement – Wow, that's the toughest question so far! It's hard to say if it's the difference I make in the lives of others or the difference I make in my own life. It's rewarding to experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with people reading this now.
Your worst failure – Broke and suicidal. I'm not proud to admit that, but I won't pretend that it's all been easy, glittery unicorns and fairies. It was hard and I had to dismantle some serious fears to get to where I am today. That said, face your fears. It's so worth it and beyond any words I can write here to convey the pay-off.
So does she plan to continue being 100% work from home? “Yes! I cannot imagine life any other way, nor would I want to!” Angela wants to take everything as it comes, moment by moment. “The universe has a way of stepping in and saying, “Plans?! What plans?!”, so I don't even pretend to be able to plan five years out any more! I am looking forward to facing the unknown without fear. Every day is a new lesson and a new experience.”
To others currently considering 100% work from home, Angela dishes out this advice: Don't be afraid to fail. If you fail, get back up, brush yourself off, and ask yourself what you learned without beating yourself up. I constantly remind myself that the source of all pain, frustration, and sense of failure can be reduced to three words: I don't understand. My own example here, as it relates to business, is “I hate marketing!” So, I asked myself, “Is it because you don't know why the marketing failed?” Take away the frustration behind marketing and ask yourself gently how you can do it differently. Don't take life too seriously. Life really is a game and if it's not, don't be afraid to ask yourself why life is so challenging. Every step of pain along the way has been a learning lesson to get me to where I am now. As long as we learn, there's no reason to hold on to the past in an effort to stop it from manifesting in the future.
Thanks Angela for sharing your inspirational 100% Work from Home experience!