About five months ago, we were introduced to Ashlee, a legal editor in DC who also ran her own fashion, travel, and lifestyle blog on the side, as well as a legal business offering contract services to creatives and small business owners. Today I am reintroducing you to her, but now she has a new title: business owner. Excuse me, businesses owner.
In 2014 Ashlee was a transplant to Washington, DC, working as a legal editor at a global publishing company. In an attempt to document her experiences in our nation’s capital, as well as scratch her creative itch, she started a blog. At first she focused on restaurants, weekend trips, and the outfits she wore while exploring her new city, and as her blog and readership grew, her content grew as well, including other topics she was interested in, such as travel, self-care, and fitness. The more entrenched she became in the blogging world, the more she began to recognize that something was missing.
“Blogging is kind of this wild, wild West world where everyone just trusts each other based on email communication. The more I chatted with my blogger friends, and the more bloggers I met at different conferences and networking events, the more I realized that no one was using legal contracts, but everyone knew they needed a contract. There was a hole in a lot of my peers’ businesses: they weren’t using contracts to protect themselves and their businesses.”
Soon after this realization, Ashlee started doing legal contract work through word of mouth for blogger, photographer, and graphic-designer friends of hers, and from there the need became even more apparent. In 2018 Ashlee officially launched Contracts for Creatives, a legal business focused on helping creative entrepreneurs and small business owners with all of their contract needs.
“I went to law school for the same reason that a lot of people go to law school: I wanted to help people. You find out very quickly that’s not the path law school puts you on. I took the traditional route of going to work for a large defense firm, and then, even when I got out of the firm practice, I went to work for a global, corporate company.
With my Contracts for Creatives business, I feel like I’m finally in a place where I get to use my law degree to help people who I truly want to help succeed! When most people think of attorneys or contracts or the law, they’re immediately intimidated. I make those intimidating topics approachable (and affordable).”
With two Side Hustles and a full-time job competing for her attention, Ashlee reached a crossroads in her career.
“I knew from the time I started my blog that I eventually wanted to work for myself. But I didn’t actually know what that would entail or how to get there. I knew that consistency was key. Once the Contracts for Creatives business started to bloom, I could see the light at the end of the corporate-world tunnel. I put a plan into motion about a year in advance of when I ideally wanted to leave my 9-5 job and go out on my own. I had monthly income goals that I set for myself, and I evaluated how much money I needed to be making to maintain a somewhat similar lifestyle to the one I was leading while working my 9-5 job. DC is an expensive city to live in, so I wanted to make sure I could stand on my own two feet before bailing on the corporate world.”
Ashlee’s plan sounds simple enough, but the hard work beneath the surface is what changed her life. Want an idea of just how hard she was working while putting her plan into motion? Here’s a glimpse of Ashlee’s schedule while she was building two Side Hustles and working full-time as a legal editor:
5:00 AM: Wake up
5:30-7:30 AM: Work on blog and social media posts for the day and answer emails
8:15 AM: Commute to 9-5 job
9:00 AM-12:30 PM: Work at 9-5 job
12:30-1:30 PM: Lunch break at Starbuck’s to work on blog and contracts business
1:30-5:15 PM: Work at 9-5 job
6:00 PM: Exercise class or networking event for blog or contracts business
7:30 PM: Dinner and QT with her fiancé
8:45-10 PM: Blog and contracts business work
10:15 PM: Sleep
A couple months ago, Ashlee’s hard work paid off. She walked away from her corporate job to become her own boss, for lack of a better term; I’m not sure what you call someone when they are their own boss twice, other than a bada**. 😉
Today Ashlee’s daily routine starts in much the same way as it did in the past. Her alarm clock still goes off at 5 AM, and she still dedicates a couple of hours in the morning to answering emails, finalizing social media posts, and putting the finishing touches on the day’s blog post. But instead of heading to the metro to begin her commute to her 9-5, she sets up shop at her desk at home, settling in for a morning of client emails, calls, or meetings if that’s what on the docket, and spending her afternoon at an exercise class, a networking event, or coffee dates and happy hours for collaborations with other creatives.
“I still have pinch-me moments when I realize I don’t have to commute forty-five minutes to sit in a cubicle all day long. I loathed going into an office every day. I craved something more creative. I hated the monotony of every day being the same (even though my jobs themselves and the people I worked with were great!). That’s the biggest reward. Knowing that I created two businesses of my own that have allowed me to have a flexible work schedule while still supporting myself.”
As far as plans for the future, Ashlee is not concerned with large-scale goals or fine-tuned aspirations.
“I just hope to continue doing what I’m doing and growing in both of my businesses. I’m not a big five-year, ten-year, etc., planner. Mostly because five years ago, I couldn’t have even dreamed of owning one business of my own, much less two.”
Sometimes things we can’t even dream up do really come true.
Congratulations, Ashlee—you have certainly earned it!
To learn more about Ashlee’s blog, check out her site, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate. If you would like to learn more about Ashlee’s contract business, check out her site, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, or reach out via email to connect with her directly.
Ashlee in Ten
- Dream Career as a Kid: Meteorologist. “I knew way too much about weather patterns as a child.”
- Famous Relative: Her dad was once the mayor of her hometown of Shreveport, LA.
- Brainiac: Ashlee was originally a pre-Med major in college but realized writing was more in her wheelhouse than organic chemistry, so she went to law school.
- Side Hustler Hubby-To-Be: Her fiancé, Michael, is also a Side Hustler. Outside of his full-time job as a director at an energy company, Michael writes for a travel website, and he runs his own blog focused on maximizing reward points, so travel is a huge part of their lives.
- Favorite Trip: Tie between her first time traveling abroad with her fiancé to South East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam & Singapore) and her recent trip with Michael to Rome (where they got engaged!)
- Upcoming Travel Plans: Her own destination wedding in the Bahamas!
- Top 3 International Dream Destinations: Portugal (Porto & Lisbon), Morocco (Marrakech, Fes & Casa Blanca), and South Africa (Cape Town & Wine Country)
- If not blogging and contracts, then what?: Owner of a casual women’s wear boutique (all jeans and tees!)
- Favorite Quote: “For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Advice for Side Hustlers: Learn SEO!
Feature Photo by Leigh Anne Brader Photography