Meredith: Food & Lifestyle Blogger

Name: Meredith Tolleson

Age: 26

City: Birmingham, Alabama

Main Hustle: Senior SEO Coordinator for automotive advertising agency

Side Hustle: Food and lifestyle blog that provides the modern Southern woman with easy recipes, entertaining hacks to impress your guests, and other lifestyle tips to achieve  a fun and hospitable life.

How did you get started?: I’ve always had a passion for sharing recipes and entertaining. It’s how I show my love! I tried to start blogging when I graduated from college and actually landed my first job because my employer thought it was very admirable. My first blog (under a different name) fizzled out due to the fact that I really didn’t know what I was doing, and I put all of my energy into my first job.

After I left the start-up world, I began working on the digital team at an advertising agency. I was brought on to manage and edit on-site content for the SEO team. I soaked up everything within the first few months on how to work on the backend of websites, optimize for Google Search, and how to effectively set up a blog.

Personally I felt really uninspired because I had no creative reign within my current role. I also wanted to see if I could start something from scratch and get it ranking organically on Google. So I built my own blog and began driving traffic almost immediately!

I started the Instagram page as a way to push extra traffic to my site, while the organic traffic slowly built… this takes time!

The blog has grown into a true passion project and has opened so many doors for me that I could never have imagined. I have full creative control and am able to share the things I love, test marketing strategies, and help promote local businesses (which is something I am also passionate about).

Getting involved in my community has always been something I had longed for, but I didn’t know how or where I would be needed, and starting this blog has been the answer. I wake up everyday excited to grow The Southern Source as a brand and continue to connect with my local and online community!

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: I work on it during my lunch break, at night, and sometimes on the weekends.

In the beginning (the first 6 months), I was working nonstop on it. Now I’m happy that is running more on auto-pilot, and my workflow has become more efficient.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?:

Balancing my full-time job and family has been the biggest challenge. I had to be selfish for the first few months and made sure my husband knew all the sacrifices we would have to make. I was HUSTLING in all of its meaning. Getting something off the ground is hard work and stressful. Not just for the entrepreneur, but for everyone involved.

I work in a high-stress environment at my full-time job, so sometimes I became overwhelmed with all the things I had going on and would forget things outside of work that were important to me and to other people. It’s imperative to know when you need to take a step back.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?: Networking and getting involved in the community! I love meeting people and helping small businesses. I have loved the chance to connect with like-minded women on my social platforms and also be able to meet local business owners to help with their marketing!

Who is your greatest supporter?: My mother is my greatest supporter. She has helped me in so many ways with my side hustle. Running errands, helping with photoshoots, and just making me laugh.

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: I get a ton of inspiration from traveling. Even if it’s traveling to new places within Birmingham. There is so much going on here, and it’s so exciting for those of us who grew up here calling it “Boring-ham.”

I also get inspiration from other bloggers and friends who have amazing taste!

Have you received recognition for your work? If so, please toot your horn below: Yes, I was featured in our newsletter once, and our owner says he reads the blog.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: I would love to go part-time doing my blog and part-time doing marketing consulting

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Surround yourself with positive people who truly support you and have your best interest.

To learn more about Meredith and her Side Hustle, visit her blog, follow along on Instagram, or reach out via email to connect or collaborate!

Feature Image by Lindsey Ann Photography

Images below by Lindsey Ann Photography

Kitchen Headshot by  Iron City Photo

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