Today we’d like to introduce you to Amanda Honeywell.
Hi Amanda, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My journey started in 2006 when I started creating art for my home in the form of abstract paintings. I would sign my paintings, “A. Honey.” In 2009, I put away my paintbrush and replaced it with a camera and a computer.
I taught myself how to take portrait photos, starting with friends and family under the name A. Honey Photography. I also taught myself how to use the Adobe Suite software and worked for my parents’ print shop as a graphic designer.
In addition, I had the pleasure of working for two other local print shops from early 2011 (when my parent’s shop closed) until late 2016, when I branched out on my own. During this time in my life, I realized a few things about myself: I had found a career path that filled me with passion, which I knew I wanted to continue for years to come, and I realized that I loved helping businesses succeed, but wanted to help them in my own way.
While I enjoyed working for the other two print shops, I felt I was being held back. It was my job to provide the customer with what they asked for, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to understand why they were asking for it. When customers asked me for a flyer to print, I’d ask why?
“What was your goal for this flyer?” Sometimes, it leads customers to go down a completely different path… Maybe what they really needed was to place an advertisement on Google instead of a flyer for distribution. Sometimes, this meant that they had to go someplace else to get what they needed.
What I wanted to offer customers was a complete one-stop-shop, a solution to all of their online and offline marketing needs. I had put myself in situations where I was offering services above and beyond my job responsibilities.
I’d complete orders from start to finish; from initial client contact to quoting, to invoicing, to customer relations, to seek out new leads–all while doing my actual job. Then, I’d offer more than just graphic design services for printing… I’d offer digital marketing pieces and interactive forms. I’d offer insight and strategize with customers.
I stopped being just a graphic designer and printer and started to be a department manager and multimedia designer.
This got me thinking… did I just want to complete the task customers gave me and not ask questions, or did I want to offer them more? And if I wanted to offer more, could I do so at my current position? The print shops I worked for had their own vision, after all.
In my downtime, I continued to develop A. Honey Photography, where I was getting paid to take portraits of weddings, graduating seniors, and newborns.
I loved it! But there is a lot of competition in our area and a large base of very good photographers. I knew I couldn’t branch out on my own by offering photography services alone. I had a lot of self-growth during this time and ultimately decided my path needed to change just a bit more.
In 2014, I continued to expand opportunities for myself when I created my first website. I had just given birth to my second son, and during my maternity leave, I spent a lot of time doing research, watching YouTube tutorials, and playing around with different drop-and-drag and web design platforms. When I went back to my job after my leave, I was not given my full-time position back. This was a blessing in disguise because if it weren’t for the “unfair demotion” (as I call it), A. Honey Creations, LLC may not have ever been born.
So, I was taking portraits, built websites, and worked part-time as a graphic designer and printer. I was kind of all over the place. I knew I didn’t want to brand A. Honey Creations is a web design company, and I knew I wanted to keep A. Honey Photography is separate as a hobby, so I decided to call that particular skill set Hillsdale Web Design and started offering actual web design services on the side.
In 2015, I left my part-time job to go to work full time for another local printing company, where I created signs and applied vinyl to vehicles. I would work on Hillsdale Web Design at night and work my full-time day job during the day. I worked about 70 hours a week.
This went on for about a year, and in late 2016, I quit my day job and focused 100% of my time on Hillsdale Web Design. I cut back on A. Honey Photography, only offering commercial photography for businesses and headshots, and started offering products and services to clients. But I didn’t stop there!
I didn’t want to go on this journey alone. I knew that I needed help from other talents, and in order to successfully build a brand for myself, I needed to take pride in who I worked with and honor them with respect for their skills. So, I sought out local talent.
In the meantime, I started to offer clients leads to other local professionals who could help them with their needs, needs the business couldn’t fulfill just yet. But, in 2018, after finding a group of ladies who I trusted and respected to help me accomplish what I was after, HMG was born.
These ladies are instrumental in the formation of the Hillsdale Marketing Group. Sarah Gray, Christine Bowman, and Connie Sexton all bring a key element to our group that ties everything we do together nicely—it’s what set us apart!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My journey has not been a smooth road. I don’t think any small business owner or entrepreneur’s journey can be smooth. If it was easy, everyone would do it as they say. There are so many what-ifs and there are so many worries and questions. Learning to leave work at work has been one of the most challenging parts, I think. You find yourself wanting to work all of the time.
Missing out on my children’s lives is the hardest thing to do. It’s been about 6 years now of hard struggle, and I’m only now just able to put in a normal 40-hour workweek. I have to give a lot of props to my husband. We have three children, so contributing financially and bringing home a consistent paycheck is important.
And as every business owner knows, paying yourself a living wage as a start-up business is sometimes impossible, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Paying yourself consistently is also not going to happen for a while. So, the fact that my husband would watch our children well over half the time on any given day so that his wife could barely make money while she built up her business was a tall ask.
I still don’t get much sleep. There is always something to worry about. Taxes, invoicing, billing, government forms, contractor’s needs, hiring, firing, telling potential clients no. Should I work from home or will I rent an office space? Will I send my kids to daycare or will I try to contribute more to my home in the form of cleaning, grocery shopping, caring, and running the kids around because I do work from home?
What if I get hit by a bus? Will my contractors be able to do what I do while I get better? I’m often faced with how to handle growth. If I don’t grow, I can’t pay my contractors more money and offer them more work. But if I grow, I can’t handle more work myself. I wear all the hats as it is right now! How will I find the right person to train if I myself can’t find the time to finish what it is I’m supposed to do?
I am starting to learn that these things never go away. You have to be OK with change, but you also have to be careful not to change too much. You have to be OK with failure and upsetting someone too. But I think that if you are really passionate about what you offer and you’re good with understanding, hearing, listening to others, and you have a great support group at home, you’ll be ok.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We set our clients up as experts in their fields! We do this through high-end, consistent, and impactful marketing pieces. Online and offline messages and strategies that all work together.
We’re a full-service branding, web, and marketing company with a competitive edge. We offer packages and customized services that focus on communicating the way search engines need as well as the way our clients’ customers want.
At HMG Marketing & Web Design Company, or HMG for short, we understand that media should be diversified. What works for one business may not always work for another. So, we create individualized marketing and advertising strategies for small businesses so their brand message and marketing budget stay on target. When, where, and how they need them!
Our unique matchup is what makes what we do successful. We help movers and shakers and work with a wide range of small businesses that are forward-thinkers and ready to invest in higher-quality branding and marketing strategies.
From web development to yard signs, from Google ads to email marketing, from strategy meetings to collaborating with local radio stations, our clients don’t need to go anywhere else for their web and marketing needs because we do it all.
Today we are at a spot where we need to slow down a bit. January was a big growth spurt for us, so we are taking it all in and communicating often with each other. We are listening to client feedback and taking notes!
HMG’s philosophy is to keep it small so that we can be more hands-on and available to our clients.
Offering services to too many clients means clients don’t get as much care as they should. When a client calls in, I want them to be able to talk to me if they want to. I want to be working right alongside my contractors, and I want my contractors to be just as passionate about working with the clients as I am. Because we don’t offer a la carte services to as many people as possible, in order to grow and maintain our philosophy, we need to find a sweet spot.
The right number of clients we provide quality work to, the right amount of work we handle, all in conjunction with the right amount of time spent and income coming in. So while we don’t have any big changes to announce or are planning any big events or launches, our future plans are to stay focused and keep on keeping on!
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.hmgroupmi.com/
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