Total Career Reinvention - An Interview with Sam Sycamore - Issue #291
A pivot from carpenter to successful web developer in less than a year!
My guest for this episode is Sam Sycamore. Sam is a writer, web developer, tree hugger, and avowed music junkie.
He currently works as Head of Content Strategy & Marketing at Hashnode, a global tech blogging platform that enables bloggers to tap into a fast-growing and supportive community of readers, writers, and tech enthusiasts.
Sam began his career online as a music journalist, contributing to various publications as a writer and editor while hosting a radio show, playing in bands, and booking concerts in his hometown of Louisville, KY.
In 2016, while working on a farm in rural Kentucky, Sam launched the lifestyle blog and podcast The Good Life Revival, where he created content related to self-reliance, sustainability, and living close to nature. This led to the publishing of two books:
Introduction to Foraging - A Beginner's Guide to Gathering Wild Foods With Confidence (2018)
Foraging North America - The Botany, Taxonomy, and Ecology of Edible Wild Plants (2019)
Sam lives off-grid in the Santa Cruz Mountains of coastal California. His career in tech has been powered entirely by solar energy since day one.
His socials: Twitter • Polywork • LinkedIn
Key points from our conversation
I want to call out a few points from my conversation with Sam to help you if you’re considering a big career change, especially if you feel trapped and think it’s too late.
It’s never too late
I’ve written about this before in It's Never Too Late to Be Successful and Happy. It really is never too late to invest in yourself. It’s never too late to make a change in your life, even a big change.
What’s the alternative? To feel stuck, unhappy, and unfulfilled for the rest of your life? I don’t care how old you are, you can always take your career and life in a new and exciting direction.
Sam is the poster child for taking control of your life and investing in yourself. It wasn’t easy. If you listened to the episode, you heard how he would get up at 4 AM every morning and spent two hours teaching himself web development. Later, he added even more time coding during nights and weekends for about 4-5 months.
A chronic injury became the sink or swim moment when he had to quit his day job and go all-in on his freelance work as a web developer. He hustled hard for 2-3 weeks and finally landed his first two clients. In April 2021, he had doubled his monthly income — from his previous job in landscaping — by doing freelance web development and technical writing work!
Find your community
Sam’s advice for making a career change, “Step 1, find a community. That’s the thing that makes all the difference in everybody that I observed.” You have to find your community for support and advice.
When he started, he didn’t know anyone in tech. He was working alone in a dark room every day, learning to code. It is really hard to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable without a like-minded community. Tech Twitter was where he found his people.
Seth Godin refers to this as “finding your tribe” and it’s even more important now. Many of us are feeling increasingly isolated with remote work and working from home, even if we prefer it.
As a solopreneur, I spend most of my days alone. I tried a few entrepreneurial communities, but they weren’t right for me. So, I decided to create my own community for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs (check us out!), with a focus on people who want to exit the corporate world and make a living doing more of what they love, fully under their control.
Put yourself out there
Sam is amazingly engaged on Twitter. Check out his profile and you’ll see that he only joined in October 2020, yet he already has almost 9,000 followers!
He writes a blog, hosts a podcast, and is very active on Twitter. He has been putting himself out there for years and years.
Remember how I say that you will become an opportunity magnet for the best things in life if you share who you are, what you believe, and your expertise online? That’s precisely how Hashnode found Sam and made him a job offer.
They customized the role for his strengths. They had noticed his blog and how frequently he posts and tweets. Clearly, he knows his stuff when it comes to content strategy and marketing. The proof is right there. So, they hired him and he loves his new gig!
If you’re interested in making a career change, don’t be shy about putting yourself out there and finding your community. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your new future.
⬆️ Scroll to the top if you want to listen to our full conversation, hear more of Sam’s advice, and the story of how he completely reinvented his career! 🎧
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This week’s professional development challenge
⭐ Assess the Progress of Your Plan
This challenge helps you get back on track with the goals that matter the most to you this year. Without assessing your progress at this midyear checkpoint, you can’t know if you’re doing the right things to succeed later. There is a saying, “That which is measured, improves…”
Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who also hosts:
A free Slack community for ambitious professionals who want to be more successful in their careers. However, if you’re not a knowledge worker or comfortable with tech, it’s probably not for you.
A mastermind community for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs who want more accountability and support. If you’re not interested in starting your own business someday (or accelerating an existing one), this community isn’t for you.
A free community for independent creators who want to make a living doing more of what they love. Note, this community is for creative individuals who actually bring things to life (e.g., art, design, music, movies, photography, writing, pottery, etc.). Sorry, managers and agents, it’s not for you.
Larry lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice that can help others take full control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.