Who’s behind Virtually Optimized?
Hello! I’m Samantha McCulloch, the founder of Virtually Optimized. I run my own business from home to give me the flexibility I need to work around family life.
My ‘virtual’ career began by happy accident in 2006. I had given up full-time online marketing career at renowned publisher, Penguin Books, to be a full-time mum to my eldest daughter. But if I’m honest, 18 months down the line I had started to miss work just a little bit.
When browsing Netmums (one of the UK’s most popular parenting sites), I saw a notice asking for volunteers to help out with providing local info. I volunteered, did a good job, told them about my work history and landed some work as a local site editor. I really enjoyed the flexibility of a freelance life and I eventually decided to branch out and create my own business.
The history of Virtually Optimized
I began creating Virtually Optimized in 2009. I created my first business website, went to a mumpreneur networking meeting and landed my first client straight away! That client was Leanne from Smartbags and I continue to work for her to this day. And what a client she is – she has recommended me to others, who have in turn passed on more recommendations so I have been lucky enough to keep busy over the last 5 years on recommendations alone.
The 2014 re-launch
Over the last 2 years I have worked with business gurus and coaches like Julie Hall of Women Unlimited and Wendy Kerr from Corporate Crossovers. Working for these ladies gave me ideas! Working on their blogs and social media meant I read all of their sterling advice on starting up a business, packaging up your services and how to run a successful business and started to think about how I could apply these lessons to my freelance business. So, after a 5 year freelance career I felt it was time to start working ‘on’ my business and not just ‘in’ it.
I knew my website looked tired and dated. I was offering social media & blogging services, but hadn’t found time to work on my own. It just shows how powerful client testimonials can be as my own online marketing was non-existent! And I had learned so much working for my clients and helping to improve their business results – I wanted to see if I could turn this knowledge to my own advantage to create a thriving business.
So, here I am. At the start of re-launch and the exciting journey of offering a range of online & content marketing packages for microbusinesses and solopreneurs.
Before striking out on my own, I spent eight years working in marketing and publicity in the children’s book publishing industry. Five of these years were spent at Frederick Warne & Ladybird (children’s division at Penguin Books), working with some of Britain’s most famous children’s brands in the world of character licensing.
I started as a marketing & publicity assistant and worked up the ranks to Online Executive. I was responsible for the day to day management of several websites (Peter Rabbit, Spot, Ladybird and Flower Fairies). I worked on many aspects of site management including updating them, project managing creating the site in different languages, content management, online marketing, copywriting , domain registration and management, site admin and much more.
I also hold an Advanced Certificate in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.