The #1 Best Business Decision I Made For My Business

Emily and Elizabeth at Mailchimp

Before I tell you the best decision I ever made for my business, you must first know this story…

In the early 90s, my dad decided he would have a side hustle, creating a touch-screen computer program that would be sold to grocery stores where you could pair your wine purchase with food. This was the VERY early 90s…so we’re talking super high-tech for that time. Actually, WAY before its time. But amazing nonetheless.

He worked with a close friend who was a wine expert and I just recall 4-5 computers laying around our house with these wine pairing options. (If this was developed 10 years later, we could have been billionaires….thanks, dad). It didn’t quite take off, but I remember it being in one or two stores.

But what did happen is that my sister and I grew up around computers and my sister became the real techy of the family, going to a “math and science” high school for very smart people (that’s what I call it), later going on to study Information Technology (IT) and then worked in Seattle for many years for various .com’s doing IT. I just remember her being on the computer A LOT. I was probably in the other room singing showtunes way too loud.

Main story here — years later I get to work with my sister every day and having her join forces with me and grow this business, has been, hands down, the #1 best decision ever. For me, having someone that I can, not only bounce ideas off of in Slack every single day, but having that partner that I can ask what to do when I’m dealing with a tough client or a stressful situation…it’s truly priceless. Many people don’t get that and I feel extremely lucky.

I don’t talk about her enough and how vital she is to our business. Years ago when we were designing our website, she told me she didn’t want her photo on it. She said to me — “I don’t want to be in the spotlight. I don’t need my name on anything. I am good in the background. Video off.” She was even adamant the business be under my name. But that felt weird. (BTW – Westfield Creative is named that because we grew up on Westfield Road in Charlotte, NC.)

Elizabeth has always just wanted to do the work, make a great income from home and call it a day. She’s truly one of the most humble people I know and whenever we have a win in our business, it’s pretty incredible to get to celebrate with her.

So I just wanted to give a major shout-out to Elizabeth (Liz, I get to call her — but please don’t call her that) and everything she does behind the scenes daily to make our clients happy. She is truly the brains behind most of the work we do and I always say – she can usually fix anything tech-related. Give her a broken website and login and you good.

I am a very lucky sis. Thank you, Liz, for being the best possible partner to work with every day.

8 Ways To Save On Storage Setup For Media Production

No one likes paying storage fees. 

However, professionals in marketing and media production know all too well that storage fees for video, photos and data are expenses they have to live with. Without storage, their jobs can’t be done. 

So what’s the best way to find storage on a shoestring budget? How can media production companies save on cost when planning a storage setup plan? 

We asked eight media production, marketing, and data storage companies for their insights. Here’s what they had to offer to help keep expenses low, and the gigabytes high. 

Invest in LTO Tape

If production needs lots of storage at the least possible cost there is basically only one choice, LTO tape. When capturing at high resolutions, files can be gigantic. Keeping them and a backup copy during the complete production cycle might not even be possible. Here, an ingest archive might be the best solution at the lowest cost per TB and with the maximum security the medium offers. Ingest all files are archived immediately to LTO tape. All editing is done on proxies. The final conform is done with only the files actually used in the edit and restored from LTO tape. Scaling with such a tape-based archive is extremely easy and only needs to purchase additional tapes. The price point of tapes starts at about 10USD per TB. The investment pays off in two ways: financially saving constant investment in disk storage and security because LTO tape is the most secure and durable professional storage medium available with 30 years of shelf life.

Dr. Marc M. Batschkus, Archiware

Annual Agreements

Sign an annual agreement with a storage company to get their best rate. Annual agreements will typically waive set up fees and offer a percentage discount for agreeing to 12 months of service. If you know you’ll be using the service for an extended period of time, agree to longer terms to drive down rates. 

Eric Blumenthal, The Print Authority

Just Ask

Most things in life are negotiable. Setup fees are no different. If a storage setup fee exists, first take the time to understand why the setup fee exists. Listen carefully to the answer. If the rep gives the slightest indication that they don’t believe in the setup fee either, just ask if the fee can be waived. There’s no harm in asking, and by first learning why the fee exists, you have more validity behind your request. 

Carey Wilbur, Equipment Financing Company

Be a Beta Customer

Sometimes startups need beta customers to help work out the kinks in a storage solution. If you are able to sync up with a storage startup, offer to be a beta customer. In return for low or no storage fees, offer your insights to drive value to the startup. This way, your relationship turns into a mutually beneficial partnership instead of a transactional one.

Francesca Yardley, Threads

Cyber Monday Deals

Yes, Cyber Monday only comes around once a year. But when it does, storage companies will sometimes offer an incredible deal on a monthly or annual basis. I once took advantage of a Cyber Monday deal to get 65% off a service we wanted to use. We’ve been paying that same grandfathered rate ever since. Take advantage of a deal, renew, and save costs on storage services you need.

Brett Farmiloe, Tech SEO Agency

Cloud Storage

You can save storage costs while on a shoestring budget by opting for cloud storage. Take AWS S3, for instance. The S3 standard tier, which is ideal for data that you will access frequently, costs $0.023 per GB. When you need to archive large media files that you are no longer accessing regularly, you can use S3 Glacier, which costs $0.004 per GB. Note that these prices are comparable across any cloud provider you choose.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

Solid State Drives

Creatives should consider solid state drive (SSD) caching as an alternative to high-speed solid state drives when building storage on a budget. SSD caching pairs one or more solid state drives with a large array of spinning hard drives. Frequently accessed data is loaded to the SSDs automatically, for blazing fast access. Since hard drives are available in larger capacities and at a cheaper cost per gigabyte, these arrays experience the best of both worlds – the speed of SSDs, with the capacity and affordability of hard drives, often 40% or less of the cost of SSDs.

Joseph Stornelli, JS Technology Group


Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage in its basic plan and makes collaborating on shared documents simple and effective. Dropbox integrates with Office and Google Docs. If you share your files, other people can collaborate on these documents in real time and any changes you make as a team will save directly to your Dropbox account, making team collaboration a breeze. 

Jim Costa, Producer and Director

8 Reasons Why Working For A NYC Startup Was My Best Career Move

After deciding I could no longer spend my life auditioning for Broadway shows and waiting tables (let’s face it — I was burned out from singing 16 bars), I then spent many years working 9-6pm “assistant” jobs in NYC. I worked for a hedge fund, I worked as a nanny (another fave job), I worked as a personal assistant, an executive assistant, admin assistant in financial services and I’m sure a few other assistant jobs in there. But what prepared me MOST for owning my own virtual “assistant” business was the one job where I was NOT an assistant. It was my final NYC job as Program Coordinator for a busy, NYC startup non-profit where I worked for nearly 4 years.

I realized recently that working for a startup was the best training ground for creating the business of my dreams. The startup environment is so unique and also hard/exhausting, but so rewarding.

If you’re looking to learn a ton and you’re just starting out– look for a GREAT startup to work for. You’ll learn a lot.

And here’s why:

  1. I wore 15 hats. No really – 15. Ok, maybe 6 (but it felt like 15 some days). I spent my mornings working in logistics/international shipping and then afternoons doing an email campaign/tweeting, entering invoices into QuickBooks, booking international travel, helping to design a new office space, assisting our accountant with our annual audit, booking hotels in remote parts of Africa and more. Endless. When you work for a startup, you get the chance to take on many things. This was such an incredible training ground for a future small business owner.
  2. Freedom. I was given the freedom to try things in my work. I think this should maybe be #1 here. For many years as an assistant working in financial offices, it was the opposite. No freedom. No say. A very “Mad Men”-ish, secretarial existence (which killed me softly inside for years). In a startup, many times, you’re given a lot of freedom in your work to try things. No one ever breathed down my back to make sure I was completing a task. Therefore, I worked harder. I was happier. I wanted to be there making an impact every day. A sense of “freedom” in the workplace makes the difference between a job and a great job.
  3. Small teams. At this startup, I worked on a small, amazing team. Working closely with just a few people (who also each wore 15 hats) taught me so much about working closely with a colleague. Most of my work now is one-on-one with a client or solo-entrepreneur. It’s so important to learn how to communicate well (and fast) with your colleagues and working in a startup was great prep.
  4. Fast-paced. In a startup (or a great startup at least), you’ll learn quickly the meaning of “fast-paced.” I’ve always worked pretty fast, but when you have 4 people running an entire company with many things happening, you learn to work as fast (and diligent) as possible. Learning to work in a fast-paced environment is so, so important if you want to run your own business. It’s a must. I’m still trying to get on “Tahoe Time” here…
  5. Great People. I had incredible managers who asked me on a monthly basis – “what do you want to do, Emily?” — “what do you want to focus on?” — “How can we help you develop this?” A great startup usually has a rigorous hiring process because they want the brightest people on their small team to grow their business from the ground — up. I was very lucky to have worked with smart, smart people who taught me to so much and cared enough about me to help develop my natural work talents.
  6. Risk-taking was OK. I worked for a CEO and manager who took risks (see my “testimonials” page). Calculated, smart risks…but risks. We tried things a lot — some worked and some didn’t. Most did — not gonna lie. But — this sense of “the worst thing you could do is NOT try” really stuck with me. In this past year, I have said yes to some potential clients who I did not think I could take on (or was scared to) and it’s turned out wonderful.
    facebook office
    Funny enough- this image was taken on a visit to the NYC Facebook office for an event on women in business, which I was encouraged to go to from my manager.
  7. Flexibility in the workplace. What literally led me here was that I was given flexibility with my job. We had a generous maternity leave policy and the option to “ease” back into work after maternity leave (working from home on Fridays for a few months before coming back 5 days a week), which was SO incredibly helpful for me. These things really make a massive difference and most big corporations don’t have such flexible policies. I was also given the flexibility in the office to work wherever – rarely at my desk. At the office kitchen counter. In the small phone rooms. On the couch. The startup environment is awesome in this way — allowing employees to get up and move freely, which in turn makes them more productive and never bored. I am a firm believer that you could and should work where you’re most comfortable. For me, it’s at home by myself. For some, it’s in a bustling office. But it should be wherever you work the best.
  8. Modern business systems/ideas. Most startups are just that – starting up. And to do this, the business owner/CEO/Founder wants to make their employees happy. Many startups have a lot of fun perks and benefits (we didn’t have a ping pong table, but we did have a sweet espresso machine and some awesome views). They also use a lot of modern systems to run their business. Because of this, I learned so much about working “in the cloud” and running a paperless/electronic business. I think so much of my work now involves systems for entrepreneurs (and systems that I learned there), so learning these programs was huge.

Lately, I think a lot about — how did I get here after just starting this business a year ago? I think a lot of it is because I worked for a fast-paced, NYC startup that gave me the freedom to thrive and focus on what I loved working on. Instead of being pushed down in a cubicle, I was built-up daily and given the reigns to try things and take risks (something I had never had before). I owe so much to the time I spent there. I would not have been able to move here to Tahoe, to work from home and to live out this little business dream of mine.

So yes…working at a startup…a great idea.