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Meet Marisa Donnelly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marisa Donnelly.

Marisa, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Ever since I was five years old, I was passionate about being a teacher and writer. I would gather the neighborhood friends and have them over for ‘class’ where I’d play ‘school’ and teach them about sentences and words. (I was super popular back then. LOL. Not.)

Anyways, that passion for teaching only grew throughout school and into college, but I was torn. I also wanted to pursue writing. And at the time, it felt like one was the ‘rational’ choice and one was the ‘dream’ choice. Long story short, I decided to pursue my teaching license while creating blogs and submitting my writing to magazines and journals on the side. After having two personal essays go viral on a popular online platform, I applied for a full-time position and was quickly thrown into the writing industry.

I spent three years as a full time Staff Writer and Editor for this publication, working with hundreds of contributors, running multiple social media sites, writing thousands of pieces, and gathering millions of views on my writing. But I wanted more. I wanted to create a space where I could dedicate my time and energy to people I worked with. I wanted to help the writers that would submit pieces and want to improve, the ones I couldn’t help when I was so busy with other duties at this current position.

In 2018, I stepped away to start my own business. I wanted it to be both of my passions—writing and teaching—within an online community space, space where people could feel encouraged and welcomed, but also learn what they needed to improve their personal, professional, academic, and creative lives.

Thus, Be A Light Collective began. Now I work with writers from all over the world to help them through my writing and editing services, as well as content writing services for businesses. For teaching, I teach part-time for different schools through Be A Light, as well as part-time tutor students online or in the San Diego area. It’s a lot, but it’s exactly what I wanted (and even more). I’m so blessed to see how it’s grown and how I’m truly able to do the things I love, help people, and grow a community that truly spreads good energy into the world.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting your own business (especially when you’re young) is a challenge. It’s something I share honestly about my website/blog quite often. It’s hard to navigate as a one-woman show; it’s even harder when I’ve been working remotely for years and am still new to the San Diego area (it will be five years this upcoming August). I think, if I were to summarize my biggest challenges and lessons, it would be that anything you want, you have to go after yourself. You have to be willing to do things that other people aren’t, you have to work a lot (especially in the beginning) and you can’t be afraid of the potential of what you can become.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Be A Light Collective – what should we know?
I am the founder and CEO of Be A Light Collective. We’re a writing coaching, tutoring, and editing services company that helps people of all ages with their writing (personal, professional, creative, and academic) or subject areas relating to English, Language Arts, and Reading. We’re also an online community that is all about spreading ‘light’ and helping people feel empowered and loved.

I have a background in Secondary English Education and English/Creative Writing. I’m known for being a prolific writer and editor, so my specialty is applying both of my passions into the services through Be A Light, as well as teaching and adding that ‘oomph’ to my services that are based in educational practices.

I’m proud of so many things – how it’s happened, how I’ve grown, how I’ve found a way to combine my passion and heart into a business. But most of all, I’m proud of how many lives we’ve touched. Because I’m local to the San Diego area and online, I have clients worldwide. That’s humbling and empowering to see and I feel so blessed to be able to help people, even those who don’t live in proximity.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Some so many people have inspired me along my journey. My family has been super supportive, I have a handful of friends who are proud of what I’ve built. I have my boyfriend and his son who continually push me to be the best person I can be. I also have so many people whose journey’s I’ve watched and admired from a far. Any small business owner who dares to start something new and different has helped my journey and I’m truly humbled and thankful for others who have chosen to follow their dreams – they’ve paved the way!


  • Coaching Session (1HR Single Session) – $50
  • Tutoring Services (1HR Single SEssion) – $35
  • My Poetry Book (Somewhere On A Highway) – $15

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Gabi Nehring Photo (for the main picture)
Andrea Vehige (all other photos)

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