A year ago I sat at this local coffee shop, nervously waiting to snap a few head shots for my blog and social media pages. Seems like normal website activity right? Usually, yes, except for the past three years my Instagram followers had never known what I looked like! Not only was I about to embark on the unknown world of blogging, but I was also about to release A LOT more on social media than I had ever intended to.. my face, my writing, my heart!
What started out as an account for sharing coupon deals I was now trying to turn into what I believed to be my life’s purpose; encourage and empower others to live their best life. Just getting to that coffee shop took months of telling myself “You can do this,” “You have an audience,” “Look at what you’ve already accomplished!” and breaking through mental walls that years of self doubt had built up. Launching my blog was a huge leap of faith, but the moment I hit that “publish” button my followers could not have done a better job of reassuring me that I made the right decision (♥ thank you).
Isn’t it amazing what you can accomplish in 365 days? With every milestone, professional or personal, I am sentimental and take time to reflect on the road traveled to get to that point. So to celebrate my first anniversary I rounded up my thoughts, experiences, and frequently asked questions from other aspiring bloggers to share what was REALLY going on behind pretty pictures and helpful posts..
Preparing to Launch
Keep it moving!
I wanted to start a blog but I hate technology. No joke, it seriously frustrates the heck out of me and more often than not I ask my teenage son for help. I think most would agree that when launching your blog you want to be hands on, and although I cringed at the thought of figuring out how to create a website, I was determined to power through the process. I tried various web hosts until I decided on WordPress. No matter how many other people told me this site or that site was “the best,” WordPress was friendly to THIS user, the person actually using it, so thats what I went with. I watched YouTube videos, Googled what I didn’t know, created content only to delete it shortly after, and then finally just moved on! I knew how far I could take my blog design as an amateur, that I would invest in a developer later down the line, and I had to be ok with my best or my blog would never launch.
The Business Side
Fun & games?
There’s nothing wrong with blogging for fun, because it is fun! Personally, I have always wanted to make a career from writing and public speaking, so because my blog aligns with that I had to treat it as a business under my brand. This was really hard for me to do because it meant I had to invest in and sell myself. I joined a blogger group, went to networking events, created business cards, and practiced my elevator speech countless times. Being asked, “What do you do for a living?” was the hardest thing for me to explain and I tripped over my own tongue trying to get the words out that best conveyed my blog and its purpose.
I somehow managed to appeal to sponsors and was met with a whole new set of problems.. the administrative side. Applying for a business license, creating invoices, and determining my publishing rate (audience divided by set amount multiplied by huh?), was difficult but only a Google search away. The good thing about entering the blog world is that there are tons of bloggers.. writing blogs.. about starting a blog.. go figure!
Consistency is key
Just looking at my archive log, I see that there is a ton of room for improvement in this area. When I first launched I was on fire! I pushed out tons of content, sent out weekly email updates, and consistently promoted my blog on Instagram. My numbers were impressive, my subscriptions grew steadily, and I couldn’t have asked for the first couple of months to go any better than they did. Unfortunately, I ran out of gas and my readers did not hold back from letting me know that they could hear it in the tone of my writing.
It was during this time that being a member of a blogger group helped me the most. Hearing how others overcame creativity slumps was inspiring, not because they revealed some amazing secret, but because the consensus was simply “create a schedule.” Well wouldn’t you know? I’m great at that! So thats what I did, and while it’s not a fool proof system, I continue to learn what works for me and not beat myself up over what doesn’t.
All aboard the hot mess express
I knew that if I was going to share more of myself I had to be okay with not being everyone’s cup of tea. I was prepared for that since I like to think I have pretty thick skin and I’m more of a bold serving of coffee kinda gal anyways. What I didn’t prepare for was the criticism put on by myself. Let me tell you.. self doubt is ugly and paralyzing.
Am I enough?
Is the market over saturated?
I sound like just another Mommy blogger..
I disabled my weekly email updates and didn’t write anything for two months. I have dealt with depression and anxiety before and I didn’t want my blog to trigger either, so pulling the plug temporarily was how I chose to be proactive with my mental health. I went back to Instagram to recharge and remind myself why I started blogging in the first place. It didn’t take long for the awesome community of women that congregated in my comments and DMs to shake me out of my funk, and I felt silly for ever doubting my purpose. While I was helping others by sharing my frugal lifestyle, they were keeping me accountable and inspired. I gave myself the infamous “do you boo” pep talk and went back to blogging.
Remember your WHY
“Find your niche,” is what you’ll hear over and over again when starting your blog. Personally I don’t do well with labels, but if a sponsorship opportunity comes along that I’m really passionate about.. I’ll be a mommy/lifestyle/travel/fashion/food/whatever type of blogger you need me to be! Okay maybe not that extreme, cause you wouldn’t believe some of the product pitches that found their way to my inbox, but as the year flew by I finally understood how I wanted to present my brand to companies and my audience. I’m a mother, I’m a woman, and I’m a lover of all things frugal.. that’s the core of it all and where my expertise lies.. but what exactly is THIS Mom a dreamer of?
That my personal and professional experiences would encourage and empower others to live their best life, and when applicable, at a fraction of the cost.
One day I’m going to turn that into my company’s mission statement. For now it’s what drives my decision making for posts, collaborations, sponsorships, and everything in-between.
I can’t say thank you enough for the support. While uncomfortable, growth is inevitably necessary, and I’ve come out of this year as a better person, business, and writer. I’ve learned countless lessons that will allow me to go into my second year with bigger dreams and I pray that I can to continue being an encouragement to others. Again, thank you.. cheers dreamers!