First of all thank you all for all your kind words on Tuesday on my first blogiversary. I am so blessed by our tribe and just want you to know I am so so so so so thankful for each and every one of you! You are amazing!
Have you had a dream you didn't dare to dream? A dream you wanted to do so bad but you were afraid of failing and falling flat on your face? Yep me too.
Just over a year ago I was lying in bed, staring up at the dark ceiling, with this huge dream in my heart. I had been pondering taking my little family blog and making it more than a coveted picture book on my bookshelf.
I rolled over and told my husband my dream, trepidation in my voice, at the insanity of my own words. Wondering, even as I said it, who was I to think I could do it
. There were a million blogs out there already and what if I failed. He leaned over, kissed my forehead and said, "you won't know unless you try. You should do it." Then he rolled over and went to bed.
The next morning I hopped out of bed, with a little more confidence than I had the morning before, and decided to finally take that, burning in my belly, passion and make it a reality. What did I have to lose? Nothing. Would I let fear hold me back? No. Would I step out in faith? Yes.
So, what have I learned in the last year? Hmmm...A LOT.
1 -- There is no such thing as over-night success
I read article after article stating you could make a full-time income in less than 3 months blogging. While that might be true that has not been my experience. If you want to make a quick buck, blogging is not for you.
However, if you are willing to hustle, network, and put in serious, hard work over time you will see a return on your investment. One year in and I am starting to work with brands for sponsored posts but based on the hours I put in, I could make more money at the local McDonalds and there would be French fries involved. If you are in it for the money, you will fizzle quickly.
2 -- There is a Learning Curve
One day I was feeling particularly down-trodden about my effort and not seeing great results. My best friend was sweetly listening to my lamenting and when I finally took a breath, she said "the first year of any job is the hardest."
My mind raced back to the first year of teaching. I was single and lived alone so I would spent countless hours before and after-school, pouring over my manuals, creating lesson plans, cutting lamination and setting up stations. It was all so new to me, I had to spend time learning as I went.
It's no different with blogging. There are words like HTML, SEO, Pinterest, social media, mailing lists, linkups, affiliate links, and the list goes on and on. It can be so overwhelming you don't even know what to do let alone where to start.
Work smarter, not just harder. Find people you can learn from and be inspired by!
3-- Build Your Tribe
You can have a blog but ultimately you want readers to read it. How do you get readers? I spent the majority of my first year building my tribe on Instagram and Facebook.
It's easy to forget why you are blogging in the middle of all the learning but I started blogging to serve and help my readers. So, my focus has to be on the people and how I can serve them best. That may not translate to sky-rocketing numbers but I have tried to maintain my focus on loving my tribe well.
4 -- Choose a Focus
Early on, I was listening to a podcast and they talked about the fact that when it comes to blogging there are always a million things you could be doing. Amen? But rather than get overwhelmed, choose one area to focus on, and learn to do it well. Once you choose a focus, go an inch-wide and a mile deep in that area. Once you find success, move on to another area.
I started with Instagram. I listened to podcasts, read articles, and studied bigger accounts to learn my craft. I searched out hashtags that fit my niche that I could affix to a comment in my picture. That way my picture would pop up when that hashtag is searched therefore making my picture seen to more of my targeted readers.
I tried out insta-stories and facebook live in order to connect with my tribe over video and on a deeper level. I try to post purposefully and regularly with my reader in mind asking myself, will this be helpful and encouraging to them today? I have learned to include a question with each photo so my tribe can respond and engage with me. Blogging is a 2 way street and engagement and getting to know your tribe is the best part :).
5 -- Keep On Keeping On
It's easy to jump onto another blog and compare. They might have nice graphics and 20 comments while I barely have 20 page views. Early on, I was listening to a podcast and the blogger being interviewed said, "don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle."
It is easy to look at someone and think I wish. Comparison is the thief of all joy.
Looking at other blogs and gaining inspiration is one thing but don't compare yourself to them. We each have our own stories to share and personal insights to offer. There is room for everyone. Don't be discouraged, keep on keeping on.
So, if you are reading this with a fire in your belly passion for something, maybe it's something completely different than blogging, go for it! You will never know unless you try and there is nothing worse than wondering "what if?". Remember to love your tribe well, give yourself grace in the learning curve, be inspired by others around you but stay true to who you are and don't give up. Two steps forward, one step back is still forward progress.
Bonus -- It's scarier to not try at all
When I started, I am
pretty sure my family and friends thought I was crazy. There are nay-sayers and those that are still disinterested in what I do but I use that to push me harder to achieve the dreams and passions in my heart. Don't let someone else's opinion hold you back from what God has planned for your life.
As I reflect on this past year, the number one thing God has taught me is to lean into my fears. Fears don't mean failure or falling, they might just mean you will take flight.
Until next time, keep on keeping on (koko) with a joyful, faith-filled life! #tribekoko
Linking up with Erika for Friday Favorites and BYBMG for High Five for Friday