You guys, 15 years ago today, I started a blog.
I’m going to try not to cry as I type this but let’s be real, there’s no way that’s possible.
Blogging has changed my life.
Fifteen years ago, I was in a very sad and dark place in my life. I had just had a miscarriage after a year of trying to get pregnant. I was full of hormones from injectable medicines. I worked in a job I didn’t love. I didn’t have a community. I was new-ish to our town and hadn’t really found “my people” yet. I was lonely. I was 25 years old and now, looking back, that all seems like a crazy place for a 25 year old woman to find herself in, but that’s where I was. I needed something to do for me. I needed a hobby. An outlet. Something to inspire me. On August 3, 2007, I opened blogger.com, created an account and started a blog about me. I talked about my tiny little dog. My new carpet. Maybe a family birthday party. I had no plan. No direction. I just knew that when I blogged, I felt joy.
Fast forward fifteen years and without a doubt, I would say that when I look back on my life (no matter how long I might live), this community here will be one of the most significant relationships in my entire life. Not blogging, but this community has changed me. I can confidently say that without YOU out there, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I wouldn’t be the mother I am. I wouldn’t have the marriage I do. I most certainly wouldn’t have the career I’m in (blogging and my travel agency!). I think back to that 25 year old girl and want to hug her. I want to let her know that she’s sitting down to write a blog post that will turn into one of the best things she ever does. Saying I’m thankful to this blog and this community simply isn’t enough. You guys have changed me. You’ve watched me mature as a woman. You’ve corrected me when I’ve been wrong (and boy, I have been WRONG!). You’ve given me the absolute best advice and counsel. You’ve encouraged me. You’ve motivated me. YOU’VE PRAYED FOR ME. I am undeserving of your time each day, but please know I do not take it for granted. You are all busy. You are all inundated with social media. The whole world is trying to get your attention and for whatever reason, you give me a few moments of each day. Thank you. Thank you all so very much. I am so blessed by YOU.
In honor of two big anniversaries this summer (today being my 15th anniversary blogging and then in June, I celebrated 10 years owning my travel agency!), I thought there was never a better time than right now to share a few of my tidbits for starting your own business.
These are, of course, are just my little pieces of advice and a few nuggets to share in case any of you out there have a passion and just don’t know if you can actually turn it into a viable business or not. Maybe though you don’t want to start your own business? Maybe you have always wanted to be a nurse. Or a teacher. Or a flight attendant. Or work in an industry where you’re not “the boss”, but it’s completely new and not anything you’ve done before. If that’s you, my tips might not all apply (as I’m going to talk specifically about starting a business), but I hope you’re encouraged nonetheless to pursue your passion. Please take these all with a big ole grain of salt. It’s just a few thoughts…not a business plan 😉 .
I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by women who have turned their hobbies into careers. My mom always loved decorating her home, so when I was in the second grade, she went back to college and studied design. She graduated four years later and created the most amazing interior design business for herself that lasted 30 years. My sister-in-law created a stationary line and concierge gifting service using her talents and passions. My cousin Casey created a hairbow company that is now a booming business. My cousin Brooke created a custom outdoor pillow business because she loved fashion design but wanted to incorporate her love of the patio with staying home with her three little boys. Friends, if you have a hobby that you love…something that gets you excited and makes you lose all track of time, and you’ve always wanted to do it fulltime but just don’t know how, I hope this post inspires you to keep going.
Enough chatting, here are my little tidbits (hopefully, encouraging!)…
#1: You don’t mind doing it even if you’re not getting paid. Don’t get me wrong, I really like getting paid for working, but in my opinion, when you really love something, you’re doing it because you love it and not just for the paycheck. As someone who worked in insurance for 12 years, trust me, I would NOT have done that job for free. #nothankyou Blogging though was a hobby. I did it early in the morning, later at night after work and on weekends. I did it because I loved it…not because I was getting paid to do it (and for YEARS, I didn’t make a penny). I think when you really love something, you don’t mind doing it in your free time (while maybe also working your 9-5). You’re always excited to sit down and do it. You’re thinking about it when you’re not doing it. You’re motivated to do it. It doesn’t feel like a chore. If you have a hobby you look forward to doing in your free time, that’s a great step towards finding a career you’re truly passionate about. Like any job in sales, I don’t get paid for vacations until after the product has been delivered which means…I often do a lot of work on trips well before I ever get paid (or if they end up not going, I never get paid for that work and time). I love talking about vacations so much though that it doesn’t bother me when something falls though because just talking about the trips inspires and motivates me to try again with someone else. I just think that if you’re really into making patio pillows and don’t care if only your friends and family enjoy them and you make zero dollars but looove to make them, you might have a business in the making.
#2: You don’t care what others think. We joke about this now 15 years later, but I remember standing in my mom’s kitchen when I told her I had started a blog and she said something to the effect of “that’s dumb; no one wants to read that”. Ha! I mean…it wasn’t quite that harsh, but I did burst into tears. Then…the very first time I photographed a dinner (I remember the exact recipe!), Andrew told me it was stupid to take pictures of our food and that no one would care. (Again, maybe not quite that harsh, but I cried again.) And you know what? I didn’t let them stop me. The joke is on both my mom and Andrew now (and trust me, I love to tease them both about it!), but I knew it was important to me. It was important enough to me that even when my two biggest cheerleaders didn’t cheer, I kept going. Don’t let anyone tell you your dream is stupid. You want to go back to school and become a kindergarten teacher but you’re 55 and have never worked outside the home? Who cares? I know you can do it.
#3: You’re okay working another job and only doing this on the side. I mean, if you would have told 25 year old me that writing about her life, recipes and booking vacations could be her fulltime gig and she could stop explaining people’s insurance bills to them or hear them yell at her because the adjuster didn’t make it to their house on time…I would have happily signed up for that job. Buuuuuut blogging and travel didn’t pay for years, so I just kept workin’ that job I didn’t exactly love until I could confidently stop. Looking back, I learned so many valuable lessons that made me the business owner I am today by working in another industry. What I learned doing that job made me SO MUCH BETTER at doing my current job. No time was wasted doing this on the side.
#4: You’re constantly thinking about it. Even to this day, I cannot stop thinking about blogging. When I read something, see something, watch something, visit Trader Joe’s, see a new drink featured at Starbucks, find a new show on Netflix, the first people I want to share it with is you! My brain is constantly thinking about this because it’s my passion. What can you not stop thinking about?
#5: Read magazines and books about the field you love and listen to podcasts too! I love to surround myself with inspiring writers, influencers, bloggers, authors, podcasts…I am like a sponge over here. I do not rely on myself for motivation and inspiration, I seek it out! I love to follow people who are doing what I am aspiring to do but then I also love to just follow inspiring people that perhaps aren’t in my industry at all. If they’re energetic, motivating and encouraging me to do what I love, then I want to absorb their material.
#6: Connect with people in the same community. No matter what you love, make friends with people who love it too! Whether you get together in real life or you just join a Facebook group, DM someone in your perspective field, follow people who follow similar accounts as you…however you do it, find people with similar passions. I don’t look at is as my competition, I look at these people as my comrades. Be vulnerable. Ask questions. Have real conversations with people who are pursuing or living the dreams you have.
#7: You get excited to get up every day. Fifteen years later, and I STILL get giddy to get up and blog. I get asked sometimes when I’m going to stop blogging. My answer? When it stops being fun. Why would I stop doing something I love? Who stops doing things they truly get excited to wake up and do. My alarm goes off really early in the morning, and I still get just as motivated and excited to hop up and see what you guys are up to each day in this world. I still get excited to write a blog post. And…after my one millionth conversation with someone about an Alaskan cruise? Well, I’m still just as excited to talk to the next person. Find that *thing* that makes you excited to hop out of bed each morning. No matter how silly or small it is, think about how you can turn that passion into a profession.
#8: Do a little bit every day. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to be an author but you’re currently a florist. My advice would be to set a timer and write 10 minutes every day. Don’t sit down on a Wednesday afternoon and start writing a whole book…but just do a little bit at a time. If you want to open an Etsy shop but have a fulltime teaching job, my advice would be start small and do a little each day. My worst enemy is always me biting off more than I can chew. I’ve learned the very hard way that a little bit adds up to a lot as long as I consistently do “a little bit” every day.
So, fifteen years later and look at me acting like I know what I’m doing. Bahahaha! I know nothing. I started this journey completely blind and have thankfully come to where I am today via the grace of the Lord coupled with…a lot of consistency and hard work. I think my advice boils down to this…there will be a lot of people probably more capable/talented/better at whatever you want to do, so just outwork them, friend! Be consistent, don’t let others discourage you, get excited, turn to communities/influencers/podcasts that inspire you and seize the day. Don’t look back and miss it because you were scared.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so grateful for each of you!!!! You are all such a blessing to me! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me do this over the last fifteen years. xx Shay
Before we go, a little 15 years by the numbers 🙂 …
5,413 published blog posts
2,419 recipe posts
101 bundt cakes
577 posts where I mention the word “pumpkin”
172 posts where I talk about Jesus
196 posts where I talk about adoption
7 appearances on The Bachelorette or The Bachelor
2 Facebook groups for people to connect
29 countries visited
458 books reviewed
6 published cookbooks
1 time it rained in my house
1 travel agency
1 very blessed blogger 😉 xx