We left off the story with me blogging and wanting everyone to like me.
Suddenly my blog was much more than a place to vent about being addicted to blue raspberry ICEEs. It became part of how I promoted the other parts of my growing online businesses.
And that is when you, if you’re me, get very self-conscious and want people to like you even more. In my mind, people liking me equaled more business. It would stand to reason, right? But the fact remained: I was always trying to find a balance between business and authenticity. I think that’s part of the business of blogging when your life is part of your business. How do you promote the very things that allow you to make a living while maintaining personal integrity?
And the years passed by until we landed in 2013.
As a designer, I was perpetually frustrated by my lack of web design knowledge. I knew enough to keep a blog running from a content standpoint, but not enough to make it look pretty.
As the primary breadwinner in my family for the past several years, it was time for me to start taking this business of blogging more seriously. I just wasn’t sure where to begin.
I started by asking friends who’ve made the transition to more sophisticated, well-designed sites. Friends like Ali Edwards and Kerri Bradford. Both were very generous in sharing their experiences of creating new sites. I knew I was headed for a platform shift—TypePad to WordPress (everyone said it offered greater flexibility)—and I figured I could purchase some type of pro level template and go from there.
So that’s what I did. I signed up with Bluehost*, I bought a template and set out to get to work.
*2020 update: I would not recommend that company today. I had a horrible experience with them!
But I was completely overwhelmed by it all and my lack of understanding how to use it, so I shelved it for most of 2013.
But a strange and fortuitous twist of fate happened. Totally Rad Actions, a company whose photo filter and plug in products I love and promote, was hosting a multi-day giveaway. I think it was around Thanksgiving as a way of saying thank you to their customers. There was one giveaway that sounded like it was right up the alley of what I needed: Win a one hour brand consult with a now defunct Los Angeles-based branding firm called Big Deal Branding.
What the hell. I entered. And whaddya know? I freaking won.
My initial thought was, “OH SHIT! This swanky LA firm is going to find out that a middle-aged scrapbook mom is the winner and they’re going to be sooo bummed.” (Yes, even after all the success I have with my work life, I still have those little inner squirrels that tell me I should apologize for how I make my living.)
But to my complete and utter surprise, they liked me.
Not only did they like me, they actually told me things in that one hour that kind of had my jaw on the floor. They spent time going through all of my archives. They told me the good (you have a really strong voice and know who you are) and the bad (your present blog is a chaotic hot mess and no one could find anything if they tried).
And then they asked me a question that kind of changed the course of my life for the past six months: “You used to be edgy and now it seems really watered down, like you’re throwing away the best part about you… what’s up with that?”
And that’s when two things happened: one, I fell in love with them and two, I knew I needed to find a way to hire them and go through their entire Signature Brand Therapy process.
So I pow-wowed with Dan and we agreed that an investment in my business, while providing no guarantee of producing any return, was a needed thing.
He had just returned to grad school, in pursuit of his elementary education degree. Aidan was less than a year out from college. We had two cars greatly in need of some TLC. But we were going to take the risk and just do it.
It was time to go big or go home, right?