Today marks one full year of starting this blog (read my first blog post here!).
57 blog posts (yes, that's more than one a week!)
And a whole lot of figuring things out.
I’ve woken up in tears, ready to throw in the towel, telling (more like shouting at) Scott that, “this whole blogging thing is a JOKE!”
I’ve woken up at 4 in the morning, ok let's be real 5:30 in the morning, eager to grab the computer and start typing the words that were doing circles in my brain like the bingo ball numbers inside one of those spinners.
And through it all, here we are, one year later.
To say I’m pretty excited is an understatement.
I’ve learned so much. I’ve had to figure so much out. But the best part, is hands down, every time I get a message from someone like YOU saying that you were inspired by something I wrote, or you started your own blog, or you took a trip, or you decided to finally dive into that thing you’ve always wanted to do.
That just fills me right on up.
Because I’ve been there too. In the struggle and the doubt and the being stuck, wondering how in the heck I was ever going to actually start this thing.
Did you know it took me 3 whole years to legit start this blog? That’s mostly because I let fear and doubt and a whole lot of excuses get in my way. And because starting something new is HARD and SCARY. Straight up.
Maybe you’ve heard me talk about it before but this was a BIG moment in my journey.
I was reading a blog post by Erin Sullivan from Erin Outdoors and she was talking about becoming a travel blogger and writer and working with brands and getting to work for herself and as I sat wondering how in the heck I could live a life similar to hers she wrote something like this “The difference between you and me is 3 years. 3 years ago I didn’t know what I was doing. 3 years ago I didn’t have a big following or partners. 3 years ago I started a blog and each day after I figured things out and stuck with it. So if you look at my lifestyle and want something similar, just know that we’re only 3 years apart.”
Boom. My mind was blown.
It all made sense. People get where they want to go, by doing things they want to be doing. They make a change and things change. They start blogging and call themselves a blogger. They start taking photos and call themselves a photographer. They start x and call themselves x....you get the idea.
I might not have everything figured out but I know one thing for sure, the only difference between you and me is one year.
If you haven't started yet, the difference between where you are on your blogging journey and my own is one year. Just 365 days of committing to something.
And this can be applied to your photography journey, or your fitness journey, or your woodworking journey, or your Etsy journey.
One day at a time, one week at a time, and pretty soon 12 months go by.
Looking back on this past year I can see 4 big things that I would say to someone diving into a new endeavor, whatever that may be. Training for a marathon, going back to school, learning to cook like Meryl Streep…I mean Julia Child, you. can. do. it. my friend. Read on.
1. YOU JUST HAVE TO START
That’s the key my friend, you just have to start that thing you’ve always wanted to do. It’s simple, I know, but oh so true. And often, very hard.
To take that first leap. To dive in. To jump into a world of unknown and a whole lot of work. Woof, I know it’s not easy but you’ve got to start.
You and me aren’t getting any younger here people. And truthfully there is never a “perfect time”. I always say you'll know when the right time is when the thought of staying the same is scarier than changing.
And remember, this is coming from the girl who thought about starting a blog FOR THREE YEARS. (Read this blog if you want to know more.)
So, do whatever you need to do to set a start date and do it. Circle a date on a calendar, call your best friend and have them help hold you accountable, tell the world on Facebook, whatever it is that is going to help you start that thing you've been wanting to do.
This helped me, I have a quote that sits on my desk. I found it, oh probably 6 months before I started the blog, and kept it close by so I would see it every day. It says “A year from now you will wish you had started today. --Karen Lamb” I looked at that quote every single day and still do.
Being one year in, I can say tell you just how true this quote is. That thing you want to do? Just START my friend. You'll figure it out as you go.
2. BE CONSISTENT
Keep showing up. Even when you don’t know what to write, keep writing. Even when you don’t feel like posting, post my friend. Even when you don't feel like cutting wood or picking up the camera or going to the gym, show up and do it.
It’s ok to take breaks and to have seasons where you're not as consistent, but make sure you keep putting out content/creating/showing up each day or week or whatever expectation you set for yourself.
I swear this last year and all the growth I’ve had is because I’ve been consistent. I kept writing blogs. I kept posting blogs. I kept promoting my blogs.
I found time each day, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, to write and I created a schedule that worked for me. I set deadlines and planned ahead. This helped me be consistent with my work and also let my readers know what they could expect from me.
I wrote this blog post about creating a successful blog but if I had to choose one thing that really kept moving the needle forward, it would probably be being consistent.
3. OWN WHAT YOU DO (EVEN IF YOU DON'T FEEL QUALIFIED)
You are an expert, remember that.
If you really want to get serious about this thing you want to do, start owning the fact that you know what you're doing.
You might not know it all, of course, who does? But when you call yourself an expert, people will start to see you as that.
Jenna Kutcher, my favorite entrepreneur educator recently said something like this in her podcast, "You don't have to know it all to be an expert, you just have to be one chapter ahead of everyone else."
When you start doing something everyday, you are one chapter ahead.
When you're the one diving in and learning about SEO and building a website and using keywords, you are one chapter ahead.
When you start writing and posting and promoting, you are one chapter ahead.
And that makes you an expert.
And I'll tell you this, owning that thing you want to do/be needs to happen waaaayyy before you feel like you're ready. We've been trained to think we need to put in a certain amount of time or have a certain number of followers or sell a certain number of products before we can give ourselves a title. These are all valid, but they will also keep you from moving forward quicker.
I'm here to tell you to go for it. Own what you want to be and grow into it. Don't wait until you grow and then say "ok because I have 5,000 followers noooowwww I'm a photographer. If you're out there everyday taking photos, editing photos, promoting photos, and making this passion of yours turn from a hobby into an actual thing, dang-it you're a photographer! Own that!
When I started owning what I wanted to be and called myself a blogger, even when I didn't feel qualified, people started to come to me with blogging questions. When I wrote and gave advice about traveling and our adventures, people came to me for recommendations.
Is there still a lot for me to learn? Yes. Absolutely.
Do I have it all figured out? No. Absolutely not.
But because I started calling myself a blogger from the get-go, people saw me as one right away.
Own what you want to be and go for it. (psssst...you can figure things out as you go!)
4. GIVE YOURSELF GRACE (AND LOTS OF IT)
Trying something new is freaking hard, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
You see people around you, making it look easy (ahem...helllllllllo Instagram), and you’re trying to figure out what they know that the world so kindly forgot to clue you in on.
So you work harder to keep up with them and sometimes you don’t work at all because you feel like it’s never enough. That no one is listening or paying attention or even cares.
Let me tell you this, people ARE listening and people DO care.
I can’t tell you how many times I sat on my couch typing and erasing, typing and erasing thinking “this post is pointless, no one is going to read this.” But I put it up anyway, because, you know, consistency, and then as if they knew I needed to hear it, they would reach out with a message or response or something of the sorts and say “Thank you” or “I needed this” or “Great post”. I kid you not, every single time I get a message I get a little tear in my eye and call out for Scott to share the story with him.
But back to giving yourself grace. Your work is not going to be perfect every time. You’re not going to be consistent every week. You’re going to be a day late on a blog or feel like you wrote junk or write, erase, and rewrite for an entire day and feel like you got nothing done and THAT’S OK! Keep going!
Starting something new can be overwhelming. You'll go through seasons of feeling like a rock star and seasons wondering who in the world gave you access to a website.
Be realistic with your work and the deadlines you give yourself.
In the beginning, I tried to do it all. I was trying to post two blogs a week and send out an email each week and record videos and edit videos and post to social media every day and interact, respond, and nail those hashtags, you feel me? No wonder I woke up in the fetal position more than once.
After a lot of stress and trying to convince Scott that “I SWEAR I CAN DO IT ALL!!!!” I learned that I indeed CANNOT do it all, and scaled WAAYYY back.
I identified what NEEDED to get done, what would help move the needle forward on the blog, and what I realistically could accomplish in a given week. And now I focus on those 2-4 things, help Scott where he needs it, and if I’m a day late on getting a blog post up, so be it. I give myself grace and recognize that any work done is a success.
Know your strengths and know your weaknesses and when you fall down, pick yourself back up, give yourself grace, and get back to it.
So here we are. As I look back on the year and all I've learned, these 4 stick with me the most:
Owning what you want to be.
Giving yourself grace.
Mostly I've learned that if you stick with something for a whole year, you'll grow exponentially as a person and be in a completely different place than you were a year ago. I think that's a good thing.
I'll end with a quick story. I was recently talking to Scott about my 1 year blogging anniversary, because, you know, he's a HUGE part of this too. I was saying things like "can you believe it" and "look how far we've come" and "wow, it wasn't easy but we can both agree it's been worth it."
A few days later, out of the blue, I got an email from a Convention and Visitor's Bureau in a small town in southern Michigan called Frankenmuth. They asked if I would be a part of a familiarization tour, where I would join 9 other photographers, bloggers, and influencers from the state and spend 3 days exploring their town and then sharing our experience. The hotel and all activities would be paid for and yes it was ridiculously exciting and yes it sounded way too good to be true.
But it WAS true. I was being invited to do something that was a faint dream just 4 years prior.
Because I had started my blog, and was consistent, and called myself a blogger from the get-go, and kept going even when I felt like I failed, they recognized me as someone who could share their town's story.
I say this completely humbled and with gratefulness and a whole lot of excitement but I'm not going to lie, I'm definitely over here cheering for myself (read my previous blog post to see what I mean.) Like, YES! I just can't even believe it. This thing I have been trying to build is real, and others see it too.
So whoever and wherever you are, know that thing you want to do is possible. Know that if you stick with something for one year, you will be in a completely different place than when you started. Know that nothing changes if nothing changes.
365 days from now where will you be?
365 days from now what will be different?
365 days from now what will you be glad you said yes to and stuck with it?
You can do it my friend and you'll be so darn happy that you did.
Just remember, the difference between you and me is one year. That's it.
Lastly, thank you so much for being here. None of this would be possible without the support and encouragement and constant cheering from you. For real, each message and like and share means the world to myself and our family.
Cheers to living life big my friend,
Phew. I'm pretty pumped up right now. If you liked this blog, I think you'll like these ones too!