My First Delicious Year as a Full Time Blogger

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My first delicious year as a full time blogger

2015 was my first full year of blogging.

In December of 2014, I decided to start yet another blog. (It was my 6th blog since 2011.) I was afraid to start yet another failed blog, but my need to write overrode my fear.

In the beginning, I just wrote whatever felt right to me. But I knew that my deeper purpose for blogging was to carve out a business for myself in this crazy online world.

In building this blog, I somehow found my way back to my 3 passions in life – writing, teaching, and entrepreneurship. Because my blog was built on a solid foundation of what I really care about, I stuck with it. I grew an audience, I created a membership site, and I built a business that allows me to do what I love while making money.

That all happened in 2015.

Many bloggers write a round up post at the end of each year where they explore what they’ve learned and struggled with that year, and their plans for the year ahead.

I think it’s super important to do a lot of self-reflection at the end of the year, and I like the idea of putting it out there and sharing it with the world. So this is my first year-end wrap up post. It’s been a crazy, delicious year. I grew so much.

Thanks for reading about my journey.

My greatest accomplishments in 2015

In the blogging world, it’s all about the numbers. Page views, Facebook likes, email subscribers.

But my greatest accomplishments in 2015 have nothing to do with numbers, and everything to do with connection – both to myself, and to others.

The greatest blogging accomplishments aren't stats. They're connections with others.Click To Tweet

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • I stuck with my blog and wrote almost every week. (My past blogs never made it past 10 posts.)
  • I faced my fears and did webinars and went on Periscope.
  • I created a community of bloggers who truly support each other. It’s a place for bloggers to go when they feel alone on their blogging journeys, something I struggled with for years.
  • I created the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge, which gave me the incredible opportunity to teach lots of people, and to form deep connections with other bloggers.
  • I built Have Your Cupcake, my blogging membership community, a truly special and supportive group of women bloggers who always look out for each other and help each other on their blogging journeys.
  • I’ve been able to inspire lots of bloggers and get tweets and comments on a daily basis where people thank me for helping them.

My greatest struggles in 2015

Let’s face it – blogging is hard. Freaking hard.

And even though this blog took off and sustained me in a way that no other blog or business has, the journey has been fraught with challenges.

Challenge #1: My income didn’t grow as fast as I wanted it to

There are so many blogging gurus out there, people who talk about 6 figure launches and becoming wealthy overnight. I wanted that for myself. And when I launched Have Your Cupcake, I had this dream that I would make 20k in one day.

Well…that didn’t happen. I did get quite a few members, but nothing near what I had envisioned for myself.

What I learned from this is that it makes more sense to create a business based on reality, based on slow and steady growth, than to expect a huge launch to open up a gigantic cash flow.

My business was born this year.

And it grew enough to let me know that I am on the right path. I learned that instead of dreaming about 5 or 6 figure launches, it’s healthier and more sustainable to focus on what’s going right, and what I want to see in the future, and work on building and growing that every day.

Challenge #2: I got overwhelmed on a weekly (and often, daily) basis.

There are SO MANY things to do to grow an online platform.

Writing blog posts, building your email list, creating courses, promoting the heck out of everything you do, building relationships. The list goes on and on. And on.

And yes, I got overwhelmed.

I was in Denver at my parents’ house the day that the first course in Have Your Cupcake started, AND the 3rd round of the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge kicked off.

I felt like I was buried under a mass of work.

My mom said, “You seem so overwhelmed. Do you really want to keep doing this online business thing?”

YES!!! I did!

But blogging and building a business is so overwhelming sometimes. I always feel like I’m not doing something I should be doing.

In 2016, I want to get ahead with my blog posts, with my courses in Have Your Cupcake.

I want to focus on what really matters – serving my members and adding to their number.

That means being really focused about how I spend my time. My goal is to get ahead with my content so I don’t have to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or rushed.

Challenge #3: I had a huge lack of work/life balance

My husband is a medical resident, so you would think that he would be the busy one in the family.

Nope. I’m the one that is constantly working. I can barely go a day without building my blog.

And you might think that’s a good thing. But when it keeps me from deepening my relationship with my husband, from forming great relationships in Miami, from doing what nurtures my soul, it’s actually detrimental.

In 2015, I didn’t do a great job of taking care of myself or my relationships. I want to change that in 2016.

Challenge #4: I didn’t get practical shit done

Along the lines of the last 2 struggles, in 2015, I didn’t do the practical shit I needed to do.

I let emails linger in my inbox for weeks before I answered them.

I didn’t clean my apartment as much as I should have.

I didn’t buy groceries and cook healthy meals for myself on a regular enough basis.

I didn’t create a budget for myself (like I’ve been meaning to do for…uh…years).

As a creative person, I would far rather spend my time dreaming, creating, and connecting. So I struggle with all of those practical tasks. I know they’re simple for most people, but I really struggle to prioritize them.

Hopefully in 2016 I’ll be able to make enough money to pay other people to do most of these things – or that I’ll get on top of my business enough to take a break and tackle them.

Challenge #5: I struggled with jealousy and fear a lot.

So this one is hard for me to admit, but I took on an unhealthy habit of looking up Alexa rankings of every blogger in my niche that I found. When they had a worse ranking than mine, I would feel (just a tiny bit) superior. When they had a better one, I would feel a tinge of jealousy that kept me from getting back on track with my own work.

Yes I know that most bloggers deal with this so called imposter syndrome. So, the words of Todd Herman, I’m not a special snowflake. But the struggle was real.

What helped me was connecting with people who loved learning from me and taking walks and appreciating the heck out of life.

I also let my fears hold me back.

I didn’t sell memberships to Have Your Cupcake as much as I should have, because I was afraid of rejection.

I didn’t reach out to more popular bloggers, because I was afraid they wouldn’t “like” me. I’m learning to hang out with my fears, realize they’ll always be there, and just let them be, but get shit done anyway.

What I was most grateful for in 2016

On a happier note, there was a lot to be grateful for in 2016.

  • My husband, for believing in me and my ability to grow a blog and business.
  • My parents, who have always been extremely supportive of me following my own unique path through life, even when they don’t understand it.
  • All of the bloggers in Blogging on Your Own Terms, who inspire me with their stories and their dedication to their blogs.
  • My Have Your Cupcake members, who are truly the most caring, giving bloggers I know and who make me profoundly grateful everyday that I get to do what I do.
  • My dog, for being my constant companion and making me smile pretty much every time I look at her (unless she’s eating something off of the ground…).
  • My 2 Mastermind groups, who really help me keep going and grow my blog and business.
  • My accountability partner, Josh, who I talked to every single week about both of our businesses.
  • The 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge and everyone who participated in it. (Btw, the next one starts on January 18th if you’re interested.)
  • Living right near the bay and being able to walk there every day.
  • All of my blogging mentors and teachers (they have their own special section coming up).
  • Yoneco Evans for creating one of the most giving and generous Facebook groups out there and letting me join.

What I learned in 2015

I’ve heard people say that there’s nothing better for self-discovery than starting a business. And although I’ve been self-employed since 2011, this was the first year I actually built a scalable business. I learned a HECK of a lot.

I learned…

  • That using my own voice and following my own path was the best way to succeed – much more so than listening to advice from all of the “gurus” out there.
  • That discipline is far more important than inspiration when it comes to blogging consistently.
  • That developing relationships with other bloggers is HUGELY important to staying on track and becoming a successful blogger.
  • How to start and grow a Facebook group to nearly 3,000 members.
  • That my self worth is not tied to my blog stats.
  • How to run successful Facebook ads and put on a blogging challenge for over 1300 people.
  • How to create, manage, and grow a membership site.
  • How to blog consistently, even when it’s hard.
  • How to put on a day long blogging retreat.
  • How to do webinars.
  • How to become a Pinterest expert and gets lots of blog traffic.
  • How to create branded graphics for my blog posts.
  • How to sell.

My best teachers of 2015

Some of my teachers are people I know. Others are online educators. I learned so much this year, and I am so grateful for every one of my incredible teachers.

Sue Dunlevie of Successful Blogging is my friend and mentor. She taught me how to grow my blog traffic, how to use my emails effectively, and how to connect with other bloggers in a truly generous and caring way. She is not only a great blogger and teacher, but one of the most giving people I know, and I am so grateful for her.

Kathy Pine of This Cherished Life, a friend and Mastermind buddy of mine, inspired me to do the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge, which ultimately led to my starting Have Your Cupcake, my membership site for bloggers.

Andrea Beltrami of The Branded Solopreneur taught me how to build genuine relationships with other bloggers, how to create a great brand, and how to stay true to your voice. She is in my Mastermind group with Sue, and I have truly cherished our sessions.

Tor Refsland of Time Management Chef taught me how to set SMART and DUMB goals, and how to do blogger outreach like a rockstar. He is hilarious and awesome, and I’m glad I connected with him through Sue this year.

Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year planners (affiliate link) made a ginormous impact on my life and business in 2015, and I’m already seeing their incredible effects as I use them to plan 2016. If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend them. They are gorgeous, life changing, and a no-brainer investment.

Rebecca Tracy’s Hey, Nice Package program (affiliate link) made a huge impact on my life as a blogger and business owner. It helped me define how I could help people, and reshaped the way I think about content and product creation.

Jordan Jaffe’s Facebook challenges were the inspiration for the 10 Day Blog Makeover Challenge, and I used her guidance to build and grow Blogging on Your Own Terms.

Even though I just joined it a few weeks ago, Todd Herman’s program The 90 Day Year has already changed the way I think about running my business and achieving my goals. With his help, I know I will be unstoppable in 2016.

My 3 words for 2016

Chris Brogan chooses 3 words for each year. They are meant to encompass what you want to build, and grow, and focus on that year.

Here are mine:

Intuition – I commit to following my intuition and listening to my own guidance whenever I come to a tough spot in 2016. I choose this word because living in intuition is a daily practice, and I know it will help me with everything I am growing this year.
Cupcakes – I choose cupcakes as my second word for a few reasons. 1, I want to grow my membership site, Have Your Cupcake, to 400 members this year. 2, cupcakes are small, and I will use small, daily habits, to keep going toward my goals. 3, cupcakes are delicious and enjoyable to eat. I commit to enjoying the journey in 2016. And 4, I want to bring mini-cupcakes of joy and education to everyone in my community.
CEO – Being the CEO of your business or blog means seeing the big picture, strategizing, not letting emotions cloud your decisions, and delegating. This year, I don’t just want to be a business owner, but a CEO who creates massive growth.

My big goals for 2016

In addition to my 3 words, here are my big goals for 2016.

To grow Have Your Cupcake to 400 members while maintaining the close-knit, incredible community we have there now. I just know that I can grow my community while making it a better experience for my members. That’s my huge focus for 2016.

Getting better at keeping track of my money. As a creative, I haven’t put the time and energy into bookkeeping that I know I really need to for business success. I am hiring a bookkeeper so that I always know what is flowing in and out of my business.

To build a close knit community here in Miami. I’ve been working so hard for the past year and a half that I haven’t put the time or energy into fostering relationships here. This year, I want to feel surrounded by friends and people I love.

My first delicious year as a full time blogger

So…that’s my 2015 in a cupcake wrapper.

What are your big lessons learned in 2015 and your big plans for 2016? Share in the comments below.