I have this weird combination of confidence and anxiety.
The confidence always comes first, which means I will jump into things feeling like, I can do that.
No problem. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me.
And then, at some point in the not too distant future, the anxiety creeps in.
That’s how the start of my online business story went.
I could start there, but I’m going to go a little further back so that you have an idea of where I came from before I started down the path I’m on now.
The Early Years
I was born in 1975 in New England where the worst natural disaster you have to fear is a snow storm. That’s right. Fluffy snow might fall down for a few hours at a time making driving slippery so you have to stay home.
It was pretty idyllic.
But, 1975 meant that I grew up in a time before smart phones, iPads and even personal computers.
I mean, we had a computer at some point in our home, but all I can remember using it for was playing King’s Quest. (I loved that game).
I think my senior year in high school cell phones were becoming a thing. But even in college, almost no one had a laptop that they worked from.
We went to the “computer lab” and struggled to write papers there.
I hated the computers there. And I wasn’t interested in learning anything about how to use them. I had a Brother word-processor and that’s what I used to turn in papers.
I took one business course. Marketing 101. And I hated that, too.
I was an English major and I loved that. I’ve been a reader ever since, well, ever since I could read.
And I always loved writing papers. I wasn’t a fan of writing fiction, but I really did enjoy writing non-fiction papers.
After leaving college, I didn’t become a teacher like everyone seemed to assume I would.
I got a job as a recruiting assistant at a staffing agency and, while my job title and employer changed a bunch of times in the next 20 years, I pretty much did the same work. For 20 years.
I got that job as a recruiting assistant because my dad’s friend worked for the company and, I later realized, I had two things going for me.
A college degree (which was a completely unnecessary requirement for the job) and I was willing to start at $10/hr.
I’m quiet and shy today and at 22, I was even more so. So when I was offered the job, I took it mostly to avoid ever having to go on another interview again.
That’s how I chose my career path of 20 years.
I’m off track, though. The point is, I did not grow up in a time where cell phones and tablets were in my hands by age 2. I didn’t really learn to use a computer until I started that job in recruiting.
I took to it fine and being the youngest in the office meant I actually took to it better than anyone else did in the office (most of them worked from paper files!).
I became the young whippersnapper who was able to whiz around the computer, but strictly because everyone else I worked with had even LESS interest or experience in learning how to use a computer than I did.
So it seemed like I was technically savvy, but really, I was just a good tinkerer and could figure stuff out.
As years went by and I started working with people who really WERE technically savvy, I regretted my lack of technical skills.
By then I was no longer the young whippersnapper who figured things out.
The Dawn of Blogging (for me)
So. Where were we?
I’m shy, quiet, confident, anxious and not very technically savvy, but I can fake it. Oh, and I loved to write non-fiction. (So weird).
We can do the montage reel for the next 16 years.
- New home
In 2013 I had a new-to-me home that needed a TON of work. It was built in 1964 and walking into the house was like stepping through a portal. Straight to 1964.
I’ve always loved anything to do with home decorating though so it seemed fun to me to have a bunch of projects I could do myself.
I also had two sweet little babies who stayed with my mom every day of the week while I went to work for 8 hours a day.
I don’t think I have to explain how much I wanted to not have to go to work every day.
We already know how I ended up in my profession, so it’s not like I was doing something I was passionate about and didn’t want to give up.
I wanted to give it up. 100%.
I wanted to be home with my kids. My daughter was in school and I wanted to be around for her to do play dates with the friends she was making.
My son since he was a baby had had learning problems and I really, really wanted to be around more for him. To be able to be that mom who was on top of all the extra help he needed.
But, you know. Money. I couldn’t just quit my job. It just wasn’t an option.
We had this new house to pay for and children and cars and it just wasn’t an option.
That’s where the online business/blogging story starts to evolve.
Because I was always looking for ways to decorate the 1964 house for cheap, I was spending a lot of time on Pinterest and reading a lot of “blogs”.
The word “blog” wasn’t even really in my consciousness at the time. I saw things I liked on Pinterest and I clicked on them to go read more about it.
I didn’t really care or understand what the thing I was reading was. I just wanted more information about the thing that I was interested in and that was it.
Until one day that changed.
I had a favorite DIY Home Decor site that I followed, Young House Love.
I read every word they wrote and they wrote a LOT.
One day, I read about how John, the husband was quitting his job to work full time on the “blog”.
I’m sorry, wait a minute, what’s that now?
I knew the wife didn’t work, but now the husband was quitting, too?
They had a child to care for. How could this blog be making that much money that NO ONE had to work in the family?
And that’s when I fell down the “How to Make Money Blogging” rabbit hole.
Now, if you remember from the beginning of our story, I am confident and anxious. But always confident first.
So I did some cursory research into how to start a blog and then I started one.
I can’t explain to you properly how little I knew.
We already know that I am not really technically savvy, but that did not stop me. Nor should it have, but I could have probably done a little more to educate myself before jumping in head first.
I started on the wrong WordPress where you’re not self hosted. I posted 300 word articles every day with the world’s worst images that I took with my horrible cell phone.
I pretty much set up the site and then just set about writing terrible articles that no one ever saw or would have cared to see if they had somehow stumbled upon them.
Because I was in the confidence stage. I really thought that I was as good a writer as anyone else I had read, so eventually people would find me.
I 100% believed that.
For a while.
But no one found me. And now, looking back, they would not have stuck around for long if they had. I was basically writing a journal of my not very good DIY projects.
The writing was usually funny or emotional in some way, but I wasn’t helping anyone.
I can’t even show you all of the Google analytics data from this stage because I didn’t have google analytics set up on the site until 2016.
That’s a high of 8,381 pvs in December. I had been working on this for 3 years.
I would get discouraged when no one came to visit the blog and stop every few months. But then something would fire that confidence back up and I would go back to the blog.
Then, in 2017 I lost my job.
I’m not going to lie. I was not unhappy about that. I knew I could collect unemployment for a while and spend a lot of time with my kids.
And I had an idea.
It was the perfect time for me to really buckle down and get serious about this blog.
I could work on it while I was home and really put 100% of my efforts into it and see if I could make it happen.
If by the time my unemployment ran out I was not making any money with the blog, I would give it up forever and go back to a regular job.
I was at the point of realizing that while I was confident I was good at writing, I was not good at any of the rest of what blogging required.
I didn’t even really know what blogging really required.
I’d been around the how to blog world for long enough to know that the big, highly touted blogging course was going to be available to purchase soon.
I convinced my husband that while I had just lost my job and while I had not made a dime in 3 years on this blog that it was a really good idea to spend 800 dollars on this course.
I remember his face when he said yes.
He looked at my face and I’m pretty sure he saw in my face the future that would include my sulky stubbornness eventually wearing him down and he just said, Ok, go for it.
I also know he felt that if it could be done, if making money with a blog was really a thing, I could do it.
Because he did know exactly how stubborn I am and that I don’t give up on things. Sometimes to a fault.
So I bought the course.
I threw myself into it. I treated it like a job. I took it very seriously.
I printed everything out and kept it in a binder that I had from college. I went painstakingly through the lessons and worksheets.
I made myself trust the process that I was going through. I tossed my ego aside when there were things that didn’t really make sense to me.
And nothing really happened.
I didn’t understand. I had read every review of this course. I had looked for bad reviews. I couldn’t find any.
I’d finished all but the final module where you create a product because that seemed like it was meant for someone else with a different kind of blog than I had.
I was still nowhere near getting into an ad network like Mediavine.
I gave up.
It had been 4 months. I’d had four awesome months home with my kids. I’d put everything I could into this blog.
It was time to pack it in.
It just wasn’t meant for me.
I had to convince myself that it wasn’t a waste of time or money because my stubbornness would have never allowed me to quit until I had made this final effort with the course that was supposed to be the Holy Grail of blogging.
I packed up the binder with all of my worksheets and notes and I put the blogging world behind me.
I started looking for work. And I found something quickly. It was July and the company was willing to wait for me until the end of the summer.
I had negotiated an extra month with my kids. I told myself how grateful I was for the months that I had had with them. Most people don’t get to have even those 4 months that I had gotten.
I started preparing myself and them for my return to work.
I had stopped looking up blogging stuff on Pinterest when I started the other course, but you know Pinterest and its algorithm.
I would still see pins every now and then in my feed for how to blog stuff.
I am not a blogger anymore, Pinterest! Why do you rub salt in my wounds??
Then one day in August, I don’t remember which pin it was or what article it was, but a pin from Obstacle.co came up.
I don’t know why I clicked on it (yes I do it’s because I am stubborn and even though I told myself I had given up, we all know that wasn’t true) and ended up binge reading everything on Obstacle.
I was back.
I signed up for the blogging bootcamp and I think around day 4 of the blogging bootcamp I decided I was going to buy whatever Billionaire Blog Club was. (It was the first iteration of what is now Blog Simple Framework).
The price at the time was $50 a year. That was cheap enough that I didn’t need to have a conversation with my husband about it so I bought it.
That was August.
By December I was over 25k sessions which meant I could apply to Mediavine.
It took four months to do what I had been trying to do for almost 4 years.
I remember when I told Scrivs I had been accepted to Mediavine he said,
“You in the big leagues now”.
I was so proud that day. I cried. I felt like I was back on this path to making this blog work. I felt vindicated from the loss that I felt after not seeing success with the other course.
(It was them, not me!).
In January, I had over 100k page views.
Pinterest was giving me tons of people. I had posts ranking on Google.
4 months ago, I had no IDEA what SEO even was!
I actually thought that Scrivs had done some type of voodoo on my site to make it happen. I really and truly thought that.
For a minute.
Because then, after January, my page views started to come back down. I think he’d probably mentioned a time or two that that’s how the traffic game goes. It goes up and it comes back down.
But who wants to listen to that?
My page views settled back in at around 50-60k a month and I was ok with that. I was making around $1000 a month with Mediavine and I was sure that as I continued to grow the blog, the money would continue to increase.
(Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen. I neither focused on growing the blog nor did the money increase).
All the while, I had become a very active participant in the Odd Noodle Slack community.
I loved the Slack community. It was so much fun and it’s where I did a ton of learning.
Eventually I was learning so much that I was doing a lot of helping, too.
Then I Joined Odd Noodle
That’s really the short and long version of how I came to work for Odd Noodle. I helped out a lot and one day Scrivs asked if I wanted to be Community Manager.
As always happens with me, confident me said YES!
I talked to my husband, he was on board (although I’m pretty sure he made the same face at me as when I asked about buying the expensive course).
There was little to debate, really. I was going to be working from HOME. I could pretty much set my own schedule. I’d finally get the time with my kids that I had been so desperate for.
I gave notice at work before the anxiety kicked in that told me, You don’t even know what a Community Manager is never mind how to actually perform that function.
I threw myself into the role though and then some. I loved learning about what Scrivs was doing to grow the company and create new things.
I was excited to get up and work every day and keep learning.
So excited that I pretty much just stopped working on my old blog.
I had learned enough by now that I was pretty sure that my old blog was probably going to be a money making asset (meaning, I’d just let it collect its ad money every month) and not the type of business I was learning about now.
The type of business I was learning about now, from Scrivs and the courses he was creating, was built around creating a brand.
And an audience based on your Hero.
I was really interested in this stuff. I could have gone back and re-worked my old site to fit this type of business, but to be honest, I didn’t really want to.
It had basically become a blog about crafts by that point (plus a bunch of whatever else I felt like writing about) and while there was definitely a Hero I could have written for, I just didn’t have my heart in it.
I didn’t even really love crafting.
So the old site just kind of carried on earning some ad money for me and I really focused on my work at Odd Noodle.
We were working hard on helping people to start to understand the importance of the “Hero” to their business and brand.
I’d written my own Hero Branding exercises for the old site and we made them available in one of the courses so that people had an example to follow.
When people read them, they would reach out to me and ask questions, so I was working behind the scenes with a few members to help them work through the exercises.
I mentioned it to Scrivs and he said, oh you should offer a consultation.
This is one of the few times when my initial confidence failed me.
Basically I immediately responded, No, I don’t know what I’m doing. To which the answer was, But you’re already helping people for free. Are you not really helping people?
And then the anxiety really kicked in and I thought things like, No I’m probably not helping anyone. And no one would bother to buy something from me. I don’t really know anything at all.
I should just quit.
You see, if you remember way back to when I took that other course, I skipped the chapter on products.
Because that seemed like it was for someone else.
I didn’t have anything to teach anyone else. I was someone who might be able to get a blog into an ad network and probably fall into some affiliate sales, but products and services and all that seemed like it was for someone else.
Someone smarter or someone with a special skill. Anyone else but me.
I could see the potential in all of our members, even, to create something that would help people and sell it.
But I was terrified of seeing it in myself.
I thank my lucky stars every day for the stubbornness in me and also for having a boss who believes in me because quitting was never really going to happen.
I don’t really know how to explain how I’ve learned to overcome that wash of anxiety that comes over me, but I’ve had to do it more than a handful of times in my life now and this was one of them.
I turn it off somehow, and just put my head down and start doing the thing that I am anxious about.
I started putting together what I would need if I were going to do consultations for people’s Hero Branding exercises and then we made it available for people to purchase.
I did 19 consultations in the first month that we made them available.
I loved doing them and I got amazing feedback on them. They were really helping people.
My opinion mattered to them and it mattered so much they would pay me for it.
I love doing the consultations and I’m so glad I found a way past my fear.
I still have the same anxiety every single time I have to do something new, though.
Write a course on managing a community? Scared. Interview successful members over a Zoom call? Scared. Put together a series of Trivia nights for members because a pandemic happened and everyone was confined to their homes? Scared.
I don’t think I’ll ever do any new thing without being scared at first but what I have definitely mastered is not letting the “scared” let me say no to things.
That I don’t do anymore.
If it’s a good thing for me to do that’s going to benefit me or the community or Odd Noodle or my family, I say yes no matter how scary it feels.
Which basically brings us to today.
I spent a good part of the last year working on our site Bogoten to test out some of our blogging theories. It came time recently to decide what to do with Bogoten.
I had ideas for creating products for it. But, like the old first site, while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t what woke me up excited in the morning.
That’s when I had to answer what was the most difficult question I’ve ever had to answer.
“What do you want to be known for?”
The answer to that question led us to allowing Bogoten to become another money making asset with ads and affiliates.
And now I’m working on what ended up being the answer to that question.
The one skill that I’ve always been confident in is my writing ability. And now, having consulted on scores of Hero Branding Exercises, I’m confident in my ability to help people with those, too.
So in my next adventure, I’ll be working on something that will help people write for their Hero.
I have a lot of learning to do still on both topics, but that’s ok, there’s always more learning to do.
But that’s going to be my thing. How to Write for Your Hero.
That’s what I want to be known for.