I almost didn’t start this blog. Even though it was something I really wanted to do, I almost abandoned the idea several times. This was a stretch for me. A big stretch. For those of you who know me, that may sound weird. I put most of my life online through social media, and yes, I have been blogging for my company since 2008, and none of this is new to me. So you may be wondering why this would be so hard…
I took the leap to self-employment in mid-2005, starting my company Bourn Creative as a freelance designer. Over the years, I grew from a freelancer into a business owner and grew my company into a multi six figure agency in just a few years. I like to think that’s pretty good for it just being me for the first 5 years, and then only Brian and I since then. Even in California, it affords us a wonderful life and lots of time to adventure with the kids, which is why I chose self-employment in the first place and why Brian eventually joined me.
I worked my butt off and sacrificed time with my family and friends, sleep, relationships, time for myself, and much more. I was in a constant state of overwhelm from inexperience for a long time, but I believed then, and I still do today, that if you put your head down, you work hard and constantly improve your craft, you get in front of enough people, and you provide extraordinary service and value, the clients will come — and they did. Today I am grateful to be reaping the rewards of those years of hard work, working much less and enjoying life much more.
Yes, I was on social media. Yes, I was blogging. Yes, I was out there — sort of. My content was business related content. My blog was the Bourn Creative Blog. All of my talks and speaking opportunities revolved around branding, website strategy, content strategy, and online marketing. My social media persona was my business persona. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing. I love that stuff. But…
My Business Was My Protective Shield
Not too much criticism and judgement were going to come from articles like:
- Understand How Consumers Make Buying Decisions To Increase Sales And Fill Your Pipeline
- A WordPress Blog Is A Filing Cabinet For Your Website
- How To Increase Productivity And Get More Done
I wasn’t taking any risks with talks like:
- Brand Platform Strategies To Ensure You Are Remembered, Respected, And Referred
- The Path To Conversion: Designing WordPress Themes With Intention
Also, networking was no longer making me uncomfortable, because I found myself attending events where I already knew many people.
But I was tired of all of my photos from our adventures sitting hidden in a folder on my computer, where we couldn’t see them or enjoy them. I was also starting to feel stifled because my business was my only online outlet. I craved a personal space to share things not specifically tied to my business, to share thoughts and opinions not appropriate for my agency blog. I needed something that was mine, that I had total control over — something no client could “revise.”
This need created a shift in my social media presence.
Social media slowly transitioned from a business tool to a personal outlet. Don’t get me wrong, I still share business articles, speaking announcements, agency updates, etc. on social media, but it’s now much more balanced with my real, everyday, personal life — maybe even skewed more toward my personal life. This small shift caused another shift. Suddenly the people in line waiting to speak with me after a presentation didn’t have questions about my talk, they had questions about my work-life balance and what they were seeing on social media. Conversations at events also shifted from talking about work to talking about our schedule, vacations and travel, waffles, and how we continue to grow a successful agency and still enjoy life.
Maybe starting a personal blog, one that was all my own, would give me the creative outlet I craved and a platform to share our life with others.
I brainstormed a name, planned and strategized the content, designed the site, began writing articles, and kicked it over to Brian to build it for me. Unfortunately we were swamped with client commitments at the time, and our clients always have priority over personal projects, so it took a long time to get the site built. While I waited, self-doubt crept in…
It’s funny, I build blogs for other people for a living. I consult with them on brand strategy and positioning, messaging, and content strategy. I work with them to understand the realities of starting a blog, what it takes, and how much work it is. But when it came to my own personal blog, I had a hard time listening to my own expertise.
Should I Even Start A Blog?
Fear and self-doubt slowly grew in my mind.
Should I even be doing this? Would anyone even care? Isn’t the blogger world crowded enough? Do I have anything new to offer? Why would anyone listen to what I have to say? I’m nothing special. We’re no different from anyone else? Who do I think I am to believe that I’m doing something right? Do I want to put myself and my family on display like that? What will our neighbors, friends, family, school parents, and teachers think? Am I even qualified to be doing this?
I also fell into a dangerous comparison trap and began second-guessing everything.
I’m not a professional chef
I’m not a chef. I’m not even an experienced cook. I only began cooking a few years ago and I am still learning. I don’t make elaborate, gourmet meals because I work full time and I don’t have time for that. I don’t make fancy dinners and garnish my plates to perfection. I make easy meals. I like things that taste amazing and are ready quickly, and I often take shortcuts and use store bought items instead of making everything from scratch.
How could I think that I could compete with professional food bloggers and lifelong chefs?
I’m not stylish and I don’t look like other bloggers
I don’t take a lot of selfies because frankly even I don’t want to see that. Most of the time I wear no makeup, I work from home in my web design pants and t-shirts, tank tops, and hoodies, and my hair is usually pulled back in a ponytail or bun. I’m not a shoe or a purse fanatic — I’d much rather get some Legos, a new game to play with the kids, or go do something fun! I don’t shop at the coolest stores, and really, I’m just not cool. I don’t look like the skinny, twenty-something, perfect bloggers littered across Instagram. I don’t have perfect skin, I don’t have a practiced pout, and I’m way to busy to constantly stage perfect photo shoots.
Why would anyone pay attention to me or my blog?
I don’t live in a sea of white and I don’t like gold
If you’ve spent any amount of time researching blogs online, you’ll find that a HUGE number of them — almost all of them — look the same. When planning my blog, I did a lot of research to find a unique space I could occupy and to figure out how I could differentiate myself, and that meant looking at a lot of blogs. Very quickly, everything started to feel the same and completely whitewashed. I began to wonder how on Earth these people could live in so much white? Everything would be stained and dirty if I lived in so much white — I have kids! Everywhere I turned, photos were perfectly composed on white counters, white tables, white rugs, white desks, in front of white walls, in white kitchens, and on white bedspreads. And there was a glut of gold and glitter everywhere.
My photos were never going to look like that. My life doesn’t look like that. Would my life being my life actually work against me?
I’m not a professional photographer
The last photography class I took was in high school and I really didn’t pay attention. I’m not a professional photographer turned blogger. I have a big, fancy camera, but I hate carrying it around. I just take my iPhone everywhere and use it to snap photos on our hikes, vacations, and adventures. I even use it to shoot photos of the food I cook.
There are so many bloggers with better photos, how could I think anyone would want to look at mine?
I haven’t had an exciting career with giant clients to name drop
I haven’t worked at some giant corporate behemoth everyone knows by name and I haven’t worked with a ton of prestigious big name clients that I can name drop at networking events — and I don’t really care. I have done the same thing my entire career. I graduated with a degree in graphic design, three years work experience, and six internships completed. I worked two years at a small publishing company, one year at a small public relations agency, and then quit to become a freelancer. I’ve worked for myself, in my home, with my kids, since 2005, and at times it felt like Groundhog Day.
I’ve learned a ton, gained a lot of experience, and systematized everything, but really, so have thousands of other people. What makes me special?
I have strong opinions and it’s not always a good thing
I have always been opinionated, highly opinionated. I have things to say and saying them — personally or professionally — hasn’t always worked out in my benefit. Sometimes it’s best to fly under the radar and not call attention to yourself. Over the past few years, I have been pretty comfortable being underestimated because it’s safe and easy and life is good.
Did I really want to put my thoughts and opinions out there for everyone else to read and judge?
I’ll never be one of “those” moms
I know that I’m never going to be one of “those” moms. You know the ones. The moms with the funny, sometimes scandalous blog posts about embarrassing details of their life, their marriage, and their kids’ lives… the ones that get shared thousands of times across social media. I don’t want to write blog posts that exploit my kids and highlight their mistakes, failures, and most embarrassing moments. I’m never going to be that mom. I’m also never going to be the perfectly dressed mom in coordinating outfits with her perfectly dressed little. I don’t call breakfast brekkie. I don’t use the words bae or slay. And I’ll use the word awesome before lit any day.
I’m not in my twenties (I’m not even in my early thirties anymore), my kids are not toddlers, I spend my days behind a desk, and I don’t want to exploit our life. Can I even be interesting?
The Truth About Fear And Insecurity
No one told me I couldn’t do it. No one told me that my voice didn’t matter or that it was insignificant. No one told me I would be judged and criticized. No one told me I didn’t look the part or that my photography skills or cooking abilities weren’t good enough.
The reality is that no one said anything negative about my endeavor. All of the feedback I received about starting this blog was positive and supportive.
The truth is that the fear and insecurity I was feeling was all in my head. I was creating it. I was making assumptions. I was telling myself these stories as if they were real.
I had to get out of my own way.
Hell Yeah, I Can Totally Start A Blog
There was one good thing that came from having all of these self-doubts: I knew that if I felt this way, there had to be others who felt the same way.
- There had to be other working parents who wanted quick, delicious recipes that are easy to make — and who like waffles.
- There had to be other working parents struggling with work-life balance who might be interested to see how we’re making it work.
- There had to be other families looking for fun adventures and things to do.
- There had to be other people who look at those white-washed, golden-glittery, perfectly-styled photos and think, “That’s not me. That’s not reflective of my life.”
It’s for those working parents that I decided to go for it. It’s for them that I decided to kick my fear and self-doubt to the curb and start my own personal blog — and to do it my way.
I slowly began to see all of those self-doubts as assets.
I was researching existing blogs and the current market of bloggers serving a similar audience to what I was planning on doing, and all the reasons I wasn’t like them became all of the ways I could differentiate myself and my blog.
- The fact that I’m not a professional chef and seasoned cook is a benefit. There are a lot of busy people like me, who are learning to cook or who just want simple, easy meals that taste great — they are my audience.
- No, I don’t look like the perfect, young, skinny bloggers. I look like normal working women and moms across the country because I am a normal, real woman. Maybe they will be able to relate to my story and my family.
- Maybe my photos having clutter and crap in the background sometimes is a good thing. Maybe a blurry photo here and there is okay. Maybe just being real and honest about what everyday life looks like is interesting enough.
- We’re always the hardest on ourselves and the biggest critics of ourselves, so maybe I just need to drop the insecurities and own that my many years of experience doing the design for clients of all sizes, from solo entrepreneurs to NBA teams and major hospital systems, is enough.
- I do have opinions and ideas and things to share, and by sharing them I will create the opportunity to find other like-minded people to connect with. Not everyone will like what I have to say and that’s okay.
- I know there are working, adult women, moms, and parents who don’t speak in ridiculous teenage hipster slang, who don’t live in super clean, white houses with perfect natural light, who burn dinner because they’re multi-taking and failing, who aren’t dressed for a photo shoot every day, and who don’t air all their family’s embarrassing moments online. Folks, I’m with you. You’re my people.
- I can do this my way. I can share our stories and adventures and life without oversharing. I can be honest and candid without crossing my personal line of what’s OK to share.
Thankfully I have a supportive husband and some great friends who championed my idea for this site and helped me get past my “stuff” and get the site live. This year has been full of adventures and lessons learned. I’m still figuring out how best to juggle my business blog and this one. I’m also still figuring out the details of some new systems and processes that allow me to continue to serve my clients well and grow my agency, while growing this site too.
My Bottom Line: This Is For Me
Ultimately, this blog, this space, is for me. This is the creative outlet I wanted, the space online to share whatever I want to share. This is my spot to document recipes, adventures and vacations, and share some thoughts about running a business, raising a family, nurturing a marriage, living the kind of life I want to live, and attempting to do so with grace and gratitude.
I can’t let what anyone else is doing stop me. I can’t second-guess myself and let fear stop me.
I can only tell my stories and share my thoughts and feelings. Not everyone will like it. I know I’ll encounter trolls and haters — heck that happened in the very first week I launched this site. Just as many of the blogs I found didn’t resonate with me, my blog might not resonate with you. It’s okay.
When I started sharing more of our family adventures through social media, I had friends and colleagues unfollow and unfriend me. At first it hurt. One friend actually said, “Seeing all of your fun vacations just makes me feel bad about my life.” I know that her comments are more a reflection of her “stuff,” but that was tough.
I must remember that I didn’t start this blog for anyone but myself to live inspired and embrace imperfection. If I am happy and enjoying myself, that is all that matters. I have the creative outlet I craved. I finally have our recipes in a place that is easy to access and easy to share and our family photos aren’t hidden in a folder on my computer or stored in the cloud, but available for us to look at and enjoy any time we want.
While I am doing this for me, I have hope that in some way, it may also inspire or help you.
Maybe you find a fun adventure to go on or maybe you find a new recipe to try… those are the easiest for me to share. Or maybe you find some comfort in my stories, knowing that you’re not alone. My personal stories are harder to share. I haven’t been great about telling them because I still have some fear and insecurities lingering, but I do promise to tell them more frequently because the positive feedback and grateful notes I have received far outweigh the negativity of haters and critics.
If you happen to like this site, that is awesome. It’s amazing and fantastic and wonderful. If you don’t, feel free to move on and find one you do like, eat some waffles, and have a great day.