Good morning friends! I just want to start out by saying that I really don’t exactly what inspired this, but I’m going to do a 5-part series over the next few weeks on the fact that YES, blogging is my real job. It’s part proclamation, part explanation, and hopefully somewhere along the way it will be used to help and inspire others as well. Even if you’re not a blogger I’m hoping that some of these words will be something you can use in your own life! My heart behind this is simply to share the truth, as I see it, of blogging. This job is a blessing beyond belief, and I want y’all to know that’s exactly how I see it! Just a quick disclaimer: this little series is ONLY from my point of view. It does not represent the heart of every blogger out there, and I don’t claim that it does. Please keep discussion healthy and kind-hearted 🙂
I guess the beginning is as good a place as any to start, right? I always feel like I should explain that I didn’t technically start blogging with Heather’s Dish; I actually had quite a few other blogging “projects” before (a person marriage blog, a photography blog for Nate, and the beginning stages of Heather’s Dish called The Joyful Kitchen). I guess that’s mainly to show and tell that I’ve experienced several different types of blogging before deciding that food-centric was the way I wanted to go. It hasn’t been easy, but it truly has brought out tenacity in me that I didn’t know I had. So let’s start, shall we?
When Nate and I moved to Colorado to help start a church plant we were basically taking a huge leap of faith in doing so. We didn’t have jobs, we found a place on Craigslist to live and just hoped it would be good (it was), and we were essentially going out there with people we had only met a few times before. The economy was in the process of tanking, and I was starting to wonder what in the world I was going to do with my degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management without actually working for a restaurant or hotel. When we first got there Nate got a temp job and I basically spent 60+ hours a week scouring the internet for job openings, sending in applications, and trying to figure out if I had actually sent the right cover letter addressed to the right person or not. A lot of self-doubt from both our ends was starting to take a toll on our relationship at times, and coupled with big financial needs looming in the future, it made life really really hard at times. Two months went by until I found an opening at a company in Boulder, applied, interviewed, and was offered the job.
The job started off great – I loved the company, loved my co-workers, loved the product, and loved the lifestyle we were able to live. After Nate’s temp job ended he was able to get a permanent position at the same company, and we were just blown away by how the Lord was taking care of us. The church was going great, we were having a blast, and our marriage was improving daily. About 3/4 into my year at that company they ended up having to lay off 25% of the company. Luckily Nate and I were two of the ones who stayed, but that change put a big strain on everyone’s jobs and work duties. We were about to go into our really busy season and it just got harder and harder.
One day I was browsing the magazines at Whole Foods when I randomly decided to buy one. While I was answering phones and slaving away on the computer I saw a section where bloggers were giving some of their favorite healthy eating tips and I immediately started to follow two of them – Jenna from Eat, Live, Run and Angela from Oh She Glows. They were both blogging full-time and seemed to just lead the MOST amazing lives, and I immediately started thinking about starting a new blog. I told one of my best friends that we should start one together, and when she said she couldn’t commit to it then I went ahead and started one anyway. In June of 2009 I started The Joyful Kitchen, which essentially was a healthy living blog until I finally switched to WordPress and bought the Heather’s Dish domain name in December 2009.
As I was blogging and growing from 10 readers to 100 to 1,000 and so on I started to make some fantastic blogging friends, women that I love and admire still to this day. It feels like we’ve been with one another through the thick of it all – coveting readerships of bigger bloggers, finding our niches and figuring out this whole blogging business one trial and error at a time. We Google chatted all day since I was on the computer with work all day (which, by the way, I don’t condone. I could have lost my job several times!) and talked about how we wished we could work from home, blog from home, go on amazing trips and run the show ourselves. In a moment of transparency, it can be hard for me to make and keep really close friends at times. It’s so easy for me to share my heart and wear it on my sleeve, but when it comes to really and truly trusting others I tend to hold back. These online relationships were different, though, and I felt like I was really starting to find something I loved in a supportive and loving community.
Comparison, though, is a really slippery slope. It felt like there were so many bloggers getting book deals and getting amazing trips and free stuff all the time – and yet here I was, slaving away day after day with posts and recipes and tidbits of my heart floating everywhere and it felt like no one took notice. I wanted to be seen, to be commended, to be loved for what I was doing – the passion for blogging was starting to slowly decrease as I started to let my mind be poisoned with comparison. It felt like weekly someone was able to quit her job and blog from home, and I started to become really obsessed with that. I just KNEW that if only I could get X-number of readers I could make X-number of dollars and quit the job that I had started to hate.
And yet the Lord’s timing is always perfect, and mine is SO not. There were lessons I needed to learn before I started running my own show.
First, I needed to get the love back in blogging again. I literally had to stop following some bloggers – completely cut them out of my life – because I was letting my own comparison issues to them run the show. I’m not proud of that, but it’s what I needed to do to learn my own voice and get some confidence. Second, I had to submit to the fact that I could no longer blog from work. It was unprofessional and NOT COOL. I had to become more intentional with my time, so I started getting ahead with recipes on the weekends and writing posts ahead of time. Finally, I could only let myself write before ever reading other blogs. My voice was getting muffled and lost in the shuffle of this quickly-growing business. If I had any chance of falling in love with blogging again, I had to start doing it for me and ignore what everyone else was doing.
There are a lot of bloggers who will tell you that they only blog because they just love it so dang much. They will say that they only blog to inspire and that if they don’t have anything to say then they will just leave their blog alone. They will say that you can only blog well if you’re doing it for you. This is mostly true. But I will also say that when blogging also becomes a job that is a heavy source of income for a family, there are times that you won’t love it so dang much. There are times that you won’t care if you inspire, and you will probably post something just for the sake of posting it for consistency’s sake. And you will, at times, need to dig deep down in your gut and come up with something to say or do. Like any other job, sometimes it’s not super fun – but you can’t just stop or quit or slack off without consequences. It’s that perseverance – the deep-digging, real-life work that aids in getting the job done, and doing it well. If I were to put numbers on it, I would say that these days I’m about 90% in love with what I do in this chosen career and work from a place of encouragement and inspiration and love. But there are those 10% days where it’s hard, and I have to remind myself that I do really love it and I do really care and I do really need to suck it up and go. You guys? Compared to other jobs that I’ve held, I’ll take that 90-10 ratio because it’s a blessing to have found something that has brought about this love for what I do!
Fast forward a little bit to March 2012. Weston was born and Nate and I had run the numbers several times. Besides the fact that I wanted to stay home with Wes and blog on the side, it also turned out that it was the best thing for our family financially. Summer of 2012, a month before my maternity leave was up, I resigned at my job and started officially doing the blog as my full-time income job. It’s something that took a lot of work, many many many late nights, a lot of stress, blood, sweat and tears to get to do, but there’s no way I could ever want it any other way. Being a wife and mommy is my main job, and blogging is my creative outlet that allows me to do the other two better.
So here’s where we go from here: now that you know how I got here, I am going to take the next 4 weeks to tell you a little more of the day-to-day of blogging, how to work with bloggers (as a company), creating relationships (blogger-to-blogger and business-to-blogger), and the future of blogging from my point of view. I hope that this little series not only encourages you, but also is informative and insightful as well. As always, please feel free to email me with any questions you might have!
***EDITED TO ADD THE OTHER 4 POSTS IN THE SERIES***