Since I had just turned 24 years old I didn’t want to keep delaying adulthood. I wanted to start 2015 by putting myself on a very strict 1 year plan. I told my parents to give me exactly 1 year to prove that The Chicagolite could put me on a steady career path.
So why 1 year? I have Lady Gaga to thank for giving me such a rigorous timeline. Yes, I know I’m not Lady Gaga but hear me out. I read somewhere that her parents gave her 1 more year to give her music career a shot. Mind you this is after she dropped out of school so at least I had a college degree going for me. As we all know the rest is history and Lady Gaga 1-year later released her album The Fame.
I figured since I wasn’t going after fame that creating some opportunities from a blog wouldn’t be too unrealistic. So for one year I taught myself everything I would need to know to run a successful blog.
I hoped that this journey would lead me closer to my passions. I knew what I liked but I needed to find what I loved. So for one year I attended hundreds of events in search for my purpose.
Fast forward to now and I’m proud to say that I’ve transitioned into a career I love. Plus, I’ve discovered that I have a deep passion for creating experiences versus just being an attendee.
Side Note: I”ll check my privilege for a moment and acknowledge that I had more help than most. Let’s be real, most parents aren’t going to be ok with their daughter becoming a socialite so she can discover her purpose. My parents are incredibly supportive and still support everything so that made some obstacles easier to overcome than others. With that being said, it may not be wise to up and quit your job and crash at your parents house. That is, unless they are ok with it 🙂
We all have unique journeys for how we achieve what we want out of life and attending parties was mine.
I’ve learned a lot in the past two years and I would love to share with you key learnings I’ve gained during my time as a blogger. Plus, feel free to use any of these tips if you wish to transition into a new career or discover your passion.
Lessons Learned: 2 Years of Blogging
Creating with Intention – I think one of the most important lessons I learned from blogging is to create with intention. What this means is have a goal and purpose in mind for what it is that you are creating. For The Chicagolite, I knew that the goal was for the site to serve as a digital resume. When creating the site I knew that it had be consistent and high quality if I wanted to show it to future employers. This meant I couldn’t go too long without posting because that would be a reflection of my consistency. Plus, I wanted to be taken seriously so investing in the site to make sure it looked professional and not a hobby was very important. When people come to the site, I want to give off the impression that I’m just as professional as a major outlet.
An Arsenal of Skills – When blogging you have the opportunity to develop so many skills. Sure you can always hire someone to do the things you aren’t an expert in, but I think there is no harm in developing a new skill. Starting out I taught myself a bit of everything including web design, graphic design, photography, SEO, and social media marketing. I could have hired someone to do everything but what am I learning on the sidelines? As a business owner, I think it’s important to know how all aspects of your business run. So even though I’m not an expert at web design or social media marketing I know how it should function within my business.
Networking, Networking and More Networking – The best part about attending so many events is networking. This was great for not only building my blogging network but exposure to career opportunities. Personally, I’m not a fan of networking events so I prefer networking in an informal setting. It allows you to meet people from a variety of industries. I believe you should never leave an event without meeting someone new so that was always my goal going out. Plus, by networking I was able to land an interview for an internship and I’ve made many brand contacts from networking alone.
The Power of a Platform – I can’t say this enough but having your own platform is incredibly powerful. One of the features of the blog that I love is the ability to connect to powerful people. In the corporate world there is hierarchy, but in the blogging world you are your own CEO. If I want to connect to the CEO, President, or a celebrity it is not out of reach. Plus, by having your own platform it can serve as a stepping stone to other opportunities. I always had going beyond the blog in mind when I created The Chicagolite but I’m going to use my platform to create something bigger and better.
Leave Your Comfort Zone Behind – This can be applicable to anything outside of blogging but you absolutely must leave your comfort zone behind. Be willing and open to try new things. Before I started covering restaurants I used to only order salads and grilled cheese at restaurants. Now my palate is a little more refined and I’m comfortable eating just about anything. It sounds simple but I’ve learned so much about myself and what I like from the simple act of trying something new. You know the saying, you don’t know until you try. I believe getting out of my comfort zone and just trying something lead me closer to discovering my passion.
It’s Ok to Say No – This is a lesson that I’m still learning but it’s ok to say no. Everyday I receive emails from brands and from people who want to network and I have to check each ask with the spirit of discernment. Not everyone and everything is right for your brand. As a business owner, it can be dangerous to always say yes so learn the power of saying no. This discernment does come with time. However, if it doesn’t feel right it more than likely it isn’t right. Good business owners aren’t people pleasers so know your worth even if it hurts some feelings.
Have a Purpose for Every Action – You absolutely must have a purpose for every action. For example, while I love going to events I don’t go just to have free food and drinks. Instead, I like to call it partying with purpose. When attending events, my goal is to become a student of my surroundings. Since the goal is to one day create experiences, I need to know and understand what goes into a quality experience. Another marker of a successful evening for me is did I meet someone new? If the answer to that is no and I didn’t learn anything from the event then the night was a fail. It’s incredibly easy to waste time so make sure every opportunity aligns with the big picture of what you want to do with your life.
Connecting with Others – Blogging has many perks but the best part is the ability to connect with others who share your passions. Outside of blogging it can be hard finding others with shared interests. However, networking at events and connecting on social media allows these people to easily be found. As we experience changes it’s crucial that we have someone in our network that we can relate to. We need someone who understands your unique journey as well as someone who holds you accountable towards achieving your goals. For example, the friend who likes to party isn’t going to make sure you finish your blog post. Once I graduated and left Atlanta I knew that I had to work on developing my network. I knew that I needed to have people who understood my path towards entrepreneurship so I wouldn’t feel alone on this journey.
I’m sure you’re tired of hearing thank you for the one millionth time but I’m truly grateful that you guys have followed along on this journey. 2 years was just the warm-up and I’m ready to do bigger and better things in 2017. Hope these tips are helpful! I’m looking forward to seeing all the big moves I know you’ll all will make in 2017.
All photos credit to Samantha Tarley