My first blog post was published on July 27, 2014. A year later, with a new blog name and clearer focus, I’m celebrating my first Blogaversary by reflecting on my journey and the lessons I’m learning.
I’m so grateful to so many people who have inspired, encouraged, and supported me in myriad ways as I’ve created and continued working on HappinessMama.com and everything that it has developed into.
I hope this article will inspire and encourage you to try new things and do whatever it is you truly want to do.
1. It’s okay to get started, even when starting means just reading, learning, and brainstorming ideas while breastfeeding.
Everything starts with an idea, and I am of the strong opinion that reading, learning, brainstorming, and planning are all important work in the process of getting started. I like to think of it as the incubation period.
A couple of years ago I started thinking about how I could possibly make money doing something I love, while working from home with a flexible schedule. I thought about writing, because I love expressing myself through writing, and I’ve always wanted to write a book.
I also love reading, even more than writing. I’ll always love reading books (even if they happen to be on my Paperwhite), but in recent years I’ve shifted away from reading magazines and towards reading blogs.
Like so many millions of other people, I decided to try blogging beyond my family blog. If nothing else, I thought, it would be fun.
And so, I began reading books about how to blog. The first was Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho. It was a book of the stories of a lot of different bloggers about various topics and how they got started.
Next I read The Art of Freelance Blogging by Kevin Muldoon. I really appreciated his attitude that with hard work, anyone can be a successful blogger.
Blogging sounded perfect for me, so I just had to decide what to blog about.
When I started all this Rose was still a baby, so I considered blogging about something baby-related, such as cloth diapers or home birth or best products for baby. I had a ton of different ideas based on topics I love to read and learn about, from pregnancy and birth to parenting to personal growth.
So I took notes. I wrote down ideas. I read and learned and made plans.
And eventually I decided to call my blog Mama Organized. It would be about organizing your life for more happiness.
2. It’s okay to try something and see how it goes.
Next I needed a website.
Everything I read about creating websites indicated that WordPress (.org) was the way to go. Unfortunately, getting started with WordPress wasn’t easy.
Between figuring out what nameservers were and trying to follow directions that seemed to be written in a foreign language, to finally getting it all set up and installed… but then realizing I had no idea how to turn this default theme into something anywhere close to the beautiful blog I had envisioned…!
It was hard. And daunting.
And unfortunately my usual method of finding information—searching for relevant books and online information—didn’t yield the results I was looking for.
The few books I found about WordPress weren’t very helpful. And Googling just wasn’t enough. For one thing, it’s hard to ask questions when you barely speak the “language”…
I had been advised by people that WordPress (.org) was the way to go both for full control and ownership and full functionality. But after several frustrating starts and stops, I just wanted to get going already (!). So I threw up my hands in exasperation and tried a number of different website builders.
I dabbled in WordPress.com, Blogger, Weebly, and Squarespace (which wasn’t free). Unfortunately, while getting started was easier, they all still had their own learning curve.
I ended up using a free trial of the beta version of Copyblogger’s Rainmaker platform. When payments kicked in, it was expensive, plus it lacked some of the functionality I needed.
I decided to reconsider WordPress, even though it scared me.
3. It’s okay to ask for help.
I found my way to Rise Forums, and the community there seemed genuinely nice. I started asking for advice about what to do about creating my website. They wasted no time in advising me to hurry up and get started with WordPress, with the reassurance that I could do it, and if I needed help, they were there.
Knowing there were people I could turn to for help if I needed it gave me the courage to try again.
And I did it!
Slowly but surely, I created my website with WordPress!
4. You *can* learn new things, even things that seem really hard at first.
I had heard from other WordPress users that it was hard at first, but once you got past the initial learning curve, it would get much easier. I was honestly a little skeptical since I’d tried more than once in the past to learn WordPress, spending hours getting almost nowhere…
It turns out that using Rainmaker for a couple of months did have a surprising benefit. Since it was based on WordPress, my second go round with WordPress was surprisingly easier than my first. I had learned some of the basics through using Rainmaker. Thank God!!
5. It takes a tribe.
And, this time I had a community of support to turn to for help. I really appreciate everyone at Rise Forums who patiently answered my questions and went above and beyond to help me with my website. It is a kind, supportive, and very knowledgeable community, and I highly recommend it to anyone starting a blog or learning about online marketing. I want to say a special thank you to Boris of OptinLock, Brian of Brian Jackson.io, Raspal of RaspalWrites, web developer Kris Hoja, and Kevin for all of your help.
Leonie Dawson’s Shining Biz & Life Academy is another group that I’m a part of. First I read Leonie’s free Blogging & Biz Star Workshop and was so inspired by it. It was another resource that helped me start blogging. I also tried and loved using her Yearly Planner/Workbook. Eventually I decided to become a member.
Since joining Leonie’s Academy I have made so many good friends and met so many kindred spirits. I continue to be amazed at all the support, encouragement, and help I receive by being part of this amazing group of (mostly) women. I also wrote a review of Leonie’s Shining Biz + Life Academy.
6. Learning new things feels really good.
This isn’t anything new. I’ve always loved learning, but I have learned SO MANY new things over the past year, and when I look back, it kind of feels like I’ve climbed a mountain.
I’ve learned so many things.
- how to do WordPress
- how to create and edit images in Canva
- how to make a favicon
- how to be a coach
- how to start a podcast
- how to ask for help (have mentioned that yet?)
- how to be comfortable trying new things
- how to be a guest on a podcast
- how to use Twitter
- how to make better use of social media
- how to write better headlines
- how to use Glip
- how to use Basecamp
- how to become a freelance writer
- how to start running
- how to rest when I get injured running
- how to track my time using Toggl
- how to use Skype
- how to use affiliate links
- how to use do basic html
- how to create a landing page
- and more, I’m sure!
And, there’s so much more to learn… Hooray!
7. You don’t have to know everything up front.
You don’t have to start with a fully formed plan, or a plan at all. But you do need to start.
And what you start doesn’t have to be forever.
As I mentioned earlier, at first my blog was called Mama Organized. It was about organizing your life, personal productivity, and living according to your values, not about organizing your home. I knew I need to change the name (and domain) to something that was a more clear and accurate representation of me, so I did.
It’s okay to make changes as you go along.
8. Finding the RIGHT coach is important.
I was so excited.
When my youngest daughter was one, I won a discounted coaching session. I was really looking forward to it. I ended up having to bring my toddler with me. She was around 18 months. When I arrived with my baby in tow, the coach seemed extremely uncomfortable and like she didn’t understand me. It was a really weird experience, to say the least. I was really glad when it was time to leave.
Although it wasn’t what I’d expected or hoped for, that experience didn’t dampen my interest in becoming a coach myself.
It actually strengthened my belief in myself and my ability to become an effective coach for other women like me.
9. Working with a great coach is wonderful.
10. Having a small group of kindred spirits is also wonderful.
I decided to take part in a group coaching program with Meagan Francis. Meagan is a kind, friendly, down-to-earth mama of five kids, and also a successful writer, blogger, and podcaster, who now has four podcasts as part of her Life, Listened podcast network. That was a fantastic experience, full of learning, connection, and new friends.
I’m so happy I took the opportunity to connect with and be coached by Meagan. Not only did I get to experience positive, extremely helpful coaching, I also made some really good friends.
My friends from our small coaching group have stayed in touch and continue to encourage and hold each other accountable. I highly recommend finding a group like this to help and support you as you work on your project.
11. One thing leads to another.
As I mentioned earlier, I had been thinking about becoming a coach. It seemed like something I’d love to do, could do well, and was perfectly aligned with my goal of helping other women live their happiest lives.
I had been reading Kathy Stowell’s blog, Bliss Beyond Naptime, for a while, and I decided to attend Mama Bliss Coaching School to help prepare me to become a coach. It was an awesome experience, which you can read about here.
12. Because you want to is reason enough.
I love listening to podcasts. When Kathy interviewed Jessica Kupferman for her podcast, they talked about how much fun podcasting was, and that got me thinking more seriously about starting my own podcast. It just seemed like something I’d really enjoy doing.
I decided I would do it. I would start my own podcast! I wrote down my goal in my yearly planner.
Time passed, and I even told friends and family about it, but it took a while before I actually started working on it. Waiting felt frustrating at times, but I really didn’t want to give up on this dream. So I kept telling people I was going to do it, partly to make sure I would actually follow through.
13. Podcasting School For Women is AMAZING!
Several months ago I decided to do Podcasting School For Women to hurry up and get the support I needed to get my podcast going sooner than later. My teachers, Jess and Elsie of She Podcasts, were fantastic. Extremely knowledgeable, experienced, kind, and helpful, they taught me everything I need to know to create and promote my podcast. I also met and became friends with some amazing women.
I’m happy to say that the Happiness Mama Podcast is now well underway and will launch very soon!!!
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that it is about mindful mamas actively creating our happiest lives. I’ve decided to have themed seasons, and the first season will focus on creativity. I am interviewing creative entrepreneurs and mamas with creative hobbies to talk about the role of creativity in their life and happiness.
I’m loving these conversations and can’t wait to share them with you!
14. It’s okay to be vulnerable.
Starting a blog feels huge for an introvert like me. While I thrive on sharing deeply with those closest to me, putting personal things out there “for the world” presses me out of my comfort zone.
I’m still determining where my boundaries lie, and I still value my privacy, but I’ve also found joy in sharing some of my struggles, such as hurting my foot after being so happy about developing a running habit.
Even writing this post feels a little scary for me. But I want to share and celebrate, and hopefully encourage you to try something new and pursue your dream.
15. It’s okay to take your time.
A snail’s pace is enough.
Even though it feels like I’ve been on (and continue on) the slow track, I have come a long way.
Time will pass no matter what, so even if you only have a little time, do what you want to be doing.
Start your project. Write. Plan. One step, and then another, and eventually you will look back and say, “Hey! I really have come a long way.”
That’s what my blog feels like to me. I’m so happy I started, even though I’ve often felt that it was taking soooo long to get things done, whether that was writing an article, figuring out how to do something on WordPress, or deciding on a next step.
[ctt tweet=”Slow is fine. Slow still gets you there.” coverup=”u67cc”]
16. Making connections and putting yourself out there can lead to unexpected opportunities.
One goal that I accomplished in the past year was getting paid to write. Through connections I made on Rise Forums, I got some freelance writing jobs. I am really happy and proud to have had articles published on KevinMuldoon.com and Purcus.com.
I won’t say it was easy. As an extremely slow writer who tends to revise and edit ’til the cows come home, I had to try to curb my perfectionism.
Still, once my articles were finally published, it was so rewarding to have a larger audience of readers enjoy and benefit from my writing. I’d like to do more freelance writing in the future when I have more time.
17. Support from family and friends is invaluable.
I am so thankful for all the support I’ve gotten from my husband, my parents, and my friends as I’ve gone on this journey of the past year and more. It means so much to me to know they’re on my side and want to see me succeed.
My husband’s unwavering belief in me and support for me pursuing my dreams and goals has helped me immensely. My parents are also my best friends, and having them to support me throughout my life and now, too, is something I am grateful for.
18. Clarity comes in time.
I think it’s pretty amazing when I look back and think about how far I’ve come and how my ideas have come together since I started thinking about blogging. I love how everything has come together, with my blog, my podcast, and my coaching all in alignment with my purpose of helping other mamas nurture themselves and prioritize their own happiness while also nurturing their families.
You also can step out and start something. What is your dream?
19. Try it, and see how it goes.
Try it, and see how it goes.
Why not? What have you got to lose?
20. Make it your goal to make MORE mistakes!
That’s been my goal for a while now.
By being bold and trying new things, you learn. You grow. You make progress.
Don’t stay stuck in indecision or waiting for perfection.
It’s more fun and more productive to jump in and just go for it.
What About You?
Do any of these lessons resonate with you? Let me know below.
And click the simple share buttons to share with family and friends who need encouragement.
Take care, and keep pursuing your passions!
Note: This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click and make a purchase, at no cost to you a small portion will go to me.