That title makes me sound super smart.
Like I planned it all out, and knew it would happen.
Like fear wasn’t a factor. Like failures weren’t a part of it. Like there weren’t countless risks, and leaps of faith, and moments of crying in the shower so my husband and my kids wouldn’t hear.
There was all of that.
Years upon years of all of that.
Part of the journey that makes me cherish the present.
My Story –The Super Quick Version
I graduated from the University of California, Irvine with in 2000 with a degree in Criminology. I was supposed to become a forensic psychologist but instead I left to teach 8th grade in Oakland with Teach for America. By 2002 I had a new baby and a new zip code on the opposite side of the country to call my own. I got married in 2003 and taught 5th grade in Montgomery County, Maryland while working through my graduate degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. I was a full time student, a full time teacher, and a full time mom and wife. I graduated in 2004, gave birth to Dude 2 in 2005, sold our first little home, and bought our second bigger home in 2006. 2007 was a blur. I started working nights at the hospital so I could be home with my kids and, at the very beginning of 2008, Dude 3 made his appearance. By the end of that year I had launched my photography business and my first blog parenting BY dummies.
It reinvigorated the dream I had as a child to become a writer and I began writing for tons of local print publications. I volunteered to do social media management for small companies so I could learn. I worked on my blog and my writing and being a mom all day and then, when my husband came home from work, I’d hand him the children, put on my scrubs, and go to work at the hospital.
I took pictures on the weekends. I wrote and did social media management during the weekday. And, I worked at the hospital at night, all while trying to mother 3 children and be a decent wife.
It was exhausting.
It took me four years of that hustle to get to the point where I felt like I could give up something.
In 2012, I finally quit the hospital, all of the free stuff and most of the paid stuff and focused in on growing my blog business and my photography business.
DudeMom Media made over $25,000 in its first official year and has grown dramatically since then.
I work from my living room, I am home when my kids get out of school, and I love creating things I am proud of.
People are always asking me if they can “pick my brain” about launching a small business, growing their following, and finding opportunities for expanding their income.
Normally there’s a charge for that.
How to Grow Your Small Business and Still Sleep at Night (Sometimes)
Set Your Own Goals
Without thinking about what everyone else is doing. I think of business success as achieving personal bests. I might not win the race, I mean seriously, someone is always better, but I strive to improve upon my own accomplishments each time I set one. Last November I decided my personal goal would be to increase my Instagram followers from 5,000 to 10,000 in 2017. I hit that goal the first week of January –on to the next.
Know Your Worth
And that doesn’t mean charging six figures for a blog post just because someone else is. Knowing your worth means that you know precisely what you have to offer and pricing it accordingly. The creative part is in the “what you have to offer” element. For me, I own a relatively small blog with relatively low reach, but I also own a verified Facebook page with serious reach -7,700 fans reaching close to 100,000 people consistently. I know what that is worth and I don’t have a problem charging that.
I can not even begin to tell you how important the connections I have made in this space have been to the success of my over all business. And I don’t mean connecting for the purpose of one day getting something out of it. I mean meaningful connections. The kind that think of you without you reminding them to think of you because you have a relationship built on more than just wanting to one day call in a favor. I guess relationships is a better word. Build relationships.
Perfect Your Product
Your product should be top of the line. And don’t bother trying to be something you’re not. I know, those craft sites and those recipe sites and those everything else I am totally not sites are just rolling in the search traffic. Just like I know no one searches for Elf on the Shelf Mannequin Challenge. The point is that when you stumble across that little Internet gem, it will be fire and you will come back, over and over again.
Focus on the Details
I feel like it is the tiny things that really get you when you’re a small business owner. The invoices you forget to file, the theirs you write as there’s, the deadlines you miss, the follow-up emails you don’t send. That doesn’t mean those things can’t happen, of course they can. It just means that you need to get really great about allowing them to happen less. Or, hire someone awesome who can do it for you.