At the end of February, I had the chance to hop down to Mexico with some whip-smart boss friends I’d made through business and blogging over the years. Most of us hadn’t met in real life before the trip, but as soon as we arrived we slipped into a rhythm of sharing stories and ideas alongside with belly laughs and heart-to-heart moments.
We spent the week making meals in our hotel room, lounging in the private pool on our deck (yes please!), staying in our PJ’s all day and otherwise nerding out. We talked about having a long term online presence, personal branding, our dreams for the future, content marketing, online courses, SEO, conversion rate testing, publishing books, storytelling and Facebook ads.
You know. Typical internet girl talk!
These ladies are all exceptional humans and badasses at their work, so enjoy meeting them and a sample of their work to bookmark for later reading:
From left to right:
Katie Lee, author & lifestyle Designer from Hey Katie Lee (Read her post: THIS is your WHOLE life)
Sarah Von Bargen, writer & business consultant from Yes and Yes & her small business blog (Read: What you're really seeing when you see success online)
Sarah Morgan, designer & online teacher from XO Sarah (Read: Seven questions to ask when your passion based biz starts to feel like work)
I learned so much from them. And so much about how writing is such a huge part of all of our lives.
Speaking with them made me realize that while I write here almost every week, I’ve almost entirely stopped telling personal stories.
While I want to share actionable listical posts that help thrive, I don’t want to do that without sharing more of the why.
I want to talk about why it’s worth pouring yourself into your passions.
And what it actually takes and costs to get a project off the ground.
About how the nuts and bolts of making a living from your blog, or from a business that’s tied to a blog truly work.
I want to talk about what it’s like to launch your thing and hope it soars.
Or, more realistically, how to launch your big idea by throwing it in the air as high as you can and then running underneath it, knocking at it with a broomstick to keep it in the air until it finally catches the wind and soars on its own. (Also known as the story of everyone’s first several passive income products.)
So keep an eye out for me. I’ll be in this story and in more to come.
Alright, on to the listical reflections you're used to.
Here's some of what the trip taught me:
Break out of your routine to shake up your creativity
There's nothing like a change of pace to help you see what's not crucial to your work. Getting a break from my routine (and the Internet, thank you Mexican providers) helped me remember how I can design and decide every aspect of my work experience.
In the past few weeks, I've pulled back from blogging to examine my choices, and what gets me results. I'm simplifying and focusing on what moves the needle in my business, and I'm saying no to everything else. I'm calling it an obligation vacation, and it's been the best!
You can't find your people without reaching out.
Spending time with people who have shared experiences – even if that experience is navigating online work and life solo for many years – is incredibly life-affirming. I filled pages and pages with notes, wrote down blog names to explore, books to read, and generated more ideas than I have in years.
Keep looking for your people, and to find them, reach out to people you aren't sure are your people. Be yourself and reach out. Show up with your signature kindness, share your searing sarcasm. Like everything, or like nothing. Just be exactly who you are, but give people an opportunity to sign up for that by connecting with them where you already love to be. And that can be inside Instagram, at your favourite coffee shop or inside a boardroom.
When you find someone you click with? Make face time a priority, hop on Skype with each other, take a road trip and soak them up. They'll light the best kind of fires in you.
Do what you love with tenacity, while checking what works.
One of the things that kept coming up was that everyone is figuring this out as they go along. We're all learning about new ideas and tactics, and trying them out as best we can. We're all following our interests and passions, and seeing where they lead.
No matter how different our projects were, what we had in common is that we were highly motivated, had multiple people to draw on for support, and we're all tuned into the results of our work. We don't hang our worth on those results, and it might be casual or formal, but diligently checking them was part of everyone's process.
Even if you're not sure exactly what to do next, the act of measuring and watching your results (in page views or dollars earned) is a surefire way to deepen your understanding of what works for you, and what your audience loves.
Having friends, online or offline, to talk about what's frustrating you, what you love and what's working in your business is priceless. You'll learn more together to you will alone.
Be a good human.
This one sounds obvious or like an afterthought, but it bears mentioning. The people we admire on the Internet are flooded with email and messages from people asking a lot of them, every day. You really can't underestimate how confusing, spammy or sketchy those requests are.
The best way to stand out is to treat other people how you would like to be treated. Get to know their projects. Consider how you can help them, or their audience. Connect with people before you reach out. Stay in touch for a while. Support their work, share it with your friends and be engaged in their online world. Then be succinct and reach out with a clear request, in a genuine place.
(If you can't say it in a few sentences, your idea isn't ready yet.)
Finding your people online is like dating. It takes a while to figure out who you're looking for, and how you like to connect. And realistically, you're going to make mistakes, not hear back, and catch people at the wrong time in their lives.
If you're trying to find your people with the hopes of growing your business or passion project, start with peers. In fact, start by connecting more intentionally people you're already friendly with, and asking how you can help them. From there, maintain your relationships and find more
From there, maintain your relationships and find more like-minded people with audiences about the same size as yours to collaborate with. Not only will you have more friends who get you, but you can all quickly double or triple your audience by collaborating together. By that time, you'll be a pro with a quickly growing audience and you won't just feel in the loop, you'll have created your own loop where a high tide raises all ships.
You aren't going to become close friends with everyone you come across online, and that's not the goal. But being a supportive, real person, and doing good work in public goes a long way.
For instance, this winter it took me all the way to Mexico.