This March marked my TENTH year of blogging. Whoah! Ten years ago, I discovered this world. My journey began with a personal lifestyle blog called Sterling Style. I was 27 and working full-time as the Director of Recruiting for a boutique financial services firm. As you may have guessed, that wasn’t the ideal career for me, so I started exploring new ideas, and I stumbled upon blogs. I was enamored immediately and swiftly ran home to start my own. I felt that magic spark of inspiration and thankfully, it has stuck with me over the past decade. In 2011, I launched the lifestyle website, Glitter Guide. It’s been one heck of a journey, friends. One that I feel immense gratitude for. If you want to learn more about my origin story, you can listen to Jenna Kutcher’s and Dr. Cassidy’s podcasts.
Overall, there aren’t a ton of things I would change from the past decade in business. However, there are some things I would do differently if I were starting now, and I thought they might provide you with some goals and guidance.
Always create from the heart
I know this sounds obvious, but after a decade of creating content, I know that there are plenty of times that I put things out into the world because I felt I had to more than because I wanted to. Pressures from deadlines, sponsorships, algorithms, there are plenty of things pushing us to create constantly. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever make content that isn’t of profound meaning. Just make sure you’re happy and proud of what you’re sharing with the world. Being aligned with your work is of the utmost importance.
Focus on inclusion, diversity and visibility
If you’re creating a brand, you have to be doing this. I wish that I was more aware and expanded my network and storytelling to reflect this from the very beginning. It wasn’t an active choice not to, but thanks to how much of this is now talked about, I can see I was doing it wrong—even with the best intentions. It’s something I want to make sure we’re doing every day. I think it’s extremely important.
Create systems for your business
This has changed my business in the last two years. I always wanted systems but didn’t know where and how to start. I was running my business in a sloppy and unorganized way, causing unneeded extra work for my team and me. Now we are clear on who’s doing what and what the timeline and expectations are thanks to tools like Asana and Slack. My business manager helps me with this and she does my bookkeeping (seriously, hire someone if this is bringing you down!), and she helps with goal setting. It’s been vital in opening up time for me to live a more healthy life.
I know that this is much harder to do when you’re just starting and are running a solo show. I used to burn the candle at both ends. I would check my emails first thing in the morning and would bring my laptop to bed with me. I would answer emails on vacation or work while my baby daughter was playing with blocks. I was always ON. I stressed over the constant juggle; I had moments of wanting to quit. I felt like a train coming off its tracks about to crash. That’s when I finally hired a business manager and took a step back to reevaluate my values (both personally and professionally). I set strict boundaries for my hours, I don’t check emails at all hours of the day, I don’t have any alerts on my phone and I prioritize self-care and family over everything else. It feels risky and scary, but I now realize it’s the only way to stay resilient. So, if you’re just starting, find ways you can implement some boundaries within your business. Your future self will thank you.
Side projects are magic
What do I mean by this? Side projects, whether they relate to your work or are just enjoyable hobbies, are just as important as your paid work. Especially if you’ve been doing this for some time, it’s really important to work on things that you have more freedom to play around with; that may not be money-makers. You’re probably lucky that you have turned your passion into your career. That’s amazing! It also means that you have a lot more pressure to stay passionate and creative with that hobby. Side projects keep your brain working and your heart happy.
Focus on what you own
I’ll be the first to admit that I can become obsessed with platforms like Instagram. They want you to feel that way. The issue is we have zero control over Instagram and what they will do next with the app. Plus, the algorithm makes it almost impossible for your entire audience to see your content. So you’re sort of wasting your time if you’re spending it all on there. Focus on the apps that allow you to be in control of your content and your audience, like your newsletter and blog.
Do more in person
Raise your hand if you’re an introverted homebody? Yup, that’s me. I think one of the reasons I fell in love with the online world was that I could engage with it from the comfort of my couch. One of the reasons I created Glitter Guide was that I wanted to be behind the scenes more. Except, I see how that has set me back in many ways. I know how key my relationships have been to my success. Heck, I would even say they are the reason. Yet, I haven’t always prioritized them and made the extra effort to see people face-to-face. Events still aren’t my cup of tea, but I think they are so important. Meet your readers, meet your customers. It’s time to work on things offline and build a robust community around your brand.
Take more risks
If you’ve created a business, you’re not adverse to risk. That’s good! However, to continue to take risks is another story. I’ve found this to be especially true once you have a family and a team to support. However, without risk, there is no reward. There is no growth. The belief in doing something that scares you every day has some real power to it. It’s easier to take risks in the beginning, so take advantage. I will follow suit!
Happy ten years! If you have been with me all along or just started: THANK YOU!