I burst from my cocoon, a butterfly.
Dazzling and passionate. An explosion of colors. Rapid wing beats moving me in every direction possible, yet not knowing the terrain. Ready to soar, but not truly knowing the way.
In truth, I wasn’t a full-fledged butterfly.
I had not taken the complete journey through metamorphosis from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly. There was no gradual transformation to search and find the answers.
There was no time taken to cocoon in the warmth of knowledge, to ponder next steps, to make a plan for the future.
Instead I spontaneously sprung forth, a reincarnation of myself, dragging along my past. Using the sometimes-strength of mania to rise into the wind as fast as possible with only the intensity of my wings to propel me.
That pretty much describes my first year of blogging, otherwise known as 2011. My false start at a Butterfly Blogger Life Cycle.
A less poetic explanation: My friend died (in late 2010) and I became what I now think of as an “overly passionate” mommy and mental health blogger in response. I had NO idea what being a blogger entailed. I didn’t do research. I didn’t even read blogs. I knew nothing of Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr. I didn’t even know what SEO stood for. I had no idea about affiliates or ad networks or bloggers communities. I didn’t know there were ways to make money. I knew NOTHING John Snow! (That’s a Game of Thrones reference in case you’re wondering.)
But regardless, I dove in (or to carry the butterfly metaphor, I skyrocketed into the Internets) and became a blogger. I’m talking fast and furious. I wrote about suicide prevention and my own mental health. I started gathering guest posts from other moms about their own struggles with PPD, infertility, and other “often taboo” topics of motherhood.
I thought, hey, I want readers!? Do an awesome giveaway to launch my blog! I was SO GREEN but using my previous PR & Marketing skills (I was a traditional PR/Marketing professional for 12+ years) I gathered 25 companies to donate products and services valued at over $2,500. Looking back, it makes me cringe to see the way I put it all together and ran the giveaway. But I plunged on ahead with gusto and gathered a small following.
I was writing, writing, writing, posting, posting, posting. Not for pay or sponsorship or even numbers or SEO. My intention was to help others for purely altruistic reasons, and to grieve for my friend. But this obsession got of hand.
That year, I did — miraculously– win a Mom Central Blog Grant (thanks to a suggestion by my great blogging buddy Kerri @_themaven, also a SoFab member) that allowed me to have my blog professionally designed, as well as attend BlogHer. I met amazing women, and I even learned a thing or two about actual professional blogging (finally), but I was just so so green and didn’t learn as much as I could have. But the meeting of others (the networking) propelled me to join up with several other bloggers to raise funds for suicide prevention, and other causes. And in a few small ways I started to run my blog like a blog.
But all the while I was not taking care of my own mental health. And I crashed and burned. For the first half of 2012, I think I have 1 post. ONE. And its just a photo. But I spent that time taking care of me and my family, and trying not to feel guilty for stepping back from something I had spent so much time and energy to build.
After getting back to Motherhood Unadorned in late 2012, I’ve done so many amazing things for mental health and suicide prevention. I’m so proud and passionate about this aspect of my blog. I am a true mental health advocate. And I try very hard to take care of me, to take small breaks when I need to.
In 2013 I decided that I wanted to expand. I wanted to better my blog and be able to contribute financially to our family. I also admit I wanted to bring back the professionalism and sense of self I lost after ending my PR career to become a stay at home mom.
To become that Butterfly.
I want to be a blogger with a true “Butterfly Blogger Life Cycle”, from a beginner caterpillar with a steady build up of knowledge. Into my cocoon, I will percolate ideas and knowledge, then burst forth into a fully formed Blogger Butterfly ready to take on the world and find success.
So I started looking into blogger networks. It wasn’t something I had done in the past, and didn’t know much about it, but I thought it would be a way to slowly start to monetize. I joined Social Fabric about 6 months ago, and I can say that I adore this blogger community for the value it places on its members as true professionals. I’m so proud to have been chosen for 6 shops already (and get paid well for my work! Yes it IS work).
As for conferences, I’ve been to 2 BlogHers and both were wonderful. I made amazing connections with some truly beautiful and talented bloggers and business women… here are just a few examples.
And while in Chicago last year, I even went screaming past the line of my comfort zone to be in the 2013 BlogHer Fashion Show!
Aren’t we smokin’?!
Diving in and taking chances like this has gotten me closer to being a true Blogger Butterfly!
But as I look to 2014, I really want to focus my event investment in smaller more intensive conferences. I want more opportunities to really learn. More chances to get to know some of the best people in the business without the rush rush rush of a thousand different events pulling me in as many directions. I need to learn more. I need to monetize, and while I will still without a doubt do my charity work and mental health advocacy, I will continue to make my blog more.
So I’m applying for a possible “scholarship” to the SoFabCon (the conference put on by Social Fabric). Its a few hundred attendees, versus thousands at BlogHer. The tracks sound perfect for me. I’m a beginner (in some aspects) but mostly a mid-level blogger hoping to take my site to the next level.
To be compensated for my effort and time, as well as help others with my genuine quality content.
To find new opportunities for growth, like freelance writing, ad networks, sponsored posts, or even becoming a SoFab campaign leader (which I have applied to become! Fingers Crossed!). With my professional background, I certainly have the skills for that job. I want to use my many years of PR, marketing and social media to propel myself as a professional blogger and writer.
For the future I want to make this work for me and my family. And honestly, I admit I also want to make more than a couple hundred of dollars a month (which hardly covers Ellie’s preschool.)
I also want to get to know the absolute best people in the business at Social Fabric and Collective Bias. I was thrilled to get a chance to meet a few like Kristin Wheeler @MamaLuvsBooks in Chicago last year at a SoFab meet up (before doing my first shop). Now that I know the system and have been active with the community, I would be so grateful for a chance to work and learn together in person.
The growth of this industry and that of social media influence is so very exciting to me. How wonderful that I’m actually able to use my communications degree and past experience to leap into the 21st century, a strong, proud, successful woman. Blogging is my career of choice, and I won’t settle for less than the best.
Interested to see if I’m awarded a scholarship!? I know I am. Join us on Monday, February 3rd at 8am PT/11am ET for the #SoFabCon Twitter Party (It also happens to be Ellie’s 4th Birthday, so sweet girl bring Mommy some luck!) Social Fabric will be awarding six (6) full scholarships to SoFabCon14 during the Tweet Chat, plus five (5) 3-day conference blogger passes. For more info RSVP HERE.
Will I see you at SoFabCon this year!?
UPDATE: Many thanks to SoFabCon for selecting my entry! I won one of the trips. Woot! In addition, winning also inspired me to create Butterfly Blogger T-shirts & Tanks to sell as a fundraiser for suicide prevention. You can find more info HERE. >