The Butterfly Blogger Life Cycle

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I burst from my cocoon, a butterfly.

photo (69)

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.

Then burnout.

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. 

butterfly blogger

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).

I hope that my results speak for themselves. I take a lot of pride in the authenticity of my blog. If you want to check out my SoFab posts, visit HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

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.

blogher pics 1

 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!

fashion show look 1

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.

me and ellie

 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. >

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About Cristi Comes

Warrior Mom. Wife. Writer. Advocate for mental health, suicide prevention, self care, self image and style. Technology and social media lover. Board of Directors, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State Chapter. Editorial Team Postpartum Progress.

Comments

  1. Great post — and I LOVE your butterfly graphic with all the blogger terms — that’s so cool!
    Darcy Perdu (So Then Stories) recently posted..Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone SushiMy Profile

  2. Oh, this post makes ME feel so very, very green! As in amateur, not environmental ;)
    I started my blog last year and I knew it would be tough to find time, and it IS. I’m not ready to make a living at it yet, but it’s good to know it can actually be done. I hear about it, but I want to try to get a regular feel for posting and find my “voice” and that kind of thing. I guess THAT is my goal for this year, try to post more regularly, figure out if/what my goals could actually BE!
    Great post, lots of food for thought for me. Pinning!

  3. You’ve blossomed so much as a blogger since we went to BlogHer in 2011. You’ve grown and done so many things. I am proud of you!

  4. Beautiful art, Cristi!! I hope you get that scholarship. You deserve it, but even if you don’t get it, I know you’ll continue to flourish in 2014 and beyond. xoxo
    Jenn recently posted..Keep ClimbingMy Profile

  5. Cristi- you have an amazing purpose for your blogging and I have absolutely no doubt you are going to achieve your goals. I say that without the slightest hint of bloggy sunshine. Good luck!
    Jean recently posted..Theater of the Absurd (Parenting)My Profile

  6. Cristi that is the most touching story, and your art is just gorgeous. I am so glad you became a blogger, and we have had a chance to become friends.
    Ashley Sears recently posted..Comment on Superbowl Crock Pot Queso Dip by 121 Easy Slow Cooker RecipesMy Profile

  7. It’s like you’re in my head! I have been thinking so many of these same thoughts in regard to my blog, and I still feel like I’m spinning my wheels. I want to make this my money-making business, but it just seems like little trickles right now, not the gush I need to cover bills! Thanks for the reminder!
    Melissa @ Home on Deranged recently posted..Family friendly fun with Hyatt Regency Lost Pines ResortMy Profile

  8. I loved reading this article and found it really inspiring! I also just joined Social Fabric a few weeks ago but I probably need to get my page views up before they will start picking me for campaigns. :) Glad to get to know you through our little Facebook group!

  9. Cristi, you are an amazing writer and person. I can relate to all of your posts in some ways and I wish you the best of luck in 2014 balance your blogging lifecycle!
    Sarah recently posted..Online Yoga Classes with MyYogaWorksMy Profile

  10. I started blogging very similar to you. I threw myself in there first as a food blogger and then as a family blogger. I cringe looking back at those first posts. Those horrible photos. The lack of a voice/storytelling to draw in readers. Good luck!
    Danielle recently posted..Big Game Party Ideas: Creating the Perfect Football PartyMy Profile

  11. I’m so grateful for this writing/blogging world, in which we may continually re-emerge with fresh wings. Always learning, evolving, improving. I envy those who have found their one true message. I’m certainly still searching for mine. You’ve created a beautiful image here.

  12. I love the graphic…totally explains the life cycle of a blogger. Great post! I will see you in May!
    Censie recently posted..Hey You – PICK ME! #SoFabCon14My Profile

  13. Good luck! Hope you make it! :)
    Nicole @ Mendez Manor recently posted..Weekend Wind-Down Link Party No. 3My Profile

  14. Keep going Cristi!! You’ve done so much good already – can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for us!

  15. Donna Buettner says:

    Best wishes Cristi!
    You know I love your work, your inspiration and dedication, to making this world a better place.
    You’ve come a long way…keep spreading those wings and fly free

  16. Good luck, Cristi!

  17. Jenna Wood says:

    I think it’s great when any company takes stock and value in their associates and employees, who are just as valuable as consumers. Growing within a field is the best gift a company can offer, because it exponentially grows over time in knowledge and skill that take us further than we could have imagined. Your story is certainly inspiring, as I said in my #LuvSoFab virtual gift exchange post :) I know you are a string woman and would get the most from this experience, good luck!

  18. I am sure you will break out of your chrysalis and fly. Your good luck charm is adorable – how could you not win with such a cutie on your side.
    Patty recently posted..Baby Penguins Love Their Mama by Melissa Guion – GiveawayMy Profile

  19. Great post! It’s your passion that has gotten you this far even if at first it wasn’t backed up by the knowledge. Love reading what you have to say.

  20. JoEllen Motto says:

    Good Luck from a very proud Mother. Your passion and dedication inspire me and so many others. Keep moving forward with your beautiful writing talent, my butterfly. Love your good luck charm , too.

  21. I love your butterfly illustrations and the blogging metamorphosis. It’s so accurate! Good luck!!
    Greta recently posted..Go for the Gold with these Americana Accessories | Five Easy PiecesMy Profile

  22. This sounds a lot like my own blogging story. I started in 2011, with a “deal blog”. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. My posts were all like one sentence each. “Here’s a free sample of such and such, blah blah blah.” I got really tired of that after a while. I wanted to actually write. So, I took about a year off while pregnant with my daughter, and started a new blog a few months after she was born. I did tons of research, joined a lot of different blogging support groups and blogging networks. I actually write now, and I love it!
    Mindy Grant recently posted..5 Best Educational YouTube Channels for Kids and BabiesMy Profile

  23. Cristi- I really enjoyed reading your blog! You have opened my eyes to so many forms of communication online! I hope you get the much deserved scholarship! I love your butterfly story and image too!
    Keep up the great work!
    Annemarie

  24. Love the post and wishing you the best of luck!!
    Lena recently posted..#SoFabCon14: More Than One Reason to Love and I Really Want to Go!My Profile

  25. Beautiful post! Good luck!!
    Candy @ Candypolooza recently posted..I WANNA GO TO #SOFABCON14 #LUVSOFAB14 #CollectiveBiasMy Profile

  26. Woohoo! Congrats! I look forward to meeting you in May at #SoFabCon!
    Happy Birthday to Ellie!
    Tammilee recently posted..Fun Valentine’s Day Ideas!My Profile

  27. Cristi your art is beautiful as well as your story. Blogging is an evolution and I’m so happy you have selected to participate with Social Fabric on your journey:) See you in May!
    Alicia recently posted..Delicious & Easy No-Bake Valentine’s Day Inspired Cheesecake {#LoveableLuckyLeaf}My Profile

  28. Wow, if I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought you were writing about me! I only started blogging in August/September, after my husband died by suicide less than a year ago, May 30, 2013, at a time when the ONLY thing I could do, was bead and make jewelry… I am actually putting a post together now, about how things have changed, and until I looked at things with a different outlook, I thought I had failed …
    Now that I finally have the ability to function somewhat reasonably again, I am learning (and retaining) all kinds of information! I am so glad I read your post and I look forward to going back and reading (learning) so much more!

    • Oh Tavia, I am so sorry about the loss of your husband. You are so new in the grieving process and looking back it took a while to find myself again. I’m glad you are getting to a point where you’re functioning better but I know it will never be the same. I’m glad you found this and my blog and hope some of my words might help in some small way. Please let me know if you ever need anything.
      Cristi

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