So, here's the thing: I used to be a pretty damn successful blogger. I began this blog back in 2010, when I quit my corporate job to stay home and be more present for Angeline. She'd recently lost her biological father and was struggling...really hard. I was a total workaholic, usually leaving the house at 6 AM and not getting home until 7 - sometimes later. It just wasn't working for me (I was exhausted), it wasn't working for her, and it just wasn't working for our family, period. We were at a place financially where I could afford to quit, so we focused on paying off our debt and BOOM: I was a housewife and stay at home mom.
The problem with that is that I AM in all sense of the word, a workaholic. I was bored staying at home all day! Sure, I'd go out to lunch, walk the dogs, etc...but I was alone until around 4 PM every day and I was crawling the walls because I had NOTHING to do. NOTHING. AT ALL. A friend recommended that I start a blog when I announced that I was going to quit working, and I did. It was fun! I wrote silly poems, I shared photos of our family travels, I talked about Angeline growing up - it was a very personal blog. I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I decided to monetize The Rebel Chick, but it happened a little over a year later, and I hit the ground running. Within two years, I was earning almost as much as I had at my full time job (minus all that overtime I used to get), and within three years, I was earning more (even taking into consideration all that overtime).
Within four years, I was making six figures and going on several press trips a month. I had a team of writers. I had a full time editorial manager helping me run my blog. I was an ambassador for companies like Microsoft, Nokia, Purina, Swiffer, Carnival Cruise Lines...
I was - and I say this with humility, though it doesn't seem like it - BIG TIME.
In 2015, my ex husband announced that he wanted a divorce. I was not okay. My life literally fell apart around me, every aspect crumbling into tiny little pieces, scattering in the wind. Some of those pieces were: my sense of self, my work ethic, my brand name, my success. I just started traveling as much as possible, escaping what was happening in my life. My bank account was full and my reserve of motivation was empty...
2016 wasn't much better. I began to recover from my horrific divorce and rebuild my life...it was't until 2017 that I really began to focus on The Rebel Chick again, trying to rebuild the level of success that I once took for granted. Why? Because the money ran out! I was traveling so much (personal travel, not on blog press trips) that I wasn't working as much as I normally would at home, so it took a while for me to realize that work had come to an almost screeching halt.
I had spent all of my divorce settlement. I had spent all of my savings (I had a substantial savings account because I was so frugal during the divorce process)...It wasn't even just the money; I really missed being something. I missed the trips, I missed people knowing who I was, I missed doing something important with my life. I wanted to be someone that Angeline would be proud of again.
The problem was, since I hadn't really had my heart in the game for so long, I didn't know how to find my way back into it.
I was SO LOST.
2018 has been a bit better, but I am still struggling. I used to be so good at this, why isn't blogging like riding a bicycle? I literally forgot everything I knew. I used to be one of the ones other bloggers would come to for advice and education. I knew wtf I was doing. I have felt like a fish out of water, completely floundering and trying to make my way back into the waters of blogging...
Enter Permission to Hustle, created by two friends of mine from way back. A website, Facebook Community and newsletter dedicated to helping bloggers do just what I needed to do - learn, grow and get motivated to bring their success to the next level. When Audrey and Vera announced the first Permission to Hustle Retreat, I was SOLD. I knew that this was exactly what I needed to get my mojo back, exactly what I needed to stop flopping around on the beach and get back into the water.
The Permission to Hustle Retreat took place on the Carnival Paradise, sailing out of Tampa. I hadn't been to a blogger conference in six years, but I knew that this would be worth it - it was also incredibly inexpensive; I couldn't even have booked the cruise on my own for the price I paid for the retreat!
The Permission to Hustle Retreat was AMAZING. The cruise ship was lovely, an older ship than I was used to, but the smallness of the Carnival Paradise was actually pretty refreshing after I realized it was so much easier to navigate than the huge Vista class ships I am used to sailing. I got anywhere and everywhere in under 5 minutes, rarely even having to take the elevator.
Our retreat began on Monday afternoon and ended Saturday morning. Monday was just socializing and having fun, with sessions beginning on Tuesday morning, running through Friday - with two days of excursions thrown in at our ports of call: Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
On day one of our sessions, I was actually incredibly sea sick due to a storm and missed the morning sessions. I was finally feeling well enough to get out of bed at lunch and headed to the afternoon sessions and I am SO GLAD I DID!
A few things I learned at the Permission to Hustle Retreat...
Affiliate Marketing Can Be VERY Lucrative
You see, there's this problem I have...I hate asking people for things. Yet, one of the best sessions I sat in on was about affiliate marketing. If you're not a blogger and are reading this, that term refers to using personal referral codes when you promote something so that you earn a commission. I did this once a long time ago with Amazon and with Karina Dresses, but I got lazy and stopped...then I totally forgot about it! The session about affiliate marketing really inspired and motivated me - it was actually the MOST IMPORTANT thing I walked away from the retreat with...it really lit a fire under my ass to start getting into affiliate marketing!! I've only been home a month now, and I've already earned $199 just by sharing a few things on social and adding affiliate links into all of my new recipe blog posts! CA-CHING!
Being Yourself is Important As HELL
Ha, I know - this is something I've known my entire life...but somehow over the last few years, I forgot to really speak my voice on this blog. I forgot how to express myself. Even my bold, no holds barred Singles Chronicles are lackluster, with hardly any posts. I just sort of...forgot how to talk for a while. Why? Why did I allow myself to do that? It's what I became known for, part of the reason why I was relatively respected and popular with other bloggers and with brands and clients as well. I knew who I was and everything I did for clients reflected that.
You Don't Have to Do Everything, Just SOMETHING Well
Now, as a lifestyle blogger, I cover just about EVERYTHING you could possibly think of. I talk about travel. I share recipes. I review tech products. I share fashion and beauty tips. I talk about my dogs and cats.
One of the lessons I learned from the sessions was that it's okay to focus on ONE THING, or just a few things. Just do it WELL. I'm reigning in my focus back to food, travel and lifestyle products - oh, and relationships. I can't stop talking about dating now, can I? I've become a little known for it. So well known for it that I was recently hired to shoot a video about my divorce. Yeah, that happened.
There were great ideas and tips for using different social media programs, introductions to new brands and ideas, all kinds of technical blogging information that I either didn't know or had known in a past life and forgotten. For instance, as a blogger, I want to rank high in search engine results for recipes, travel articles etc - it's called SEO. I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT SEO.
HOW COULD A BLOGGER FORGET ABOUT SEO?! WTF?????
Then there were the things that weren't really taught in the sessions...like how important friendships are. I mean, I already knew this, of course, but after spending a week with some very old and dear friends, and making new friends - it was so refreshing. I felt like I was actually on a vacation with my girlfriends.
I came home from the retreat with a newfound zest for blogging. I actually like what I am doing again...I'm waking up most mornings and pumping out content, excited about what I am doing!
It's such a great feeling!