On blogging and being thankful.
The story so far…
It’s five months since I started my blogging adventure. It seems like a good time to reflect on life after pharmacy and tell you why I’m a thankful blogger.
As I sit at my laptop in our extension and think about my life and the opportunity I have been given to explore more creative options such as my writing, I feel thankful. I feel grateful. More than that, I feel blessed.
As many of you will know, I left my twenty year pharmacy career at the end of last year. It was a tough decision and one that I wrestled with for a long time. But, at the end of the day I was becoming increasingly unhappy in my job and no matter how lovely my work colleagues were and how reassuring it was to have a regular wage, I couldn’t carry on as I was.
There were many reasons I was unhappy in my job, but the lack of creativity was certainly one of them. I was desperate for a job that would allow me to embrace things that, until now, had simply been my passions and hobbies: writing, photography, sewing, creative things and thriftiness. I know it isn’t always possible to have a job you love and you certainly can’t expect a job that reflects your interests but I was determined to try and find something that fed the creative side of my nature.
Now here I am, five months later, and I’m writing a blog, (as well as doing a bit of photography, sewing and debt counselling). I’ve been busy. In fact, I’ve never stopped! Plus, I’ve learned lots of new skills and faced new challenges along the way. I still have lots to learn but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
I don’t regret my decision to leave my career. In fact, a few days after I resigned, I was tidying the house and had to stop for a minute because I felt overwhelmed. The reason? I could actually feel myself becoming happier.
I miss my colleagues but I don’t miss pharmacy.
So I’m a blogger, or as I like to call myself, a ‘virtual’ writer. I’m in my element. I love writing and I love having a creative outlet.
I didn’t know much about blogging before I started, let alone if I could make a bit of pocket money from it or possibly earn a living from it. So far, I haven’t earned a penny from blogging, but then I didn’t expect to, at least not yet.
I am giving myself twelve months. I can look at the year ahead in two ways. It can either be a ‘career break’, where I explore blogging and see whether I can make something of it. Or, I can see it as a business venture, where I make an investment in terms of time, money and resources and hope that with hard work and determination I can make a return on my investment.
Whether it’s a career break or a new venture, I really do want to make it work. It would be amazing to have my passion and my hobby become my job or at least a springboard to more creative opportunities. So I am pressing on, determined to make a go of it. My inherent fear of failure being a powerful, motivating factor! Plus, once I get the hang of things and my work flow is more efficient, I hope to have much more time to spend with my family.
What have I learned?
At the moment, the hours I’ve spent setting up my website and adding content have been longer than the hours I worked as a part-time pharmacist…Much longer. I never realised how much work is involved in building a website, creating content, writing blog posts and attracting readers to my site via social media and by linking to other blogs. I certainly didn’t expect the learning curve to be so steep. To be honest, it’s more like a cliff face than a curve!
It hasn’t been plain sailing, either. There have been challenges and numerous technical glitches along the way. So far I have managed to overcome them…Or I’ve spoken to someone who can!
All in all, when I look back over the last five months, I can’t help feeling a bit ‘chuffed’ at how much I have actually learned and accomplished. I’ve:
- Deciding on and purchasing a domain name.
- Set up a self-hosted website and installed WordPress, installed a theme and added more programmes and apps (Plugins) to make sure the website runs smoothly and does all the things I need it to do.
- Designing my own ‘Maflingo’ logo.
- Customised the ‘look’ of my website and filled it with content.
- Learned how to secure and back-up my website and protect it from spam.
- Familiarised myself with all kinds of new jargon and tools that can help me to develop my website and increase my audience, e.g. RTs (Retweets), SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), DA (Domain authority).
- Set up social media accounts for my website, including: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Stumbleupon.
The social media aspect is the one that still needs the most work! Before I started blogging, I only had a personal Facebook account that I rarely used. That was the sum of my social media experience; hardly ‘down with the kids.’
These last few months I’ve had to learn the value of a hashtag and how the ‘@’ symbol works. I’m learning how to harness the power of social media to reach new readers and engage with them. Plus, I’ve tried to acquaint myself with social media etiquette and the importance of networking.
One of the best bits of my ‘blogging adventure’ so far has been discovering lots of fantastic blogs and getting to know other bloggers. I’ve found it to be a friendly and supportive online community where people have been so generous with their advice, encouragement and time. Also, as a creative person, it’s been wonderful to immerse myself in a creative world. It’s a million miles away from my pharmacy career. I look forward to getting to know my blogging colleagues better as there are some very talented writers out there. In fact, one of my goals this year is to visit some of the blogs that have been shortlisted for the 2016 BritMums’ Brilliance in Blogging awards, (See my earlier post, The Bibs Shortlist: The Perfect Reading List).
Another wonderful aspect of blogging is the way I can engage with all of you and with other writers. I love the fact that writing a blog is a dialogue, not a monologue. It’s a conversation between us: I write, and I’m delighted to say, some of you comment. It’s such a fantastic feeling when even one of you goes to the trouble of commenting or ‘liking’ something I have written. Thank you.
My old maths teacher would be delighted to hear me say that I’m loving all the blogging statistics. There’s something exciting about looking at my ‘site statistics’ to see how many views my posts are getting. I also eagerly anticipate the publication of the HIBS100 index (Home and interiors blogs) and the TOTS100 index (parent blogs) each month to see if I have managed to move up the ‘blogging charts’.
It’s still early days but it’s great to see my little blog work its way up the charts from its modest place in the 1000’s. I’ve also been honoured to have some of my posts and makeovers featured on the TOTS100 and HIBS100 websites this year. I really do hope I can continue to make progress, but only time will tell. I can only do my best.
Reasons to be thankful.
As I reflect on these last five months, I have a lot of reasons to be thankful.
It’s so easy to take things for granted, isn’t it? To forget all the blessings we have in our lives that others can only dream of. For a start, simply by being born in the UK, we have a huge advantage over many other people in this world. Yet, all too often we can fall into the trap of looking up the ladder at the folks who seem to have so much more than us. We find ourselves envious of their talents, their lives, their ‘stuff’. Every now and again I put things into perspective and remind myself how much I have and how blessed I am. I’ve certainly been thinking of that since leaving work.
Instead of looking at those further up the ladder, I tell myself to look down instead. In doing so, I’m reminded that there are millions of people who, through no fault of their own are many, many more rungs further down the ladder than me: materially, physically, geographically, relationally.
We have so much to be thankful for, don’t we?
So what am I thankful for?
Let me count my blessings: my family; my friends; good health; the place that I live; my faith.
I’m thankful for answers to prayer, most recently in the form of financial gifts from family members (mum, dad, Janet, Billy) who have helped to make the impossible, possible. We have been given more than we could ask for or imagine.
And as I sit here, typing away on my laptop, I feel thankful that I’ve been able to leave a job that was making me unhappy to pursue something different. I can only do it because I am blessed to have a loving husband and kids, who believe in my abilities and who are supporting me as I take a career break and see if writing is where my future lies. If it isn’t, then perhaps I can expand my role as a Debt Advisor (either voluntary as I do now or in a paid role). That way I can feed my other passion of helping people manage their money rather than having their money manage them.
So, as I write, the sun flooding this beautiful new extension with light, I look up at the dedication we placed on the wall when it was finally complete. I feel thankful, I feel grateful, I feel blessed.
This space was made possible because of a person who isn’t here to see it and how much it means to us. My much loved Uncle Billy died suddenly a few years ago and he is sorely missed. He would have loved to see how much we appreciate this space and how much we use it.
He would love to know that it’s one of my favourite places to work, and that we have shared it with so many others already, for meals and special occasions. I think he’d have loved to sit in the comfy armchair and look beyond the glass doors to our garden, filled with flowers and all kinds of birds, (he would know the names of all of them too).
Thank you, Uncle Billy for this beautiful space…
And thank you, mum, for making sure we can enjoy this gift now.
A final thank you.
Finally, I want to thank you for stopping by, whether it’s your first time or whether you have followed me from the start. I really do appreciate you taking the time to visit, to read, to comment and to share my posts with others. For my part, I hope I can give you more and more reasons to keep coming back.
Over to you.
Are you a newbie blogger like me? How are you getting on? What do you think of your experiences so far and what are your best bits?
What are you thankful for? What makes you happy? Have you, like us, ever been the recipient of an unexpected gift that has made a difference to you?
As always, I would love to hear from you.
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Thanks so much for reading!