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!
Many things to be cheerful about. Good luck with growing your blog.
Thanks so much!
Brilliant post, Jane. You’ve made such fantastic progress with Maflingo in a very short space of time. Blogging is not an easy career move and takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication to make it work. I too changed careers and, like you, instantly became happier doing something more creative. Having flexibility and the ability to be creatively expressive is wonderful and whether anyone reads it or not is, well, a bonus! I wish you lots of happiness in your blogging career along with continued and undoubted increasing success. 🙂
Donna, thanks so much for your lovely comments, you got me all emotional! Thanks so much for your encouragement and support! I look forward to seeing where your cycling takes you next! 🙂
As usual bringing up the rear on catching up with your blog. Much of the computer speak is lost on me so hope you get this. Loved your home and family and Uncle Billy (such a sad loss) Here are a couple of things for Room 101 from me to you.
Agree with the shop assistant given change – but its the trainer or whatever eejit thought up this whole process of handling money and given change. – so frustrating – bin it I say.
Also one of my pet hates automated phone responses press 1 if you want…. 2….. etc especially for those of us who are have hearing problems (doubly frustrating)
Recently hospitals have sent me letters “ring if you want an appointment” – not just automated but hanging on for 10-20 mins its expensive – just send me an appointment please.
Good luck with your blog and will check in when I can. Going to see your lovely mum at the weekend Much love to you and yours Pauline
Hi Pauline! Thanks so much for your Room 101 contributions. Grrrr! THose automated telephone things! Yep, they are going in!
Welcome to reasons to be cheerful! What a super post and I am so jealous of that room ;=)
HI, great to meet you. It sounds like you’ve been having a whirlwind of a start to this year. Blogging is very addictive and can be fabulous, it sounds as if it is suiting you well right now. I’ve fallen in and out of love with it over the last eight years. Mich x #R2Bc
Good to meet you, Michelle. Wow, 8 years! I can imagine there would be highs and lows over that many years. I hope I can keep up my momentum!
Oh what a wonderful, lovely and positive post! I love a post like this, where we learn more about the person behind the blog. You sound like you are on an amazing journey. Lots of exciting times ahead 🙂
Aw, thanks Emma! That really means a lot. I loooove your blog so I’m glad this hit the spot. I think there will be a few more ‘person behind the blog ones’ from me…And possibly a person in front of a video camera…If I can bear to edit it and share it with the world 😉 I know, what you mean, though, because I love finding out more about the writers…Maybe I’m just nosy!!
Hi Jane popping over from Mich’s R2BC link up. I’m pleased to hear you’re having fun and enjoying blogging it’s so nice to hear, I hope it’s successful and you get lots of joy from it 🙂 it is lovely having a comment, I do agree, I don’t get many as I don’t join link ups anymore only Michelle’s one, personal choice though! If you’re on Bloglovin I will follow you such a lovely space you have made for yourself in this corner of the web 🙂 lots of reasons to be cheerful all so simple and wonderful yet are easily overlooked! Xx Hannah
Thanks so much for your lovely encouraging comments. I’ve only just discovered Michelle’s link. It fitted this post perfectly.
I have learned so much about myself from blogging, it has been such a surprising journey. I love your extension it’s so chic and serene and the dedication to Uncle Billy is beautiful #fortheloveofBLOG
Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Charlene.
Oh jane this was so uplifting to red – so much to be thankful for – it’s refreshing to hear! I love your space you’ve created and your style is beautiful. I’m also only 5 months in to blogging and I too just adore the blogging community and the friends I have made here – never realised that existed. I, too, enjoy the creative element – my previous job was a non medic public health practitioner for the Health Protection Agency but with all the out of hours work it wasn’t practical with the children so I left 5 years ago but knew I needed to be creative in some way – so so glad I found blogging! Thank you for some fab reading material whilst I’m sat here drinking my morning coffee #fortheloveofBLOG
Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Helen. Your kind words made my day. We have so much in common and I am glad you understand how special it is to be creative again. I feel so alive doing this! Thanks for stopping by!
This is a great post. You have put in a lot of hard work and you have gotten a wonderful blog out of it.
Your house looks amazing! I can see why you are so happy writing there.
Hope everything goes well for you.
Thanks, Ali. I appreciate your kind words.
Well done on your achievements so far. You write like a blogger that has been around a while. There is lots to learn about blogging. But isn’t it fun learning along the way? I love blogging its just such an amazing outlet. xx
Thanks for your lovely comment, Rachel. I have just got back from blogcamp today and it was fun learning even more things! My brain is bursting though! SO much to do, so little time.
just popping back again to comment for #KCACOLS xx
Hi Jane, what a thoughtful and well written post. You should be so proud of what you have achieved in such a short space of time. I am already going to predict you will fulfil your dreams in blogging. #KCACOLS
Oh thank you, Fiona! I really appreciate your encouraging words. I do hope I can make it.
Great post – I’m a new blogger (started in December 2015) and I’m learning the ropes as well. It really has been (and continues to be) a challenge to learn everything and find my footing in the blogging world. Good for you for knowing that you needed to make a career change – I struggled with that for a very long time and I’m now in a much better place career wise. #KCACOLS
We started at more or less the same time then! There is so much to learn. I went to Blogcamp on Saturday and came back with an even longer list of things I needed to do! I’m even more excited about it, though!
Jane, hats off for making such an important decision and sticking by it – i.e leaving your job after so long. I can imagine it wasn’t an easy decision. I absolutely LOVE your extension and the colour scheme 🙂 one of my faves at the mo. We hope to move soon and this type of open plan at the back of the house is exactly what I want 🙂 its taken us two years to find a house where we could do this 🙂 #KCACOLS
Thanks, Emma. We are so delighted with the colours and we were certainly inspired by the lovely grey and yellow colour schemes we discovered on other websites too.
Your space you’ve created is beautiful and it looks like you have so much to be grateful and thankful for. It’s so important to remember to be thankful every day, we have so much even when we think we need a lot more. #fortheloveofblog
First, what a simply beautiful space to be working from. I can understand you not wanting to leave that and go off to a dreary pharmacy everyday.
Second: Congratulations on diving headfirst into the world of blogging. It seems that you’re well on your way to being a household name in the blogging world. Thank you so much for your passion, and thank you for sharing #KCACOLS
Jason, thanks so much for your lovely words…Such an encouragement to me. I am going to pop over and have a look at your blog, ‘Tassiedad.’
What a great post. I thought you’d been writing for a lot longer than 5 months! You’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time!
Your house looks like a really great place to write and the memorial to your Uncle is such a lovely tribute.
Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday 🙂
Thanks so much, Laura, I appreciate your comments.
Love the extension, and what a lovely idea to have a dedication in there as well. Good luck with the blogging and will be back to see how you get on. #KCACOLS #triballove
Thank you very much, Elaine.
Lovely post! I started blogging a month month and I have been on it since, making all possible efforts to make it work. I am using free WP as of now, but planning to get my own domain by the end of this month. I can relate to you, as I left my career in law to blog and I thank my family and esp my hubby who has faith in me. Cheers!
Another ‘kindred spirit’ (Anne of Green Gables phrase)! We are very blessed to have such support, aren’t we?
A lovely blog post and a lovely way to introduce yourself too. I think that people start writing blogs with a much clearer idea of what they are doing than when I began back in 2009. I just set it up one day with no clear idea except that I wanted somewhere to write. And I’m still here today. The very best of luck with your blogging journey x
I’m glad you popped over to comment. I’m just about to go and read your latest post and I have a really encouraging thing to share with you that happened to me today when I met some parents of a young man with Asperger’s and another child with special needs. It made me think of you. Jane x
I am so glad that I found your post on #KCACOLS as I have just started my own blog recently. I really enjoy reading about how others get started at it and keep it going. I definitely learned a few things from your post.
I hope that the blog works out for you and helps you gain that creative outlet you were looking for.
Thanks, Sarah. I’ve been blessed by such lovely comments from people! I really want to find more time to visit everyone else’s blogs. I popped over to yours. It looks great. Did you co to TOTS100 blogcamp? If you didn’t, CRAFT and FOOD is Soooooo popular amongst blog readers. If you keep up with your creative posts I am sure you will be drawing more and more folks to your site. All the best. Jane
I jumped right into blogging and started to learn as I went along – and I’m still learning, and I love that! I love to learn. I wish I had more time, but I’m doing as much as I can fit into the time I do have, so I’m pretty efficient (on good days!) I look forward to your future posts and good luck with your blog! X #KCACOLS
I’m loving the fact this post has uncovered lots of other newish bloggers like myself who have so many similar stories to recount. Thanks for popping over to visit and for your encouraging words. I hope you continue to enjoy your own blogging journey.
Well done for making so much progress and learning so much so quickly. It sounds like you’re having an amazing adventure 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
This is such an inspirational post! Such a brave step to give up a steady career to persue something new and unknown. I’m an engineer, and I crave doing something more creative. Unfortunately I’m not in the position at the moment to take a gamble, but maybe one day.
I’m a fellow newbie blogger, started in march. Got loads to learn…
Your extension is beautiful, by the way! I’d never want to leave 🙂
Thanks very much. I hope that your blog leads you in a new direction and you do get the chance to explore a more creative career. I’m still fairly new myself but if you ever have any questions then you only have to ask! 🙂
I too have only been blogging for a few months. The first thing I learned was the time, wow! So much more than I thought, and yet, I love it all. I love that you described it like a cliff, so accurate! I love the fonts and theme you picked. The photos you use are so pretty. Great job on overcoming the challenges, it is work and yet rewarding. 🙂 I hope you continue to enjoy your journey. #KCACOLS
Jen, Thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comments about my post and also my website. 🙂
I have just popped across to yours to have a nosey! I love the whole ‘Practical, By Default’ idea. It is such a great niche and there is so much you can do to help folks with practical advice. I like things practical and easy to action….I spotted the slow cooker tips straight away. I LOOOOVVEE my slow cooker. In fact, I can smell a ham joint that’s in it today as I type away at my island unit in the kitchen.
I admire you as a mum who has chosen homeschooling! Wow, I’m sure that’s a lot of work and challenging too.
I popped to your about page and discovered you live in Canada. How wonderful! I have always wanted to visit or hire a camper and make a family tour of it.
You have made a fantastic start with your blog and look forward to seeing more of your posts.
What a gorgeous inspiring post! I’m a newbie blogger (3 months) and glad I stumbled upn your blog. Off to have a mooch at your posts #KCACOLS xx
Thanks so much, ‘Mrs T.’ I hope you like what you see. Feedback and tips are greatly appreciated. I am off to visit yours!
What a fabulous post. I recently changed jobs from working over 50 hours a week to just 16 for many reasons, my desire to write being one of them and I’m so much happier now and I’m so glad it was the right decision for you too. I look forward to seeing how you progress and grow #kcacols
Thanks, Tracey. It is so lovely to hear so many similar stories to mine. I hope you never look back and you go from strength to strength! Popping over to check out your Kitchen Wishlist!
Wow Jane! This is such a brilliant post, you are a very brave lady leaving your job to pursue your dream – that is one big step, and having such a supportive family is brilliant. In 5 months you have done so well with your blog, I actually thought that you had been blogging for longer! Like you I really enjoy looking at my stats, and seeing how my blog has improved since putting it live, and if my TOTS100 and Parent Blogger Leaderboard score has increased, as well as checking my site visits daily – it’s good to know that our blogs are improving and driving traffic. The social media aspect will come, my one piece of advice would be not to get too overwhelmed with it as it is quite time consuming. I love your conservatory, I’m a massive fan of yellow and grey at the moment. This is a great post, with a lovely sentiment. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
Hi Claire. Thanks for hosting #fortheloveofBLOG and for taking the time to make such an encouraging and helpful comment 🙂
It is a bit addictive and a complete time-sink at the minute…Just trying to get to grips with affiliate marketing. Nightmare!
In some ways I wish I could start again with my blog and know what I know now at the beginning but it’s all a learning curve I guess. I wish I can more time to work on it. It has to fit in as and when I have the time and motivation.
Your home is beautiful. I’m not surprised it’s been featured! #KCACOLS
Hi Becky. Thanks for your lovely comments. It is such a time sink, isn’t it? I don’t think you can ever stop spending time on it. There is always something to do! If you weren’t at blogcamp, Mel at lecoindemel and Aby at Youbabymemummy did great talks on trying to save time whilst blogging. I think they have posted them to their websites. I thought they were really helpful xx
I’ve been blogging in earnest for around 18 months now (by ‘earnest’ I mean regular posting, promotion and ‘reaching out’). Like you, I’ve experienced that learning curve that could give you whiplash if you let it! I absolutely love blogging and all that comes with it and still think it’s crazy how addictive it is! #kcacols
Carol, it is very addictive! That’s why I am still typing away now!
Such a fantastic first 5 months, well done you! I really hope you achieve all of your blogging dreams and more! Good luck in your little journey, you are doing fab so far! #KCACOLS xx
What a lovely read! I love reading stories about people making that huge decision to leave a job that’s just draining their happiness, and taking some control back. Really sounds like you made the right decision! x #KCACOLS
Thanks so much Madeline. I really hope so!
What a lovely post, so full of happiness and energy! It’s been great to meet you and see your blog absolutely flying. I would love to go back to the heady early days of blogging discovery, although there is ALWAYS something new to learn as you have discovered. I love the story behind the space, what a lovely way to remember Uncle Billy, I am sure he would be very proud of your achievements xx Thanks for joining #happyandhome
Thanks for all of your encouragement and support, Penny, and for hosting #Happyandhome.