This week I celebrated 5 years of blogging full time, and if you know me, you know that I love celebrating milestones and achievement, no matter what they are! Looking back on the last 5 years, I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve made mistakes, hit walls, and yes, I have most definitely considered “just going and getting a real job” several times. A few things cross my mind when I reminisce about the last 5 years, and because I’m all about transparency and insight, I thought I would share some of those things today (and PS- there may be something special for wedding pros at the end of this post).
I remember that day in April when I sat down at my desk, and looking back now, my goodness did I have high hopes. I made my list of things to do, and was ready to start projects, schedule meetings, and blog blog blog. Truth be told, I was in for a rude awakening. I struggled for a good 2 years, fighting with my expectation of what constituted a “successful day”. I would look at my To Do list, and feel like a complete failure because I only got 1 or 2 things crossed off. I would always have the goal to be 2 weeks ahead in blog posts- which never (and still hasn’t) happened. I would spend whole entire days being sucked into social media. One day I even spent the whole day obsessing and over thinking about a negative comment on a blog post.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it took me a few years to get my feet on the ground as a “full time” wedding blogger. A good deal of this was my own fault though, and I’m hoping that be sharing, someone will learn from my mistake.
My big problem as that I had created this vision in my head of what being a “full time wedding blogger” would look like. In a perfect world, I would be looking through gorgeous submissions all day, styling shoots every month, and blogging every day. The truth is far from that y’all. After about 2 years of feeling like a constant failure, I finally threw away that “ideal day”. I realized that wasn’t how things would happen for me and my business. I stopped feeling like a failure, and just accepted that how I work might not be “normal”. I’ve embraced what works for me and as a result, it keeps me loving what I do.
Although, if you ask me today, I’ll tell you that I still feel like I don’t have things completely figured out- which is (personal tidbit time) one of the reasons why we don’t have kids yet. It’s been my goal for the past 5 years to not work into the evening. I still haven’t hit that goal. The reality is, even 5 years in, I’m still working 12 hour days, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning (one of those main reasons being that I decided to start another company with my friends too). There are never enough hours in a day or days in a week. Emails, texts, and phone calls go unanswered, and I joke that one of the only ways to truly get a hold of me is to show up at my door (sadly the truth). But it’s okay, because I know that business ownership is a constant learning experience, trying new things, evaluating what works and what doesn’t work, and always growing and changing.
All this has been brought about by me recognizing (and celebrating) my “Full time” anniversary. But you know what the funny thing about the term “full time” is? When it applies to business owners it usually doesn’t represent actual full time hours- because the amount of hours that a business owner works are typically far more than what a full time job entails. What “full time” does represent for a business owner is that their business replaces another job and provides the business owner’s income. That saying that you’ve likely seen or heard, “An entrepreneur works 80 hours a week just so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else” could not be more true!
Thankfully, I’ve been “full time” ever since that day in April 2011, but I’m sure as many business owners know, it hasn’t been all cake and flowers (I wish). And while I’m definitely a proud small business owner, when people ask me what I do- even after 5 years- I still hesitate to respond with “I’m a wedding blogger.” I usually start by saying that I own my own business, and then say that I run a website, and then if they ask, I eventually share that it’s a wedding blog. Maybe it’s because many people hear the word “blogger” and immediately think of a hobbyist, or the fashion bloggers on the news that bring in $20,000 for a social media post. Maybe it’s because I’ll never forget when I met someone who said, “So I hear you have a wedding blog. That must be so much fun.” To which I responded with, “Yeah, I love it. It’s a lot of work, but it pays the bills.” And her response: “Oh wow, so it’s like your JOB?” It’s something that I’ve wrestled with for years, and as each day passes by, I get closer and closer to “owning” what I do every day as a wedding blogger.
Of course, many people just see all the pretty and the social media that goes along with a wedding blog, and think that we just do it for fun. I mean, sure, it’s definitely a lot more fun than a normal job, but it also costs a lot of money to run and takes more hours than we have available in a day. A wedding blog is a business just like any other business, and it is paying bills and putting food on our tables. In my case specifically, I have supported my husband and I with Every Last Detail for all 5 years that I have been blogging full time. I now have 3 people on my “team” on a part-time basis, and have the responsibility of paying them, in addition to myself. This website that you’re on is a business, and a very real business at that.
The decision to go full time with my wedding blog was one that was based on deciding to offer a type of advertising that is common to the wedding world- a vendor directory. I was doing a re-design of my site back in 2011 (just before going “full time”), and I’ll never forget that moment when my designer asked me, “So you mentioned maybe wanting to do a vendor guide. Do you want to move forward with that?” I was driving in to work (a job as a planner and designer, which was amazing) for another 12 hour day. I had never planned on a career as a wedding blogger- I thought I was working towards starting a wedding planning business. But it was that moment that I realized that if I worked really hard and put myself out there, I could turn this blog into my business and replace the income of my full time job. My personal goal had become educating brides, and a lightbulb turned on- I could reach more brides through a website than I would be able to reach in a local wedding market! And all at the same time, I could do the other thing that I love- help wedding professionals.
In my case, having been a wedding vendor myself, I knew that I wanted to offer something more than a one-sided directory listing, which is the norm for “vendor guides”. As time progressed, The V List (formally Every Last Vendor) developed. I decided that what I wanted to provide was active marketing, and not just a stagnant ad. I didn’t want people to just pay me and then receive nothing but an ad in return. I wanted to do whatever I could do on my end to make sure I was providing something of value to professionals. I wanted to make sure those paying me received a higher level of consideration when it came to getting featured on ELD. I wanted to develop relationships with those people, and facilitate relationships between them as well. And so, the Every Last Detail “vendor guide” evolved into more of a marketing service than a directory listing- what is today known as a V List Membership.
Now I’ll be honest- it has been incredibly difficult to break free of the typical stereotype of “vendor guide”. There were many that came before me who offered nothing of substance in return for money that a wedding pro paid them. In fact, many of my competitors still do that, and I’m constantly fighting that comparison and that view of “vendor guides”. Could I just knock down my prices and just offer a profile, nothing else included? Sure. But quite honestly, that doesn’t work for me, and just as I had to throw away my flawed concept of an “ideal day”, I did away with trying to fit into the “norm” of what I offer as a publication. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, because now I can sleep at night, knowing that I and my team are working hard for those who support ELD. It’s what what keeps me going.
All this to say that I am truly indebted to those business owners who have worked with us at Every Last Detail. They have helped me find my passion and do what I love. Friends, I encourage you to support your fellow business owners (wedding bloggers included) in whatever way you can. By doing so, you help them put food on their table, and hopefully you will also be supported by them. Support is the best gift you could ever give anyone, and in my opinion, the best networking and marketing tool as well.
And now all of this brings me to something special! Wedding business owners, I want to give something back to you, because quite honestly, I would be nowhere without you.
For the rest of this month, in celebration of my 5 year “Full Time” anniversary, I will be offering new members of The V List* the choice of one the following for free:
– 4 extra Instagram posts (4 Instagram posts in addition to the 4 that are already included with membership, $600 value)
– Featured Vendor Upgrade (Have your profile displayed at the top of V List search results for 1 month, $175 value)
– Insight Session (One hour consultation with Lauren on your branding, website, social media, submissions, and more, $195 value)
To take advantage of this special offer, click below to submit your application for The V List- and don’t forget to select which complimentary offer you want!
And of course I most certainly cannot forget about my existing V List members, because y’all are the reason for my thankfulness! If you are an existing member, you will have the opportunity to purchase any of the above offerings at a very discounted rate, OR you can renew your membership early and receive the same as above! See the V List Facebook Group, Instagram page, and your email for details!
Questions? Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And if you want more info about The V List in general, click here!
*Note: This special is only applicable with purchase of an annual membership for $595, and does not apply to our other payment options. Participation in the special is pending approval of application.