A little less than two years ago, I launched Grit & Banter. I was nervous to start a blog. Nonetheless, I gathered my courage and decided it was time to stop procrastinating.
I was just going to do it. And I did.
There were some false starts and it was challenging to get into a rhythm. I still sometimes struggle to juggle everything. While I’ve written about all my hesitations and the process of getting G&B off the ground before, what I haven’t really talked about is how the simple act of starting a blog wound up altering my entire career path.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t create this blog with the intent of it being a revenue-earner. It still isn’t really a source of income. (I don’t hawk products, I don’t have affiliate links, I’m not a fashion or beauty blogger). And yet – all my hours of refining my writing, of learning WordPress and SEO, of using data to inform and tweak my content – have started to pay off. They are marketable skills that people will hire you to apply to their companies.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve spent my entire post-graduate career working in nonprofit development. Translation: I’m a fundraiser. I have LOVED this career path and probably always will. I’ve met the most remarkable people, worked with the most brilliant teams, and reported to the most savvy leadership. More importantly, I’ve served the most inspirational communities, volunteers, and donors.
I have had more fun in this line of work than most people have in their entire professional lifetime.
I’ve been fully satisfied in my career thus far. But I am also a person who always wants to learn more. So I started blogging, partially as a creative outlet. The other motivation was to learn more about the world of content marketing, which many nonprofits are only beginning to properly utilize. The deeper I went, the more my passion and interest for it grew.
Thankfully, I’ve always had bosses who have encouraged me to learn what I can and apply it to my job. They have given me the flexibility and creative license to incorporate my ideas into the greater sphere of fundraising. In fact, it is primarily thanks to their willingness to empower me that I find myself where I am today . . .
Just a few weeks ago I made a semi-insane career leap and decided to officially step into the family business: a construction company that we’ve owned and operated for over 70 years, and to which I’ve devoted much of my spare time.
It was a very difficult decision to take a step away from a field that I know I love (not to mention the best company for which I’ve ever worked). But contributing to my family’s business has been a very meaningful experience thus far.
Luckily, I’ve been able to continue working in the nonprofit field. Thanks to an incredible boss who understands my “family first” motivation, I get to do both! I’m staying on at my current nonprofit in a new, part-time capacity: Communications Consultant.
Finally, I’ve been able to spend a little bit more time working on my freelance writing. I’ve gotten to further develop my portfolio, and collaborate with and learn from editors, consultants, and marketers whose skills vastly outshine mine.
Yet the truly crazy part? None of it would have been possible without two years of blogging under my belt.
The lessons I’ve learned through trial-and-error on my own social platforms; via every bit of professional development I could get my hands on; through free webinars, YouTube videos, books, and podcasts; continuing education classes, paid for with my freelance income; the countless Saturdays spent holed up in a coffee shop somewhere trying to troubleshoot my website; the free writing I did as a guest blogger for other sites. All of these pieces built a skill set that is valuable not only in the nonprofit sector, but to my family’s business, and even in a freelance capacity.
I don’t have it all figured out – not by a long shot. I still have so much to learn. I’m certain that this won’t be the last twist in my career path. It’s only through circumstance (family business, prior full-time employer offering part-time, freelancing as needed), that I’m even able to take this chance. Or rather, circumstance and my insistence upon seizing every darn opportunity that’s come my way – and upon making my own opportunities when necessary.
Those years of pushing myself to learn new skills and take on projects that often demanded another 20-40 hours of work outside of my full-time job are now proving to be worthwhile.
Businesses are actually paying me to do what I love: create meaningful content that showcases their strengths, shares their missions, and establishes their thought leadership.
So be bold, friends.
There is a great, big, terrifying, incredible world of opportunity out there. And it isn’t simply going to fall into your lap.
Take the leap, and direct your own destiny.
If there isn’t a clear-cut path, then forge one.
And don’t forget to be very, very thankful for all the people who’ve put their faith in you along the way, who’ve taught you important skills and been even more important examples of extraordinary leaders, and who’ve given you opportunities that you may have earned – but that you certainly aren’t owed.