It’s hard to believe my blogging journey started more than 15 years ago as a tech project for a volunteer program with my sorority, but later grew into me starting my own web hosting company.
It all started on a little online space called Xanga, which b-t-dubs still exists today, in it’s new form as a white labeled WordPress multisite. Like many of my peers at that time, I started blogging as a hobby. I was a volunteer, not yet a member with the illustrious sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Delta Academy, a youth program for girls. Our focus then and still remains, encouraging and developing women for leadership. Historically STEM fields has lacked female representation and so we decided to tackle that issue head on and at full speed. I was tasked with teaching technology to our little dream catchers. I would provide a thought provoking prompt, and for 30 minutes each time we’d meet, we would write and respond to each other’s entries. I didn’t realize it then, but now I know that was when and where I entered the new world of journalism.
Not all educators are writers, but all writers are educators. I’ve always been a writer and I come from a long line of educators, particularly one very famous one, you may have heard of named Mamie Till Mobley. My cousin Mamie, mostly known for being the mother of Emmett Till, was a teacher for the Chicago Public school system. Her and her husband, Gene taught me from a young age that education is the passport to the future. I learned many lessons from them before they passed on and was fortunate to accomplish the one true desire they held for me, receiving a college degree. After spending my final semester in Washington, D.C. as an intern for the American Prospect Magazine and a visiting student at American University, I graduated from Millikin University in Decatur, IL with a B.A. in English: Writing. The first financial contribution to my college fund came from Mamie and Gene. I published a book, 1 memorial website and a blog all about our story here.
Stepping off campus with my degree and sorority networks to back me up in one hand and a dream to be an award winning writer in the other, I began my career, but it didn’t start out in the newsroom, the way I’d hoped. I struggled to find a job out of college in my field. As my professors joked in college, “People don’t retire from their jobs in journalism; the only way in is if someone dies.” Fortunately for me, I got my foot in the door as a Office Manager for the Columbus office of the Call & Post, the historical newspaper owned by the infamous boxing promoter, Don King. Shortly after being hired, I made a beeline to their news department and introduced myself to all of the editors. Some were polite, others grumpy, but all assured me they would throw a few pieces my way should an opportunity come up. Over the year, I wrote and had a few successfully published freelance articles, even landed an article in Diverse Issues In Higher Education, but the one writing experience that stands out is my rebuttal to a very pompous, haughty-toity religious columnist. His piece was centered in male privilege and reeked of patriarchy. Of course, I couldn’t let that slide… Yo’ girl went in on him! I wrote an opinion piece that would lead to me launching my first real blog, Cup of Expresso, a faith-based relationship and lifestyle blog.
Cup of Expresso was a very short-lived blog. I was inconsistent and saw it purely as a hobby. My interests were on other topics and I truly wanted to see my name in ink, not across the screen. I was young and naive and that came through in my relationship advice. It was clear that I needed more experience and as the elders say, to “keep living”. I had a very narrow perspective of what I thought real writing was and at the time did not take blogging serious. That was my first mistake!
Looking back at the longevity and popularity of advice columns, not to mention the sensational stories that merging the topics of religion and dating have given us, I probably could have done really well with that blog had I just stuck with it… Darn it!
After one year at the Call & Post, I was laid off. I really didn’t have any intentions on staying longer that that because I had just been accepted into a graduate program at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. The gap year and all my reflective blogging with Cup of Expresso had done a lot to help me grow personally, professionally and spiritually. Ready for my next chapter, I packed my things and moved south. During my grad school years, I didn’t get much time to blog. I was doing a lot of writing though. I sure do remember writing lots of research papers, that’s for sure!
I made my way back to blogging, and this time for good, through my love of makeup. I started Blushing Ambers, a makeup enthusiast blog with video tutorials, product reviews and before and after photos. YouTube started getting big and that was my main social media marketing platform. I competed in two video contests and won an iPad from one and years worth of makeup in the other. I was even published and featured on Essence.com. Blushing Ambers was my first eCommerce site. The first thing I sold was actually a $7 ebook an instructional guide on how to do makeup. I then began selling products through a very popular MLM company. This changed my whole perspective on blogging. I was actually making real money. My mom, wanting to be supportive of this new venture, bought me my first blogging book, “ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income” and I began implementing everything I read in it.
The more my personal life evolved so did my blog and eventually I was ready for a rebranding. I had bounced around with free hosting from Blogger to Wix to Weebly. I knew if I wanted others to take my blog serious, I needed to take it serious myself and that started with creating a domain name and paid hosting services. I relaunched my blog as FaithFitBeauty, a faith inspired health and wellness membership site. Just what I needed as I was out of work and had been laid off for the second time. Not only did I sell makeup, I made money selling other things, too. I earned supplemental income from affiliate sales and wholesale items like waist trainers, but I was creating my own products and that’s what taught me, it’s not hard to make money in these online streets. You just need to be sure of your audience and give the people what they want. I was on a journey to discover my greatest physical potential and competing as an NPC bikini competitor. People wanted to follow my weight-loss journey for inspiration, but really loved (and paid for) my monthly meal plans, workout routines, downloads, audios and private group membership phone calls.<
Since starting FaithFitBeauty, I’ve launched 4 or 5 other blogs (including this one) for myself and helped friends launch theirs, too. I love blogging so much that I’ve decided to launch an internet company, Hello Ambi Designs & Hosting to help other creatives who aren’t as tech savvy as me be successful online.
In all my blogging, I’ve learned three main things about myself and the blogging process.
- Don’t Focus on Time Wasting Activities. Spending too much time doing the wrong things will have you busy but not profitable. Don’t worry about crunching numbers all day long, just commit to the process and stay consistent. Stop day dreaming, doing “research” and listening to other people’s podcasts/reading their blogs. There is a such thing as reading too much. When you’re constantly searching for free resources you’re not creating any content of your own. Consumption of too much content leads to too many ideas and not enough focus on completing revenue generating activities. Focus on what brings you results.
- If you are a hard worker but lack self-belief, you won’t win. At times I simply couldn’t get out of my own head. I thought, “I’m no expert”, “I’ve got too much debt to be spending money on blogging” “I need a real job”. I kept asking myself, “Is this going to work?” This was fear of failure, fear of being broke and fear of wasting time or being behind in life. I was basically questioning if I was worth it… over and over again. Worthy or my dreams, worthy of financial freedom. All of which I can now tie to my money story. Our experiences with money teach us the value of things and ourselves. You’ve got to work all of that out if you’re going to focus on building a business with blogging.
- Quitting too soon will be your biggest regret. I don’t know about you but I hate having to start all over… Have you ever lost weight and gained the pounds back? How did that make you feel? If you’re anything like me, you’re were probably thinking about what quitting cost you… money, time, and energy. In my case, I even lost followers, luckily once I started Blushing Ambers, I had enough sense to start an email list, so I was able to rebrand myself over and over again. Still, quitting ate away at my confidence in the long run.