I’ve spent a lot of time this month talking about getting started in chasing a dream with the help of Currys PC World and the best technology available to us today. Call it the seven year wisdom share? The ups and downs haven’t made me an expert, by any means, but they have definitely given me a few pointers to pass on for anyone who’s trying to chase a a dream, while still managing the day to day business of life. It’s not easy, but my goodness is it rewarding. So, for those of you stepping out into the great unknown, here are my top tens pearls of wisdom for doing so.
1. Study business
If there is just one thing I could have gone back and done differently with my life, it would be this – I would have taken every business course I could fit in at University. I was a liberal arts major. I had fun learning art history and the art of writing a well composed essay. But, I didn’t listen to anything my economics teacher was trying to tell me. I just crammed for tests, aced the class, and let the knowledge fall right out of my head. Big mistake! If you are going to run your own business, and yes, a blog is a business, you need to know what you are doing. If you are young enough, add some business management classes to your schedule next semester. If you are old, and not so wise, like myself, enroll yourself in an adult education class on business management. It is never too late and this is valuable information you’re seeking. You are investing in your future, no matter what your age. Get out there and get informed!
2. Learn to code.
Alright, so perhaps there are two things I regret in life. If only I had known I would be a blogger by profession! Learning to code… well, there’s nothing I’d recommend more. Well, that and having a great piece of equipment, like a top of the range laptop, to learn to code on (check out my video on what I’m using right now on YouTube… it’s all about the right technology). There are tons of classes out there at the moment that will teach you how to code in a day and will build on your skill level over time. Do it! This is an invaluable resource. You don’t want to be in a position of relying on someone else to fix anything on the site. You’re the maker… be the fixer! We are capable of anything in this world and coding is not rocket science, but it is an acquired skill and one that the world is finding more and more desirable on a CV, let alone for running a blog.
3. Back up and use the best technology available to you.
Oh the stories I could tell you about not backing up my blog, my computer, my phone etc. You would tear up, I kid you not. The tears that have been shed. Back up everything, at least once a week. If you’re totally paranoid, do it at the end of everyday. There is no telling what can happen. Stolen, lost, or hacked technology can mostly be fixed if you’re smart in keeping it all filed. A little organization goes a long way when it comes to backing up! At the moment I use WD Passport portable hard drive by the half dozen to keep everything in my life on record!
And I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again. One of the most important parts of any business today, besides a great entrepreneur behind it, is a reliable family of technology. My laptop is truly my business partner. It allows me to work from anywhere in the world, whether that be 30,000 feet in the sky or sitting in the middle of nowhere on a mountaintop in Switzerland. I’ve used HP Laptops for years and these days technology has come a long way. At present I work with a hybrid, the HP x360 – a laptop and tablet creation – which allows me to work even more efficiently with design applications and in presentations. Never underestimate the power of a great piece of technology in business.
4. Be Grateful. Say Thank you.
When I first started FFG, I wrote a thank you letter to every single person I had breakfast, lunch or dinner with. If they as much as bought me coffee, I would send a hand written note thanking them for their time and their attention. I was grateful to be seen. I was over the moon to be recognized. I was just working gratitude to a level that was unprecedented. I believe in the power of being grateful. It is an energy that you put out into the universe that can’t help but be rewarded. Sure, there are tough times. But, each day that this is my job, I wake up and say “thank you.” I don’t know what else could have been planned for me, but I’m grateful to be here. And, this may sound cheesy, but I actually keep a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet on my computer, even to this day, of people that I still need to thank – whether in a big or small way. They are on a list of people that I think will constantly deserve my gratitude.
And here’s another little trick. Write yourself a letter thanking yourself for all your hard work. Write it when you are feeling your most grateful. Leave it with a trusted friend or parent – someone you speak to regularly – and ask them to do this: In the future, if you ever come across as frustrated or upset, this letter should be put in the post back to you. Let it act as a reminder that there are good and bad days, and that’s expected. But, you should be grateful for each and every one coming to you. Hey, I’m an eternal optimist!
5. Be nice.
I can’t stress this enough, people. There are too many divas in the world. Don’t add to the number. Be the nice one. What harm will it do? Everyone has a job to do and you being difficult just makes anyone’s job that much harder. And trust me, that grief will follow you… and everyone in this industry talks. Keep a smile on your face and trust in the fact that doing so is highly contagious.
6. Demand attention, don’t ask for it.
Ok, you’re going to think this means something else, so let me try and be as clear as possible. Do not hound people with emails if you want to work with certain companies or brands. Fill their google alerts instead. Write about a brand or company you love so much that you can’t be ignored. One of my favorite brands had over 45 blogposts written about my undying love for them before they reached out. But they reached out to me. There’s only so long you can ignore someone when they are waxing lyrical about your brand, without asking for anything in return. Write about things because you love them and you will find that the rest takes care of itself. Just don’t give up! Write until your fingers bleed, if that’s what it takes.
7. Ignore the haters.
People will be mean. This is a fact. There’s no getting around it. There will be people who love you and people who loathe you, and both will most likely have something to share that isn’t nice all the time. You have to develop some serious rhino skin, so it’s best you work on that from the start. If you anticipate it, you won’t be on the floor in a flood of tears when it hits. Yes, I was on the floor in a flood of tears so many times in the beginning. Just remember this – haters are only writing to you what they feel about themselves. Don’t let it change you. Let it be the fuel for your fire! And every mean comment just means you’re one step closer to greatness!
8. Be true to you. Be an original.
This is super important to success in any industry – being an original. Copying others will only get you so far. Sure, be inspired by people and celebrate others in the industry, but try to stay true to your own creative path. You want to stick out from the crowd, not get lost in the middle of it!
9. Say yes to everything.
In the beginning, say yes to everything you possibly can. You never know when a coffee, a quick hello at an event or a lovely lunch with another person in the industry can lead to something bigger. Just say yes. Your biggest power player in chasing your dream will be the network of people around it. Build it with a drive like you’ve never had before.
10. For goodness sake – listen!
All too often we are more interested in sharing our own stories here, there and everywhere. It’s how we all get to know each other, right? Well, of course share away and share big. Share your story and share the tales of the hard work you’ve put in, when asked. But, anytime you can, listen to absolutely everything that’s going on around you. Listen to others about what’s happening in the industry around you. Listen to people tell tales of those that have come before you and the mistakes they have made along the way… so you know what not to do! Start a notes section on your phone if you have to, observe and record! Listening in this industry is tough as there is so much noise, but it’s worth developing this skill and sticking to it.
At the end of the day, however, your biggest hurdle that lies ahead is just in getting started. No excuses! Do it!