Yesterday I was almost ready to quit.
I’ve been feeling the frustrations of working so very hard and getting nowhere fast, like furiously peddling a stationary bike until every last drop of sweat is on the floor.
I’m talking about my writing.
For the past two years I have been working day and night to develop my business as a freelance writer and to build a writing tribe.
And in doing so I have lost a little bit of myself.
I have focused so much of my time and attention on the business side of writing that I have let the creative side—the part that makes me want to do all this in the first place—go on hiatus.
I figured it wouldn’t take so long, that transposing my writing life into the business world wouldn’t be a big deal.
I was wrong.
Every day my mantra has been, “if I take time to learn my business and don’t give up, success is just a matter of time.”
But it’s hard to say that every day and never see the fruits of your labour. And it’s hard to lose direction and go to bed wondering what the heck you achieved that day.
What success looks like
Writing success to me is about relationships. We were built for connection—the man who lives as a hermit eventually loses his mind—we were made to do life together.
I’ve watched the likes of Jeff Goins go from very small to very big – I’ve watched as he’s sweated it out on the page, and how he has become a household name among writers.
I’ve watched him build community. And around his community he has built a business. He writes, he makes money, but he walks with his people and puts them first.
What a business model.
That to me is success.
But Jeff didn’t do it overnight. He took his time to build strong relationships.
Last night I attended my wonderful Life Group at my friend Idelette‘s house. We meet every two weeks, drinks lots of tea, eat delicious treats and do life together. No bravado, no gossip, just real honest relationship where our hearts are open to one another. We build each other up and cast light in the spaces where there is darkness.
It’s amazing the strength that comes from those kinds of connections.
Each time we meet we check in together with a word for how we’re feeling that day.
Last week my word was “frustrated.”
And I have to admit I didn’t really want to talk about it. I thought that this was just a regular struggle and not really a big enough deal to be laid out on the table. But like I said, we do life together, and the girls reminded me of this.
They got real about why they click on my blog posts…
…and why they don’t.
And the main message I received was this: if my posts have a personal touch that connects them to me they are far more likely to read them.
For so long I’ve been asking myself the question, “what sets me apart from other writers,” and the answer is…ME.
No one else has my voice, my style, my perspective on life, my heart.
So when I teach and I inspire, that’s all great, but if people don’t know who I am and don’t feel connected to me, they have no incentive to read what I have to say.
We have so many choices out there about whose work we’d like to read. And when it comes to blogging, it’s all about relationships. We read the posts of the people we like; if what we’re reading doesn’t tell us who they are, we don’t come back.
My voice matters
When you’re struggling to make your voice heard above the multitudes sometimes it’s easy to forget that it matters.
My voice matters. But more than anything—my voice is unique. It’s not about connecting and comparing; it’s about being who I am and marrying that with the skills I have to offer.
And at this stage, as a voice that’s still trying to find its tribe, I must also be real about who that tribe is. My tribe is not with the big bloggers of the world—not yet. My tribe is with the people closest to me—people like my Life Group girls.
And while my voice matters, it’s realistic to say that this alone will not build my tribe. Other strategies such as site development, guest blogging and SEO also play a vital role in building an audience.
But I went to bed feeling a lot better about my direction last night.
Then this morning I found this comment on my blog:
Sometimes just a few words of encouragement from one person can make the world of difference.
So today I’m getting back on my bike. And if I can move it just one single inch, that’s a successful day.
Images by Tina Francis PhotographyRead More...