In light of my last controversial post about starting a blog to make money, I wanted to tell my story about blogging and talk about the reasons why I continue to blog. I think they're very different, my motivations for starting and the motivations I had for continuing it until now. (It's kind of long, but the process has been kind of complex, so I wanted to explain it well.)
You see, I love business. I love making money. Not to have money necessarily, but I enjoy the strategy, the creativity, the achievement of bringing an idea to fruition and making it work for me. My father and grandfather are both entrepreneurs, so I've been raised with sayings like, "If you can't find a job, make one for yourself," "Learn how to make money doing what you love to do anyway," "Want something? Work for it," and "Making money requires creativity."
I love this heritage I've received from my family members, and it has resulted in quite a few business endeavors throughout my life. It began with a briefcase of handmade items I sold to unsuspecting kids at church (with a 10 cent up charge for personalization), moved to making hundreds of origami flowers to sell, to my pet business in my neighborhood (called "Wag, Walk, 'n' Wash"), doing yard work, selling duct tape accessories for charities, and doing simple alterations and running an Etsy shop as a college student. Obviously.... I think business is fun.
So when I discovered the world of vintage as a freshman in college and decided to integrate vintage into my wardrobe, I realized I had two huge obstacles to reaching that dream: I had no knowledge and I had no money.
I began to research to learn about vintage styles to overcome that obstacle. I discovered vintage blogs and pored over them, learning from others who have started this journey long before I did and benefitting from their experience. Since I had never seen a vintage wearer in real life, I felt like I was discovering kindred spirits. It was the ladies of the blogosphere that encouraged me to wear gloves and rock the large hats, even if everyone in my town stared at me. Seeing that vintage was normal to a lot of other people made me feel a lot less abnormal, in the sense that my unique style was good, not just freakish.
The second obstacle was still very real, however. I didn't have a lot of money, being a college student and all, to spend on clothes. I didn't have time in my schedule to pick up a "real" job, but I new I could make money other ways. I started an Etsy shop. My father always told me the best way to earn money was to figure out a way to earn it without me having to be there, and an online shop available to people 24/7 was a way for my investment to work for me while I was in class, versus trying to create a pop up shop or go to craft fairs or something. I took the plunge.
I learned very quickly that selling on Etsy is hard. An aunt of mine suggested starting a blog to go along with it, with the idea that people have a reason to keep coming to a blog (good content), while they don't necessarily have a reason to keep coming back to my Etsy shop (until I built a loyal following). Seemed like a good idea to me! After a hiccup where I realized I couldn't try to be someone else on my blog, I started Flashback Summer.
Soon I discovered... Hey, I actually like blogging... for blogging's sake! I saw how it helped me develop my style and figure out what my "niche" is in life. It helped me, again, feel normal in my uniqueness from the encouragement of others in comments. I did conclude, also, that blogging is actually a terrible way to try to make money! It's so slow going, especially nowadays, and hard work doesn't necessarily equate to more success. At all. Mostly it's just hard work.
But I kept blogging! I like how it has helped me develop and I like the people I have met. I enjoy writing and having motivation to practice it often. I relish the chance to share the things I've learned with others. This motivated me when it was difficult, when my numbers weren't growing, when I stressed about getting posts out, when I was jealous of others' success, when comments were less than encouraging. It wasn't the chance of money that kept me putting one cyber foot in front of the other, it was blogging itself. I actually put my Etsy shop on the back burner and eventually closed it because I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as blogging.
Then after a while of developing my readership and figuring out who the heck I am as a blogger, I figured maybe I can make a bit of pocket change off of this. Why not? I could at least offset my coffee bills while I write! That family advice of, "If you love something, make money of off it" came to mind. Nowadays I make a little bit of money off of sponsorships and such, but it pretty much is still just coffee money and money I put back into improving the blog. And I'm great with that! If opportunities come my way, I'll take advantage of them. If they don't, I'm quite contented with the benefits blogging provides. It's a success in and of itself.
So what's your blogging story? What do you feel is your greatest motivation to keep blogging?
If you aren't a blogger, what made you decide to take the vintage plunge? What encouraged you to keep on keepin' on when it got difficult?