It loves to rear it’s ugly head, and the fear of it can paralyze the best of us. “Fail” is a nasty four-letter word, and if an expert read the following post, she might say I should have been kind to myself and picked another descriptor.
Maybe it’s not accurate to say I failed: I bailed, quit, surrendered, whatever you want to call it. My previous blogs didn’t bring me success or fortune — so why would I spend all of my free time working on yet another?
My Blogging Backstory
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. Starting probably in the 4th grade, I begged for an additional Mead Five Star notebook while school supply shopping. I’d lay on my bed with my purple pen and spend hours writing multiple short stories in my beloved five-subject score.
The first time I truly understood how much I enjoyed sharing my writing with others was in Ms. Morris’s 7th grade English class. I forget what the actual assignment was, but I ended up writing a story that incorporated some sort of inside joke with every single member of my class. We had to read them aloud and, to my surprise, I had them all cheering and roaring with laughter, even if we weren’t close friends.
I distinctly remember at that moment thinking, “I want to do this. I want to feel like this everyday.”
With a few more years and a lot more courage under my belt, I’ve shifted my focus from writing for myself to writing for [albeit small] audiences. Sometimes it’s a blog, sometimes a newsletter or mass email for work, hell sometimes it’s even a stupid status update on social media.
Connecting with people through writing is so special to me. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding supremely cheesy. Being able to tell a story, convey the right tone, and have people understand your thoughts [or even you as a person] by just reading a combination of select words on a page or screen is … it’s like … magic.
The First Failure
In 2014 I started a blog with my friend about our experience with the paleo lifestyle and the Whole30 diet. This project gave me the “blogging bug.” When I realized my work was actually being read by people I didn’t know, I nearly passed out. The stats in the dashboard shot up quickly, making me nauseous with both excitement and anxiety — what if people hated it? What if I looked like a complete idiot? What if, what if, what if … ?
They didn’t hate it. In fact, I was pinned. I was repinned. I was shared by Everyday Paleo on Twitter. I was shared on Facebook by Whole30 more than once. And people liked it![!!!!!!] It was better than any high I had ever experienced, and it validated my belief that this was the venue in which I was meant to be.
The biggest problem with this particular project was that I chose a topic because it was popular. It was not necessarily something that was sustainable for me to write about forever. In my personal experience, paleo was a phase, a trend, an experiment. It wasn’t something I stayed passionate about, and so rather than continuing to write for the sake of maintaining an audience, I quit. We had a ton of fun doing it, and the blog is still up at PALEO iN PUMPS, but we are no longer actively contributing to it.
The Second Failure
My next blogging attempt was in 2015 with a site called Nervous Girl [no longer published], which was slated to be a blog and resource “hub” for women living with anxiety and depression. I figured that after my last experience with something I eventually outgrew, I should pick a topic that was a constant in my life.
Enter the brilliant [insert sarcasm here] idea for blogging about anxiety. I saw a market for it, saw others successfully writing about it, figured I could do the same if not better [ha], and dove in. Who would have thought writing about anxiety and depression would cause additional anxiety and depression? *facepalm* Idea: abandoned.
Third Time’s the Charm [?]
So, I took my third go at blogging, and thought I’d finally identified the right niche for myself — hooray! I started The Vineyard Apprentice, which had career transition content with wine anecdotes based upon my personal experience.
Throughout my professional career I’ve been trying to identify the ideal combination of my strengths and my interests. You can be extremely talented and love the type of tasks you’re doing, but feel completely unfulfilled because you’re not applying them in an industry you’re truly passionate about; hence the solution and tagline of the project: pairing passion + profession. I wanted to share what I was doing in order to get a job in my dream industry, while hopefully helping and inspiring others to do the same.
My whole plan was totally destroyed – and I’m not complaining. I was able to go from working in a cubicle farm to managing a winery on a real farm in less than six months. While this was the best news of my life, it also made my whole concept of tracking my progress in career transition useless.
And why should you care about all this?
I’m sharing this little anecdote with you because I know I’m not the only one out there who has gone through something like this. I realized that the lessons I learned from my prior attempts at blogging are applicable to so many more situations. When you experience a failure or setbeck, considering the following and adjusting accordingly could make all the difference to your future success.
DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS: What was the motivation behind your goal? In two of my cases, the blogs weren’t necessarily the right topics for me, they were topics I thought would perform well. This contributed to my failure. In this post from my old blog, I wrote about using the Whole30 diet as a “quick fix” and not as the program was intended. This contributed to my failure. Starting a business as a get-rich-quick scheme? I probably don’t need to tell you how this is going to end. Do what you love and do it with integrity.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES: What can you improve upon next time? I did so many things wrong in my first two blogs, and there was [still is!] so much more to learn. Where were my opt-ins? How could I improve my graphics and social images? What was the correct anatomy of a successful blog post? What made some posts successful and others [that I liked better] not? Rather than being upset your attempt didn’t end up the way you envisioned, really look at your formula, tactics, etc. Study the successful approach of someone you admire, whether it’s in your personal or business life. Can you identify a single point of failure? Or was it a combination of things that can be tweaked slightly? Every mistake has some sort of lesson hidden in it [which is extremely annoying, but true].
FIND SOME SUPPORT: Were you totally isolated, lonely, or fed up? One of the best things I’ve done for myself this time around is to seek out people who get what I’m trying to do. I love my friends dearly, but without the shared interest it can be difficult to connect with your inner circle on your goals. I just started a MeetUp group in my area for female bloggers — I got 6 members in less than 24 hours with minimal effort and we’ll have our first meeting next month. I’m part of multiple virtual “girl gangs” that have done more to keep me motivated than I ever could have expected. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people [either online or IRL] will help you refocus and press forward, no matter how difficult the reset might seem.
KEEP MOVING FORWARD: Are you sure you’re ready to give up? If you search for “failure quotes” you’ll no doubt find hundreds, and there’s a reason — everyone fails, be it slightly or spectacularly. So many of the people we look up to have either failed, been rejected, be fired, or been told they will amount to nothing. I’m fairly certain you’ve seen many of those articles, so I’ll spare you the repeat. Suffice it to say that perseverance is key to everyone’s success, but especially after taking a blow to the ego when you’ve failed — or you can make like my boy Tommy here and put a different spin on it entirely:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison
Go figure out another way to approach your goal. Learn. Work. Study. Work. Sweat. Work. Cry. Work. Reward yourself once in a while with Ben & Jerry’s. Work. Just know that if you really want it, are willing to put in the effort required, and don’t let your “failures” cripple you — you will find the way that works.
Q: What do you consider your biggest failure?
Were you able to reframe your approach and turn it around? How many attempts did it take to achieve your desired result? In the eyes of someone else, your failure might be a huge accomplishment. Let’s talk.