One year ago today I was lying on my back recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc. I’d spent the past couple of days trying to get a blog setup, and had finally managed to post my first article. I had just moved 3000 miles across the country. I was unemployed (unemployable, actually – I hadn’t been able to sit in a chair for more than a couple of hours for about 3 months). I’d never done any commercial web design. In fact, this blog was my first real website.
Today I’m in a slightly different position.
Before I go any further, I want to be very clear that *anyone* can achieve what I’ve done. There is no special skill that I possess. This post is not about bragging, it’s about thanking everyone who’s helped, and encouraging others to go for it.
So what is it that I’ve achieved this past year?
* I’ve started a successful and growing design business
* I’ve hired my first employee (who’s working out really well)
* I’ve made some incredible friends
* I’ve developed an amazing network of brilliant, talented, and _connected_ people
* I’ve taught a course on a subject I knew nothing about 12 months ago
* I’ve written a couple of hundred posts
* I’ve been invited to work on some *amazing* projects
* I’ve started to earn a decent living, only 1 year out of school
* I’ve worked with some wonderful clients and built the foundations of some valuable long term relationships
* I’m doing *exactly* what I’m supposed to be doing (do you have any idea how good that feels?)
I can’t overstate the change these 12 months have wrought. In fact, I can barely appreciate it. I’m too close. No doubt after some time has elapsed I’ll be able to see the past year more clearly. As it is, I spend a good part of my day in awe at the luck life has tossed my way.
So how did I go from unemployed to busier than I could ever dream? I trusted my heart. For the first time in my (then) 34 years, I listened to what my instincts told me. And they said “grab onto this blog thing and get ready to run with it”. See, it all comes back to the 97th monkey thing. I was in the right place at the right time to do something that was uniquely right for me.
I’ve had the fortune to lose a lot of money in a previous business venture. That sounds contradictory, but it really isn’t. Losing _everything_ was the best thing to ever happen to me. For one, it allowed me to go back to school at 32 to follow my dream – there was nothing left to lose, after all. Also, going through that awful, awful process forced me to really look at myself and figure out what I wanted and what I was good at. So I knew deep down when my “thing” came along.
When I discovered blogging, it was as though I was struck by lightening. I love to read. I love to write. I love to rant and rave and bicker and occasionally say shit just for shit’s sake. I also love business and marketing, and I immediately saw how blogs could help small and medium sized businesses connect with their customers on a far deeper level than traditional methods allowed. So I jumped on it. I listened to my instincts and trusted them, despite being brutally afraid of not knowing what the future held.
My success over these past 12 months comes down to a couple of simple, repeatable steps. They are:
* find a subject you care passionately about (really, wildly passionate)
* learn everything you can about it
* find a way to apply your passion to a narrow field. For example, rather than saying “I’m a web designer”, I said “I’m a blog designer”. While in theory this shrinks the pool of potential clients by a huge margin, the reality is that my market is global. There may be only a tiny percentage of people looking for blog design, but it’s a tiny percentage of a HUGE number. Make it your business to become the default go to person in your field. (here’s a secret that they don’t usually tell you: you can be an expert in more than one field)
* network, network, network. Use email, IM and skype to connect with people. I’ve met the most amazing people this year. Most of whom I’ve never “met”.
* above all, be honest and forthright
* treat your clients, suppliers, and everyone you meet as well as you can
* work your ass off. I work a stupid number of hours per week. But I’m doing something I love. So most of the time it doesn’t actually feel like work.
That’s it. I’d like to write more, but it’s 1 am, and I’ve got miles to go before I sleep. Thank you *so* much to everyone who’s ever read this site. I owe you the world.