It is almost the month of love! Even though it is mostly associated with the romantic type of love, I want to take a minute and talk about an entirely different sort of love – Self love. It seems silly, and most people would find it trivial, but loving myself and being proud of my accomplishments are two things that I have only recently truly found. Self love isn’t just about being happy with yourself, it is about having the courage to go for what you want, it is about taking pride in what you do because it comes from YOU and not giving up. For most of my adult life I did not have goals or aspirations – I was in a slump, and content with that. But you know what? A little under two years ago I discovered a company called #Collective Bias and it changed my entire world.
You wouldn’t know it, but a few years ago my husband and I were in a really bad spot financially. He was working two jobs, I waitressed here and there when I could and we had a brand new baby boy to take care of. We were both working as much as we could, but with nobody to keep Judah I was limited as to when I could get out of the house. To say we were living paycheck to paycheck is putting it mildly, and at one point we even had to turn to the SNAP program to help with our groceries.
To occupy myself during nap time I started reading the blogs of new moms like me and eventually even started one of my own. Now, this blog was just for personal use (and if I’m being honest, to score giveaway entries every now and then). But once I started writing I couldn’t stop. I had a lot to say and it felt good getting it out. I admired all the bloggers who got “free” products (shallow I know and totally NOT free) and I wondered how in the world I could ever do that because I hated not being able to give my kid things beyond bare necessities. I started writing, researching and building my audience, and a few months later I pitched and landed my first sponsor. SCORE! I was so proud of myself, but oh my gosh it was bad. So, so bad. And then I got a few more sponsors after that and thought “oh man, could I really make something of this?” But let’s face it – I didn’t have any formal training in anything, I had no real time to devote to bettering my blog and honestly, I sucked.
Then one day I saw the blue and green Social Fabric badge on the sidebar of one of my favorite blogs and clicked it. What I came to was an amazing company dedicated to their equally amazing community of bloggers, and better yet, these bloggers actually got PAID for their work! I started Googling and discovered that Social Fabric’s approach to brand awareness was not about reviewing products like so many others are, but they invest in their bloggers to share real and personal stories. Stories that people can relate to. Stories that matter. It took me a few months to work up the courage to apply, but shortly after that I got my acceptance letter and was absolutely JUMPING up and down in amazement that this fabulous company had decided that I was worth investing in.
Shortly after that I got my first campaign. It was my very first paid blogging job and I was super excited! That was the beginning of my career, and just like that I was no longer “Jessica: the part time waitress and professional nobody”. With each new campaign I could see my writing maturing, my voice becoming clear and my photography growing in absolute abundance. And I loved it. People respected me, they respected my work and I had been welcomed in to a community of amazing bloggers ready to support me with open arms. We were no longer in the SNAP program, my husband didn’t have to stretch his paycheck quite so far, and I had found a joy and contentment in my daily life that I NEVER had before. I was worth something. I mattered. I created beauty and I found love in myself, and for that I am forever grateful for Social Fabric.
I have learned SO MUCH since joining the community. I learned about brand awareness, about SEO optimization, about being professional and about the need to put myself out there for the things I want. (I mean, holy cow – this is the most personal thing I’ve probably ever written!) I challenge myself because of Social Fabric, I have grown not only as a blogger but as a person, and every single day I get to create something beautiful through my work. My blog is ME. And I love myself.
Speaking of learning and growing, last May I attended SoFabCon13, my very first (and only) conference to date and it was just bursting with awesomeness. I learned a ton, I got to meet SO many amazing bloggers and it solidified for me that this part time, occasional blogging job I was doing was a bona fide career and that I COULD make it. The online community that I had grown to love had come to life in the form of a real, vibrant and embracing community of people that I got to spend the weekend with. I went to session after session, gaining knowledge in every aspect of blogging and all of that is WELL worth more that what it cost to attend. I wouldn’t trade my experience there for the world.
And this year I am hoping to go to #SoFabCon14, but I can’t do it without help, because we’re still far from being financially stable. I would love more than anything to win one of the six conference sponsorships this year. I NEED to go to SoFabCon14. I need to learn, I need to keep taking my blog further and further and I need to be a part of the amazing experience that it has in store!