Basic Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an Online Brand

I get it. You may feel like everyone has an online business or a blog of some sort these days, but that shouldn’t discourage you from going after that dream business or that blog you’ve always wanted to start. I’ve always loved blogging, and started my first blog back in 2010, but I had absolutely no idea I would end up starting a small business one day. To be honest with you, I never created a formal business plan when I started my first business, and didn’t have any sort of strategy in place with my first blog. I went in blind and had to figure things out as I went along. Looking back, of course there are plenty of things I wish I would’ve done differently in the beginning, but something that helped guide me through and keep me on track with my online brands were a series of questions I made sure to ask myself, which is what I’m sharing with you below.

Some of these questions may seem a bit tedious to answer, but getting super clear on your response to each is important when setting up your brand:

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For starters — what is your brand about?

  1. First of all, are you a blogger? A business owner? If you’re a blogger, do you plan on turning your blog into a business by selling digital products or services? If you’re an aspiring business owner, do you currently run a brick and mortar business or plan to market your products or services solely online?

  2. What is your niche? What will you focus on when you start your blog? What area of business will you go into?

  3. If you’re a business owner, what products or services are you selling? If you’re a blogger, what topics will you cover?

  4. What problems are you solving with your brand? Why would people read your blog or invest in your products/services?

  5. What is your brand’s mission? What is your why?

Take some time to answer these questions before you think about some of the items below.

Getting clear on your target market or target audience

In addition to getting clear on the basics of your brand, determining who you’re targeting is a crucial step in setting up your brand. Whether you’re a blogger or a business owner, you need to be marketing your brand with your ideal customers, clients or readers in mind. You should be asking yourself:

  1. Who is your target audience or target market?

  2. Who are you writing to? Who are you selling to?

  3. How does your product, service or content solve a problem they are experiencing?

Something that can help you think deeper about your target market, and an exercise I ask many of my Pinterest clients to do, is create a personal profile of your ideal customer, client or reader. This gives you visual reference and helps put things into perspective. When I do this for my brands, I even go as far to find a photo from Unsplash of someone who fits my target market, then include the following:

  • Name, age, likes/dislikes, profession

  • The problem(s) they need solved

  • How you can help solve their problem with your products, services or content

Identifying your target market or target audience helps you start to figure out how you can market your brand, bring more traffic to your website and create valuable content.

Marketing your brand

When I started my first business I had absolutely no idea how to market my brand online. I struggled for quite awhile to figure out the best practices to reach my target customers, and definitely tried my hand at a variety of methods. Having a published website is great, but you need to get people there and have that traffic convert, right? If you’re running an online brand, there are several options you can look into:

Disclaimer: This section contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you sign up or purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

  • Pinterest — registering for a business account and implementing specific strategies to grow your brand and drive traffic to your site to increase sales, clients and readers. I’ve even created a course to show you exactly how to increase your website traffic by using Pinterest!

  • Facebook — running ads, creating your own page and/or group, joining other groups that allow promoted posts

  • Email — setting up a solid email marketing system, building an email list, providing subscribers with valuable, informative content

  • Instagram — building a following, running ads, collaborating with influencers or other bloggers and business owners

  • In-Person — networking with people in your area, attending local events, cold calling, visiting local businesses

I’ll get into some specifics around online marketing in another post because there’s a lot to talk about here, but in my experience I’ve found it most manageable to focus your efforts on two to three platforms so you don’t spread yourself too thin. Try and figure out where your target market is hanging out the most, and get really good at marketing on those platforms first. It’s tempting to want to tap into all of the platforms above, but it can be incredibly overwhelming to juggle everything at once, especially if you’re just starting out.

Regardless of where you are in establishing an online brand, it’s always helpful to refer back to these questions before and during the process. While there is certainly so much more to consider when creating a new blog or online business, getting clear on these essential questions helps to shape some of your future decisions.

xxElizabeth

The Instagram Tool That You NEED to Be Using

Listen, I’m certainly no expert when it comes to growing a massive Instagram following (I prefer focusing most of my efforts on Pinterest), but I like to think I’m pretty savvy on the technical side of running the show behind the scenes. Most days I’m juggling multiple Instagram accounts, on top of everything else, and I would be absolutely lost without the tool I’m about to share with you.

Lately I’ve been seeing a ton of people ask about the best planning and scheduling apps for Instagram, whether they intend to schedule content for themselves, their businesses, or their clients. After throwing my two cents into countless Facebook threads, sliding into a questionable number of DMs, and adding comments to posts on Instagram, I figured I’d tell you about my secret weapon in this blog post to make all of your lives (and mine) a million times easier.

I kid you not when I tell you that every time I mentioned this tool in a social media thread or DM, no one else knew it existed (at least for Instagram). Most people were suggesting other apps and I wanted to scream to all of them that they were seriously missing out — there is something much, much better that you can use other than your average planner app.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you sign up or purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

If you’ve been here before, you might remember this post where I talked about using Tailwind to take your Pinterest game to the next level. Well my friends, you can use that SAME tool to master your Instagram skills, too and save yourself so. much. freaking. time.

Besides how much I love all the features Tailwind has to offer in conjunction with Pinterest, I am equally as obsessed with the features they have for Instagram. Here’s what you need to know:

Automated Scheduling

I remember being SO frustrated by other apps and their “scheduling” features that really weren’t scheduling features at all. They required you to approve before your photo published to Instagram, and often made you paste in your pre-written caption before your image went live on your feed. Other apps claimed to have a scheduling feature when really all they did was send you a notification reminding you it was time to post. What the hell is the point of that!? If you’re going to schedule something, you’re going to want it automated, right? Well, this is where Tailwind comes into play.

With Tailwind, you can upload your content to post directly to your Instagram without having to deal with pesky reminders or extra steps — but Tailwind will also give you the most optimal times to post so that your photo goes live when your audience is actually looking at your account. You can even add additional time slots that are suggested by Tailwind to make sure you’re reaching your audience at the best time.

Smart Hashtag Finder

I don’t know if there’s a truly legitimate confirmation yet (there’s lots of speculation though; everyone has their own opinion), on whether or not it’s best to include hashtags in the caption or comments section of an Instagram post. I always opt for the comments because I think it makes things more organized and visually appealing, but regardless, Tailwind makes it nearly effortless to find the BEST hashtags to use in each of your posts.

All you have to do is upload your photo, start typing your caption, add a hashtag or two and Tailwind will automatically start suggesting the best hashtags to use for your photo. You can even see how many people are using that hashtag. I can’t tell you how many times I scheduled a photo and started adding hashtags only to realize I wasn’t choosing the best tags. Tailwind shows you a ton of possible hashtags in a few different formats that are color coded according to usage.

To really break it down for you: orange hashtags are highly competitive, meaning there are likely millions of others users adding the same hashtag, so it’s very possible that your photo will get lost in that feed if you use that particular hashtag. The green hashtags are the best way to go — light green hashtags are categorized as “good” and dark green hashtags are categorized as “best.” Grey hashtags are specific to your niche, and usually come up if you’ve been using the same hashtags over and over even before you started using Tailwind. I have yet to find another tool that suggests hashtags more effectively than Tailwind.

The Desktop Feature

Another thing I love about Tailwind is that it’s not only available as a mobile app, but it can be used on a computer as well. A lot of the scheduling apps we are so familiar with aren’t able to integrate beyond a mobile device. I personally do a lot of computer work, and only use my phone to check up on social media, so this is a huge seller for me. I can easily create my social media graphics in Canva or Illustrator and directly upload them to Tailwind in order to schedule them out.

Pin From Instagram

Since Tailwind is also a Pinterest scheduling tool, you can choose to schedule pins directly from your Instagram. This means more people could potentially see your Instagram by coming across your images on Pinterest. Keep in mind that it’s best to pin photos that have a text overlay of some kind as these perform better than images of faces, scenery or flat lays that don’t include any text. In order to pin an image from your Instagram to Pinterest you have a couple options:

When uploading and scheduling a new photo for Instagram, you can choose to cross-post to Pinterest. If you already have an account with Tailwind for your Pinterest, you can sync your Instagram account, navigate to the sidebar, select “Pin from Instagram,” and Tailwind will pull up your feed so you can choose an image from there. They really make it so easy!

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In all the apps I’ve used to manage multiple Instagram accounts over the last couple of years, Tailwind takes the cake over and over again. If you’re ready to work smarter — not harder — and make your life so much easier, you can sign up for your free trial with Tailwind here that is good for your first 30 scheduled Instagram posts, or first 100 scheduled pins. I promise you won’t regret it!

xxElizabeth

How to Grow Your Email List Before You Launch

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a blogger and a business owner was not setting up my e-mail marketing before I launched. Instead, I scrambled MONTHS later to learn about e-mail marketing and struggled to get people on to my e-mail list, making it even harder to get eyes on my websites. I don't want you to make the same mistake I did, so I'm showing you how you can start setting up your e-mail list before you launch your blog or business website. Already launched? No problem! You can still learn how to set up a landing page to start gaining subscribers ASAP.

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Female Features 03-05: Susie, Erica + Ashlyn

This week I have THREE amazing women to share with you — since the female feature list is growing, I decided to do weekly blog posts about the ladies I feature every week. Here’s who you need to get to know this weekend:

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My Favorite Communities for Creative Entrepreneurs

One of my biggest tips for you if you’re starting a blog or a business is to find support. I am a one woman show over here, but I wouldn’t be able to take on all of these responsibilities and challenges without a solid support group. I am lucky to have a family, a handful of friends, and a significant other who support my mission to pursue my passions. As much as they support me though (and as much as I appreciate it), not all of them understand exactly what it’s like to live the lifestyle of an entrepreneur and blogger.

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how to start making money as a blogger

If you’re a new blogger I’m sure you’ve wondered how you can start making money with your blog. It was a question I asked myself often back when I first started blogging many years ago, but I usually got too frustrated to really dive deep into figuring out what I could do to earn some extra income.

Now with Pinterest and so many other incredible resources out there, it’s a little easier to learn how you can start monetizing your blog. You may not see an immediate return in the beginning, but with consistency and the proper strategies, your hard work will pay off.

Assuming you are already producing consistent and quality content, you have a few options when it comes to monetizing your blog. I’ll briefly mention some of your options, but I’m going to focus on one specific area for today’s post:

  • Ads — specifically Google Adsense, although there are other banners and images you can incorporate from other companies in addition to Google Adsense

  • Sponsored Posts — brand collaborations in the form of promoting free/discounted products or paid posts

  • Digital Products — think ebooks, courses, webinars, other digital products that readers can purchase and download instantly

  • Affiliate Marketing — this is the area we’ll be focusing on today. Affiliate marketing is a way to earn a commission by posting a special link to a particular product(s). A reader clicks on your link, purchases the item, and you earn a commission based on the sale. It’s a pretty efficient way to start generating some income through your blog.

Where to Find Affiliate Links

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you sign up or purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

There are several affiliate marketing companies you can sign up with even if you’re a new blogger. My personal favorites are:

ShareASale was the first affiliate marketing company I ever joined, so it made sense for me to return to it when I started this new blog. They have over 4,500 programs you can apply for to start advertising on your blog. It’s super quick and easy to navigate and get started. You can sign up to become an affiliate here.

Flex Offers came highly recommended from other bloggers, and it was easy to get approved and start using. They currently have over 12,000 different advertisers in their network, ranging from popular, well known companies like Macy’s, Target, Walmart, etc. to small “mom and pop” businesses. You’ll have to apply individually to each advertiser, but the approval process is fairly quick and you’ll be able to start adding your links as soon as you’re approved. You can sign up and apply for Flex Offers here.

CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) also offers a wide variety of popular companies to link back to and is another highly blogger-recommended company. Some of their advertisers include Trip Advisor, Forever 21, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, and so many more! Similar to the other affiliate marketing companies, you’ll need to apply and be approved by each individual advertiser you’d like to work with. The approval process doesn’t take long, just know you could be waiting up to two business days at most.

Amazon has been great for recommending specific products, like the ones you see in my Amazon Favorites tab. I love Amazon for it’s quick approval process and how easy it is to find what you’re looking for. Like many of the other affiliate networks, you can choose how you want to advertise what you’re promoting, through a banner/graphic or solely a text link.

In addition to these companies, there are plenty of bloggers, creative entrepreneurs, companies and smaller business owners who offer their own affiliate programs. If you’ve previously purchased a product, ebook, course, or a digital download of some sort, check to see if the creator offers an affiliate program. If they do, you can apply and start promoting the products you’ve used and loved.

How to Start Using Affiliate Links

There are so many easy ways to start incorporating affiliate links into your posts — even posts that you’ve already published. Any time you mention a specific product or company, it’s an opportunity to include an affiliate link if they have one available. For example, if you’re doing a round up of favorite products for the holiday season, you can search for affiliate links in one of your networks, and even find companies you love that are currently running sales to share with your readers. Once you determine the link you want to include, a unique affiliate link will be generated for you, and you’ll simple copy and paste it into your post for your readers to click on.

A word of caution: you need to be fully transparent with your readers when including affiliate links. Even if you are including just one link in your post, you must inform your readers that you are using affiliate links, and that it is clearly visible — either at the beginning of your post, immediately before you share the link(s), or right next to the link itself. It can be as simple as the disclaimer I posted above. Whatever you do, do not forget this important step!

The Course That Helped Me Start Affiliate Marketing

There is one particular course I have my eye on — I’m just waiting until I have the funds to enroll. I’m hoping to sign up before the end of the year (I’ll share with you when I do), but in the meantime I found another incredibly helpful course that was more within my current budget.

Elise from The House of Brazen has a course on How to Make Your First Affiliate Sale in 24 Hours. I absolutely adore her blog and she has so many amazing resources for bloggers and business owners. I honestly find myself on her page almost daily!

Not only was her course insanely helpful, but it was short, simple and to the point. It was so easy to apply what she taught me in her course. Plus I was able to gain access to some of her bonus resources and her Facebook group! If you are starting to dip your toes into affiliate marketing, aren’t sure where to start, and can’t quite afford some of the more expensive courses — I highly recommend signing up for hers. You can get access to the course by signing up here. I’ll be posting a full review on her course in the coming days.

Final Thoughts

If you want to start making money with your new blog, I highly, highly recommend purchasing Elise’s course and checking out the affiliate marketing companies above. Spend some time exploring each of the companies after you’re approved, and get a sense for the advertisers you’d like to link back to in your posts. There is one thing you have to promise me though — please do not ever throw in an affiliate link for the sake of linking. This tactic isn’t going to benefit you, and will completely turn off your readers. Only include links when it’s appropriate and will provide something of value to your readers. It is so obvious when bloggers post affiliate links for the sole purpose of hoping someone clicks on it. When you include an affiliate link, it has to relate to what you’re talking about in your post. It’s even better when you can include a link to something you know, use and love and can speak about why you love it so much.

As my knowledge on affiliate marketing increases, I’ll be sure to update you. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these companies or if you have any companies you like to work with! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below!

xxElizabeth

five things to do after you publish a new blog post

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Back when I had other blogs I used to publish a new post and just let it float out in internet land without doing anything to let people know it was there. I was always disappointed when I didn’t see my traffic increasing, but it wasn’t until I started this new blog that I realized I had to put a decent amount of effort into “advertising” my posts to increase traffic. To follow up my recent post on how I tripled my blog traffic in one month, I’m sharing with you the 5 things you NEED to do after you publish a new blog post:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I  make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase. Thank you so much for your support!

proofread one last time

Although I proofread my posts before I hit publish, I always read them over again as a “reader.” Something about seeing the post through a reader’s eyes allows me to catch any mistakes or formatting issues. I keep a separate tab open that I can go to and edit right away, so once I’ve made any necessary changes I save the post again. Make sure you have any relevant links, images, videos, etc. placed and ready to go. I usually proofread once or twice after publishing just to be sure!

create your pins

In my last post I talked about how Pinterest has helped me triple my blog traffic in just one month of blogging. The way I use Pinterest to increase traffic is by creating pins that link back to specific posts or other content on my blog. I typically create 3-5 different pins per post using Canva and stock photos from Unsplash, Ivory Mix or other stock photo sites. For my favorite free stock photo sites you can see the full list by taking a look at this post.

Canva makes it so easy to create Pinterest graphics. You can start completely from scratch or you can use some of their pre-made templates to help get you started. I recently updated my tutorial on how to create pins in Canva, so if you’d like to learn how to DIY your graphics, you can watch the quick tutorial I recorded below. If you want to completely outsource your Pinterest work, you can check out my Pinterest Management services here.

Once you’ve created your pins you can upload them straight to Pinterest, or you can use a scheduling tool like Tailwind. Tailwind is incredibly helpful for ensuring your scheduled pins are posted at optimal times, but it’s also great for increasing traffic to both your Pinterest account and your blog. You can join Tailwind Tribes relevant to your niche and add your new pins to those groups in hopes that your pin will be seen and re-pinned by the other members of your tribe. I’ll be doing a full post on Pinterest and Tailwind soon, but in the mean time you can start using Tailwind today by signing up here.

promote on social media

I am a huge believer in “less is more” when it comes to social media platforms. I like to stick to Pinterest and Instagram for the most part. If you try to focus on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all at the same time — especially as a new blogger — you’re going to get super overwhelmed super fast. Pick one or two and start there. All the links for my blog are included in my Instagram bio, and I usually hop on stories to let my followers know when I have a new post up. If I post a new photo that day too, I might mention it in the caption as well. Regardless of your preferred platform, make sure you’re telling your followers about your new post, and make it easy for them to view it when it goes live.

check your facebook groups

Joining Facebook groups for bloggers was another huge reason I saw such a large spike in traffic last month. You can join general blogging groups, niche groups, or groups for new bloggers. Most of these groups post consistent threads that will allow you to link a specific blog post a couple times a week (or sometimes daily), so be sure to keep an eye on your groups for these opportunities. Two of my favorite groups are Boss Girl Bloggers and Grow Your Blog. I’ve seen a lot of growth since I joined the two groups, but I’ve also made so many great connections with other bloggers, and have learned a lot about blogging in general!

email your subscribers

I’ve been working quite a bit on growing my email list lately, so I don’t have a TON of information to share with you just yet, but your new blog posts can absolutely be used as content in e-mails to your subscribers. If you send weekly or monthly e-mails, you can let your subscribers know about your latest updates, and even share short excerpts of new content with links to their original posts. This is a great way to keep driving traffic back to your blog and keep your subscribers in the loop.

While this all certainly DOES take a bit of time, it is doable and 100% worth it. Once you get used to setting up your post-publishing routine, it becomes much quicker and easier to put the finishing touches on your newly published content. If you need help getting started with creating pins, finding groups, or any of the above don’t hesitate to ask! Let me know if you have any additional tasks you take care of after publishing a post!

xxElizabeth

how I tripled my blog traffic in one month as a new blogger

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Throughout the years I’ve had several blogs about various topics, but none of them stuck for very long. I never posted consistently, and would go months in between posts. This time around I knew I wanted to write about things I was passionate about and focus on actually growing my blog.

I’ve been blogging here consistently for a little over a month; while I’m certainly not an expert I wanted to share with you what’s been working for me in driving traffic to my site. While my views aren’t insanely impressive, they’ve grown drastically in a short period of time and I want to show you all the real process of growing this new blog. If you’re wondering how I tripled my blog traffic, here is a list of exactly what I’ve been doing:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will make a commission at no extra cost to you should you click through and make a purchase. Thank you so much for your support!

Posting consistently

I can’t stress this enough. Whether you decide to post once a week, twice a week, or three times a week, it’s important to remain consistent. Going weeks or months without posting anything certainly isn’t going to help increase traffic. The other piece to this, though, is providing quality content and not just posting for the sake of posting. You want to make sure you are providing your readers with well written, thoughtful content that isn’t just being slapped together — really take the time to write your posts and produce something of quality.

Utilizing Pinterest

Being active on Pinterest has been a total GAME CHANGER. Once I figured out what my domain name would be here, I made sure to sign up for a business account with Pinterest (if you haven’t done this yet, go do it right now!). This allows you to set up rich pins, link back to your blog or website, and see how many people are viewing and pinning your content. My monthly views on Pinterest continue to increase (more on that later), as I stay active uploading my own pins and re-pinning relevant content onto my boards. I sign in to my Pinterest to do this all the time but I also use Tailwind to schedule pins and post to a few different tribes. This saves me SO much time and is such a helpful tool for growing your Pinterest. I’m working on a post all about Pinterest and Tailwind, but for now you can sign up for Tailwind here. You can also learn more about my Pinterest Management services if you want to learn how I can help you with your Pinterest

Staying Active On Social Media

A lot of what I read about growing your blog tells you to focus on one or two social media platforms so you don’t overwhelm yourself. I personally focus on Pinterest and Instagram. While my Instagram is still a work in progress (figuring out a cohesive feed can be soo frustrating), I post there daily, use my stories and comments to connect and engage with my followers, and make sure my blog is linked in my profile. I get a decent amount of traffic to my blog from Instagram, and make sure to let my followers know when a new post is up.

Connecting with Your Readers

Don’t ignore your readers! After all, they are supporting your work when they visit your blog and read your posts. When someone comments on a post I always make sure I take the time to respond. I’ve also recently set up an account through MailChimp so I can start building an e-mail list to connect with my subscribers and let them know about new posts, updates to my design shop, and share more content. I use MailChimp for my business and find it easy to navigate and schedule emails to customers, clients and readers.

Joining Facebook Groups

Besides Pinterest, this has been a huge reason I’ve seen growth here. I’ve joined a handful of Facebook groups for bloggers and it’s not only helped increase traffic on my blog, but it’s helped grow my Instagram too (I’m not a fan of Instagram pods, so Facebook groups are my preferred option). I’ve gotten to connect with so many other amazing bloggers and have learned so much about blogging through these groups. You can search on Facebook for “new blogger” groups or blogging groups pertaining to your niche. A lot of them post threads daily or weekly that will allow you link back to your blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. You usually have to engage with others who post their links as well, but this is a great way to find other blogs and accounts. Not only does it help your blog, but you help others grow their blogs as well!

My Actual Stats

One thing I wish I would’ve done right off the bat when I started my blog was link to Google Analytics. I did that recently, but it would’ve been so helpful to have done that in the first place.  Squarespace does have an analytics tab, though, so I’m still able to track my traffic from there every day too. The first image below is a screenshot of my analytics from September and the image below it is from October. You can see below how my blog has grown from the beginning of September to the end of October. While I realize these numbers are small in comparison to some other bloggers who have numbers into the thousands and ten thousands, I’m excited that I was able to more than triple my traffic over the course of a month! I’m planning on sharing my analytics every month so you can see how what I’m doing is effecting my traffic.

If you have some great suggestions for how you’ve increased your blog traffic, I’d love to hear them! I’m looking forward to seeing how my blog grows this month and sharing that with you!

xxElizabeth

what no one tells you about leaving your 9-5

If you’re active on social media I’m sure you’ve seen countless posts from work-from-home bloggers, business owners, and network marketers talking about how incredible their life is now that they work for themselves. I’ve certainly shared many times how much happier I am now that I am no longer stuck working a job that was truly sucking the life out of me, but the reality is it isn’t always unicorns and rainbows every day. It is hard, stressful, and often unpredictable, especially when you are first starting out.

I speak very little of my teaching career here, other than how unhappy I was the last couple of years at my job. The truth is, I LOVED teaching when I first started. It was everything I worked for. Heck, I even went and got a Master’s degree for it. You know going into the field of education that it isn’t going to be an easy or high paying career; what no one tells you though is just how hard it can get. How it can take a toll on your body, mind and spirit. How it can break you into a million pieces and take you away from the people you love and care about. I think the same goes for many other fields, especially if you are miserable at work every day.

But the other thing no one tells you is how much you’ll miss everyone you worked with when you leave. I miss my coworkers so much it hurts sometimes. They were my family. They were my home away from home during the day. We endured so much together. I miss my former students. I miss hearing about their weekends. I miss hearing them call my name and telling me they need me to help them tie their shoes or help them solve a conflict with their friends. I miss drying their tears that hurt my heart every time I saw them fall from their eyes. I miss celebrating small victories and watching them hit milestones that no one but a teacher could understand. I miss their voices, their funny little mannerisms, and their innocence.

I miss them all so much, and some days I wish I could be back with everyone just one last time — but then I remember that I had to do something really big and scary and put myself first. A lot of things were changing that were out of my control while I was still there. I spent a lot of days crying in the bathroom while the kids were at their humanities classes. I’d lock the door, sink down to the floor and just cry — wishing I could be at home. When things changed the passion I once had started to deteriorate. I was no longer happy with what I was doing in my career and that wasn’t fair to my students, coworkers or MYSELF. I lost a part of me in the last couple of years, but in the last few months since I left, I gained part of myself back.

If you’re a teacher, I applaud you. I have the utmost respect for you. In many ways you are stronger than me for holding one of the most difficult jobs in the world. You do things no one will ever understand or appreciate. But the moral of this story is this: if you don’t love it, leave it. And if you finally decide to leave it don’t ever stop when things get tough. You simply cannot put a price on your happiness or sanity. It may not be an easy road all the time, but I can promise you it’s worth it. I will always cherish the good memories I had from my teaching career, and will always appreciate the difficult moments because they made me a better, stronger person in the long run. I’m grateful for where it all led me to today, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Whether you are considering leaving your career to work for yourself, or have already left, you are going to experience so many highs and lows. You’ll want to celebrate the highs and will likely consider giving up with the lows are really low. To be honest, there have been many times when I’ve said to myself: “WTF am I doing!?” and I know there will be moments where I say it again. I’ve lied awake at night worrying whether or not I’d be able to pay my bills or keep my business afloat, and I’ve shed many, many tears.

But when you choose to work for yourself, you have to have unshakeable determination and belief in yourself. There are going to be people who question your decision, people who will doubt you and judge you. There are going to be insanely challenging moments that will test your strength — don’t let those moments break you. Remember why you started working for yourself in the first place, and let that push you onward. I am so lucky to have an amazing support system of friends, family members and my significant other who want to see me succeed and who believe in me; I realize not everyone is that lucky.

There are a few things I wish I would have done differently before I left my job that would have made things a bit easier now that I’m on my own (more on that later), but I can’t go back and change that. All I can do is learn from it and use my experiences to help other people through this blog, which is what inspired me to start How She Does It in the first place.

Despite these challenges that come with working for myself, it makes me so happy to do something I’m truly passionate about. I am forever grateful that I get to wake up every morning and work from the comfort of my own home, make my own schedule, and live my life on my on terms. I can’t imagine things any differently now, and made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would do whatever it takes to be my own boss.

xx Elizabeth

If you are an entrepreneur I’d love to hear from you. I’ve been looking for individuals to guest post here to share their experiences about life after leaving their 9-5s. If you’re interested in guest posting, please send me an email at howshedoesitco@gmail.com