Wow, the last day of 2018–here we are! Can you believe it?
As you can tell, I’ve been taking a little bit of a break. This past holiday season was the craziest yet–I probably said “yes” to way too many projects, and there are parts of my family life I’ve been dealing with recently that are more than complicated–but just like anything in life–the stressful periods ebb and flow, and I’ve been taking some much needed time to slow down and reflect.
I did, however, want to pop in and write some thoughts reflecting on the past year. To be honest, I’m a little sad to see 2018 go. It’s been one of my favorite years yet. Neal and I both turned 30, we celebrated our first year of marriage and got through it quite successfully, I might add. (Being married is SO MUCH better than being engaged. 😂). It was certainly a big year for us personally. But also professionally–which is what I’m going to elaborate on MORE today, because you were such a big part of that.
I don’t often talk about the behind the scenes of this blog.
The business side, I mean. I’m not really sure why. Probably because I’m not sure anyone would actually be interested in it. (Would you? I can share more in later posts, if you want?) But I think today it’s necessary–mostly because I can’t begin to express my gratitude for your support without touching on what your support has allowed me to accomplish.
2018 was far and away, my best year yet when it comes to my career, and I attribute so much of that to this community. You, the person who is reading this post right now. Every time your eyeballs hit this page, it helps support my business. If you never do anything but read this ONE post, I am still grateful.
This year, your support allowed me to more than *double* my income from 2017. Travel to some incredible places. Also, work with brands that I never DREAMED would want to work with me, and most of all, inspire women like you, while developing so many meaningful relationships at the same time.
First of all, I feel the need to start off by saying–this job has never been about the money. I have always been motivated to be financially comfortable, but money has never been my biggest driving factor. (I would never recommend ANYONE start a blog for the money 😂)
But coming from a girl who, four years ago, took MORE than a 50% pay cut to leave her advertising job to work for herself. This accomplishment means so much. It’s honestly more than I ever dreamed of for myself.
Your support is the #1 factor behind this accomplishment.
I didn’t get help from my parents. I didn’t take out any loans. Excuse me for the language, but for lack of a better term–I pulled this bootstrapped career out of my ass, and I am SO. FREAKING. PROUD. of it. You and me (and Neal 😉)–we did this together.
There were so many people who thought I was crazy. Plenty of people who didn’t think I “had a real job”–who thought I was foolish for leaving behind a stable paycheck with good benefits. I know I was judged when I declined so many dinner invitations with friends, even bachelorette parties, because I had less than $100 in my checking account that I knew I had to stretch for another several days. I ate more ramen than any normal person should ingest in a lifetime because it’s all I could afford. That first year, I felt like a fraud when I told people I was a “blogger and freelance writer” full time because I made so little money in the beginning.
I’m not telling you this to brag.
I’m telling you this because it’s easy to look at this blog now and think it’s always been “successful.” You may have thought I had wealthy parents. You may have thought I lucked out with a successful partner who paid all the bills and supported me financially so I could *do what I loved.* (Pretty sure Neal’s family thought that for awhile too. 😂) You may have thought that growing this blog has been easy and that “success” came quickly–that I started posting pretty pictures on the internet and the dollars started rolling in. But none of that is the case here.
And no, I’m not going to discredit my hustle. If you’ve been reading for any amount of time, you know that I have dedicated my entire life to this blog over the past few years. But at the end of the day, this blog is where it is because of YOU.
It’s your support that has gotten me to this point.
It’s you that I create content for–the women that are part of this community–YOU are the biggest driver in getting me out of bed in the morning. The fact that I have the attention of so many incredible women is not lost on me. Every day, I can’t believe my job is to inspire you. How lucky am I?
This past year, I fine-tuned my content even more to be laser focused on writing about the things YOU want. To make sure that every single thing I post caters to you. Some of my favorite posts to write now are the crowd-sourced content that you help me create–either by sending in your topic requests, or weighing in on “Real Women Approved” reader roundup topics that I post over on Instagram stories. We love making drinks with you on “Cocktails with Neal” or chatting on Instagram Live. It’s been so incredibly rewarding, because I feel like we’ve been able to connect with all of you on a more personal level than ever before.
In a world that is growing increasingly cynical about social media–it’s one of the things that has influenced my life in the most positive way, because it’s given me a family I never could’ve had otherwise.
I hope you know that’s what Neal and I think of you guys–our online family.
You enrich our lives in so many ways–your support and friendship mean the world. So thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for such a wonderful year. Every like, comment, share, DM–it all means so much to us.
We have so many fantastic things planned for 2019, and we can’t wait to share them with you.
All our love–and Happy New Year!
Jess and Neal