Liebster Award - Spreading Blogger Love

Hi everyone!  I decided to end 2015 with something a little different and totally fun!  The wonderful Victoria of Burgh Brides (we talked to her here and here) nominated me for a Liebster Award.  It’s a “by bloggers, for bloggers” award that celebrates those of us (trying) to do big things in the blogging world!  I was so humbled to receive the nomination from Victoria because I respect her work so very much and am in awe of what she has been able to accomplish in her first year running Burgh Brides.  I guarantee this girl is going to be on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine one day.  Seriously.  So with this nomination, comes a series of ten fun questions that I got to answer and am sharing my responses below.  At the end of this post, I also will nominate two fellow bloggers for the award and challenge!  I’d also love for you to comment and let me know your answers to some of these questions!

1.  What is something about yourself that most people don’t know?

I was born butt first (folded in half).  Sorry mom.  I like to think I have been doing things my own way since day one. Lol.

2.  What are you afraid of?

Failure.  I know it’s sort of cliché, but it’s totally true.  My entire life I have been a perfectionist and have tried to control all aspects of my life and the world around me.  Often times being a perfectionist ends up being more of a curse rather than a blessing.  I was always waiting for the “perfect” time to do things…and in the process would stay stuck and stagnant.  I waited forever to start the blog because my focus was on the million and one ways that I might fail.  Finally, I just took pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and began…just one post…I had no idea where it would go, but at least I had started.

3.  Describe your ideal weekend.

Oh man!  This is something I have been giving a lot of thought to…especially with the New Year approaching.  How often do we actually take time and devote an entire day to doing only things we enjoy?!  Probably never right??  I’m making it a goal to set at least one day aside a month (let’s be honest, that’s only 12 days in the entire year) and do only things I enjoy for that entire day.  So, I would like to say that my ideal weekend is being whisked away to some exotic island (which I wouldn’t argue against), but it’s probably much more simple than that.  I would probably take Manny to the dog park, drive with the windows down and music blasting, and get in some quality time with a good book (I told you I was simple).  I’d catch up with friends over brunch and bloody marys…and laugh all day.  I also would turn my phone off – yes off – for at least 24 hours.  

4.  A lot of people don’t understand what bloggers do or how blogging can be a profitable business.  So what do you “really do”?

This is so true!  One of the main things I get asked is, “wait, you can make money from a blog?”  Yes, you can.  I just celebrated my one year “blogiversary,” so I am not at the point of monetizing my blog just yet.  However, many people do it and are quite successful.  Some of the main ways to monetize a blog are through affiliate programs, sponsorships, and ads.  If a blogger gets really big, he or she can parlay the blog into other ventures such as speaking engagements, book deals, and even clothing and home good lines!  The one thing I never realized and I think a lot of people don’t realize is how very time consuming blogging can become.  You are constantly coming up with post ideas, researching and shopping trends, writing, photographing, editing, managing social media, and working to build a brand and community.  It’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up – there is so much competition and it takes years (I would estimate at a minimum three) before you really build a following and begin to make money.  You have to love it.  Bottom line.  I just listened to a podcast that estimated some of the top bloggers work 80 to 100 hours a week.  And sure they are pursuing a passion and many are getting paid really well to do it, but its hard work and there are definitely trade-offs.

5.  Puppies or kittens?

I am a major animal person!  I would have to say puppies because I grew up with dogs and never actually had a cat as a pet. Manny, my five-year old fur baby, makes my life so full and happy.  There’s something about a dog’s loyalty and unconditional love that you just can’t find in another animal.

6.  What is your favorite movie and why?

I know this probably goes against all first impressions of me…but I absolutely love sports movies.  So Remember the Titans, Miracle, We Are Marshall, and Rudy are just a few of my favorites.  The locker room speeches always get me.  If I had to pick a movie that I could watch a million times and still not get bored, it would be Hope Floats.  I love the story, the music, everything about it!  I swear if my future husband would allow it, I would name my daughters “Birdie” and “Bernice” after the main characters! 

7.  What do you see for the future of your business?

I think the future is wide open – which is a good thing.  I would like to continue to grow the blog and expand the community of fellow blogger and creative types.  I also work as a wedding and event planner, so I hope to use the blog to showcase more of my work and attract new event clients.  I’d love to partner with more businesses and it’s always been a dream to write or do styling for a magazine (hint, hint all you Pittsburgh magazine people)!  

8.  What is your stupid human trick?  Mine is I can say the alphabet backwards!

Hmmm this is a hard one. I used to be able to say the alphabet backwards, but it seems like I have lost that ability.  Let’s see…I do really good accents.  Or maybe they are really bad accents, but at least they make people laugh!

9.  You just won a million dollars!  What do you do first?

I wish!!  If I won a million dollars, I am guessing there would be a big struggle between my practical brain and my “yolo” brain!  I hope that my practical brain would win out and I would pay off all my school debt.  Once I was free and clear, I would probably splurge on something…though I could see myself using the money to buy a house or travel.  I also could picture myself moving for a year to a place that I normally wouldn’t be able to afford (like NYC).  I would definitely leave a good portion of the money for charitable acts.  I always think about having enough money to be able to do larger than life random acts of kindness -  just leaving a random waiter a huge tip or donating a large amount to one of my favorite charities.   

10.  What is the biggest lesson your business has taught you?

Oh my gosh – I just reflected on this question a couple of weeks ago for my one-year and there are sooo many.  Honestly, we will be here all day if I dive into everyone.  Let me give you my top six:

  1. There will never be a perfect time.  Start now…with what you have and with whatever doubts are in your head.  Just take the first step.
  2. I mentioned this in my one-year post and I will say it again because I feel it’s worth repeating.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  There will always be someone prettier, funnier, skinnier, with more money and more followers…it doesn’t matter.  You are unique and amazing and your gifts need to be shared with the world.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  I was always intimidated to ask people for things or to network at all really.  I didn’t feel I brought anything to the table.  This past year has changed all of that for me.  I have found the confidence to reach out to so many talented people…and guess what…none of them told me no or turned me away.  Most people want to be part of a community and will welcome your ideas and partnership.
  4. You can teach yourself nearly anything.  Ok, I say “nearly anything” because I don’t see me learning to perform open-heart surgery via YouTube.  However, this past year I taught myself to design a website, use InDesign and Photoshop (I am still learning, so be nice), grow a social media following (I didn’t even have a Twitter or Instagram account when I started), and am slowly but surely learning photography.  When I was starting out, I could have thought, “Well I can’t start a blog because I don’t know how to do any of these things.”  Not true.  Start with what you are good at.  For me, I am a strong writer and I know fashion.  I could learn the rest.  Surround yourself with smart, talented people and absorb as much as you can from them.
  5. Do what you can with the time you have.  I often get stressed out because I work full-time and I don’t have the time that I wish I had to devote to my blog.  I get discouraged because I am not sure how I can compete when I am squeezing in late night posts.  I would encourage you to make the most of the “free” time you have, but don’t drive yourself crazy.  If you only have the time to post once a week, then post once a week…but make it a strong, engaging post.  Life is too short to constantly beat yourself up over the things you aren’t able to accomplish – so make your goals realistic. 
  6. If you can’t find what you are looking for – then create it.  I job searched for years and could not find a job that would be a creative outlet and allow me to pursue my passions…let alone one that would hire me and pay me enough to survive.  So, I decided to create the blog.  When I started the blog, I couldn’t find a community of fellow bloggers to share ideas with.  So, I met with three other ladies and started the Style Social events.  We live in a world where so many things are accessible and right at our fingertips.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, just create what you are looking for.

Now, for the really fun part - I am nominating Ashley of Afternoon Espresso and Zoe of Zoe With Love for the Liebster Award and Challenge!  The rules are simple:

  • Nicely thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Proudly display the award badge somewhere on your blog.
  • Answer the 10 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Create your own list of 10 questions.
  • Nominate a new blogger to receive the award.  

Here our your questions ladies!  I can't wait to read your answers!

  1. What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
  2. You get to spend a “girl’s day” (spa, shopping, mimosas) with one celebrity, who do you pick and why?
  3. If you could travel anywhere in 2016, where would it be?
  4. Without giving away too many secrets, what’s the best blogging advice you have received?
  5. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be “when you grew up”?
  6. City or country?
  7. If you were a Disney character, who would you be and why?
  8. How would your best friend describe you?
  9. What new blog ideas are you throwing around for 2016?
  10. Favorite movie quote?