Posts Tagged ‘work’

10 years ago I had a crazy idea to start a blog and here I am, still going.

It’s my 10 year blogiversary and I was thinking of all the ways I should celebrate. Maybe a giveaway, a roundup of my favorite posts, or tips for starting your own blog. Those posts may still come later, but my friend LaShawn recently wrote 5 lessons she’s learned since starting to blog full time this year and I thought YES! That’s it! I’ll share 10 blogging lessons I’ve learned after 10 years of doing this thing.

One thing I want to do is be a bit more transparent here about the business side of things. It’s pretty obvious at this point that this avenue is how I  support my family, but I don’t talk much about what goes on behind the scenes from a work perspective.

When I started making this list it got long fast. But I really wanted to narrow it down to my 10 best lessons. So some things got cut and some are practically 3 squeezed into one. But still, It’ll be great. Here we go!

1. You are an original

When I started my blog and for years I was so concerned with trying to have a unique angle. At first it was being a mom blogger before having a baby. But once I had a baby I worried if be just like everyone else and no one would want to read my blog because I was no longer unique. I was so wrong. No one has your voice. Your exact thoughts or opinions and personality. Your spin, your touch. Even if your niche feels over-saturated, take pride in knowing you are the only you that has or will ever live. And you have something to say.

2. We can make an impact

For years and years I rambled here without an intention to do much more than journal about my life. But the more I opened up about things that are really important to me, the more I realized I could make an impact. I shared about my news station cutting a segment to get foster kids adopted and another local station got word about my post and and I was able to help them get it restarted with them. We’ve raised money for nonprofits, and inspired people to make big changes in their lives.

I’ve written about pulling my kids out of public school, politics and racism, discovering my daughter is dyslexic, the challenges of being an officer’s wife, putting my kids back in public school, and and and… Being vulnerable is scary, and for me, being courageous enough to intentionally be a leader is scary. But sometimes opening up about a tough topic, and stepping up is the most valuable thing we can share. And something that can really help someone else.

3. Value everyone who takes time to reach out

I am so thankful for each and every one of my readers. Especially the ones who take time to leave a comment here or on Facebook, or reply to me on YouTube or Twitter or slide into my Instagram DMs. I try to take time and reply to each one. Sometimes it takes WAY longer than I mean to, but I eventually get back to everyone. Blog comments are much more scarce these days, and a lot of bloggers are turning them off all together. I like leaving them open in case a post, no matter how old, inspires someone to say something too. And I value each and every one. I know time is a very rare and limited resource and I can’t thank you enough for spending some of yours here with me.

4. I can’t make everyone happy

I’m the kind of person who feels really bad when I accidentally cut someone off and they flip me off then drive around me all angry. I want to chase them down and apologize and tell them I’m not a jerk. I’ve tiptoed around and avoided a lot of topics for fear of saying something wrong that could upset people or make people dislike me.

But the longer I have blogged the more I’ve realized I can’t make everyone happy, and not everyone is going to like me. Some people may even dislike me. And while I will never understand how anyone could do that, I am learning to be ok with that. And learning that it’s not always about me. Sometimes it’s about them, and some people are always going to find a reason to be upset. What’s important is the intention behind my words. It’s up to the receiver to decide how to feel. And it’s up to me to stand in my truth.

5. There is no roadmap to success

In my journalism career it was easy to pinpoint role models and potential mentors and try to follow a similar path, but in the blogging and social media world it’s entirely different. This industry is absolutely incredible. But there’s no roadmap to success. The potential is limitless.

I’m amazed at the unique blogs, YouTube channels and Instagram accounts there are out there. A self-proclaimed expert at comic books? Tell the world about it! Tried a hundred gluten-free Instapot recipes and you know which ones suck and which ones are great? Talk about it!

To some people their end-goal is a book deal. For others it’s making a six or seven-figure income. Others still may want to go to a Disney movie premiere, or take an all-expense paid trip with their family.

Each person is going to have a different idea of what success looks like to them. And anyone can truly take any topic, run with it, make their own business, and even make a killing. There’s so much power in social media.

I would have never guessed opportunities through my blog would have allowed me to meet Oprah, travel to Israel, and save enough to build my dream home. I’m now brewing up new dreams and I’m excited to see where this road will continue to lead me. But there’s no real “on top,” it is what you make of it. And the sky’s the limit.

6. I’m not competing with anyone but myself

I’ve met some of my best friends through blogging and I love cheering them on. Sharing each other’s work, commenting on each other’s good news, or hitting that like button to support each other does nothing to hurt me. It’s like that saying: A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. And the better we do as an industry as a whole, the better we all do.

I love collaborating! This year, with the baby, I’ve mostly kept to myself and done less travel but I’m an extremely social person and I hope to do more blogger and social media collaborations in the future.

The blogging community is truly remarkable and I’ve loved connecting with people from all over the world and meeting them at conferences. You can become friends with anyone from anywhere and some of my best friends I haven’t even met face to face yet.

7. Choose quality over quantity 

When I first started my blog I wrote every. single. day. Sunday through Saturday. Back then it worked. Now I post here Monday, Wednesday and Friday (more on Instagram and Facebook) and I’m focusing more on the quality of my work. Investing in a good camera, and learning how to use it made a big difference for me. I put my heart into every post sponsored or not and really try to tell a story in each one. Even more so, a story with an important takeaway. I know this type of storytelling and the images bring value that isn’t easy to replicate. I’m amazed at some of the opportunities that have come our way because of this space. It pays to stay true to who you are.

8. It’s never too late to pivot. And pivot and pivot

I can’t tell you how many times this blog has taken a shift. From the Baby Making Machine being off, then on, then completely ditching it all together. I was so worried that rebranding would crush what I had built but it wasn’t the case at all. There are some “ah ha!” moments when people stumble upon my page who haven’t seen it in their feeds in awhile. I even started just going by my full name on most of my social media channels because my name will always stay consistent.

On YouTube, my channel has been ALL over the place. I’ve done travel, tips and tricks, and quick well-edited videos. When a vlog I did with Lil’ J about trying out for all-star cheer took off I realized we were onto something. Since then my YouTube channel has become a mommy-daughter video space and I love it.

Whether you’re changing topics or a name, pivoting is a-ok, the commonality is YOU.

9. You can do it all, but not all at the same time

Business wise, the biggest change for me came when I admitted that I couldn’t do everything myself. I called myself a control freak. And I was worried about spending too much but that saying it takes money to make money really rang true for me. And the book I’m a Badass at Making Money really helped me kick the scarcity complex and get in the right mindset. I learned to invest in my business. I hired an amazing woman to help me with the business side of things, and others to help with scheduling while I focus on the stuff I love: Writing and photography.

Once I started treating it all like a business, keeping a schedule, hiring help, learning photography (check out my course), getting better hosting, they all added up to be a good investment.

10. Hobby? Job? It can be both

10 years ago my dream job was to be working at WSB or CNN in Atlanta as a prime time anchor. Now? This is hands down SO much better. I’m still doing what I love: Writing, telling stories, and making a difference while spending time with my young children. What started as a random hobby to brain dump after work has turned into a quirky business I love it so much. I never thought I’d make a dollar from it. Much less pay my bills.

That said, it’s still a job. This is how I get work done most days lately. Rocking a baby to sleep and working at the kitchen counter. There are days I’m overwhelmed, frustrated with clients, or up working way too late. And times I put my heart into my work only to have it chopped to pieces or have to start over. There are weeks I’m too tired to post anything on Instagram other than the sponsored posts I’m contracted to share. It’s still work. But I love what I do and feel incredibly blessed to have a job that feels like work and play.

It’s been a long road but ten years has flown by. I’m constantly thinking of ways I can make this little space of mine even better than the last year. I know so many of you have been with me for years and years and others have recently discovered my site. I want to continue to evolve with you, and I am excited to see what we can do with another 10 years.

If you’ve been thinking of starting a blog I’d say go for it. Just start writing. Hopefully the lessons I’ve learned the long way can help give you a good head start.

I’m thinking I’ll do a Facebook live video talking about this and sharing some tips for beginning bloggers. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know!

I’ve debated hitting publish on this post for weeks. Shedding light on the corporate workings of a news organization isn’t exactly the best way to solidify your next gig. But it came to a point where I felt like not saying anything is doing more harm and pretty hypocritical. What is this platform of mine if I’m not willing to back the people and issues I’m passionate about? What was the point of it all if I’m not willing to try to make a difference when it matters most?

Photo Credit: Vocal Visions

The Pink Slip

A call came in from New York. I normally don’t answer the phone for numbers I don’t know, but with everything that’s going on with my mom right now, I answer the phone for everyone.

I said hello and waited for the monotonic voice of a recorded marketing call, but instead was greeted with a very professional, very down-to-business kind of voice from Spectrum News in New York.

It took a moment for it to all sink in.

“I was told you wanted to speak with me?” She added.

Oh yes!

I had actually been awaiting this call weeks earlier. My news station–All the news stations under this umbrella were acquired as Charter bought Time Warner Cable. A mass of people had been let go and I had dodged a bullet. Or so I thought. This down-to-business woman from New York was calling to let me know my time was up.

“Oh yea, I heard all of the feature segments were getting canceled at our station, but I never got a call so I’ve just continued to do them,” I said.

Let me back up for a second. The feature segment–called Forever Families–is arguably the most important and impactful piece of work my station puts on the air. Not because it’s what I’m doing, but because of what it is.

A lot of people know about children in foster care who are waiting to return to their homes once things get better. What many people don’t realize is that there are thousands of foster children around the country who are *never* going back to their homes. Their parents or guardians have lost custody completely, and they don’t have other relatives to step up.

These are the children I meet every week. Children who are deemed “harder to adopt” by the state. Because most people who want to adopt are looking for babies, not teens. Or wanting a single child, not sibling groups. Or a “typical child” not one who has special needs.

For the last eight years of my life–before I even had my own children–These were the children I played with, and got to know for a short time before penning their narrates as best as I could. I told their stories in a segment to air on television. A special spot to help connect them to their forever family somewhere out there watching.

And it worked! Adoption rates went up. By a lot. We tore down barriers between those stigmatized and put a face and a voice with the names of these children who need homes.

So it made sense to me that they’d keep it on air. We did this important work. Every. Single. Week.

Until now.

“Oh yea, you and just slipped through the cracks,” the woman from New York went on. “Everything going on down there in Texas is a mess. I didn’t even have your phone number until a few hours ago. You’re contract right?”

She wasn’t even sure of my position yet she was ready to lay me off.

“Well technically I’m part time–” I started.

“Yes, well we’ve done away with all the franchise segments. They were no longer sponsored…”

I wanted to cut her off. To tell her that for a time Forever Families was intentionally not sponsored because of the nature of the segment. I was debating if it was worth challenging in this moment when she said something that brought me back to the conversation.

“We’ll have several full-time positions opening up and I encourage you to apply for one of them.”

Full time? I didn’t want to laugh but at this point it became clear that she had no idea about my history with the station. It didn’t really matter, but perhaps if she had known that this segment wasn’t some kind of a stepping stone for me.–But something I continued to do out of love and passion after stepping down from a full-time position, maybe the chat would have gone a little differently.

The conversation was moving too quickly for me. Maybe it’s a New Yorker thing. I was barely able to process it all. I resolved this was a losing conversation and I’d just have to figure this out on my own. But I wasn’t giving up. I’m not giving up.

The Impact

In case you’re wondering why this is a hill I’m willing to die on, let me share one example of the life-changing impact of this piece.

Several years ago I met a couple who had just adopted two girls. “My wife watched Forever Families religiously!” He told me. And one Sunday they saw two little girls playing at a rodeo and it struck them–That’s their girls. A year after I had met those girls to film that segment at the Star of Texas Rodeo, we met back to get their story.

The mother Latisha Crockett, reached out to me last year giving me the devastating news that her husband had died. She asked for a copy of this segment for her and her daughters and I was more than happy to help.

I chose to pursue journalism because I loved the rush of learning about a topic I haven’t a clue about, interviewing different people every day, and piecing together a story to inform others about. My job as an anchor and reporter had its ups and downs for years, but taking charge of the Forever Families segment changed everything for me. I felt like I had a *real*, important story to tell. One that actually made a tangible difference. The stories of hundreds of foster children around Central Texas who need a family.

Forever Families aired every Sunday and it literally bought families together.

Now Sunday morning when you turn to channel 8 on Spectrum News you’ll still see weather, and politics, and news about the latest shooting or traffic accident, or another fire or… You know the drill. But the foster kids looking for families? Gone.

What’s Next

I’m currently working with the nonprofit Partnerships for Children, who facilitate organizing the filmings of these children.–They are absolutely the ones to thank for keeping this going as long as it did. We have a handful of segments that never ran on Spectrum, and I’ll be editing those in the meantime to put on their website and hopefully offer to other news stations.

Though this segment has a special place in my heart, I’m happy to pass the torch to good hands if that means it will keep running.–As Forever Families, Wednesday’s Child, or whatever it needs to be called.

I’ve been emailing and calling the new news director in charge at the local level to see if that’s something we can do. So far I’ve gotten no response. Next step is courting other stations and reaching out to you for help.

How You Can Help

Let them know you believe foster children are important, and Forever Families should be back on the air. You can submit feedback, contact them through their Facebook Pagetweet them, or if you’re into the kind of person who likes to pick up the phone, call them 512-965-8800.

Do you have connections to another news station, web channel, or other platform that would love to feature a different foster child every week? The more eyes the better. These stories were often the first impression, or the spark that got someone interested in adoption. Or to remind them of a friend who may be interested in adoption.

You can learn more about the Heart Gallery and the foster children who need families here, and more about the segment here.

Despite what is going on at a corporate level, these kids deserve their platform. I have no doubt this segment will make a comeback.–With whom and how I’m not so sure. But I’m hanging in there until I see it happen.

I went to college to study journalism because I wanted to be a reporter and make a difference. I never imagined I’d be going about it this way.

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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