It’s been just over 9 years since I first started my business and began the long transition from working in the corporate world to working from home.
I can say with utmost certainty that 9 years ago, I had absolutely NO intentions of doing what I’m doing now… in fact, we didn’t even have the internet at home and I’m not sure I even knew what a blog was!
I checked my personal email once a day at the most (from work), I probably got less than 20 personal emails a WEEK, and I had a freebie flip phone that I often forgot to take with me because I didn’t really use it all that much.
I went months without taking any pictures (I literally only took 16 pictures in all of 2007!), I wasn’t on Facebook yet, and I didn’t understood anything about social media.
I didn’t do any online shopping, I didn’t do online banking, I didn’t pay any bills online, I really almost never used the internet.
Fast-forward 9 years, and a lot has changed when it comes to the amount of time and energy I spend on my computer and online!
For starters, I now run an at-home business that is 100% dependant on the internet, I buy almost everything online, I get 20 emails in 20 minutes, I take my smartphone with me everywhere, and I take 16 pictures (or more) a day!
There are hundreds of thousands of personal websites and blogs and people are making millions of dollars “sitting at home” on their computers.
It’s exciting, it’s empowering, it’s enjoyable, but it can also be really exhausting.
Speaking of “exhausting”, one thing that hasn’t changed over the past 9 years is the constant “pressure” to do more, be more, make more, grow, expand, etc. etc.
If I think back to many of the fellow bloggers I started blogging with, the vast majority now fall into 2 completely opposite categories.
1. They grew their blog into something huge.
I have so many wonderful blogging friends who have poured their heart and soul into their blog and have grown their online presence into something quite spectacular.
They have tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of social media followers, they have insane blog subscription rates, they create new ebooks, e-courses, and other e-tools on a regular basis, they share daily videos and podcasts, and they seem to be “omnipresent” on every social media channel in existence.
Some have published best-selling books and make regular TV appearances.
Some have employees, assistants, and managers… and they pay professional photographers to take their pictures.
Some have huge sponsors and travel around the country on a monthly basis to promote these sponsors.
Also… some do FABULOUS things with the income they generate from their blogs (and they are very humble about it).
2. They quit.
For every blogging friend I have who has “made it big”, I know several others who have completely quit, or are just sharing personal posts once a month for family and friends who want to check in.
They either got too busy with other things, too overwhelmed to make working from home work for them, too frustrated with how quickly the internet changes, or just too annoyed with that pressure to always be doing MORE.
I don’t think the women in either of these two categories are right or wrong or better or worse — they are just different. They have different priorities, different energy levels, different resources, different personalities, and are probably at different stages of life.
I am personally impressed by those in each category — both those who have pushed through so many obstacles to get where they are now, and those who realized they just need to take a few steps back.
That said, I am happy to say that I’m currently not in either category — although I have stepped foot onto both sides!
There was a time, about a year after Nora was born (Fall of 2012), when my blog was growing like CRAZY.
My traffic was skyrocketing, my blog subscriptions and social media numbers were increasing exponentially, my inbox was bursting with amazing offers for trips, sponsored posts, product review requests, guest post opportunities, and advertising deals.
I was doing giveaways every single week, 0ur front porch was a regular UPS drop-off location, and I had so many offers for virtual assistant positions that (for a brief time) Dave considered doing some virtual assistant work with me.
I was even offered 3 or 4 fairly lucrative book deals.
I put in A LOT of hours — and I truly enjoyed what I was doing. However, after several months of putting in A LOT of hours (with a one-year-old who still wasn’t sleeping or eating well), I started feeling overwhelmed…
In the early months of 2013, I seriously thought about selling my blog and starting something new — or just quitting all together.
Not only did I have so many emails and commitments and obligations to fulfill, I also had so much STUFF that companies were sending me in hopes that I would promote or review it on my blog.
Although I was “preaching” simple living, my own life was feeling less and less “simple” as my business continued to grow.
Thankfully, after much thought and consideration, I rebranded and gave myself a fresh new start — without making any drastic changes like selling my blog or quitting altogether.
In fact, it was almost exactly 3 years ago to the day that I shared my first blog post as AndreaDekker.com!
Over the past 3 years I have diligently worked to simplify and streamline my blog, my VA work, my social media, my email, and anything else involved in my business life.
I went from publishing 6-8 posts per week to 5 posts per week.
I went from doing 1 or 2 giveaways per week to only a handful of giveaways per year.
I quit 3 of my smaller virtual assistant jobs.
I quit reading most other blogs.
I do almost ZERO social media — just a handful of Facebook posts per week because I enjoy interacting on Facebook.
I don’t send out any email marketing — just the daily post email that goes out automatically to anyone who subscribes, which requires no effort on my part.
I turn down 75% of the sponsored posts requests I get, and now only do a couple each month (only for products and companies I already use and love).
I have turned down EVERY SINGLE travel, conference, and speaking opportunity I’ve gotten over the past 3 years (this was very difficult at times!)
I have turned down several thousands of dollars in products and services because I know I won’t use them or feel confident promoting them.
I have turned down 3 more book offers.
I even turned down a TLC television show request because they wanted to film it in July of 2015, and that’s the month James was born.
And you know what? It feels amazing!
Yes, it was difficult to say “no” to some of the amazing opportunities I have been offered over the past 3 years — but I know I made the right decisions because I love running my blog and doing my VA work more now than I did 3 or 4 years ago when I was growing like crazy.
I am no longer growing nearly as much or as fast as I was before; but I’m only “working” about ONE THIRD of what I was before.
Sometimes I laugh to myself when people ask me what I do. I almost always say that I’m “a stay-at-home-mom” because I’ve found it’s an easier response than trying to explain exactly what I DO do 🙂
I’m at the point in my life when I’m happy to enjoy having a creative outlet, feeling productive, contributing to our family’s financial well-being… and being able to do it all while my kids are sleeping or when Dave is home with them.
While I have absolutely nothing against using childcare, daycare, babysitters, or a nanny, I simply decided that if I’m going to work from home, I’m only going to do what I can do WITH my kids at home.
That means no traveling, no speaking, no books, no TV shows, no podcasts, no teleconferences, no skyping, no meetings, no assistants, no managers, no fancy photos, no complex marketing plans, no rigid schedules or strict deadlines, and no social media (except Facebook!)
I write 5 blog posts a week, share a few fun pictures and Nora quotes on Facebook, respond to a handful of emails and comments, and do a minimal amount of VA work… that’s it.
My work life and personal life feel very simple… and that has always been my goal.
Practicing What I Preach
For as long as I can remember, I have felt the happiest when my surroundings were organized and my schedule was simplified. Although I thrive on productivity and “getting stuff done”, I also crave simplicity and organization in almost everything I do.
I have experienced the benefits of living a simple organized life, and have witnessed the transforming power of helping others to simplify and organize their own homes and lives.
As the tagline of my blog suggests, my goal for my blog and business is to SIMPLY REAL LIFE… and boy does it feel great to know that I am truly “practicing what I preach” in both my personal life AND my business life.
Although there are some amazing women out there running fabulously huge online businesses, I love knowing that I am NOT one of them.
I have claimed my tiny little corner of the internet and am 100% happy and content to be where I’m at right now — living simply both at home and online.
I’m not saying I will continue to run my business like this forever (or even that I’ll stay blogging forever).
Once my children are older, I can definitely see pursuing more opportunities to grow and expand — or to do something completely different. But for now, I think I’ve found my “sweet spot”.