Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Why hello there! Happy final day of 2018!!
It’s been awhile… four months to be exact since I decided to embark on this “tell-all series”.
Part I — though a bit delayed — was all about the scary decision to break free from the comfort of my corporate marketing job. And Part II — which is really rather timely — will share with you the details of what my experience has been over the last several months.
To be up front — I’m incredibly nervous to share this. It feels vulnerable even more so that it did before for the sole possibility I mentioned back in August of potentially “having nothing to show for it”.
Well, I feel like I don’t have a lot to show for it, but I most definitely have a shit ton of learnings. Those in which I plan to share in this post.
So grab your coffee again peeps — here’s a little juice on my life since breaking free from the corporate chains and embarking on building my dream life doing what I love.
And sharing with you a little NYE outfit along the way — because what’s better than black and gold?!
SHOP THE EDIT
When I finally mustered up the courage to leave my job after months of tears, self-doubt and confusion — I finally found peace in the fact that I had some sort of game plan.
I had this blog and brand I had been building for over a year and a half that was growing exponentially and really giving me the thrill I was seeking of a creative outlet and passion project. I thought — if I could spend 100% of my time working on this baby, wouldn’t the growth be even more exponential?
In addition, my desire to be a business owner and founder of some sort was prevalent — so perhaps I’d lean into that somehow. I’d been meeting up with a fellow blogger friend in Seattle to expand on an idea we had that could help the industry we were in. The fact that our idea was growing quickly into a business plan, us pitching our husbands and plotting ways to seek out investment, I had the confidence that something would come out of it.
So my jump-ship plan was two part: continue building the brand in an organic and authentic way + turn an idea into an actual business. Guaranteed money making right?! At least it all sounded so in my eyes.
I was jumping into the online business school program I had bought into (literally) here are there, which was giving me the clarity I needed around how I could make a profit from my blog. I identified the areas I needed to put more time into — digital downloads, service based products, brand partnerships and affiliate links — in order to see these profits.
I had a damn good action plan among countless documents and spreadsheets about how I’d execute said areas and allocate my time.
On the flip side I was spending time meeting up with my blogger biz partner, trying to turn this idea into something. We’d get so jazzed every time we met. Our idea seemed to be one that was actually sticking and could prove successful as far as demand and need went.
My days and weeks went by very quickly. I was busy plotting, planning, absorbing — you better believe I was filling my ears with podcasts all day every day.
I had a strict morning routine I was abiding by — really tapping into the things that fueled me on the daily. Meditating, practicing gratitude, making the bed, drinking lemon water as soon as I got up, getting in a sweat… bulletproof.
Shit was rolling. I wasn’t making a dime but the leg work I was putting into the planning was going to pay off. All of the hustle… it was prepwork for the gold ahead. At least that’s what my husband and all the entrepreneurial podcasts I was listening to were telling me…
After a couple months of rolling with the above — I had a few realizations.
The biggest one being that the theory I had about putting all of my time and effort into my blog would result in even more exponential growth was only true to a certain extent. Sure I was growing, sure I was busting out content left and right — but was I seeing the financial return? Hell no.
I announced digital styling services, I created a series of Lightroom presets… I even dabbled at promoting my marketing services across branding, social media and web design. I picked up clients here and there — and learned a ton about what areas I really wanted to focus my time on.
I decided to separate my marketing services from the brand and reposition these as a ways to a means via freelance work — and slowly add on digital downloads to my blog when I saw it as the right time.
I swallowed my pride and decided to be patient with the blog.
Why? Because building a successful brand takes time. Time as in years. And if I was going to grow this thing the right way, I needed to be patient. Patient in the fact that I was refining my target audience and messaging over time, patient in the fact that I was building awareness about what it is I’m about and patient in the area of making a profit.
Making money was not the reason I started my blog and I needed to remember the why. Once I swallowed this learning, I was able to keep on doing what I was doing, focusing on steady growth, but not killing myself if it wasn’t immediate success.
So then there was the biz idea. This was going to be the true money maker. Cortney Bigelow, CEO and Founder of Badass Company and/or Product. Oh my god that gave me chills. Still does.
The idea I had with my blogger friend — though still a great one — fizzled out. We were at different stages in our life and I realized my passion was going to be building something on my own, off an idea I had that would allow me to make a small difference in the world while being fully in the driver’s seat.
The idea I had was now around a tangible product vs the service based platform we were working on. It came to my husband and I in the desert while we were driving back to the airport after our 4 year anny trip exploring the Southwest. Trevor had been doing a ton of research in FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and all we needed was an idea to build off of.
Well, I thought of it — and it was go time. Time to shift gears and more importantly my focus to actually figure out how to develop a product that could be launched under my existing brand and leverage all the marketing experience I had to evolve into a company with one damn good story. I’d be the visionary leader and decision maker and Trevor would be my behind-the-scenes finance and operations guy.
A new rush of excitement. The new plan was on.
Once the new plan was set, the momentum I knew and felt comfort in continued rolling. That is — the blog portion.
I continued busting out content left and right, doing photo shoots, working with new brands, meeting up with bloggers on the regular — really feeling like my roots in the Seattle blogging community were solid. It was an amazing feeling. But I was doing all of this to stay busy.
And boy was I busyyy.
And if any of you know me, you probs know I like to be busy. But what the hardest realization was post job leave — was that being busy did not equal productivity and result-producing actions all the time. It just meant I was occupying my time. Filling my calendar with things that made me feel like I was still acting like a contributing member to society.
The only difference? No salary… or benefits. Output without a return worth all of my time and effort.
I kept defaulting to doing all of this busy work around my blog because it felt comfortable. Which as an entrepreneur you have to learn quick that operating in the comfortable areas does not move you forward.
Now I’m being harsh here because that’s what I do. These past few months have felt like I’ve had nothing to show for it… but really I have had several wins from said “busy-ness” that are worth highlighting:
Aside from celebrating my wins with The Grey Edit, it was really time to get a grasp of reality. And when I say time — I’m talking like really recently shaking myself saying, Cortney wake up — you’ve got to get ahead of managing your time.
It’s literally been the hardest thing — time management. People don’t really tell you that. I mean they do, I guess I heard it from my entrepreneur role models. But when you’re in it, it’s so different. You think you have a handle, and then time flies by and you look back and say what the hell — where did my time go and what did I do to move the needle?
I tested and implemented various time management hacks like blocking out time chunks on my Google calendar, using a project management tool and setting reminders on my phone. These things would look great on paper, but in practice, I was still spinning.
Another crazy realization is that when you work from home out of your home office, you find so many things that can be done around the house. Again, to keep busy. At least I did. And then when you get focused and plan to work out of a coffee shop, you tend to spend money. A coffee at the very least but hours later can turn into a meal of over $15 — I mean, at least the healthy green vibe places I was gravitating to.
So working to jump out of spinning and trying to navigate the cluster fuck that is managing your time for quality output is key. And though I wish I had a statement I could write next that says I conquered it, I don’t.
But here are a few tips I’ve found to help me through:
It’s a freaking journey, folks. Patience, diligence and convincing yourself on the regular that you’re not a failure and you can do this — are all completely necessary.
So here I am, sitting at a coffee shop reflecting on the year on the last day of 2018 and I’m ready to make some moves.
I have a brand new list of 2019 goals broken out by category (love comparing these to the year before, it makes you feel like you’ve done something!). I have a new schedule I’m planning to stick to. And I have the longest list of action items with deadlines I’m going to take action on vs planning and plotting.
Because taking action gets you closer to your goals, and once you check off a list of little actions, you’ll realize you’ve reached your goal without even knowing it.
Since hitting 10K I’ve had this recent realization that I really need to focus my time on the bigger goals. I’ll be working to grow my brand and focus on the key things that make The Grey Edit unique — style resources you can truly benefit from. More authentic stories sharing the shit behind the scenes I’ve learned that you all really appreciate.
But more than ever, my time will really be dedicated to the development and creation of this product idea. It’s something I know nothing about and am getting my hands dirty in all things non-digital marketing and it’s scary, but I’m confident it will come out as a success of some sort in the end.
The goal? Launch before summer of next year. And I can’t wait to share with you the details of the hustle along the way.
I want to thank you guys for being a part of this journey. I know I’ve said it before, but it really has been what’s kept me going.
Each of you have contributed to the fuel that’s going to get me to building my dream career and life — and I really hope those of you in a similar situation can learn from my trial and error.
That life we have? Still short. Do the shit you want to do. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to take time and it’s going to be messy… but you only have one.
So edit that life, girl. And in the meantime, I’ll keep on filling you in on how my edit goes :).
Happy end of year — onto the next!
// cb ✌????
SHOP THE EDIT
Lifestyle blogger, photographer, mother to my son Boden and frenchie Smalls, wife to my hubs Trevor.
I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Get To Know Me
Mother. Wife. Blogger. Photographer. I built this space in an attempt to inspire you to find your edit and empower you to create the life you desire. Through digital content and honest storytelling, I hope to guide you along the way. Because everyone has an edit, and I'm here to help you find yours.
Hi, I'm Cortney
Sign up to become an insider of The Grey Edit and never miss a beat.