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The Speech: My Story.

May 13, 2013

By:

Erin Schrader

Alas, the speech I have been nervous about for the past few months is now officially over. 

And while I did far from stellar at delivering what I wrote (you may think I am “being hard on myself” but no, it’s called honesty–my voice was shaking, I cried at parts I didn’t think I would cry at, and I looked down way more than I looked up), I want to remember the words that I said. I think it’s all important for us to have “our story” written out so if nothing else, I am proud of myself for taking the time to do so. 

Before we get into the ridiculous amount of words below, I just want to say thank you to everybody who was at Elevate on Saturday. I will never forget the comfort I found when looking up during my speech and seeing Nay, Robin, AshleyChrissy, and many others all smiling back at me with the sweetest little smiles ever. While speaking I was soaking up little lessons from you, the audience. 


And so it begins.

“First off I would like to thank Summer and Jen for giving me the opportunity to come out here to be with you all. Would I have known from the beginning that I was supposed to speak for 30 minutes, they may have gotten a different answer from me but here we are! While I do love writing, I don’t love speaking.  If for some reason I start sweating, cry, puke, or pass out, feel free to give me a bottle of wine and I should be back to good in no time. And because I only think it is logical that if I have to stand up here and make a fool of myself, you should as well. Whether you know the cupid shuffle or not, I expect you to be participating 😉


So then this happened.

My story with blogging starts approximately two and a half years ago and came in the form of a gratitude journal. Back in 2010 I made a promise to myself that for 365 days straight I would document what made me grateful and joyful on that particular day. I began looking for positivity around me, I was quick to write it down, and I never missed a day. There was something about putting down in words what I was experiencing that just felt good. I remember thinking “this is going to be such a cool thing to have years from now and look back on..these good times, these moments of gratefulness, the lessons I am learning..it’s all going to be right here.” After a solid year of writing daily I didn’t want to stop. I knew what I was doing was worth doing, I just didn’t know where to go from there. And then it hit me. I was reading through my old gratitude entries and I came across something that I wrote on June 8, 2010: “I am thankful for blogs. There are a few that I really connect with and enjoy. I am inspired to start writing my own..you never know who may enjoy it!”

It was January 2011 when I re-read that and I thought “Well, that was a good thought, but really? Me? A blog? Aren’t you supposed to have something to write about if you are actually going to write a blog? And crafts! Oh my gosh crafts. I would need to learn how to make those! And outfits. I’d actually have to like wear them! Don’t get me started on recipes. The only thing I know how to make is macaroni and cheese and how many times can I post that for the same 3 readers I will probably have? Good idea Erin, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for you.” But then I kept reading through that darn journal of mine and I came across something else where I said “I find this journal vital to me. I appreciate things in life that teach me dedication and this is one thing that is doing just that.” And again. Another entry ended with “I am thankful for this pen and paper. Writing is a blessing”. 
By then I threw my arms up in the air and yelled something like “FINE JOURNAL, I’LL DO IT. I WILL START A FREAKING BLOG BUT NOW I EXPECT YOU TO GIVE ME STUFF TO WRITE ABOUT.  DEAL?” I must have heard the journal say “deal” back because it began.

February 1, 2011 I wrote my very first blog post on Living In Yellow. Writing your very first blog post is quite an intimidating thing to do because you are fooled into thinking that everybody and their mom is going to be reading what you put out there, but then later find out that one person read it and that one person is your sister. You don’t know what you are doing on this big ole internet, you just know that you want to do it. And so you begin and you have NO idea how much of an impact hitting “publish” for the very first time will have on your life. You don’t know in that moment that what you just did was one of the bravest and most thrilling things you will ever do.

Being naive is a very good place to be in blogging and I think it is safe to say we must start there. You don’t need to know what you are doing when you are just starting out, you just need to know that you want to be doing it. That day I knew two things-I liked writing about what made me happy and I liked sending the most off the wall emails to my friends and husband. I figured if I could write about what makes me happy in my off the wall manner, it would at least be fun. I remember after hitting publish just sitting at my desk and thinking “Okay..well what now? Do I call my parents and freak them out by them that my life is now going to be documented on the internet or do I just let them find out on their own? Is this something I tell my sister about? Should Shawn even know?  BLOGGING IS SUCH A WEIRD THING THAT ONLY WEIRD PEOPLE DO I thought. Perfect.” I called my parents. I showed it to my sister. I read it a million times in front of Shawn. And then my sister said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard her say and that was “I have a feeling that you are going to be the next Pioneer Woman..” Clearly my sister didn’t get the “no crafting, no cooking, no decorating skills” vibe I was putting out there. But she saw something in my writing voice that encouraged and gave me the exact hope I needed to write my second (and 3rdand 45th and 730th post). I knew if one person enjoyed it, it was worth it, even if that one person was me.

After my first initial post I thought “now what?” I had one post. One post won’t sustain a blog for very long. It wasn’t soon after that first entry that I realized my life was now a walking blog post. Everything seemed to be writable to some degree. I especially appreciated when people would trip and fall in front of me or when I went to pay at the local meat shop with a thong that was in my purse for my awkward and awesome Thursday posts. I began finding inspiration in EVERYTHING. Installing a fire pit with Shawn and then titling the post “Getting dirty with my husband” was working for me. I learned early on from that particular post that people want to hear what not many people will say (one of my most viewed posts to date due to the title alone). Side note: Titles are one of the most important parts of your post—be strategic with them. End side note. I began realizing that it was okay that I didn’t have a “niche” I fell into, but rather a voice that provided a small amount of entertainment into people’s days. 98% of the time I am lighthearted and the other 2% I am this weird deep person that I always wished I was in high school. Deep and I don’t get very far, but the moments we do have together I love. I have found though that lighthearted or deep, somebody somewhere can connect with what you have to say.

As for the growth of my blog and the community that has developed—it definitely hasn’t been an overnight process. I remember making a deal with my husband that seemed quite impossible at the time (obviously to both of us or else he would have never agreed) and that was that I would be able to purchase a “blogging” camera once I reached 200 followers. It took me six months to get there but you better believe the minute that number went from 199 to 200 I was in Best Buy. From that point on I never looked back. It was in that same month I decided to see what the business side of blogging looked like. I do work 40 hours a week at a local credit union and wasn’t looking to replace my job but rather justify the countless hours I was now spending on this “hobby”. I am a huge believer in the saying “time is valuable” and if my time blogging was going to prohibit me from cuddling my husband and puppy, it only made sense to be compensated financially from it. While the extra money is nice, I believe that accepting sponsors makes you “up your blogging game” to an extent. It forces you to write posts on days that you may not always want to, it encourages you to think outside the box, and it cultivates a deeper relationship between you and your readers who you end up “doing business with”.

Despite the incredible joy blogging has brought me, it has also handed me my fair share of testing that annoying word– character. When I started blogging the thought never even crossed my mind that sometimes the internet isn’t always the nicest part of town to hang out in. I just assumed everybody was nice to each other, turns out that isn’t always the case. And while I consider myself fortunate for the love I do feel on a regular basis, I have had some moments of full on tears paired with the need for a really stiff drink. People get annoyed because I say the word “amazeballs”, I come off a little immature on occasion, because the format of my posts used to be centered, and because I make a profit from my blog. Through it all however it has taught me the most important lesson that we can all learn—just keep being yourself. No matter what. I would rather have somebody dislike me for being me, than have them love me for somebody I’m not.  

Two and a half years later I can confidently say that doing what I did on February 1, 2011 was one of the best decisions of my life. Blogging is a very real thing for me. It challenges me in ways I’ve never been challenged; it has taught me more about balance, persistence, and creativity than anything else ever has. Blogging has brought me real friendships that I would have never made otherwise. It has taken my tiny little vision of the world and enlarged into something huge. It has taught me how to handle myself with class in the times I really don’t want to be classy, how to love better, to give of myself more, and to encourage people that whatever it is they are going through, “it’s okay”, because one of us is going through the same exact thing. This world is full of beautiful good people who have so much to offer. If it wasn’t for blogging, I don’t know if I would have truly grasped this in a real and tangible way. We all have a responsibility to offer the one thing that we can truly offer-ourselves.

So where am I at with blogging two and a half years later? My four readers (parents, sister, and husband) have somehow (“somehow” translated into a lot of hard work, hundreds and hundreds of hours spent behind a computer screen, and a heck of a lot of wine consumed) turned into thousands of loyal readers. Because of my blog I have been able to come together with hundreds of readers to raise $2,700 for a little boy in my area and his family who recently died of cancer. I have had the opportunity to host clothing drives for local high school girls with clothes from readers that were shipped to me from across the united states. I have been fortunate (and creepy) enough to develop an online love affair with Giuliana Rancic and then be able to meet her in person. I was introduced to Back that Azz Up radio on Pandora which has obviously enhanced my life tenfold as you can imagine. I have made real genuine friendships with girls all over the country that I would’ve never otherwise if it wasn’t for this whole blogging thing. Recently my best friend and I started Love, Yellow-a monthly clothing “surprise” I pick out and send, and currently have plans of being featured in a blogging documentary that will hopefully make it to either the big screen or your local TV. Ebooks  additional blogs, it’s all a possibility. I still have nothing to bring to the table other than myself. I get discouraged, encouraged, tired, energized, teary eyed, mesmerized, angry, joyful, and any other sort of emotion blogging can evoke on a regular basis. This little “hobby” of mine is now a successful business that has been able to bless something that really didn’t need any additional blessing-my shopping addictions.

It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

Here is what keeps me going. My “why” behind this whole thing. Aside from writing for myself and the memories that I am leaving for years to come, I write for you. I write to bring a smile to your face, for you to crack a little laugh, and for you to know that if a simple girl like me can find beauty in this thing called life, so can you.  As a blogger it is SO important to know what you are offering on a consistent basis. Some of you may make the rest of us look like fools with your incredible tissue paper pom balls. Some of you put my frozen pizza cooking ability to shame. And for others..you wear that sock bun and chevron skirt better than anybody else I’ve ever seen. Or for some of you, you simply (and wholly) offer your words and all that is wrapped up in them. Vulnerabilities, failures, wisdom, humor, hopes, and happiness.  We must be aware of our “mission” and make sure it is being offered regularly.

What is your why? What do your readers gain by being on your space on a regular basis? What will make others want to come back? Are you offering something worth being consumed? 

We all have equal amounts on influence given to us, it is our job to be aware of how we are choosing to use it. As a blogger be mindful of your influence and use it wisely. Build up, don’t tear down. Love well online and it will love you well back. And no matter what you do, don’t give up. Somebody is out there hanging on to what you have to say whether you know it or not. It has also been important for me to be mindful that while blogging is now a very large part of my life, it is not my entire life. I want my blog to be a just a glimpse of what goes on around me. I want it to showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly. But in order to do that, I have to go out there and live the best and only way I know how to live-fully.

I hope that each one of you knows and trusts in the difference you are making. You will have to determine what having a successful blog means whether it is through number of readers, profits, feedback received, etc. For me, I consider not bashing my head against the cement because of a rough day but rather writing about it in a humorous way to be a giant success in and of itself.

What does success mean to you? 

Remember that your blog is a giant launch pad to a thousand of other opportunities.  I really don’t know where things with my blog will lead but I do trust that if I continue to keep after it like I have been, good things will continue to happen. Just keep showing up, offering what we have to offer, and having fun along the way. It’s as hard and as simple as that.

Cheers to the success that we have had, do have, and will continue to have in whatever form of measurement that is. Now where is the wine 😉

and to think that this little journal–would turn into all of this. 

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