For the last few months there’s been one item on my “To Do” list that keeps getting ignored: Update the Bio. I have to say, I absolutely hate writing bios, profiles for networking sites, etc. It’s definitely overdue and things have changed a lot over the last 12 months since I wrote this bio and started this blog. (Actually – it wasn’t even this blog – it started as Frugalous.com and later I moved it all here to Frugal Family Life.)
I sold my house last August with the plan that my teenage son and I would move into a 2 bedroom apartment. My teen daughter was planning to rent a house with 3 other girls as she headed into her second year of college in a city about 90 minutes away. They say even the best laid plans go astray. The week I was moving into the 2 bedroom apartment my lovely Girlchild informed me that she’d decided to change schools and change direction and would now be living at home with me after all. Oops! Now I have myself and 2 teens in a 2 bedroom apartment. A small 2 bedroom apartment. With a year’s lease signed. I could have cried. Truly.
I happened to mention the situation to my landlord who told me that a 3 bedroom was coming up available in 2 months time and I could move to that if I wanted to. We took a quick tour of it and it was nearly double the size of the 2 bedroom I was living in and it even had a walk-in closet and a 2 piece ensuite bathroom in the master bedroom. And it was less than $100 more than what I was now paying. Joy! Even more so when I learned that it was one of only four 3 bedroom apartments in the entire building and they pretty much never came available. Phew. That problem was solved.
Right around the time I was moving out of the house I learned that John Chow was running a contest to win a free ticket to Blog World Expo in September, 2008. I’d been thinking that I really should attend Blog World but I didn’t really know anyone going and I’m a huge introvert (no really!) and I’d pretty much convinced myself that I shouldn’t go. Then I entered John’s contest figuring if I won the ticket I’d commit to going and if I didn’t then I’d maybe consider it the following year. I won! I never win anything but I won the ticket. Even better, one of my best friends, Chaz French, who’d been my biggest supporter through all of my changes decided to attend Blog World with me. I think he figured even with a free ticket I’d either talk myself out of going or go so deep into wallflower-mode once I was there that I’d never go to any of the parties.
Blog World Expo 2008 changed everything. My first night there at a party thrown by TechSet I got to meet in person literally dozens of my blogger and social media heroes. I’d been on Twitter for about 18 months at that point and had been active in other online communities so quite a few of my heroes actually knew who I was as well and the ones who didn’t were still gracious and friendly and made me feel like I was part of things. The rest of my time at Blog World Expo was amazing and I met so many wonderful people. I came home with stars in my eyes and fire in my belly. I knew I’d made the right decision. I was sure that focusing on making money online was the right path for me.
A few days later I was contacted by one of the bloggers I’d met at a party who suggested I’d be a good fit to be part of the Walmart Elevenmoms. We’d had a great conversation at Blog World about social media, technology, and well life, the universe and everything. I hadn’t heard of the Elevenmoms at that point at all. My circle of contacts tended to be more in the “social media” circle not in the “mommyblogger” circle but a few weeks later I was officially one of the Walmart Elevenmoms (and their only Canadian member).
Right around the same time yet another person I’d met at Blog World contacted me and invited me to attend Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas. I’d had a hunch that blogging was not going to be a full time income earner and I was really interested in affiliate marketing. I was thrilled by the offer to attend Affiliate Summit West and so off I went. I met some amazing people there. Most of them weren’t bloggers. Most of them weren’t active in twitter and other social media communities as I was. I really didn’t know or know of a soul there but the people I met were friendly, helpful and I learned a lot while I was there. The same week I was in Vegas for Affiliate Summit West both CES and Wordcamp Las Vegas were on so I had brief stops at each of those events too and again, met some great people and learned a lot. I celebrated my 40th birthday while in Vegas in January, surrounded by new friends and happiness. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had.
Right around this time a couple of things dawned on me. First of all, no matter how shy or introverted I feel on the inside, if I pretend I’m comfortable and outgoing and try to talk to people it works. I actually forget that I’m shy, wallflower girl and become this entirely other Merlene. Each conference, event or party I go to it just gets easier and easier to socialize. Second, I learned that while meeting people online in social networks and communities is great (and it really does make meeting those people in person easier) it really is the face to face contact and socializing that makes things happen. I’ve truly been overwhelmed by opportunities both professionally and personally since I started attending the events and conferences.
It’s been an amazing year. I’ve been long-winded in the telling of it but it’s only scratching the surface of what this year has been like. There have been a lot of changes and even last year when I set this all in motion I really had no idea that my life would be like this today. My list of people to thank for their support, friendship, advice, encouragement and humour over the last year is long. I try to say thank you to each of them every so often. Sometimes even the smallest gestures on one person’s part can make a huge difference on another’s.
Oh and the Frugal Living stuff? I’m still hanging in there without a “day job” a year later. I definitely made some foolish money mistakes over the past year (more on that in another post) and I’ve splurged a few times on unnecessary things (and more on that too) but all in all my daily living expenses are low and after a year of complete change in lifestyle and routine the kids and I are finally settling into a sensible (well sensible to us at any rate) pattern of money management.
At the end of the day, or rather the year, I’m still debt-free and I’m making all of my income from online projects or at least projects that started with people I met online and in person over the past year. If I were Mary Tyler Moore I’d be throwing my beret toward the sky right now.