My decision to start a business last year was a long time in the making. I can trace this right over the last decade, from when I started a blog way back in 2011! Rewinding back to my childhood and teenage years, I've always been a writer at heart. I frequently had notebooks in which I would write stories or keep a diary. At university, I wrote for the campus magazine and also did some charity work writing press releases. Today, I'll share my journey from blogger to business owner!
From blogger to business: the beginning
I started blogging in 2011 because I got married and moved to Scotland. Having always lived in the south-east, this was an opportunity to share our adventures with friends and family. Yes, I was on Facebook too, but even back then, I wanted a little corner of the internet to call my own!
In 2011, I started with a simple WordPress site called Gratitutious Nothingness. My 26-year-old self didn't know what she was thinking as I still cringe thinking about this title! I posted about being newly married and moving away to somewhere new, tried and tested recipes, my efforts to find a job, and my explorations around Fife.
When we moved to Inverness in 2013, I took the opportunity to write more about the Highlands as 'Mess in the Ness'. Over time, I established myself as offering a local's perspective, sharing the best of the area. I even gained some freelance experience for a few months writing articles about activities in Inverness. I was still developing recipes, some of which are still some of my most-read posts. However, the recipe development side of things was too time-consuming alongside my other life and work commitments. This coincided with another move north to Caithness in 2017, but at this point, I'm going to do some more rewinding, this time in terms of my career!
My work experience is a fairly even split across the charity and education sectors. I am fortunate to have enjoyed most of my jobs since graduating. I've also had roles where my mental energy has been tested to the limit. In all my roles, I've had the opportunity to flex both my creativity and organisational skills which I'm extremely grateful for. Did you My work experience over the years includes:
- organising a fundraising charity film screening in Leicester Square
- scheduling recruitment exercises for a disaster relief charity
- writing training guides for volunteers
- proofreading funding applications, and administering funding schemes
- setting up timetables for lecturers (one of the most mind-boggling jobs I've ever had!)
... It's varied, to say the least! Combined with blogging, it has really helped me to know where my strengths lie. I am quietly confident in resourcing people and keeping them organised, writing engagingly and have a passion for supporting other small businesses.
Changing from blogger to business
When I moved to Caithness, my 'brand' changed again to A Highland Blend, establishing myself as someone promoting the North Highlands.
I partly did this because it was a natural development from my previous experience in Inverness. But, as time progressed, I also observed that businesses are not accustomed to promoting themselves online. One good result was that local people and businesses were benefitting from my work raising awareness of the area, and visitors were asking for my tips when they were planning their trips. By this time social media was much more prevalent than when I started blogging, and establishing an effective online presence became even more critical for businesses during the pandemic.
So, in 2020 after some deliberation and preparation, I launched A Highland Blend as a marketing service for businesses. In my first year, I've been pleased to work with businesses on a variety of writing and content planning projects - all with the aim of making them more visible, useful or accessible to their audience. It makes me so happy when businesses get in touch, asking me to help them, or thanking me for sharing a time-saving tip in my monthly newsletter. And I haven't left my blogging roots either, as I still really enjoy writing and being useful for visitors planning a trip - that's still really important to me.
To be honest, if you had asked me 10 years ago whether I could run a business, I would have said no. But that's because I didn't know myself, or foresee the path that has led me to this point. Who knows what will happen in the next 10 years?
I hope that my experience from blogger to business owner shows that the way to starting any kind of side-hustle or own business career might not arrive in the way you expect or imagine. Don't ever underestimate what has happened in your past, as it might just be a business idea for your future!