Moments in life are marked with special occasions and milestones such as graduations and weddings.
Your career is marked with anniversaries and job promotions. But what about blog writing? Where in the spectrum of creating content and promoting your material do you actually get to sit back and enjoy a moment of achievement. Creating a blog doesn’t just happen overnight but over a period of time that was filled with hours of writing and shooting video footage, and more hours editing and promoting it all. How do you stay motivated after a major milestone?
Nick and Lily are reflecting in the backyard.
It seems to have come down to a numbers game. How many likes do you have on Facebook or how much traffic do you generate for an article that you wrote. Personally, I think this all seems rather trite. If this is what our level of success has been reduced to, then I think blogging would have felt more like playing some kind of online game instead. Remember ‘The Sims’? Everything is somehow reduced to points and the one with the most wins the game.
Years ago Silke and I created our Jagerfoods YouTube page with a few different channels and really never had any huge aspirations for making it big. It was something that people were doing and we thought it would be fun to give it a try ourselves. Well, I’ll be honest here, I didn’t think much of any of it. Silke on the other hand was a little more persistent.
After I had put together a few of the bottles with lights, I was just starting to delve into making the full-fledged bottle lamps, Silke came home with her boss’s video camera and suggested we shoot a video showing exactly how I had put the lamp together. I rolled my eyes and asked the question that would come back to haunt me the rest of my life; “Who would want to watch that?”
Fast forward to today and we just saw our little YouTube page cross the 1 million views thresh hold. More than stunned, I was reeling at the thought of how many people had not only watched the videos but then taken the time to share their thoughts and opinions, and also sent us pictures of the projects that they created from watching the how-to videos.
Our YouTube page covers more than just the bottle lamp aspect.
We have done reviews, instructional how to videos and our own personal vacation videos as well (nothing funky). We have approached every video we make with a certain level of fun though. If we were preset to the notion that we had to put something together in a very specific manner than I think it would have added a level of pressure to all of it that would have made it feel more like work.
Eliminating that obstacle allowed our imaginations to run wild and most of the videos were made right of the cuff. Silke can ad lib better than I can so quite a few of hers were just a matter of sitting down and shooting it. For myself? If we ever put together a gag reel of blundered lines and physically dropping things, we would have enough material to put together a 10 minute video.
With all these YouTube video views and all this positive energy that we get in return for putting this material together, it would seem absurd to ever quit. We both get a certain level of satisfaction in maintaining the website, answering questions, and doing the product reviews. The level of success that has been achieved with all of this effort cannot be measured with mere numbers.
The key to all of this success is that we didn’t do it alone. We have met a lot of very gracious individuals who have helped contribute to the over all effort that it takes to build anything from the ground floor. Whether they were contributing article material or helping out with the social media sites, everyone added a new dimension to the overall project. It was no longer ‘Nick’s hobby that he does in the basement’ but a collective effort from everyone that got introduced to the bottle craft community.
One of the sayings that has always stuck around with us is ‘Sharing is Caring’. There’s a lot of sharing going on our websites and not just from content that we created and that we share ourselves but from our readers as well. By putting together a community site that allows like minded people to gather and share information and ideas, you can’t help but get the feeling that there is a camaraderie among everyone.
My intentions for sharing this reflective moment with our readers is to share with you what we have learned from doing all of this. If you can glean any information and translate it into some aspect of your own personal life then we are both better off in the long haul.
Whether you are thinking about starting your own business or setting off to find a new job. The key points are:
- Persistence pays off in the end (ask the turtle)
- A joint effort (It takes a village to raise a child)
- Ideas, no matter how crazy they sound, should always be considered and tried
- Believe in what you’re doing. (If you’re faking it, people will know and that is how they will remember you)
- Always go into a project with the thought: ‘What will people get out of this?’ (Getting rid of the ‘I’ in that thought will make you work harder to prove yourself.)
These five points that I would like to share with you are not all encompassing. Think of them more as the high light reel. Let’s elaborate on each of these to make it clear as to what it is that I’m talking about.
1) Persistence pays off in the end (ask the turtle)
It’s been five years already since we started our bottle blogging site. The level of success that we have achieved did not happen over night. It took time and trial and error. Finding out what works and what doesn’t is really a scientific undertaking.
You have to be patient and allow things to really ‘play out’ to know if they even have a budding chance. If you don’t have the patience for this then you may just be your own worst enemy. If someone had told me when we started that it would take this long to get where we are now, I may have just written the whole thing off as a passing hobby.
But something happened that I didn’t anticipate; I was enjoying myself! Not just the sense of accomplishment from making bottle lamps but in sharing my new found knowledge with others. This has been by far the most rewarding aspect of it all.
Here’s another little secret that I will let you in on: If you truly enjoy what it is that you’re doing, then time really has no meaning. Five years will seem like the blink of an eye.
Looking back I can honestly say that I’m amazed it’s been that long already. It seems like only yesterday that Silke pointed the camera at me in our cake yellow basement, and said “ACTION”.
Who knew that was the beginning of our YouTube channel and blogging experience? More videos and blog posts did follow and we built things up from there. Persistence does pay off.
2) A joint effort (It takes a village to raise a child)
Never be ashamed or to shy to ask for help. What truly is the worst thing that someone could say? Or… if you are worried about what people will think, then lets put it into another context; What will people think of you if they find out that you needed help and didn’t ask? Words like ‘stuck up’ or ‘too good for everyone else’ may come to mind. By opening up to people you show a vulnerability that most humans can relate to and it is by this means that you will form bonding relationships with your new acquaintances.
The social media aspect of the bottle lamp seemed overwhelming at first. I have always been very conscious of the amount of time that I spend on these sites. When we first started I literally spent a whole day on one of them. (I’m not telling you which one.) The scant amount of accomplishment that was achieved that day can never really be measured. At least if I had gone out and mowed the lawn I could have sat on the deck afterward with a drink in my hand and looked upon my accomplishment for the day.
Kim Garst a social media expert explains it this way: “I don’t know if you have this problem but I know it is a huge problem for many…chasing a rabbit trail. You click on a link that catches your attention, which leads you somewhere else and then somewhere else and before you know it; two hours have passed. Sound familiar? That is why social media requires discipline.
I have often, laughingly, called Facebook “Crackbook” because it is so addictive. Great resource for keeping up with personal friends and family but before you know it, you are hours into your Facebook session. It will help if you set specific times and timelines for your social media work. For example; morning, noon and evening.”
There is a fine line between using social media to engage with others and having it run rampant over your life. Yes, our social media sites did eventually take off and yes, this all took time. By asking others to help with these tasks it was liberating to be able to focus on other aspects, like writing helpful articles and making how-to video, that needed our attention.
One of the major benefits that you will get from delegating your responsibilities is perspective. Everyone has their own point of view and you really have to appreciate what different individuals can bring to the table. You have to stay open minded to these ideas though. Don’t be too narrow minded or have a set perspective on how things should be. Try to go with flow!
Check out all the different bottle crafts on our Facebook page.
One of the nice aspects of social media sites is that no idea is ever too outlandish to not share it. The worst thing that could happened at this point for the bottle crafting community would be that we didn’t regularly add content to these social sites. The successful people and fellow craft makers with a lot of followers and content contributions, like Bottle Cutting Inc., have spent a fair amount of time and effort building their profile, pages and number of followers. We couldn’t have build this community alone and the same goes for you and your future achievements as well.
3) Ideas, no matter how crazy they sound, should always be considered and tried
What if I had stuck to my guns and simply told Silke that her idea was crazy and then left it at that? This whole dimension of our lives would never have been explored. If that sounds a little over dramatic then you might only be thinking in terms of those pesky numbers again.
I’m looking at a much bigger scope of the relationships that we have built over the years. Most of the people we interact with online we have never even met face to face, yet I still consider them more than business associates but our friends.
There are no ideas that are too crazy.
You may find yourself brain storming and coming up with some real zingers. Write every last idea and thought down, no matter how bizarre it sounds. You’re letting yourself go at this point and that is where the real ideas will come to fruit.
No, painting your name on the outside of a business building in an attempt to get a job there is not exactly reasonable but you have to give yourself credit for thinking outside the box on that one. The bizarre ideas can be retooled to be more realistic. Putting up a billboard ad across the street asking them to hire you just might get their attention plus it will keep you out of the big house for the destruction of private property.
4) Believe in what you’re doing. (If you’re faking it, people will know and that is how they will remember you)
How can you sell something if you don’t believe in it? If you don’t believe in yourself? The worst thing you can do here is just ‘go through the motions’. People can see a fake, they can tell when you’ve lost your ambition. It will all show in the content that you create and how you present yourself.
Have you ever heard somebody talk about their own product or service in such a way that you immediately felt compelled to move forward with it? The enthusiasm is contagious and you can’t ignore it.
Be honest with yourself. If you really have to struggle to make something happen here then you just might want to shift gears and go in another direction. Once you have found the thing that you are passionate about then the rest will fall into place.
5) Always go into a project with the thought: ‘What will people get out of this?’ (Getting rid of the ‘I’ in that thought will make you work harder to prove yourself.)
I would like to elaborate on that last thought a little more. What is it that you are offering your customers? What is it your offering your potential employer? By keeping this thought first and foremost in your mind you will have psychologically put yourself into a corner where you will instinctively begin to try harder to prove yourself.
How can I prove myself to my customers? How can I make this person want to hire me? How do I stand out and above everyone else? The answer to these questions is a state of mind that says “I can justify myself because I have earned it”. You have worked hard at what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and you should be allowed to achieve a higher level of accomplishment.
I’m inclined from time to time to go back and review some of our earlier materials. Some of them make me cringe and with others I am literally impressed enough to stand back and say, “Yes, I made that!”. One of the most fulfilling aspects of writing all of this content for the blog posts was the comprehensive collection of ideas that were shared in the Recycled Bottle Lamps: Instructions, Project Ideas and Inspirations book that we wrote.
If you really want to sell yourself as an ‘Expert in your Field’ than write a book about your field of expertise.
It’s been fun and I look forward to doing more bottle art work and how-to videos, and sharing more projects as they occur. A big thank you to everyone who has helped with the bottle crafting site. We really couldn’t have done it without you.
I’m hoping that this year we will be able to add many more prizes to our annual give away coming up in December, making it an even bigger event than last year or any of the years before.
What helps you to stay motivated and move forward? Please leave us a comment below.
Nick and Silke