Old and New Dreams [My Story, Part 9]
I concluded Last Week with the statement that all of that unbelievable, amazing generosity of God in those three years in Germany could all be summed up as “Grace.” It was all such a blessing. I also mentioned last week that for a while, I was looking out on my future with quite a bit of fear – not knowing what was coming, and not knowing how to be strong enough to be everything I felt I would need to be in the days ahead, facing the unknown.
Coming home was a big unknown for me. I left for Germany having “Set aside” my cake business, and I wasn’t really sure if I would want to pick it up again when I came home. Objectively, I felt when I left that the business could not continue as it had been. It needed to experience some change – either by growing, or closing; working as I had been was not a good long-term option. And by growing, I knew I would need to look into getting myself a storefront and employing some help… Which would be a huge financial setback for me, and it would also be a huge long-term commitment that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to make. Yet, I still wasn’t sure about closing either… because frankly, I love the work that I do. Making cakes is actually kind of thrilling to me – Even still. I’ve been making them for 10 years, and still, even when it is exhausting and feels like a lot of work… In the end, I still find them so satisfying to make. So, emotionally, I didn’t want to let that go. How many people get to work on something they love? As I understand it, not many. I didn’t want to throw that away.
The other thing I had to consider was this blog. I had started this blog as a side project in 2012 when I was 21, for the purpose of learning and sharing new skills, and also to (I hoped) build an audience for myself because, someday down the road, I wanted to write a cookbook. It was a far-off dream, or so I thought – but I figured that I would be more likely to sell a book if people knew who I was and liked what I wrote, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
The thing about this “Side project” was, I realized pretty quickly that I actually love blogging. Like, a lot. I really like to write, I love photography, and I love cooking and baking. So, a food blog was pretty much the perfect outlet for me to express those three interests.
Eight months after starting my blog, one of my posts went viral, and my blog went from averaging about 40 views a day (which I thought was good) to about 4,000. I was majorly encouraged, and having monetized my blog before that point, my income went up as well quite a bit (even though it was not very effectively monetized at all, so the income that I made was still not that much… but still). When you think you’re blog is a hobby project, and then it starts turning a profit… before you even really try to make it turn a profit… You get excited.
(Here’s a picture of me on that exciting day!)
So, there was a new wild card in the mix. When I went to Germany, my blog also took a back seat, right next to the cake business. I decided it would not be something I would try to keep up while I was away, since I intended to focus my energy while I was gone (and I’m glad that I did). I wrote a little bit here and there on my blog during the in-between seasons, but, without working on it, my blog views slowly dropped down from averaging about 3,000 to about 200 every day. Still better than when I started, but a significant drop from what it was before.
Coming home, I had a handful of options, and no money to invest into them. So, I figured – I should come home, start blogging, get a job somewhere (anywhere), start making money – and while I did that, I thought, I should figure out what to do with my cake business.
While I was in Germany, I had been contacted by a few people about making cakes when I returned… and, not wanting to say no, I took on those jobs, which provided a bit of income and the opportunity to get my hands wet with cakes again when I came back. The thing was, I quickly realized, life at home was different, and my limitations for getting things done for my cake business had increased exponentially. At that point I realized that making cakes was not a practical option in my present circumstances – and, honestly, knowing that the business would need to expand if I would go back to it, I wasn’t too sure that I wanted to pursue that anyway.
Long story short, I decided that I would close my cake business, and focus on my blog. That was a way for me to keep making cakes, just through a different outlet, and also pursue my other interests: Writing, photography, cooking/baking, and the hope of an eventual cookbook.
So, that’s where I am today. I wrote before that my story may take some turns that you might not expect because – well, I guess it seems like if someone is going to write about “Their story with starting a business,” there should be some sort of success at the end of it. It seems a little anti-climactic to end with me, sitting in my living room, 11 years older than when I began, and right back at the beginning with a lot of aspirations and almost no time or money to make them a reality.
But… I’m trying. Next week, I’ll share the final part of “My Story” – In which I hope to talk about some of the practical obstacles of coming home, and how the Lord has helped me to overcome some of them. I also intend to talk about where I find my hope for all of the many things that still look impossible, hard, and overwhelming; because believe me, they do. Yet, I know from experience (and very recent experience at that): Nothing is impossible for God.
“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”
To Be Continued…