Having my own business has been a dream of mine for a long time. It’s a dream that I never really thought was possible, but always hoped deep down that it would happen one day. After training to be a Beauty Therapist, I always assumed that I would have my own salon and grow it to a chain of salons (I’ve never been one to dream small!) But quite honestly, I soon fell out of love of doing treatments all day everyday. I LOVED the interaction with the clients, but working to the clock due to appointments was beginning to drive me insane.
If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be a nearly-full-time blogger and YouTuber with my own online yarn store I would’ve probably laughed at you. It’s amazing the way in which life takes you isn’t it? I have turned my hobby into my career…my business.
But what does it take to turn your hobby into a business? Obviously, I can’t comment for all bloggers, but here is my story.
I can tell you for sure it doesn’t happen overnight. I began my journey on 1st April 2011 with my blog original name ‘The Sarah-Jayne Adventures’. I’m sure glad I decided to change my name, in fact, I don’t think it stuck long at all. I would write about the things I loved and what I got up to that week and share my photos which I would upload from my phone camera roll. I never really thought anyone would read it to be honest, but the process of producing a post was very therapeutic to me. At the time, not many people really knew what a blog was and the only people who knew about it was my close family. At the same time as starting my blog, I had also started to grow a following on Instagram. I was part of a lovely creative community who would support and chat to each other. Many of them crocheted which is what drew me to crochet in the first place.
After a while of posting on my blog and my Instagram, my numbers started to rise and I was getting much more engagement. It was such a lovely feeling and I enjoyed challenging myself to produce pretty pictures and growing my numbers.
As well as turning my hand to crochet, I also loved to sew. I was asked by a friend to create a hand stitched family tree cushion after she had seen some of my creations. So I did. It was my first commissioned project and I loved every minute of making it. After I posted on my personal facebook page, sure enough I got other people asking me to make one for them as well and before I knew it I was getting lots of orders in. This was the point where I set up my Facebook page as I didn’t want to overload my friends with craft projects.
The turning point for me was when I started my YouTube channel. My Brother had a channel before me and we did a few videos together on there which was so fun. Some of his subscribers encouraged me to start my own channel…so I did. I started with a few posts such as ‘what’s in my handbag’ and ’50 facts about me’. It was one of Adams friends who asked me to do a crochet tutorial after seeing my makes on Facebook.
I was hesitant about doing the video tutorial at first as I thought nobody would want to watch it. But, I went ahead and filmed and edited it. After hours of creating the video and a further few hours (8 to be exact) of uploading it to YouTube I hesitantly pressed the ‘Public’ button to make it go live to the world. I was so incredibly nervous. I was also devastated when I realised that somehow during editing the title had defaulted back to ‘Title’ *Doh!’. It had taken me so long to actually get it online that I decided to leave it…after all, nobody was really going to see it anyway.
After a few days I started to get some views on the tutorial and people were commenting about the fact that I was saying Treble Crochet and I was actually doing Double Crochet. I was so embarrassed and confused, my heart literally sank in my chest as I thought I had made such a huge mistake. This was the first time that I really got to know the difference between US and UK terminology.
A few more days went by and I was getting more and more views. It soon became my most viewed video (to be fair I didn’t really have many on my channel at this point). I was getting questions about how to join the squares after people had made them, so I decided that my next video was going to demonstrate that. After work one evening I was so excited to film again and got to work making the new video. This time I used the feedback from the first video and made sure I made reference to UK and US terms and decided not to use fast forward as it was confusing some people.
The videos became addictive to me. I loved being able to provide the tutorials and to teach others the skills that I had once taught myself. The engagement was amazing and it felt so incredibly rewarding. The views on the first video kept going up and up and up and I was blown away.
The video tutorials became a weekly thing. I would film the tutorial on a Saturday or Sunday morning and edit and publish them on Sunday evening. It was hard work to do this in my spare time on top of my full time job but I loved it.
After a while I started to see a bit of revenue coming through from my channel. Whenever you watch YouTube videos, the adverts that you see on them earn the creator a small amount of money to help with their channel. It was nice to see a little something coming through for all the hard work I was putting in.
Over the years, I saw the potential that my blog and YouTube was bringing my way. I loved it and felt so free to create the type of content that I wanted. I also felt that it was time to think of ways to help my income from my blog and YouTube become more sustainable so I launched Bellacocostore.com in May 2016 after 6 months of building it behind the scenes. It was only until late last year that I was STILL working full time at my teaching job. I was so scared to take that leap into the unknown but realistically I had pushed myself that hard that I was starting to see the strain physically and mentally.
In October 2016 I was put in the position where I had to decided what I wanted to do. Although at the time it was extremely stressful, in hindsight the decision I made was totally for the best and I have not regrets whatsoever. I am currently teaching at the college 2 days a week. I still enjoy teaching and it helps me to feel a little more stable in my position.
I can now dedicate my time to creating content and growing the store and have created a life for myself where I can live on my own terms. If I want to take the afternoon off…I can. If I want to take my laptop with me to the nature reserve and work while looking out onto the lake…I can. I have to pinch myself sometimes and remind myself of how far I have come and what I have achieved. I am literally living the life I hope for 5 years ago.
None of this was handed to me on a plate. I worked hard for it. I lived passionately for it. I wanted to share my story with you to show you that anything is possible. Those struggles that you go through are there to help you build yourself to be a stronger person and to strive for more. Those small steps that you take to achieving your goal equate to a huge leap in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to have everything figured out to work towards a life that you want. It has a funny way of working it out for you.
I am by no means finished. Even though I have achieved things that I wanted to achieve, it’s natural to set new goals to push you ahead even further. That’s what life is about. I have big plans and big dreams and I am so happy that the amazing community that has formed from Bella Coco has my back and cares for my wellbeing. None of this would be possible without the involvement of every single member of the community and I’m thrilled for you to share a part in this journey.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my story and I can only hope that maybe it inspires you in some way in reaching your own goals. Make sure you check out my Inspiration page which will get you on the right track to living the life of your dreams.