You might find it hard to believe, but this photo was taken during one of the most devastating times in my life.
This is the story of how I got there and what I went through to find meaning in life and business.
My online journey started when I was a starry-eyed bride-to-be with big dreams. I started a blog to help other keep-it-simple, budget-conscious brides plan awesome weddings too.
My early success with it even helped me get a sweet job at digital marketing firm! I helped them grow their organic traffic and managed big-budget Adwords campaigns for their clients.
When I started I was learning Adwords from scratch – all while running campaigns at the same time. It was thrilling!
And honestly, it was an awesome job. But, after a few years I started to feel bored.
I liked the prestige, but it didn’t make my heart sing to help these huge companies become even bigger. Plus, I wanted to be my own boss more than anything in the world – I wanted the freedom to live life on my own terms.
So when my boss hired someone who was supposed to be my assistant and he started acting like my boss and blaming me for his mistakes I was so incredibly angry. And when my bosses sided with and believed him – even though the data clearly proved he was wrong – I was so SO hurt!
- I was done with being in jobs where I had to “politics” my way out of ridiculous situations.
- I was so over working with unappreciative sexist men and obnoxious big personalities that made me feel weak, insignificant, and ashamed.
- I was tired of being overlooked, mistreated, and disrespected just because I was quiet, believed in putting good work before my ego… and was in my child-bearing years (but this is a whole other story).
I hated being in a place where I started doubting myself and my worth. I was treated like I was wrong and he was right about everything. What’s worse – I started to believe it.
Luckily, my wedding blog and the two consulting clients I picked up on the side were doing well. So, I decided to leave that toxic situation along with the kushy pay cheque and prestige to build my dream.
That first year on my own was amazing!
After 8 or 9 months, I said goodbye to my consulting clients to go all-in with the blog. And I even started hiring freelance writers and VA’s to help me (4 day work week here I come!). It was going to be huuuge!
But a couple months later everything hit the fan.
Google had a massive algorithm update and all of the free traffic I was getting was GONE.
My entire business went from growing every month to nothing … LITERALLY overnight.
I had to let all of my freelancers go and start over from scratch.
While trying to do that, I spent a year or two going through all the stages of grief. At one point, I even had to get a part time job. It was soooo demoralizing! Especially when a former boss came in for her spa treatment!
I felt so much shame. I cried all the time, stopped taking care of my appearance, retreated from the world and my friends, and lost faith in myself and the world. I hated myself.
It was during this period that the feature image on this post was taken.
It was also the first time I started understanding what one needs to do to weather algorithm updates and changes in the economic climate. And no – it’s not a professional photo shoot. 😉
It was time for a change and the catalyst for that change happened one snowy winter night while I was out for after-dinner drinks with my husband. We had a heart-to-heart about what I was doing (and not doing).
He urged to me to make a decision — Actually go-all-in with the blog and actually make it work (because I wasn’t really all-in anymore). Or, use my other digital marketing skills to build a “real” business.
Still wobbling between anger, denial and acceptance, I had to steady the tea in my hand and quell the rage I could feel rising. I was really mad at him for not supporting me.
But financially, personally, and in terms of our relationship I knew he was right (and he really was and continues to be my biggest cheerleader) – which is why it made me so angry.
So… the very next day I decided to give up my blog. I put the content up for sale and made a fresh, clean start.
It was SO Exhilarating to let go of It
And not as hard as I would have thought … probably because I lost passion for!
It also felt really good to finally receive a message that took me way too long to hear – “It’s time to step into your gifts dear Susanna!
Web design happened to be one of those gifts, so I decided I would be a designer – BUT, only for people who really needed my help though!!!
I started by helping small businesses create fabulous websites that were built to grow leads and create trust and authority.
I believed strongly in helping these people, and it was the perfect blend of my passion and experience.
I was confident I could do this after building my own high converting sites, helping my previous consulting clients grow their businesses, and helping the clients at the agency improve traffic and grow leads too!
- One of my clients became one of the top 10 real estate blogs in Toronto.
- I averaged conversion rates of 25% to 50% on my lead magnets.
- I quickly grew multiple social media accounts to well over 1000.
- I never, ever ran a campaign that didn’t profit.
I was going to do it all – traffic building, social media, design… I could do it all! So why not? My small biz people needed it anyways!
- I became an early adopter of Pinterest and on the strength of my success, held workshops on it and helped others build their accounts .
- I created member-sites for all sorts of businesses that converted beautifully the day after launching.
- I built tons of great-looking websites.
- I designed effective and beautiful lead magnets, funnels, and presentations.
But it didn’t really go as planned. There was a problem…
Aside from the usual chaos of an “I do everything business”, I kept running into the same question and issue over and over again…
“Help me get more traffic because I’m not making sales. And can you do this for $12 and help me make $2k/mo starting next week.”
Eventually I started to see a real opportunity in this!
I realized that like my clients I had been duped by all of those guru marketers touting that their tactic or technique would make it “easy and fast”. I figured out what the key was, and I was excited to share it with my clients and any potential clients who came to me.
“Stop chasing traffic! All of the traffic in the world won’t work if you aren’t clear on what makes you unique… your niche, your products, and your message! When you get clear traffic you get will be so much easier to convert and you will be able to weather and social media, search engine, or economic storm!”.
I thought they would hail me as a hero when I told them the answer, but instead, they ran from me like they would a villain!
Why? Because they saw how much work it would be. And it turns out I was more passionate about their freedom and success than they were!
And that’s when I realized that I Myself had a niche-problem.
I wanted desperately to help these small businesses (and knew that I could), but they didn’t want my help.
And that’s when I took a journey to prove what I believed to be true. I even organized a summit and interviewed 23 online successes to prove my theory (which was proven 23 times!)
But I got so much more than I hoped for! Every single one of those successes proved that being authentic really is essential. And to do it right we have to find ourselves, share ourselves, and BE ourselves.
It was the final piece of the puzzle and hearing all of these amazing, successful people prove it was magical and life-changing for me. It gave me to the permission to do more of what I had already started to do – being cool with ME, quirks and all!
When I stepped into showing up as The authentic-Me A lot of people couldn’t take it though!
- Some people would say “you shouldn’t be doing this. You should go back to what’s safe”.
- I had a few online friends who told me to be harder, more like what they believe makes a successful business person.
- I had friends who thought that I was being fake as this opinionated, sociable person that I was finally setting free. YES – “Setting Free!”.
- And others said that I should go back to conversion-focused design…. “Just go back to what you know.“.
But then I thought to myself – “SEVEN years Susanna! That’s a long time to ignore what you knew was the key to happiness and success. Don’t you dare! STOP deferring to others because you have always had the answer. You know more than you think!”.
And if I’m really being honest with you, thinking about it makes me a bit sick!
So…. Never again!
And that’s how I Found And Then stepped into the power and purpose of my true mission
Every experience in this life brought me to this point in the road! It is not a mission I am going to ignore.
I hope that by sharing my story you too can see that by deferring to others I wasn’t respecting myself. And that I diminished the capacity of my talents and gifts – The very thing that makes me the most powerful.
And the same is true for you!
And I’ll Be Dammed If I Don’t Do Something to help you Step Into Your Power And Purpose Too!
I learned that we are the leaders of our own lives. Following someone else’s way sacrifices a big part of who we are. It also sacrifices the lives of all of the people we are meant to help and frankly makes the world a more lonely and scary place.
And in terms of marketing – owning up to ourselves is the most powerful thing we can do for so many reason.
So for others who are following a path set out for them by someone else, I am here for you. Everything I do is to help you come into your own mission so that together we can change lives and maybe even the world!
And I want to put this out to you now too.
NOW is your chance to stand up and be counted too! Every single one of us deserves that opportunity. We no longer have to live in the shadow of someone else. Everyday we make this decision…
What’s your decision today…
Are you ready to find that clarity, build your confidence, and build up the courage to change lives and maybe even the world?