Jackie Thennes writes about her life challenges and lessons learned on her blog EdifyMeBlog.com. Edify means “to teach in a way that improves the mind and character.” She is inspiring personal growth and self-acceptance, while enhancing the human experience, one blog post at a time. Jackie’s blog posts are her personal stories intended to encourage her readers to live their truth and in doing so, find happiness and personal fulfillment. She talks about relationships, women’s issues, parenting and child-development, marriage, divorce and more. Read our interview with the lovely Jackie below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I’m just a girl who’s spent her life trying to figure out why I’m here. After 40 years of living my life for everyone else, somewhere in my mid 40’s I found the strength to start living my life on my own terms. I was stuck in yet another unfulfilling job with yet another tyrannical boss and felt the need to break free and begin making my dream of becoming an entrepreneur, a reality.
Tell us about your business.
My blog is about my challenging childhood, young adulthood, adulthood (and my stupidity along the way), my difficult but ever-so enlightening marriage, my much-needed divorce, parenting my beautiful lesbian daughter during the “Barney Era”, and how I found happiness in the midst of all these challenges. I talk about my parenting style and how I’ve gotten wiser as my daughter has gotten older. I talk about my struggle with being a people-pleaser and my quest to find balance in my relationships. I talk about how I didn’t value myself until after I read Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” and how I finally found my forever person. I talk about all of these things, and how everything I’ve learned has led me to this wonderful time in my life. I want to share all of the challenges that eventually led to the joy.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Nothing yet, but I’m working on a giveaway as soon as I can figure out how to set it up.
I am a contributor on Divorceforce.com and help people who are struggling with the devastation divorce can cause. I have been featured (or have written posts) on a few different blog sites like TheBabySpot.ca and TheGeekyMamaBlog.com.
Where is your business based?
Northwest Suburbs of Chicago.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
August 2015 I’m sitting in Starbucks on my lunch hour on Amazon running through the list of books about how to start a blog. I ordered “How to Blog for Profit” by Ruth Soukup and “Who Let The Blogs Out” by Biz Stone. The reason why I looked for a book is because I knew no other way to find information. I mean, yes there is always Google but I truly felt more comfortable with books. Navigating Google was still kind of hard for me. I literally started with zero. Zero knowledge of what blogging even was. I had no interest in, or knowledge of; Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media platform. I had to look up words like monetizing, ebooks, funnels, conversions… etc. I was truly clueless, but I was determined because I was desperate to find another form of income since I could no longer see myself being happy working in Corporate America. I’m so done with that!
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Posting on social media every day. Interacting on several Facebook groups. Writing new posts as often as possible which for me is about once a week. I should do more… I should always do more!
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Every single aspect of blogging has been my biggest challenge. Technology hurts my brain. I’m often heard saying the phrase (with/without tears) “If things would just work”! I spent the entire past year moving the needle two inches forward and then three steps back. Five inches forward and in January my computer died and I lost the majority of my files so I’d say that’s been about 1,276 steps back. Lovely! The Facebook groups I’m in are very helpful but can also knock you down a few pegs. For example, when you read about other bloggers who’ve only started a month ago, are getting 3000 views, while it took me 8 months to earn 3000 views, it’s maddening. Oh and when you read their blog and they are writing about things you feel are not worthy of all the hype, you can’t help but throw your hands in the air in frustration. But then when I wipe the tears away and look at it logically, it means that there is a place for everyone – including me.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I had been spending 12-14 hours a day (including weekends) writing posts and promoting on social media. My computer crashing was probably a good thing because it forced me to take a much-needed look at my goals. November, December, and January were very difficult months for me anyway and with the computer crash it was a perfect storm and depression followed. I wasn’t working out, I was eating poorly, I’d gained weight and was feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t keep going at this pace. I needed to back away from looking at blogging as a form of income in order to take the pressure off. I decided to shift gears and pursue my other passion which is investing in real estate. I took the month of February off from blogging but have recently inched my way back into it. I’ve enlisted the help of my daughter and her friends and asked them to write some posts for me. I’m also getting some additional help from someone I met on FB. She will focus on growing the blog using social media and since I couldn’t afford to pay her, she is helping in exchange for the education.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Patience is not a virtue I embody so I continually have to tell myself that this is a marathon not a sprint and it’s not going to happen overnight. I think I started out with very high hopes. My Facebook groups are a huge support system and help me stay motivated and sometimes we get a chance to celebrate our wins; no matter how large or small. I try to pick out something, even if it’s “I went to the health club today”. I also watch motivational videos and cling to motivational quotes to keep moving forward.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I offer knowledge and expertise that is unique to my life.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Resist, Insist, and Persist.
- Resist the urge to believe all the people who told you it can’t be done.
- Insist that you can achieve your goals and that you are worthy of success.
- Persist until you have done what you set out to do… and then do more.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My audience lives on Pinterest and Facebook. It took me many months of Tweeting and Instagramming to realize I was spinning my wheels trying to capture my audience. Don’t get me wrong, all social platforms are good for growing a following and I do get some views from Twitter, but knowing your audience and how to reach them is key.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
- “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman
- “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey
- “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning how to attract more subscribers and I need help with how to set up an Opt-in/Freebie. I think I should use ConvertKit but I would love it if someone could set it up for me to save time – it’s just another thing I’d have to learn! I would like more guests to share their story on my blog. I would like someone to handle my social media as well.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I would like to increase my website views to 10,000. I’m at about 3200 right now. I need to increase my content and my social media interaction. I am enlisting the help of others so I can reach my goals. I want to increase my subscriber list to 100 which means implementing an opt-in campaign.