Yeah, I'm the crazy lady in the photo above. Danielle by name. You might not know it, but 4 months ago this blog was only a thought on the back burner, barely an idea. Part of me can't believe it's been four months because it seems at once like it was yesterday and again like it's been ages. SO MUCH has changed and yet some things have remained constant. I want to share my journey with you. Maybe you'll find it inspiring and you'll be motivated to chase your dreams too!
What's Remained Constant
My vision and mission have not changed. After I got back from my epic Montana road trip last year, I wanted to share that taste of freedom with others. I wanted to use my writing to inspire others to adventure. I want to do what I can to help you, inspire you, and support you as you tackle new adventures. Go new places, do new things, and bring your dog!! The feeling of freedom I got during my travels was largely in part to having Mica and River by my side. Watching them run free with wild abandon, sprinting through the tall grass, swimming and splashing in the water, or just standing in the sunshine absorbing the rays fills my heart with joy and warmth. I suppose you could say a part of it is vicariousness. I osmotically soak up their freedom and spirit of adventure by proximity.
The original theme and inspiration for the blog. Regal, majestic, grand. Warm colors.
Originally, this photo was the basis and inspiration for my blog. It's where we stopped to hike in Medora, ND on our way out west during the road trip. The feeling of openness was incredible, and we stayed in this spot for thirty minutes just living in the moment. I crafted my entire website around this photo, and it was even the header for a while. We'll talk about what's changed later, but the feelings this photo evokes still permeate the blog.
The other thing that has remained constant is my passion for this project. For the last four months, I have unwaveringly gone to my computer day after day, hour after hour, and poured myself into this website and my articles. It's startling even for me; some part of me thought I'd stumble, get sick of it, or even quit. I've had the same amount of energy, though, and I'll tell you what: it feels GOOD. This is going to sound cheesy, but it's almost been a balm for my soul. Therapeutic? Cathartic? Certainly. Find what makes your heart sing and DO THAT. It's working! :)
Minor things and major things. The small stuff involves changes to the website's design. Much more streamlined, clean, and organized now. I haven't fussed with it in a while, so that must mean it's pretty good. The creative in me absolutely loves fussing with the design. If you ever need a website done, I'll whip one up for you cheap! It's actually FUN for me. :)
The new theme for the blog. Love the blues and grays and the spray as River prances through the waves.
Other than aesthetics, the biggest thing that has changed, and I'd prefer the word evolved, has been me. It's been a pretty powerful journey! I went from "just write some articles" to "why don't you host a free hike?" to "Sidewalk Dog wants you to write for them" to "what if I led puppy socialization adventures?" Each step has occurred naturally and without prompting. By going with what feels right and steering away from what doesn't, I've stayed very true to myself. And, it seems, my audience has appreciated the consistent values and morals.
I did some things that trendy bloggers do. I experimented with ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts. None of that felt right. I HATE selling almost as much as I hate being distracted by non-value-added stuff. It did not take very long for me to get rid of all of that. The only links you'll find in my posts are helpful ones! If I'm going to "sell" anything, I want to sell me. I want to represent myself and provide high value to others who need it, but not be in peoples' faces. Hopefully I'm achieving that goal somewhat successfully. Let me know if I'm straying or being obnoxious. Seriously.
The three free guided group hikes I've led since starting the blog. December (above), November (middle), and October (bottom). January's (tomorrow!) is looking to be TWICE the size of December!
The photo above makes me so incredibly happy; I can't even say. The guided hikes have been not only fun, but they've been community building. Over half of the Adventure Puppy Club members met me through the hikes. Making connections and forming relationships with other dog loving adventure enthusiasts in my area has been amazing. I'm part of and also building a tribe! Wanting to do more of this led me to open the Adventure Puppy Club.
That's another BIG change. Let me say that again. BIG CHANGE. I went from blogger/writer/traveler to entrepreneur. I can't hardly even spell entrepreneur. It was a HUGE shift, and it seemed to happen overnight. You see, I had been studying life coaching and immersing myself in videos, books, and articles all about how to serve others. One day, I realized that I could serve people in my community, dog and puppy owners who wanted better socialization for their dogs and who were frustrated by their dog's lack of training during adventures.
It came from a good place, but I very quickly got caught up, wrapped up, and consumed by business "stuff." SEO, conversion rates, sales, marketing, go go go. All of a sudden, I found myself plastering my Facebook page with subtle (yet not so subtle) CLICK HERE, BUY THIS, TRY THIS, CHECK IT OUT, JOIN, JOIN, JOIN messages. Boom. I was right back where I had hated being back in the affiliate marketing phase. ughhhhh
Thankfully, I did come up for air. Yeah, you'll still see some messages like that, but now it's coming from a place of inform rather than sell. I just want people to know that this resource is out there. I'll wave it around once in a while, but through free content rather than marketing. Because if there's one thing I have learned through this venture, it's to give. To serve. To add value. To contribute. To help others. To build community. To give back. To support colleagues. And that, my friends, is huge life learning for me.
Me and my baby girl, River pup. Adventure pal. Snuggle companion.
So, while I LOVE being an entrepreneur with all my heart, and I honestly believe it's my calling and a large part of me is secretly filled with pride and honor to follow in my parents' footsteps and run my own business, I'm also going to stick to my values, morals, and spirit of adventure. I'm going to be true to me. Maybe that means I won't make much money or that my Adventure Puppy Club will crash and burn because I'm not marketing and selling correctly or efficiently, but I'm ok with that. Because I believe that if you come from a good place and provide a good service and good support, then good things will result. Good things will find you.
"Don't stop believin' "
"Live Your Dreams and Pursue Your Passions"
And, of course,