“I dare you to cross this line.”
What does it mean to cross a line?
“You just crossed the line, dude.”
Is it always a bad thing?
“There’s no going back once you cross that line.”
Sometimes it’s a point of motivation. You have to dare to go there first. After you get your gumption, you have to push yourself across that line. After you’re across, you have to prove why you crossed. Either kick some butt or get yours kicked.
How many times in your life have you crossed that line? I’m not much of a gambler when luck is the engine, but if I can load those dice, I’ll feel so much stronger in my aim.
I started blogging about Benton things in April 2006. That’s ten years! It’s been since June 2007 that I started MySaline.com. It was a hobby for years while I worked as a graphic designer for publications with a State agency. I don’t know what people thought about it at the time – would it stick around or fizzle like a fad? I know it was very popular and has remained so.
It hasn’t been without its struggles. Right after I crossed my own line – quitting my cushy state job to do this full-time – there was a legal issue that made it very difficult to focus on what was now my livelihood. The legal thing was eventually a non-issue but we made a change to require members to use their real name. Because grown folks can be bullies too. Lots of people were done with MySaline at that point because it was established as a place that wouldn’t tolerate gossip and bashing. It wasn’t quite like starting from scratch – true fans stuck around and were happy about the change. That first year – 2012 – was harsh. But I ran so fast and gained so much new ground, I didn’t have time to dwell on losses. And there was no need.
In 2013, we tried different things to figure out how to get past the one year mark, keeping the business alive and be able to eat. For a few months, we did a subscription model. People signed up right away and liked it. But they couldn’t share the stories. And that made growth difficult. After a particularly big story about finding Neil Young in Mayflower (because I was looking for answers to trucks dumping leaked oil in our county’s landfill), I couldn’t keep the story to just the subscription audience. So we reopened the site to the public. Bam. The page views rolled in. Businesses, however, still weren’t familiar enough with this “online newspaper” to trust their advertising money here.
MySaline turned seven in 2014 and had been a full time business for two years. Phew! Most businesses don’t make it past two years, but we did! It was still a butt-busting effort where I sometimes curled myself up in a pitiful ball. It was also still a force that I wasn’t willing to end. I could have gone back to the squirrel wheel and gotten myself a “real job,” but every time I tried, it was like I was abandoning my child. My baby!
Toward the end of 2014, I attended an event called the Saline County Business Expo. I went to see what businesses were in the community that I might be overlooking as an advertising client. Selfish me. I didn’t know it was being put on by the Benton Area Chamber of Commerce, but I soon figured it out. There were tons of businesses there and lots of great people who crossed their own line and know what that’s like. Many of them urged me to join the Chamber. I had resisted for years, thinking I didn’t need the benefits they touted because I can promote myself. But wait – I was here at a Chamber event because I needed to learn more about who was in the business community. Ummm, no-brainer to join and thanks so much to Connie Curry of the Saline County Judge’s Office, Cheryl Cook of Landers Dodge and Leeanne Clemons of Natural State Drug & Alcohol Testing for bribing me with fresh popcorn and plastic tumblers that change colors. You’re the real MVP. I made my Chamber dues back immediately in advertising, because the more I participated in relationship-building activities, the more people got to know me and my business and remembered me for my news, events and advertising capabilities. P.S. That Business Expo changed from Fall to Spring and is coming up on May 18th so you should register your booth or at least visit. There’s a great lunch planned that day too.
2015 got a lot better, but I still wasn’t rich. I gained new regular clients that are invaluable to me and my family as a locally-owned business. Many of them are locally-owned businesses themselves and they know how it works. When you’re on an airplane, the safety instructions say if the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. If you have children with you that can’t reach, the instructions are to feed yourself the oxygen first, then tend to others. It’s because the kids aren’t going to be able to put your mask on for you. In the same way, you need to feed your local economy before you rush to spend your money elsewhere. That “elsewhere money” isn’t coming back to you, but spending money local keeps the revenue local. Man, this paragraph was preachy.
Ok, now it’s 2016 and I’m rich! Okay, still not with money, but I’m finally able to do what I wanted on my terms and not starve or suffer ulcers because of it. Yes! What’s next? I hope to be able to add to my staff so that at some point, I can go on vacation and not have to whip out the laptop and work while I’m there. But for right now, I’ll take it. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way. My God, my family and friends and all you faithful readers. Thanks to all the advertisers, big and small. Thanks to all the people that believe in MySaline enough to donate on a regular basis. Thank you.
Why did I write this suddenly? It’s not a milestone day or anything. Does it have to be? Don’t get me started on another topic. I gotta close this thing, so do me a favor and look back toward the beginning where I was talking about crossing the line. I love me some metaphors. Crossing the line for me has meant I was the one to make something happen instead of waiting for things to happen to me. I know I’m not in control of everything and that’s why I thank everyone.
Bonus for people who actually read all this: Make a comment below to ask me about anything I’ve mentioned here. I’d love to answer and I may have already written about it. But my noodles are boiling and I need to check them, so let me know what you want to know. 🙂