Leaps of faith and moments of desperation

Empty offices
Empty offices
Empty offices at Emily Journey & Associates

Throughout my career, I’ve taken leaps of faith and taken action in moments of desperation. Both have produced remarkable results.

I used to be a social worker. I spent so much time and money to embark on a career that I didn’t like. . . I kept going in social work for 5 YEARS because I didn’t feel entitled to admit the truth: I didn’t find social work satisfying and I wanted more for myself.

Finally, I took a leap of faith and said goodbye to my clients and my social work career.

I wish I could tell you I bounced right into the work I love. I didn’t.
Instead, I bounced around a few jobs, projects, and failed business ideas.

Then, I got desperate. I was 42 and unemployed.

I had plenty to say and I wanted to make money. So, I decided to give blogging a try.

People make money from blogging, right?

I hired a guy in Colorado to teach me search engine optimization (SEO).

I thought, “If I can get my posts to show up on the first page of Google, then I can make money by putting ads on my blog!”

I was thinking small . . .

Colorado SEO guy also introduced me to WordPress. He told me I would never gain any traction with SEO if I didn’t learn WordPress.

I started my first WordPress website. I practiced writing posts with my new knowledge of SEO.

I trusted my teacher and hoped.

I kept at it for weeks with no results.

After four weeks or so, the day had arrived. “Best breakfast in Columbus, Ohio” was ranked third on the first page of Google.

The results awed me.

I thought, “This stuff really works!” The revelation turned my hope into belief.

Getting to page one with nothing more than my own strategic writing felt powerful. I could not fail. So, I asked myself that question business coaches ask.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

I didn’t have an answer.

Despite my uncertainty, I saw the task right in front of me: Practice my SEO skills and dominate in this field.

So I started with SEO and eventually used it to grow the agency I own today.

goldfish leaping into next bowl

The most successful turns in my career have come from desperate moments. Unemployment and fear of financial ruin lights a fire under my ass.

Recently, difficult conversations with my clients have struck the match.

My agency serves small businesses. When they hurt, we hurt.

Our clients include dentists, salons, restaurants, travel agencies, and brand new businesses with their feet barely on the ground. The conversations we’ve been having with our clients are heartbreaking. They are filled with anxiety and uncertainty.

They range from hopeful:
“Can we put our service on pause until we can get through this?”

to understandable panic:
“Cancel everything!” and “Give me all of my money back!”

to matter of fact:
“We will not be able to pay our invoice for the foreseeable future” and then, “Correction: We will never be able to pay our invoice.”

One morning, a few days after governors began delivering stay-at-home orders, I had four of these conversations.

The prospect of laying off one or more of my employees lit my ass on fire.

First I felt desperate. Then I thought, “What can I offer right now that people need? What can I offer that people will pay for – and get a lot of value from?”

My life improved from learning WordPress. Could I give that to others?

I decided to build the online WordPress course I’d been “trying” to get started on for four flippin’ years and make it available to anyone who wanted it.

I finished it in a week.

I had always been serious about wanting to get the course done. I just had no idea it would take a pandemic for me to get it done.

We are all facing some forced leaps of faith right now.

The last time disaster struck my life, I looked for an opportunity and found it in learning WordPress.

I hope something similar comes out of this disaster.

I want new opportunities to come out of this for myself and for you. There are no guarantees that will happen for either of us but I encourage you to take the leap.

Welcome to WebDev Success. I’m Emily Journey and this podcast is where I take a hard look at the challenges facing the website development industry. Learn how to attract loyal customers, how to raise your prices with confidence, and take steps to craft the work life you’ve always wanted. Subscribe, listen in and develop brilliantly.

Join the discussion

  • Hi Emily,

    A great article for sure. One thing I see impacting people is the uncertainty of the times. A lot of small businesses are reluctant to pivot right now. They realize how much work they have put into what they have created and have hopes that things will be changing in another month or two. They can weather the storm for a short time but when do you make wholesale changes to your business or life?

    I good friend of mine back in Ohio said something very interesting to me last week. She said this reminds her so much of the Kent State shootings in 1970. Universities shuttered but the biggest challenge to overcome was the amount of purposeful disinformation and misinformation. It’s tough to make a decision without good and reliable information.

    Keep up the blogging! Always a joy to read.


    • Thank you Phil! It’s great to read your thoughts here. I turned 50 on Monday and I’m grasping to find anything comparable in my lifetime. And I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. I’ll keep writing. 🙂

  • Great article. All of us business owners are being forced to make financial sacrifices, including forgiveness of debt. However, I believe everything you/ we give will be returned to us, and more, as we move forward.

    Sandee Hemphill,
    Publishing a la Carte

  • Emily, most of us business owners are making tremendous financial sacrifices right now, including and not limited to forgiveness of debt. However, I believe we will have four store houses in the future. Blessings and continued success

Further reading

Web developer working at table

Hi, I’m Emily Journey. I founded and lead a website consulting agency with six coworkers. This blog is where I write about the things I’ve learned at my real job.
I respond to your comments at the bottom of my posts. Subscribe to get my weekly email.