I had the pleasure of meeting Vernetta way back in 2014 at the Texas Conference for Women. She was leading a roundtable discussion on blogging.
After hearing her speak, I invited her to share her blogging wisdom on the site. Over the past five years, a lot has changed with her business, so I thought it would be fun to catch up and get an update on what she's been doing.
If you're not familiar with Vernetta Freeney, she is an award-winning Paid Event Blogger.
She’s the Creator and Producer of the podcast, A Toast To Truths. She is an award-winning event producer, speaker, and community builder. She was one of the Top 100 Young Professionals in Houston 2015, and she's been featured on CNBC.com, EOFire podcast, and a host of other media outlets.
Learn more about how this former educator became a Paid Event Blogger.
You’ve been working from home since July 2011, tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I’m a former educator; I retired from teaching ESL classes in April 2018. It was a bittersweet moment as I loved what I did, but it was time for me to move on. In March 2009, I started a short-lived blog. It lasted for two months due to grad school starting, and I needed to focus on that.
Throughout the years, I managed to teach and blog.
I’m now on my third blog and still absolutely love blogging. When I’m not blogging, I like to cheer on my Dallas Mavericks, eat chocolate, binge watch Netflix, take naps, and read. Other than blogging and laying the foundation for my new business, FreshCo Community, I like to do things that allow me to have fun, eat good food, and not exert too much energy.
How has your online business evolved over the years?
It’s changed so many times I lost count.
I used to chase whatever people thought I did well and tried to incorporate that into a business. Most of those ideas failed miserably. I didn’t care about them in a sense to market and distribute as I should.
In September 2011, I started as a blogger. I wasn’t sure what type of blogger but I blogged about everyday women. Then I received my first paid opportunity six weeks later. It was to cover an event. I’ve covered numerous events over the years. But I never focused on that as my primary service until 2018.
I’ve managed social media for entrepreneurs and events.
I started a journaling business, which now is up for sale.
I've launched an award-winning national tour for introverted women entrepreneurs that was invested funded — also looking to sell that.
I created the first dues-based membership association for Black bloggers for a city in this country.
I launched my third blog conference, ‘Get Me Paid’ Influencer Bootcamp.
And recently, I co-founded the FreshCo Community. It’s a collective for Black-owned coworking space owners in Houston.
Through all of that, I continued to blog.
Now I am a Paid Event Blogger (where I should have stayed when I began), and that’s where most of my services and blogging stem from. So, there’s evolution, but it all stems from either a blog post or something I did while I was blogging, including coworking.
As a blogger, I need spaces to host events, work, and meet with clients. It made sense to make sure there were spaces I could utilize and help others find spaces within their budgets, location, and the amenities they needed. In addition to all that, I also have a podcast that I share my entrepreneurial journey. It’s a pet project that has turned into more than I ever thought it would.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?
Twitter and word of mouth have worked best for me in the past. Now it’s based on relationships, credibility, and reputation. I know that if I put something out and it’s quality (yes, sometimes we all put something out and it’s not our best work), people will vouch on my behalf.
The longevity of my career as a blogger has helped to open doors that I may not have even known existed. Knowing that other people will recommend, refer me helps my blog out in more ways than I can count. That allows opportunities to come to me, and I don’t have to work as hard to find them.
How do you diversify your income streams?
I’ve tried so many things over the years. Besides tickets to my events, I do consultations, cover events, sponsored posts, and have digital products (mainly trainings). Plus, I run ads on my podcast.
What has been the key to your success and longevity?
Not quitting despite all the obstacles and setbacks. I’ve pivoted quite a few times over the years. Now I’m wise to know when to stop, reset, and move forward when things aren’t working the way I wished they would. Not allowing shame or embarrassment to stop me from making a wise decision is also crucial.
Also, being committed to the process. Results may not always turn out as you want, but understanding that the process is where you learn more about yourself; thus, your business takes commitment. Especially when times are bleak, and you don’t know what to do or want to keep going.
What has been your biggest struggle as a blogger?
That no matter how many people love you, need you, or want to support you, it’s still just you at the end of the day making decisions that will move your blog forward or set it back. And that can weigh heavy on one’s mind. It’s like a weight pushing you down. Over time, I’ve learned how not to allow that burden to cripple me.
I had to work on not being ashamed or embarrassed when things didn’t work out. At least I tried. If nothing else, I learned something, made connections, grew as an individual or saw what should not be attached to my blog. Knowing that decisions have to be made and making this is part of the “job.” So learn to be okay that you made the best decision based on information, knowledge, experience, capacity, money, etc. at that moment.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I prioritize how my day will go. Everything is laid out on a calendar, so I know what will happen that week. This allows me to know when to say yes to a request that pops up or no if I don’t have the time, energy, or capacity to do it well.
I live by a to-do list. My lists are usually what needs to be done by the end of the week. A few things may carry over if it has multiple steps. Then I decide what I can get done each day off that list and do it. That way by the end of the week the list is made and my blog is moving forward.
As far as my personal life, I have been quiet as this year is a year of recovery for me. I have been highly selective about what I do with other people, including friends. But I do manage to go out at least once a month just for socialization. I incorporate self-care into my daily routine to keep me fresh and energized to get everything done that I need to for the day.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Over the years, I tried to be what everyone else thought I should be as an entrepreneur or in business. None of that made me happy. It was quite stressful to live up to expectations that you have no control of. If nothing else, I hope people learn to take a step back, evaluate your vision, then move in that direction. I am a Paid Event Blogger, and I’m okay with that title and where that title takes me for the time being.
Thanks to Vernetta R. Freeney for sharing her story!
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Originally published February 3, 2014. Content updated on September 5, 2019.