A Realist’s Guide To Success

I can still remember the day that email came in; a press interview! I was nervous and excited. I was nervous because I had never had a press interview before, but I was excited because of the potential that it had. The potential that it could bring for our blog. One door could open two, two could open four, four could open eight, and so on. Before too long, our name would be big news on the blogging scene!

Alas, that never happened.

When I was invited to do a blogger interview for my good friend, PoojaG, I was really optimistic and excited that this opportunity would allow me to reach hundreds, even thousands of other readers. It would allow me to interact with other bloggers and it would allow me to educate more people on the BDSM lifestyle and before too long, I could have a considerably bigger readership. What actually happened? Very few people interacted, and nobody at all came on over and followed our blog.

When things like this happen, it’s important never to lose sight of hope. Hope is what helps us find our objectives, hope gives us ambition and it gives us the drive to get up and try again each day. Without hope, we will stay in bed, moping about all of the things we still haven’t achieved, the things that we’ve convinced ourselves will be too hard.

But what if hope just thinks we haven’t worked hard enough?

What if hope thinks we still need to try a different way?

Maybe we didn’t try hard enough, and maybe there’s still something else that we could do. When this is the case, doesn’t it sometimes pay to get up and try again?

When we moved into our home in 2016 and after a domestic fire, we were put under the precondition that, once our original home was repaired, we would have to move back there. As much as I remember that flat, it was never a home for me. We had bad neighbours on all sides- with drug dealers above us who used to bang on our ceiling if we put a picture hook up (and then kept us awake all night with their loud music) and a neighbour who threatened to kill me, simply because she was riddled with all kinds of illegal substances. I was sexually assaulted in my own home by my neighbour’s son and I was bitten by another tenant’s dog. I fought and fought for us to stay at this address because it would set us free from all of the bad experiences that we’d faced, and each time, the answer was the same, I cried, I cried a lot. We had nicer neighbours here and this apartment had so much more character. I was in love, so how on earth could they take it away from me? It broke my heart, and as a last-ditch attempt, I made my case to a local MP. She took on my case, and it is because of her that we are here in this dream home and away from the violence and harassment today. Finally, even if one of them can be a little frustrating, we have neighbours that we can talk with, laugh with, and live next to in peace. Isn’t that a great example of what can happen if you just try your approach a little differently?

Not so long ago, we were invited to a family gathering with my mother, brother and their lodger. As we sat around and talked, I was asked if I’d seen my brother’s paintings. I had to be honest that no, given that I’ve come off of my private Facebook account, then no, I hadn’t seen his work.

One by one, my brother held his paintings up for me to see. I applauded him, his colours and attention to detail were fascinating. For a once young boy whose left-handed handwriting was illegible, my baby brother had come a long way.

But that was when the mood started to change.

My brother talked about how he planned to sell his arts, and one day, he’d make money from them. I hated to be the bearer of bad news, but there was one thing he needed to accept – hope

So I shared with him my story..

“No, sis. Screw hope, it’s will. I WILL make money from my paintings, there’s no such thing as hope anymore. I’m done with pessimism.”

Eeesh, okay tough guy.

But as a realist, I knew that he was still quietly clinging to hope, and who could blame him? After all, I’d been there not so long ago, too.

The more he talked, the more I realised he sounded an awful lot like me. He talked about connections in America, about getting a letter from an established artist to say that they had received his painting and that one day, his painting might be worth thousands of pounds.

I didn’t want to dash his dreams, of course I didn’t, I’m not that way inclined. However, if my baby brother plans to make it big, then he needed to be in it for the long haul. If you plan on success someday, then here are my top personal pointers to help you on your way.

If You Dream Of Fame…

Start Small And Stay Strong

The first thing you have to realise and accept about standing even a remote chance of becoming a bigshot, is how many other people there are just like you, wanting, hoping to become a bigshot, too. There are thousands, millions of other people out there, all plugging and trying out the same thing that you’re doing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a blogger, a musician, a Youtuber, an artist or something else entirely, there are masses of other people all doing what you do, some many of which have been doing it for much, much longer. In order to be seen, you need to lay your foundations, do it consistently and do it well. It’s pointless doing your thing half a dozen times and then giving up when it’s not working. If you quit after a few weeks, you’ll be nothing more than a tiny blip on a very, very busy radar.

Find Your Style

Once you know who you are, finding your style becomes a lot easier. We are minimalists, and so for us, a minimalistic, clutter-free blog sort of makes sense. Everything, from your logo to your blog (if that’s what your planning) to your painting style or your stage performance will be easier to create if you know what your own personal style looks like. If it doesn’t feel right to you, ditch it. After all, this is all about you. I’ve seen some people try to copy my energy, and honestly, apart from feeling slightly squicked by it, I usually just laugh. Why? Because for me, my energy is effortless. I write off-the-cuff, and then I go back and I edit it so that I make at least a bit of sense. You can’t recreate that energy. Use your own, and then you know, go back and edit it a bit.

Network! Network! Network!

Too many people think blogging is just writing a post, adding an image (or worse, adding one they’ve just ripped from Google!) and posting it. Blogging takes writing, editing, proof-reading, formatting, finding images from sources that won’t whoop your butt for a copyright breach, and then finally, finally publishing it… and then promoting yourself – and even that takes skill! If you want people to be interested in your work, make or leave valuable comments on their work first. Be interesting and engaged, not just “well done” or a thumbs-up emoji or whatever. The best post or painting in the world might not get you very far if you’re not networking with other people. It’s tough work to keep your followers, are you ready?

Do It Because You Love It, Not Because It’ll Make You Famous

Why do I write about kink? Honestly, because I’m passionate about it. Whether it be for better relationships or for better mental health, I believe that it can hold many great benefits for a whole lot of people, as long as they’re open enough to try. Why do I not write about fashion or make-up? Eh, because I don’t actually care about either of those things. I have my own classy-minimalist style, and as for make-up? I believe that the best thing that anyone can wear is confidence. Too many people use make-up to hide insecurities and imperfections, and I think that’s a huge shame. If you write about fashion or make-up or any other popular topic, do it because you’re passionate about those things. Do it because you aspire to help and educate people who are interested in reading about those things. If I was to write about fashion in the hopes of becoming popular, it would come across as really inauthentic and sooner or later, people would realise I was just a huge fake. In a similar vein, I’ve rolled my eyes at too many articles written about kinky sex, by people who quite evidently don’t really give a damn about it. If you want to do something and become popular for doing it, be passionate about it. When you talk with passion, people will sit up and listen.

Stay Humble

There is something else that is so, so prevalent in my life, and that is humility. When people become rich and famous, sometimes it happens so quickly that they forget that they are only rich and famous because of the people who put them there. I am only read because of the people who decide to read me, and I am only interviewed by people who choose to interview me. Even if I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the media interview, I’m still very humbled that I was interviewed by the media at all and because each time that I am interviewed, it still gives me another platform on which to have my voice heard. Without those platforms, I may never be heard at all. Without the people who read me, my voice may never be heard, either. For the people who stop by and listen to me whittle on, I am always extremely grateful.

If You Plan On Riches…

Invest Wisely

One of my biggest regrets in life is squandering money uselessly. No, scratch that, one of my biggest regrets is squandering inheritance money uselessly. I inherited about £800 from my Dad, and in almost no time at all, I’d spent it on things I didn’t really need, or that I later disliked and sold for cheap or gave away a few weeks later. My Dad wouldn’t have wanted that, and now that the money is all gone, I feel as though I failed him. When it comes to spending money now, I ask myself whether it’s really necessary before I buy it, which brings me on to…

Consider Upscaling

Not only is upscaling great for the planet, but upscaling is a great way of saving money, too. I have a white DVD tower that I’d been using as shelves in my makeshift office space, but once I moved my desk to the other side of the room, I no longer needed the shelves and so I added LED lights to the tower and turned it into a minibar in our lounge instead. I also had a small seagrass drawer unit that had been hiding, unused, under the dining table. I removed the baskets and used them to organise a shelf whilst my neighbour turned the frame into some handy small garage shelves for himself. Not only did it keep the items out of landfill, but it saved me some money as well. Later on, that money saved can be used towards something else.

Swap Credit For Debit

“If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it”, that was my father’s sage advice to me. The problem with credit cards is that they allow us to buy the things that we can’t actually afford and the more you want to spend, the more the bank will lend you, right up until you’re neck-deep in debt with no ways or means of paying it all off. If you’d be tempted to spend, spend, spend, consider swapping your credit card for a debit card instead. That way, once your money is all gone, it really is all gone. Trust me, one or two ‘insufficient funds’ notifications is sometimes all it takes to make you really sit up and take note of your spending habits!

Keep Other Avenues Open

Do you want to know what I do? I blog. Do you want to know how I make money? I sell tropical fish. I have a shoal of 12 “Yellow Top Sword” Endlers Livebearers, and once they have babies, I raise the fry until they start to show some colour, and then I sell them on in bundles of six. Sure, the money I make from the sales of these fish is pittance money for right now, but do you know what’s worse than pittance money? Absolutely no money at all! Even if I am on benefits right now because of my disabilities, it’s nice to lawfully make a small amount of money on top which I have actually worked for. It is my hope and dream that one day I will finally be financially independent enough to forgo lengthy forms, court hearings and degrading medical assessments, all while working and writing from home.

And If You Dream Of Both…

Rethink The Dream

I wanted to include this as a bonus point because really, I think sometimes people mistake happiness for wealth. Would ten million pounds make you really happy, really? Or are you just convinced that it would? If you had enough money to never have to work again, what would you do? You’d spend the day sailing and sunbathing, or attending lavish parties? That sounds great! But what about when you’d done the same thing for 48 days in a row, wouldn’t you be bored? I firmly believe that what a lot of people mistake for wealth is really a sense of financial security. It is the feeling of having enough money to never have to fret about paying all of the bills again, of having what you want, when you want it and without having to cut corners, saving for months or making uncomfortable sacrifices. If you were rich and famous, you might never have privacy again, and would you really want to be photographed and questioned while trying to enjoy a pint of beer in the pub with your friends? How about not being able to go to the shops without your security personnel? Would you want to be photographed in an awkward situation or to make a vocal faux pas, only to have it broadcast all over the tabloid newspapers? A lot of people think that rich and famous sounds like a perfect lifestyle, but take it from someone who has been mildly famous before, sometimes all you really want is to be left the hell alone. Regardless of how much money you have, there are certain luxuries that common folk take for granted and that the world’s elite can’t afford.

I hope that this post has given you some food for thought. What has made you successful? How successful and famous do you want to be? Why not share your thoughts in the comments?

Until next time,

Stay safe & have fun,

Helen & Matt xx

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