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Hi, I’m Daniela.

This isn’t my first blog, but it’s the first blogging project that I’ve approached with any kind of strategy, community, or support in place.

All of which are important for long-term success in blogging, as in life.

I’m a damn dirty millennial. One of those kids who

  • grew up on the internet, because it wasn’t safe to go outside with the other 12-year-olds, lest we terrorize the suburbs as a scooter gang and take turns getting pregnant,  
  • got a degree in something “useless” (sociology),
  • went to grad school to prepare for a career (mental health counseling), and
  • took on a 9-5 in an unrelated field (law) because rent is a thing and fairy godparents are not.

Life-changing news came on my 27th birthday. The 9-5 job I held for the past two and a half years was being moved to South Africa. My colleagues were devastated, and understandably so.

But I felt free.

Months before that, I had made up my mind to do something I actually enjoyed. So I set up shop online as a graphic designer.

In all honesty, I didn’t want to *just* do graphic design. I also liked SEO, copywriting, course creation, and a bunch of other really cool things. What do you call it when you know a bunch of really cool things, but you’re only allowed to do one or two of them? Another damn job. I didn’t want to stifle my creativity for no reason. I wanted to help people in any way I could, within reason.

Before long though, I felt pretty limited in what I could offer without being full of shit. I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t brand too early or you might not like where it takes you.

The name I picked, 512 Graphiste, wasn’t meant to do anything other than speak to the fact that I was a graphic designer (“graphiste” is the French word for it) in the Austin area (512 is our area code). It left me no room to grow, and I felt caught in an existentially-fraught loop of “am I a person or am I a fledgling agency?” It felt like there was no right answer.

“9-5 Me” would never have admitted failure, because failure meant that I got something wrong because I wasn’t smart enough to get it right the first time. Instead I would have beaten myself up about it quietly and buried the shame under a burger and beer. But as a small business owner, I smile at scrapping something that didn’t work and starting over with new, hard-won insight.

Something else wonderful happened on my 27th birthday. One of my dear internet biz buddies gifted me a strategy session. On that electric afternoon, she helped me see that I could repackage my services and offer myself–my WHOLE self- as a virtual assistant (VA) or online business manager (OBM). The timing of this challenge coincides ever-so-nicely with the upcoming launch of those services.

That’s one of the things I love about being part of communities online: You are never truly going through something alone. Your existential crisis might coincide nicely with your friend’s branding course. The launch of your new project might overlap with a group challenge about the same thing. As a Jewish gal on the mystical/intellectual/spiritual side of things, going through things with people I care about makes me feel more a part of life.

We are all in different places on a number of journeys in our lives. This post marks the start of a new journey for me, as a human as well as a small business owner.

Here’s to going on a journey together and coming out wiser and braver than we were at the start

Daniela LaFave

PS: If you’re wondering why my Facebook name and my blog name are different, it’s because my Facebook name is my given name and Daniela LaFave will be my name after I marry my best friend next year 🙂