Please welcome Guest Blogger Courtney Madeira as she shares her journey into creating The Great Greenvillage.
Before The Great Greenvillage
Everything in my life has been about devising a thorough plan and then systematically following that plan to achieve specific goals. I majored in Secondary English Education at North Greenville University and got a job in a Greenville County Title 1 School before the end of summer. But my education did not prepare me for the number of difficult students, lack of support, and impossible expectations.
I resigned by Christmas. I was physically unhealthy, mentally spent, emotionally defeated, and knew I would never return to teaching. That meant on top of coping with my perceived career failure and the guilt of feeling I’d abandoned 90 middle schoolers who needed me, I also had to find another job outside of education.I took inventory of my personal strengths and decided I would excel in a journalism or marketing position. Thus, The Great Greenvillage was born!
Having lived in Greenville, SC my entire life, I knew enough about the city’s hidden gems to start a blog highlighting little-known hangout spots and small businesses. I bought a web domain using the Wix platform, designed a website, and got to work drafting a list of places I’d like to cover.
I started sending inquiry emails under the“fake it till you make it” mantra. I offered business owners articles covering their businesses with photos for free if they would take the time to give me an interview and let me photograph their facilities.
Who turns down free services and publicity? I was thrilled to get my first interview with Climb @ Blue Ridge. I felt even more shocked whenBreakout Games of Greenville offered a free escape room experience to myself and a group of friends, so I had a better perspective to write about the company.
Eventually, my plan worked, and a local retailer hired me to manage its social media, weekly blog posts, print advertisements, and newsletters. They’d been impressed with my body of work, and I was lucky enough to learn new skills from my eight months on staff. I picked up Photoshop editing, important social media principles, some SEO basics, and the ability to navigate platforms like Shopify and Hootsuite.
Once I felt I’d gained everything possible from that position, I transitioned to a part-time schedule to focus more energy on growing The Great Greenvillage as a potential business. I printed business cards and stickers, upped the number of monthly posts, and committed to regularly attending networking events in Greenville.
One of my blogs on Revival Butchery even got picked up by GVL TODAY, a major media account that I’d been following religiously for a long time! I had only made money on one of my posts to date, but things seemed to be picking up!
Collaboration and Monetization
Once my following on social media grew to a noteworthy count and I began to gain recognition with professionals frequenting Greenville’s networking functions, something shifted. People began reaching out to me for interviews! In fact, local small business owners started suggesting ways for me to collaborate with them on copywriting projects and client promotions.
Now I work consistently as a copywriter and blogger for Tekli, and I partner with IncuBank to highlight to the company’s clients. I’ve also had the privilege of working with Rocket Dog Multimedia to create a branding video for The Great Greenvillage and hope to continue growing all of my projects to a point where their revenue streams match that of my former teaching job.
With a lot of tenacity, hard work, and innovation, I think I will achieve this goal within a few short years. I’m also able to work from home, which is a great blessing—particularly because my husband and I found out we’re expecting our first baby!
Faith, Creativity, and Advice
I was angry and bitter during the season following my teaching resignation. Truthfully, I felt cheated by God. I had put so much work into what I thought the best plan for my life, and it blew up in my face, but I had no idea how many more fulfilling and enriching experiences were coming my way.
Now I’m doing the thing I love most and using my talents to showcase the amazing artists and business owners in my community. I’ve met people I never would have interacted with had I not had the guts to launch the Great Greenvillage.
I learned about search engine ranking, image optimization, hosting platforms, web development, photo editing, and other subjects that I never would have committed to learning if they hadn’t been vital to my blog’s development and success.
There’s still much more room to grow in terms of developing my website and social media presence, but I’m taking it one step at a time. If I had to encourage someone on the verge of starting his own online enterprise, my biggest piece of advice would be, “Just do it.”
Start with what you have, add more as your skills and tools improve naturally. All you need is determination! The rest will follow with hard work and resilience. Some days, you’ll be sure it isn’t working and want to quit, but don’t. Look for uncomfortable opportunities to learn. Never be afraid to ask for help, and remember that everybody gets rejected. In the end, you’ll be glad you kept going.
Courtney Madeira is a Greenville, SC resident and content creator with a passion for promoting her city. After graduating from North Greenville University in 2017 and deciding that teaching just wasn’t for her, Courtney launched her blog, The Great Greenvillage, which highlights local hangouts, talented artists, and small businesses in her area.