This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do…
And I will cry after I write this.
I am very saddened to announce that today is my last day as a ‘celebrity gossip blogger.’ It’s also my last day running the site as you know it, NecoleBitchie.com.
Back in 2008, while people were celebrating the New Year with their loved ones, I was on the phone with my good friend Lamar (most of you know him as 'Blogxilla') and I told him my plans for growing the traffic on this tiny blog I had just started. I researched HTML codes for hours in an attempt to create a readable layout with red, black and white colors, and he offered to help me with a header image. Although I was living with my aunt at the time, I was somewhat homeless and reminded every day that if I didn’t get a real job soon, I’d have to find somewhere else to go. Over the next six months, I found myself hopping from couch to couch as I moved to Atlanta, and worked hard to grow my following. My friend Lauren tells the story of one day waking up to me laying on her floor with my head resting on my computer. I had fell asleep while blogging!!!!! And that was the reality of my life at the time, I couldn’t really afford to log off my computer, unless it was to attend an event. I refused to send out any more resumes and work at a job I hated. Plan B? Forget about it, this was my only option, and I had to make it work.
My breakthrough finally came when Munson Steed of Rolling Out invited me to speak on the Female Success Factor tour, alongside Chilli. It was my first public speaking engagement and I cried as I told the story of how losing my parents, moving to New York to pursue a job in entertainment, and feeling a since of failure after I was forced to move back to the hometown I grew up in with no money to my name, inspired me to launch my own website. I was tired of sending out resumes and looking for a job -- so I had created one.
Although I was still broke and living on couches, the perception was that my site was huge, was enough for those young women to find inspiration in my story. I found power in that. I also realized that speaking to young women gave me more fulfillment then those blogs I was posting every day.
But still, I kept posting. I had a vision of how big my site could be…but what I didn’t know was that God’s plan for me was bigger than my vision. Over the next seven years, I won awards, was featured in magazines that I grew up on, including Ebony and Cosmopolitan, I was on TV, I went on tour with a pop star (Hi Rihanna!), was offered television shows and acting roles (most of which I questioned if I deserved), and I was able to upgrade from those couches I was sleeping on to my own bed.
And the best part of it all was that it happened to a small town girl, who’s vision was greater than the amount of money she had to make it happen. Won’t he do it!
If I could do it, anyone can!
Despite all of those things, I continued to notice that I was experiencing more fulfillment and success from women coming to me on the street and saying, ‘Your story inspires me so much!!’ than I did the ‘you got all the tea, I love your celebrity blog!!!’ I was getting more fulfillment out of speaking engagements, panels and inspirational interviews than I was flying to a luxurious location, given freebies and standing next to someone famous. I began measuring my success not by the amount of people who read my blog, or the money I made, but by the number of people I was able to touch, motivate and inspire.
I also started to realize what purpose was – and I knew to be happy, I had to start living a purpose-driven life. I had to start thinking about what I wanted my legacy to be, and what steps I’d have to take to start living in it.
I think about how I want to be remembered all the time and one thing I know for sure is that I never wanted to be known for being JUST ‘a celebrity gossip blogger.’
I’ve asked myself time and time again – When all is said and done, what will people say about you? How are you elevating your audience? What are you doing to contribute to your culture in a positive way? Are you doing a good job of pushing the culture forward? How are you touching people and changing their lives?
The fact that I can't answer that right now is problematic for me. I always felt that no matter how much positivity we promoted on the site, the salacious stories were always going to overshadow them. The 'Bitchie' in the website name was always going to be counterproductive to the mission I had of being a source of inspiration, and launching a platform for women to tell their stories.
There is a constant internal struggle between being a character –Necole Bitchie—when I walk out in public, and being the woman I know I was meant to be. Eventually, I began feeling like I wasn’t doing enough and I would never reach my goals. I felt stuck! I felt boxed in! No matter how much success people thought I had, or how many pageviews our stories generated, I felt as though I was regressing. There was also a constant struggle of what I thought my audience wanted to see (salacious tea), and what I wanted to post (Inspirational women interest stories.’) I was so exhausted from fighting that battle, that I literally felt defeated and I mentally gave up.
Over the last few years, people have sent me emails and asked, ‘Why don’t you post on your personal blog site anymore, that’s where I receive my inspiration.’ Honestly, it was hard for me to be a source of inspiration when I’m enslaved in my own struggle. I had to go back to fixing me first.
The other day, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review titled, 'Stop Worrying About How Much You Matter' and I had to wonder if my refusal to throw in the towel was because I was afraid of irrelevancy. Most people go through a stage where they fear that people won't care anymore -- but that wasn't really my issue. Honestly, if I'm not relevant for the right reasons, I'd rather not be relevant at all.
I realized it was taking me awhile to get the guts to walk away and pursue my true life passion because 1) I felt as though I was being ungrateful to walk away from what has proven to be successful and 2) I began living my life in fear.
That fear was not just because I was scared to fail – but I was also scared of how great I really could be.
To many people are not living their dreams because of fear. I DO NOT want to become one of those people.
I had to destroy it, before it destroyed me.
For seven years, I’ve given this platform everything in me. Now, it’s time to refocus that energy into something that I truly believe in.
I hope that one day my story will inspire young women across the globe to pursue their heart’s desires, but I also want them to know that when their passion turns into a project, and it’s no longer fun anymore, that it’s okay to move on. It’s okay to evolve, and it’s definitely okay to reinvent. My favorite quote by Steve Harvey is ‘You have to give up something to get something.’ He always tells the story that after he gave up stand up comedy, he was given his own TV show, became an Emmy-nominated host on Family Feud, released books which were turned into movies and the list goes on. He now uses his gifts to grow a brand focused on empowerment and inspiration.
Standing at the top of a mountain, feeling accomplished and at the top of your game is cool, but in order to climb another mountain and start a new journey, you eventually have to climb down. And you'll never know how great you can be until you take that risk.
I would like to thank everyone for your continuous support over the years. It’s so hard to grow an audience on the web and I don’t take anything for granted. It means so much to me. I’d especially like to thank the writers who contributed to this site over the years (D. Joseph, Soraya Joseph, Erika Marie, Dwayne Yates, Tai Gooden, Kimmy Cason) , my videographers (Patrick Neree, Uniiqe and HD) and my friends who served as correspondents (Lauren Turner and Fallon Mercedes) for being amazing and assisting me in keeping this site running over the years. Also my sister Ma-Shyrra who learned how to sell ads and managed my social media when I was burned out. And I can't forget my amazing publicist Christina Rice who has become an incredible friend and helped me get my story out there.
Lastly, thank you Bevy Smith. Last year, I attended her 'Life With Vision' event in New York City as a guest and her story of leaving her full-time job and six figure salary as a rockstar sales exec at a well-known publication to pursue her dreams of one day being on television (even when no one believed in her) really inspired me. I remember she brought me to the front of the room, to share my story of success with the attendees and I just stood there and cried while telling them that I knew it was time to move on. That the number 7 meant completion. It has taken me almost a year, but I'm doing it. That event changed me.
Also a word about my grandmother: I used to sit and always wonder how she would feel about me and what I've accomplished if she was still alive. She passed away when I was 15, was the only entrepreneur I knew at the time, and she continued to stress education and business ownership to me. I am at peace today knowing that she would be smiling at me right now and be cheering me on as I step into the next part of my journey.
Although it is the end of Necole Bitchie – it’s not the end of my life journey. I've only scratched the surface of my true potential.
As I transition into my next chapter over the next few months, and hopefully launch something new and positive, I can only hope for your continued support.
It’s not a ‘good bye!’ per say. It’s a ‘See you soon!’