One year ago, I decided to start a blog. There are so many adjectives that could describe the past year: rewarding, tiring, challenging, exciting, scary, fun, confusing, etc. I started a blog because I felt like I had so much I wanted to share with others and I wanted a creative outlet to work on in my spare time. It has turned into so much more than that and is now a piece of me that I’m very proud of.
You always hear from bloggers that you need to follow you dreams and put your passions out there and you will be successful and unicorns and balloons will follow you everywhere. I’ve learned that some of that is true…and some of it isn’t. For my one year blogiversary I am sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of blogging and what I wish I had known before starting a blog!
1. Blogging is hard work
Blogging is A LOT of work! There is so much more to blogging now than there was a few years ago. With posting consistently on every social media platform, creating quality content, taking pictures, answering emails, and networking, there is always something I feel like I should be doing. When I first started my blog, I had no idea the long hours I would have to put into it. There have been many days that I’ve come home from teaching and worked on my blog until 10 or 11 o’clock at night (stopping only for a dinner of pita chips and hummus). While I’ve learned and accepted that blogging is hard work, I’ve also had to learn that there needs to be a point where I stop and save the rest of my to do list for the next day.
2.Treat your blog like a business
At the beginning, your blog will probably be a hobby. But…if you start out at the beginning being professional, responding promptly to emails, posting consistently, developing relationships and setting up a business plan then you are miles ahead of the recreational blogger. Set goals, develop strategies, and set a time frame to hit those goals. Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. If they don’t work, then move on. If they do work, then great! Add them to your business plan.
3. Be a good person
I have always tried to be and thought of myself as a good person but I think that in the blogging business there is even more of a platform to be helpful to others. Whether you collaborate with brands that support charities or you support causes yourself, you are now a voice on a public platform. Even influencing one person to be good and do good is a good thing.
Blogging can also be a cut throat world so I think it’s important to uplift each other and support other women in the blogging community. I will always remember people who were kind and helped me in the beginning. Brittany from Loverly Grey was always eager to help me and even did a giveaway with me to help me build my following and Rachel Martino was one of the kindest and most down to earth people when I met her at a blogging conference. When you are kind and helpful to someone, you leave an impression.
5. Don’t be Afraid to make changes and/or change directions
I started blogging because I wanted to get better with my photography and I knew my favorite things were food, fashion and travel. So I thought I should be a food blogger (here are some of my food recipes). Well, I quickly found that I like making and eating other’s recipes but I am AWFUL at creating my own. One of the first recipes I ever posted got a thumbs down on Pinterest. Clearly, this was not the niche for me. Goodbye food, hello fashion and travel! I had such angst about quitting food blogging but I have to say I’ve found my perfect niche doing fashion and travel blogging and I am glad I made the change.
6. Learn to say NO!
When I started blogging, I was so excited when brands reached out to me that I excitedly said YES to everything! I was actually afraid to say no. What if no one ever asked me again? Along the way I realized that there were some companies that did not really go along with how I wanted to represent my brand. And I had to stay true to myself and what my brand represents. I now say no to about half of what I’m approached for. This isn’t because I don’t like or do not want to work with the brand. Saying no just allows me to be more selective and work with amazing brands that I think align perfectly with what I love.
7. You do you
I feel like this statement is one that fits the unicorn category that I mentioned above but it’s really true. It’s really easy to fall in the comparison trap. That successful blogger posts 2x a day. Should I post 2x a day? Should I copy what they do? It’s a black hole that’s hard to climb out of. Yes, there are rules of blogging like posting consistently, posting with intent, and having pretty visuals. But you have to decide what success means to you. The second I stopped comparing myself to others was the second my blog and brand starting becoming what I wanted it to be! Be who you want to be, post what you like, and the success will come!
8. Don’t give up your day job
There are many articles online and “gurus” who will tell you how to make money fast with your blog. In my experience, it is very difficult to make money at the beginning. I always felt that if I worked harder, worked longer, and improved on everything that I’d start making the money that all these “gurus” were telling me was possible. I’ve done this for a year and while given free products and clothing to feature that I love, I have only made enough money to buy myself some fun extras on the side. Mostly everything I’ve made, I’ve put back into my blog anyway. I also pay for my blog expenses by tutoring on the side. Blogging is expensive and you’re not going to make back the money you put into it right away.
9. Take time to step away from social media
I know the suggestion of stepping away from social media sounds a little counterproductive since my blog and supporting platforms are social media but always remember your “real life” and relationships are more important.
It is so easy with social media to become transfixed by your phone and computer. I finally realized that I need to take time for myself to reboot and spend with T, my family and friends so I recently decided to not post on Instagram or my blog on Friday and Saturday. This decision has been such a positive change for me. During that time,I try not to go on my phone and focus on myself and my relationships. I also use this time to organize my life for the week, plan social media, and exercise without feeling like I need to be connected. Unplugging helps me be really present in my own life.
10. Blogging can bring you great friendships
I have really enjoyed making friends with bloggers through events, conferences, and social media. Many of them are in other cities and a lot are in my own city of Atlanta. It’s nice to have friends who understand the ups and downs of blogging and who can give you advice when you have questions.
11. Growth and overcoming fears
When I published my first post, I was scared to death. Would people like what I put out there? Would they accept me? After a year, I have FINALLY gotten to the point where I feel confident about what I am publishing and have also learned that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. One of my favorite things blogging has done for me is that it has helped me develop a strong sense of self.
When I look back on this past year of starting my blog, I have to say it was a wonderful year. I have learned so much about myself, gained confidence, grown professionally and emotionally, made friendships, and developed relationships with followers that I cherish. Thanks to all that have followed and supported me! Can’t wait for year #2!
P.S If you are thinking about starting a blog, go for it! And don’t hesitate to reach out