A nostalgic reflection on how and when I first started blogging, my journey over the last 10 years, and my life as a full-time blogger.
10 years! Where did that time go?! When I sat down to write my first ever blog post at my dining table many, many apartments ago, never would I have believed that I’d still be blogging today. To be perfectly honest, I just didn’t expect anything out of blogging. For me back then it was purely a creative outlet, a hobby – nothing more. Of course, back then nobody really knew much about blogs. Ten years isn’t an awfully long time ago, but wow how things have changed since then in the blogging world. Nobody knew that you could make money from blogging; let alone how to do so. The joy was merely in seeing your own work and your own pictures online. Now, fast forward 10 years, we’re all content creators in our own right. We post captions on social media. We take photos and often edit them. And each of our social media profiles has its own individual style and aesthetic – it’s kind of like establishing your own personal brand in some ways.
When I started blogging in 2009, I’d only been using social media for about a year because it was still quite new to us all back then. Over the course of my blogging journey these past 10 years, I have noticed so many changes. I’ve learned so much, I’ve developed as an individual, the way I see the blogging industry has changed, as has my status within the blogosphere. I now present to you, in the most concise way, 10 years of blogging in one post!
October 2009: My First Ever Blog Post
It was the autumn of 2009 when I discovered a new internet sensation – Tavi Genvinson. At the time, aged just 11, this young American girl was sending ripples through the fashion media world. It was almost as if she had become famous overnight for setting up a thing called a blog. Her blog, named: Style Rookie, was an online photo diary of her daily outfits. Tavi’s style was unique and quirky, with many of her outfit combinations being the result of her raiding her mum’s wardrobe, which was full of vintage 80s pieces and cute one-off pieces. Aged just 11, Tavi Gevinson’s styling capabilities were incredible, her writing skills too. In fact, she was so talented that for a long time there was speculation that somebody more mature than her was behind it all, writing the blog posts for her. This inspirational pre-teen became a hit in the fashion world thanks to her blog. People adored her blog and the whole concept just fascinated me. Discovering Tavi opened up a whole new world to me – the world of blogging – and I quickly became obsessed. I’ve never been positively decisive over any career path, but for me blogging was love at first sight!
Subsequently I started my own beauty blog. Sitting down to write my first article since leaving school was very strange, not to mention difficult. English had been one of my best subjects at school and I had never had any issues with writing essays at school. However, once you’ve left that classroom environment, it feels strange to write such lengthy articles again. With blogging there aren’t the guidelines or structure to follow like there is at school or in other writing professions, which I think contributes to this slight feeling of awkwardness. My first blog post was a review of an eyebrow palette I’d recently purchased. Once I’d written the post, added in the grainy pictures I’d taken on my flip-phone and then published it, I frequently checked back just to admire my work (cringe)! I remember how proud I felt at seeing my first ever blog post online. I know that this is how a lot of new bloggers feel too.
Life After That First Blog Post
I wrote a few more blog posts before eventually closing down that blog in 2012. Between 2009 and now, I have consistently blogged albeit not for the same website. I can though say proudly that for the larger part of these 10 years, I have been earning full-time as a blogger. I haven’t always been a fashion blogger though. Throughout my blogging career I have also worked as a beauty blogger and a travel and lifestyle blogger too. About 5 years ago I made the decision to study fashion and editorial styling which reignited my passion for telling stories through fashion. Around the same time, I set up Online Personal Stylist and this has been my full-time job ever since.
How to Earn Money as a Full-time Blogger
When you’re a full-time blogger, it can become increasingly frustrating to hear people claim “You can’t make money from blogging” or “If you want to make money from blogging you needed to have started 10 years ago!” This isn’t the case. I have been blogging for 10 years but I can say with full confidence that my strategy for earning money has evolved and continues to improve as the years pass. You absolutely can make money from running a blog and I hope I demonstrate to you proof of that! All bloggers start off at ‘day one’. The only “hidden secret” we keep from people is letting people see how much work we plough into our platforms. Blogging is a tremendous amount of work, but the rewards you gain in return are ultimately worth it in every way! Then again, any career path you choose to take that offers you an amazing way of life and lucrative income requires hard work and dedication. There really isn’t a shortcut to success in any well-respected profession. If you want your blog to reward you like a business then you need to treat it like a business!
Blogging as a business gives you the opportunity to stick to one, steady income stream or diverse your income into multiple streams. I’ve explored both options, as well as all of the typical ways in which a blogger usually makes money. I’ve explained the exact step-by-step guides to monetising your blog through each type of monetisation method in my blogging course. I’ve been successful at earning a full-time income from all of these methods: selling your own products/services, brand collaborations, and affiliate marketing. Each of them has their own advantages, but whether they suit you personally depends on your personal preferences. I tend to alternate the way I choose to earn money through Online Personal Stylist. When I crave a personal connection to a brand and their products, I choose to focus on brand collaborations. Should I wish to exercise my own creativity, I will create and sell my own products or services. And when I want to turn my attention to curating a passive income, affiliate marketing is the way to go!
Earning Money While You Sleep Through Passive Income!
There are a lot of debates over whether or not you can actually earn a full-time income while you sleep, i.e. a passive income. There aren’t many activities that truly allow you to earn a passive income. Usually when you delve into what it takes to start earning money on auto, it is a huge amount of work and often requires more time and effort than traditional ways of earning money. Affiliate marketing, in my experience, is the one method that doesn’t require too much work in order to gain financial rewards. Anybody can master affiliate marketing. Basically with affiliate marketing, every time you mention a product in your blog posts, add in an affiliate link to that product. Then every time somebody reads your post and clicks on that link and/or buys the product or service mentioned, you will earn a commission. I love waking up in the morning and seeing how much I’ve earned during the night while I was tucked up in bed sleeping. It’s also really uplifting when you’ve been out at an event or on holiday to then learn of how much you’ve earned in your absence. Many a time, I have jumped for joy at discovering that my affiliate commission income has more than covered my expenditure! Thanks to affiliate marketing, I got my blog earning a very generous full-time income within just 6 weeks after launching Online Personal Stylist! Learn all about my money-making affiliate marketing method here.
Lessons I’ve Learned through Blogging
I cannot express how overjoyed I feel at being here in the blogging world 10 years after my journey began. There are so many life and career lessons I have learned along the way. Sure enough, after this post goes live I will most probably think of and remember more, but here are 10 main lessons that I’ve learned so far:
- Blogging about your personal likes, dislikes, growth and struggles is sort of like keeping an online diary. It helps you to express and reflect up on experiences in life.
- Blogging equals content creation. Not all bloggers convey their messages so much in words as they do in pictures, quotes and sketches. Ultimately, practising your chosen form of content creation is a sure fire way of improving your skills. Not every word you write needs to be published. Not every photo you take needs to have a caption or be used. Sometimes you just need to create content on a regular basis to become more in tune with your creative style.
- I’ve saved so much money since I started blogging. As cheesy as it sounds, my work is an extension of my hobby and therefore I find that investing time into my favourite hobby not only saves me money that I would alternatively have spent elsewhere on leisurely activities, but I also earn money from this too which is certainly a nice perk!
- I owe a lot of my great friendships and connections to my blog. Whether it be in real life or online, being a blogger provokes great conversations and helps to uncover other like-minded creatives!
- Establishing a health relationship with the online world. I’ve worked online for the majority of my working life. You might think that this would lead to an unhealthy obsession with the online world because of too much screen time. For me this isn’t the case. While, I love working online and the freedom and opportunities it brings, it makes me appreciate life offline even more!
- “You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game!” Mary Poppins was of course, right! Most of my work-related tasks are highly enjoyable anyway, but I’ve learned that there are always ways to make jobs on your to-do list feel fresh and more exciting. For example, if I need to take photos of products for a brand collaboration or otherwise, I can stay in the office and take them or I can turn the occasion into a fun exercise that I can document for my audience to also enjoy. Sometimes I will walk Minnie to the beach and incorporate a photo session. Other times, I will make it a fun day out and invite friends. It also gives me the excuse to go to new places that serve as fantastic photo shoot locations. At the end of the day, I get to mark the task as ‘done’ on my to-do list and I’ve had a great time doing so.
- Freedom is everything. Not only am I thankful for choosing a career that allows me creative freedom in terms of the words and visuals I create, I am also grateful that I can work as and when I choose.
- Being appreciated for your work is priceless! One of the main factors that makes my work at Online Personal Stylist so rewarding and enlightening is the fact that I work with amazing people. Everyone from my individual clients, my readers, my blogger colleagues, and the brands I work with are one of my main motivators! It’s an awful situation to be in when your boss or clients don’t appreciate your hard work or when they’re often negative towards you. It took me a long time to figure out the type of people I wanted to work with, but it was absolutely worth the time and thinking it took!
- I chose to focus on growing my blog traffic rather than my social media following, here’s why…
I know through experience that you’re more likely to stay faithful to one website than you are to any particular social media account or platform. Over the years, I’ve seen websites grow and earn BIG money. Of course, I’ve also done this myself. If you get bored later down the line, you might even choose to sell your website. As far as the online world goes, owning your own website and domain is the biggest form of ownership in the digital world. You can’t sell social media accounts and what with all of the algorithm complaints, growing a loyal following and getting noticed on social media gets more challenging. I chose not to spend too much of my time worrying about social media because I’d rather grow my website traffic which is considerably higher than the number of followers on all of my social media accounts combined. Plus, I think back to the first ever social media account I opened – on Bebo. A year later I was no longer using Bebo because I was using Facebook. I then tried out Snapchat, which wasn’t for me. I now switch between Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Choosing which platform to focus my attention on has always been something of a puzzle to me, which is why I eventually gave up and try to just enjoy them more than anything. I understand how to get the most out of each platform and that works fine for me. I know people who have 100, 000 followers on Instagram who don’t make a single penny from their followers. But if you were to do nothing more than attract 100, 000 visitors to your website, you’d earn a fair amount in ad revenue (should you decide to go down that route) at the very least. Understandably, many website owners fear SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but personally, I find it nowhere near as complicated as a social media algorithm!
- My status in the blogosphere has changed somewhat since I first started out ten years ago. I started as a hobby blogger with really no clue as to what I was doing. Now I am a professional blogger in what has become a recognised and well established industry. People are beginning to recognise blogging as a reputable career – as they should. The blogging industry has turned into this exciting community full of unique voices and stories! There are not many industries that reward and respect you for sharing your personal opinions and for just being yourself in the way that this industry does, which is why I feel so proud to be a part of it all!
Will I continue to blog? Absolutely. I will continue to blog for as long as I enjoy the work and the industry.
Want to become a full-time blogger, check out my online course here which covers absolutely everything you need to know about: SEO, monetising your blog, diversifying your income, planning content, and everything in between!
- ‘Become a Full-time Blogger’ Course
- Editorial Planner for Bloggers
- Ebook: 150+ Ways to Make Money Online (working from your phone or laptop)