I started my first ever blog back in 2009. I didn’t really know much about blogs at the time. One day my sister came to visit me and she started to tell me about a young girl named Tavi Gevinson, a style influencer who had been found through her popular fashion blog “Style Rookie”. Despite being a pre-teen, Tavi expressed a clear passion for quirky outfits and a unique, eccentric style which had quickly earned her thousands of raving fans, all following her style diary via her blog.
My sister then went on to tell me that she had recently set up a blog of her own, where she reviewed her beauty purchases. This was all done on a platform called “Blogger”. I was working as a teacher at the time and felt that blogging about fashion and make-up sounded like the perfect, creative escape. Although it was all completely new to me at the time, I was excited at the prospect of being able to get involved in something so freeing and creative. So I set up my blog. It was mainly a beauty blog, full of make-up pictures and articles on my favourite make-up products that I was using at the time. I loved it! Blogging quickly became one of my favourite ways to spend my time and that hasn’t changed 9 years on.
Blogging under a new name, I want to share with you the 9 lessons I have learned from 9 years of blogging.
Lesson #1: Blogging Can Teach You Lots of New Skills
Blogging has opened up my eyes to the world of media. Throughout the years I’ve learned how to pitch to brands, gain exposure, and connect with high profile brands and individuals. By year 2010, I was earning a full-time income from my work as a publisher. I didn’t continue with the fashion and beauty blog that I originally launched. However, the basic skills I learned enabled me to earn a position working as the editor of an online travel and lifestyle magazine. Since then I have continued to grow and learn both personally and professionally. Blogging as a business is a double-sided sword. On the one hand you have the freedom to try out new ideas because blogging is a new career choice and therefore no one method is set in stone. On the other hand, it can feel overwhelming at times because the industry is so new and requires a lot of time, trial and error.
Lesson #2: Writing Practice
You don’t have to publish everything you write. The best way to practice your writing skills to improve your blogging content is to write just to write. Sometimes I will spend hours writing in my notebook in long-hand. On some occasions everything I write gets turned into a blog post with little extra effort. Other times, nothing I have written is worthy of being published. But that’s ok. It’s not until you see a post written out that you are able to see its true potential. If you find that what you’ve written isn’t suitable as a decent blog post, see if you can turn your notes into social media posts instead. Writing just to write is a great way to find your “voice”. If you’re short on inspiration as to what to write about there are lots of online resources to help you. Simple search “blog post ideas” or “short story ideas” and you will find lots of topics to write about!
Lesson #3: Be Passionate
If there was any “shortcut” to success in the blogging world, I’d have to say that passion is the easiest path to take. Being passionate about what you do helps you to get your content seen and shared. Injecting passion into what you do is visible in your work and will earn you respect. It’s always easier to find a strategy after passion rather than the other way around. When you truly want to do something you will always find a way!
Lesson #4: If You Wait to Be Something, You Will Never Be
Blogging is such an interesting and unusual industry in the way that it is still incredibly new. So in many cases it is a still a real learning curve for everybody involved. One of the really important lessons I’ve learned quite recently actually, is that in order to be a successful blogger you need to “be” a successful blogger rather than waiting until you reach your idea of success. What I mean by this is that you can’t expect to move forward in your blogging career unless you treat your blog like a business and be professional. Are you a little lapse with on editing your images or perfecting your content? If you currently hold the attitude “I will invest pay more attention to that when I start to work with brands/have X followers/am a successful full-time blogger…” then you run the risk of never reaching those milestones. You wouldn’t expect people in other professions to pass up on all of the minor tasks associated with their job role until they reached a certain level in their career, so don’t do the same with blogging!
Lesson #5: Start as You Mean to Go On!
To elaborate on the point above: start as you mean to go on! Take pride in your work. Produce great content. Inject life and energy into your pictures. Edit what needs to be pruned and perfected. Be the blogger you want to be. Just remember that if it is your aim to blog full-time as your career, your mindset and passion for the role is unlikely to change as you progress. The only thing that is likely to change is who you work with, how much time you spend blogging and how much you earn. In the online world everybody is discoverable, so you’ll want to ensure that your content and imagery makes a good first impression! Because remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!
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Lesson #6: There are 28762035 Other Career Paths that Are Way Easier than this One!
*Types a random set of numbers on keyboard* Ok, so maybe there isn’t this many exactly but there are many other career paths that are much easier than blogging as a business. It’s not all cocktails, coffee, shopping and travel. Bloggers who make their lives look easy and aspirational are simply good at their job! Take doctors for example, they don’t show you the stressful, migraine-stimulating parts of their roles. They show you the result of their hard work and professionalism. The first ever business I set up was a translation agency – rather to different to fashion styling and blogging, I know! Despite having limited internet access at the time due to travelling, I managed to transform a simple idea into a very lucrative and rewarding business in a matter of months. My blogging business on the other hand, took a lot longer! Rather than taking a couple of months, it took a couple of years. If you’re looking for quick cash – don’t go into blogging!
Lesson #7: Don’t Listen to Negative Criticism from People Sneakily Trying to Sell to You
This is a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn and feel comfortable with. I know it sounds such a cliche, but your blog is like your baby. It’s something that you truly adore and want to take care of and raise in the best way possible. Unlike babies however, we’re more likely to listen to advice on how to improve our blogs and the way we run them. I used to ask everybody I possibly could for opinions and feedback on my blog. I avoided asking friends and family because I wanted honest feedback – no matter whether it was good or bad. So, I asked around and enlisted the help of many professionals from different industries. Many business connections were excellent and provided me with very valuable tips and thoughts. But time and time again I was receiving feedback from some business people in my circles, telling me than I needed better branding or a new logo (from people who worked in graphic design). I’d get told that I needed to hire a business coach (yes, from business coaches). The list goes on… Basically, when somebody offers (free of charge) to review your blog for you, be aware of what somebody has to sell. It can be tempting to listen to a so-called “professional’s” advice on how to improve your blog, but don’t take it to heart if they are giving you negative criticism just to entice you into paying for their services that you don’t really need.
Lesson #8: Just Because We Have the Technology…You Don’t Always Have to Use it!
As a child I remember watching Clarissa (from Clarissa Explains it All) use her bedroom computer for what, at the time, seemed like everything. I remember wanting to be able to type my homework up on my computer too, but UK schools weren’t that advanced at that point. We were still relying heavily on pencil and paper – or fountain pen for the more serious pupil. These days I spend so much time online that I try to perform as many tasks as possibly offline – provided that it’s not an irrational misuse of my time. Last year I was finding that I was suffering from writer’s block on a regular basis. Basically, whenever I opened a black page on my laptop to type up my blog post, my mind would go blank. This is when I decided to go back to basics. One day, out of the blue I decided to take my notebook outside to sit in the sun and I began to write a collection of thoughts and blog post ideas. Subsequently these turned into lengthy blog posts and by the end of the day I had written 10 (yes 10!!) full-length posts that just needed images and a little tweaking before going live. Now, whenever I blog, the majority of my posts are written up by hand first before I type them up. Just because we have computers and other technology, we don’t have to use it for absolutely everything. Using just a simple pen and paper is fine!
Lesson #9: This is the Place Where You Find “Your People”
I’ve heard it said before, when you set up a business that you love and are passionate about, you will find your crowd of the people you love to spend time with. The same goes for blogging. I’ve met so many amazing people that I would never have found had I not started my own business as a blogger. I’ve found like-minded individuals who share my beliefs, thoughts, highs and lows!
I hope you enjoyed my 9 lessons from 9 years of blogging! Stay tuned for next year – the big 10-year blogging anniversary!