Six Years of Blogging: What I’ve Learned
Six years ago this week, I launched this blog. Time sure does fly. When I started, blogging was still this weird thing that not many people did. Bloggers were a strange breed who lived in their mother’s basements (that stereotype never gets old eh?). It was all still pretty fresh and new and there was this really cool sense of community around it. I knew when I started this blog that somehow it would change my life. I wanted it to be the launch pad of some sort of career but I had no idea how I’d do it. Over the past six years, I’ve just rolled with the punches and have managed to eek out some sort of living from what I’ve done with this blog. As with all major milestones, being six years deep in the game (a blogging OG, if you will), I thought I’d take time to reflect on what I’ve learned through blogging.
If you want your blog to go anywhere, you have to treat it as a job from day one. It’s hard. It’s time consuming. You’ll feel silly for spending so much time on a ‘hobby’ when there are real life, more ‘important’ things to focus on. You get creatively drained. You worry you’ll run out of things to say. You do run out of things to say. You’ll get stressed. You’ll wonder why you do it. Then you’ll get an email from a reader telling you something you wrote inspired them or made them think or changed them somehow and all that doubt drifts away for a second as you feel a connection with a total stranger. And you remember why you started. But it’s hard. And it continues to be so.
You become a better writer
I used to think I was a good writer. Back in my uni days or the few years that followed, pre-blogging, when I’d write occasionally, either letters or just essays for myself. I used to think those were good. But it wasn’t until I got into the habit of writing every day and posting it on my blog that I really found my voice as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be Brett Easton Ellis or Chuck Palahniuk levels of good here (my personal favourite authors), but I’ve definitely improved. Writing’s hard, but the more you do it, the better you get. As with everything, it just takes practice. Posting it somewhere where it can actually be read by people makes a huge difference too.
You develop a thick skin
Sure, you can be precious and sensitive about your work, as so many creatives are prone to be, or you can just get over yourself. When you blog, step one is to develop a thick skin. Not everyone will agree with you, not everyone will like you. You have to be OK with that. You have to be able to step back from your work and take critique. You may have a gamut of personal insults and abuse hurled at you – I sure have over the years – and while yes, at times it can be upsetting, you have to just let it roll off you. If you’re going to end up in a corner, rocking back and forth and foaming at the mouth every time someone says something remotely negative about you or your work, you are most definitely in the wrong game.
You make great connections
This blogging thing has brought incredible people into my life. I’m not sure how else we would’ve crossed paths if not for reading each others sites, but I’m very grateful for the friends and acquaintances I’ve made through this. Not to mention the work I’ve gotten from this site. I’m always honoured that PRs and brands take the time to read my work and send all manner of wonderful opportunities my way. Again, not something I expected when I started out, but it’s been a real crash course in building my business.
The game done changed
When I started out, I read a great selection of blogs by some truly great writers. The focus was on quality written work. We were kind of all in it together. But the game has most definitely changed. The popularity of blogging has brought with it those who want all the good things blogging can bring, often with none of the work involved to get there. People are buying followers. The emphasis is no longer on quality writing, just your social reach. It’s a popularity contest. And even though blogging and bloggers have made incredible advancements, it’s still not taken seriously. Brands are still shocked when you suggest you should be paid for something and we are still considered the bastard little cousins of print media. I have very much tried to stay in my lane and focus on good content, constantly trying to improve my writing and essentially, just write things that matter in some way, but I’ll admit to also occasionally getting caught up in the hype. We’re all still carving the way here and at times, it can be difficult to decide which path is more worthwhile.
All in all – I am proud to have made it to six years. The places blogging has taken me, the opportunities it has afforded me, regularly blow my mind. But mainly, I’m just happy to have a place to write. I’m still the girl who writes in my notebooks and a percentage of what gets written in there is shared on here. I’m eternally grateful to those of you who keep coming back and reading on a regular basis. It’s been an honour to share with you over the years and I will continue to do so. Here’s to six more years…
Thank you times a million.