Today is really special to me as it marks the 6th anniversary since I started blogging. It is quite mind blowing to think that six years ago, I started WhatLauraLoves and my little corner of the internet has grown more than I could ever imagine.
It definitely hasn’t been easy. In fact, I think its the hardest job I’ve ever had and certainly the one that I’ve put the most effort into. I’ve focused and dedicated more time to my blog than I ever did at university and I think thats a really good indication that I’m doing the thing that I love in life right now.
I’ve learned a heck of a lot over the years and to mark the occasion, I though I’ve share with you six things that I’ve learned by blogging for six years.
1. Blogging is not forever; TAKE A BREAK!
While at the moment, I certainly can’t see myself doing anything else for the foreseeable future, it is so important to remember that nothing is forever, blogging included. You never know what you’re going to be doing in the future so while I think that its commendable to live and breathe your work or hobby, it is also important to remember to live outside of the online world too.
Don’t live your life through an instagram filter. Look up from your phone and take in the world around you. Yes, there are blog or photo worthy moments that are great to capture but remember to live and enjoy the experience at the same time. Make memories that you can treasure forever, outside of the blogging bubble and social media world.
When blogging becomes your job it can very quickly consume your life. It can do this even when you blog as a hobby but as soon as you become self employed and you’re hit with more deadlines, its very easy to feel as though you’re working 247. Social media never switches off but its important to remember that you can.
Taking a break is something that I have struggled with massively over the years and its only been this year that I’ve learnt that I need to take a break once in a while and have some me time away from the computer and my phone. Blogging is hard work; so many people don’t realise just how much time and effort goes into it and when you’re doing something you love, its easy to be consumed by it.
I went away to a spa for the night with my hubby recently and left my phone at home. It was single handedly the most stress free, chilled out 24 hours I’ve had in years. I came home feeling so relaxed and refreshed that it had a really positive impact on my performance once I got back to work because I’d given myself that time to just be.
2. Just do it.
If you’ve got a great idea for a post, stop procrastinating, don’t make any excuses, just sit down and write it.
Over the years, I’ve wasted so much time mulling things over, wishing I could post a particular piece but feeling bogged down by all of the other pieces I feel as though I have to write, especially if a brand has gifted me a product and they’re waiting on coverage.
Write your blog for you, get as creative with your content as you like and your readers will thank you for it. When you’re happy with your content, it shows! So cut the faffing on and get that post you’ve been dreaming about written. You’ll feel so great once you hit publish.
3. Finding YOU is more important than finding your niche.
I’ve always believed that finding your niche when writing a blog is whats most important because people will know what type of content to expect from your blog. However this is really restrictive and while it is still important, especially when marketing your content, there is one thing that I think is more important; and that’s finding YOU.
When I first started blogging, people wrote a beauty blog or a fashion blog or a lifestyle blog, you get the picture, but if theres one thing I’ve learned over the last few years its that the vast majority of people who set out writing about one topic only will more often than not, end up writing about different topics after they’ve been doing it for a while. Your blog content grows with you and develops as you get older and change as a person. To me, that’s what makes a blog or blogger so interesting.
Blogs and their writers have become very aspirational for a lot of people and readers don’t just want to know where you got your dress from but where you’re wearing it to and other aspects of your life.
To me, its more important to find out who you are as a person and find your voice; thats your niche. YOU ARE YOUR NICHE.
4. Find the power in saying No and the joy in saying Yes.
In the early days, I said yes to everything that I could. I didn’t have my business head on when it came to accepting event invites and I wasted plenty of money in the process with getting very little benefit in return.
I remember when emails from brands started coming in asking me to review their product and I felt so lucky to be in that position that I said yes almost every time. That resulted in having far more products than I could ever fully use up and because I would always road test something thoroughly, I would end up with this HUGE back log of products to review and that stressed me out and clouded my creativity.
Now I am very selective with what I say yes and no to and decline far more samples and opportunities than I accept. For me, its all about consciously creating my reality and what will make me happy with my work.
Theres so much joy to be found in saying yes to opportunities. Whether it be a product that I’ve always wanted to try, a brand I’ve longed to work with, a campaign that I’ve been excited about or a place I’ve always wanted to go to, saying yes can fulfil dreams, create and smash goals and give your a great sense of achievement and pride in your work.
However the happiness that comes with saying yes is stronger if you’ve been selective and said no to opportunities that you don’t really want to complete. That way you can focus on what you really want to do and that passion comes across in your posts and photos.
I feel so confident about the content that I put out on my blog and I’m so proud of it, I could shout it from the rooftops!
5. Look out for the ones who don’t clap when you win.
Just like in the real world, not everyone is your friend online. Haters are everywhere and you need to have a thick skin when opening up your life online. Thankfully I haven’t experienced too much negativity but when the odd comment comes up it can really knock the wind out of your sails.
Haters can be anyone. Just because some people are bloggers does not mean that you’re all going to group together and be supportive blogging buddies until the end of time, agreeing on everything and always having each others back.
I’ve met some of the most supportive, encouraging and kind people through blogging but I’ve also seen lots of jealousy, bullying and nasty, bitter traits too, just like in the real world.
Keeping your eyes open, knowing your own mind and standing up for what you believe in helps to keep you on the right track. Not everyone will want you to win in life but stick by the ones who do. Me and my close blogging friends support one another, help to build each other up and look for ways to help each other. Its all equal and there’s not one person doing it for personal gain.
6. Don’t lose your integrity for a freebie by lying about a product.
Everyone has an opinion either way on each product they try but its really important as a blogger to not lie about a product, especially if it has been sent to review. It is vital to remember that the person reading your blog trusts your voice and takes time out of their day to read your posts and it is something to respect.
Over the years, I’ve bought many products that I’ve seen hyped up online and when I’ve come to use them myself they’ve not lived up to the claims. Often I’ll do a bit of research and find that so many other people have tried the same product and had similar bad results.
Its ok as a blogger if you’ve used a product and you whole heartedly agree with everything in the press release but if you don’t, please don’t regurgitate that information on your blog to make out that something is all singing, all dancing when its not, just to keep in with a PR practitioner or to work with a brand in the future.
For every blogger that has been gifted an item for free, there are hundreds of none bloggers who have spent their hard earned cash on it and if its rubbish, theres no covering that up. Don’t lose your integrity for a freebie.
There we have it; six things I’ve learned by blogging for six fantastic years. There’s so much more that I could write, more things I’ve seen and experiences I’ve had but these are certainly the lessons I’ve learned that have really stood out to me over the years.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last six years and for those who haven’t, thank you for the lessons, they’ve made me stronger.
Here’s to another great year ahead! Cheers!
If you’re a blogger, I’d love to know what you’ve learned by blogging? If you’re not, what has your career or hobby taught you?