Seven Years and Four Blogs Later: What I’ve Learned From Blogging
I first started blogging back in 2008 when I was 18 and attending art school. I mostly shared video skits (before Vine, people!), scribbles from my notebook and excerpts of self-discovery.
After art school in 2012, I started a blog called We Are Not Special which I used as a platform to share my personal projects, and eventually I started this here blog you’re reading now. It took me seven years and four blogs to figure it out, but I’ve finally found my stride and balance between sharing personal and professional content.
After many months spent second-guessing myself and struggling between decision and indecision, I’ve learned a few things: some I expected to, and some that came as total surprises. Everything from how to even blog to how to enjoy and maintain it, to how to find your voice, to striking balance between what you share and what you keep to yourself, etc., and today I’m sharing a few of these realizations:
Phases die; authentic interests live forever.
When I first started blogging, I tried to fill the role. I had read blogs forever, and researched how to do it. I used lots of exclamation marks and was very enthusiastic and happy-go-lucky about everything (which was mostly genuine out of excitement: I had just bought my first home that I was renovating, I had just got back into blogging, and a lot of exciting things were happening in my life). Not to say that I’m now an unhappy, non-excitable person, but I’ve realized that you don’t have to write excitedly or do exciting things to conjure excitement for readers.
In hindsight, I shared many photos and blog posts about things I didn’t genuinely care about because I thought that’s what I should do. I though that was what people wanted. I thought that’s what I wanted, for crying out loud! But now that I’ve fallen back to sharing things that are authentic to me, I’ve enjoyed this process of blogging more than ever, which is essential if I’m going to keep this up!
Doing leads to discovery.
I get a lot of emails and comment from people asking how I got started blogging and how to actually blog. And it’s always tough to give an answer because there isn’t a simple one–or even one at all, really. Like most things in life, the best way to learn something is to just start and tweak as you go.
If you’re commenting on blogs and contacting bloggers with these questions, you’re already 100 steps ahead of where I was when I started. I kind of did this whole things backwards and I still managed to create something decent here (I hope), so trust me when I say you’re ready and have enough to start. As long as the desire to blog is there, you’re well on your way. Grab a domain and just start writing!
Doing is also the best way to discover what you don’t want to do, which has been so valuable for me. You’ll get bored, you’ll re-jig things, you’ll want to do something new, you’ll do things you dislike, you’ll stop and as long as you allow yourself to keep things loose and organic, it’ll get more fun each time. You should look forward to blogging, if you’re doing it right.
Opinions are just that, even differing ones.
It’s 2015, and in case it wasn’t obvious, our world has changed in many ways. In some ways we’ve become more open and tolerable and in some ways this over-tolerance has led to the idea that everyone should agree and needs to be okay with what everyone else thinks and does. I believe that not only is this impossible to ask for, but kind of unnatural. It’s okay to have different opinions! It’s okay to be different, and it’s also okay to be the same. People change, blogs change, what people share online and what they’re interested in can change. It’s okay to have your own opinion and we should allow others the same. Just because something is posted online doesn’t make it open season for attack or assumptions. And it’s this word that’s a problem for many online personalities. I see a lot of bloggers receive negative comments in which people make assumptions based on the pictures and posts the blogger shares. Things like “Your home is so tidy, you must never cook,” or “You must be narcissistic to think people want to hear about your career etc-.”, and it’s important to remember that these people who share online are just real people, getting by like we all are. Recently my Editor-in-Chief, Grace, addressed this in this Design*Sponge post:
I don’t think the vast majority of lifestyle content being written is intended to make anyone feel bad about themselves. Every blog, Pinterest page and Instagram feed is operated (for the most part) by a single person who is excited to have that one place to share ideas and projects they think are inspiring or that they created themselves and are proud of. And if someone actually does live a life where they make their own cupcakes or sew their own curtains or save up to build their dream home, why do we assume that they think they’re better than us or that they have it easier or that they couldn’t possibly be “real?”
You can’t always be on (or have something to say).
Some weeks I have a lot to say and show and other weeks, nothing happens in my life that’s worth sharing. And I’m not about to make up something or be in-genuine just to get a post out of it. So that’s why these pages have been a bit sparse lately. I’m alive and well and happy, just been distracted by a little fur-baby (my new puppy, if you didn’t know)! So expect a lot of blog content on Piper and my experience raising her. I may not be strategic in my blogging as some are, but take solace in the fact that when I do post, it’s coming from an honest and authentic place, and is not made up or lived out for the purpose of getting content.
All in all, other than these big realizations, blogging has made me a better writer, it’s helped me find my place in this world (which is an ongoing process), it’s inspired me and encouraged me when I’ve been doubtful, and it’s led to myriad jobs. So if you’re interested in blogging, just start writing!