10 Lessons I’ve Learned After 10 Years of Blogging
10 years ago I had a crazy idea to start a blog and here I am, still going.
It’s my 10 year blogiversary and I was thinking of all the ways I should celebrate. Maybe a giveaway, a roundup of my favorite posts, or tips for starting your own blog. Those posts may still come later, but my friend LaShawn recently wrote 5 lessons she’s learned since starting to blog full time this year and I thought YES! That’s it! I’ll share 10 blogging lessons I’ve learned after 10 years of doing this thing.
One thing I want to do is be a bit more transparent here about the business side of things. It’s pretty obvious at this point that this avenue is how I support my family, but I don’t talk much about what goes on behind the scenes from a work perspective.
When I started making this list it got long fast. But I really wanted to narrow it down to my 10 best lessons. So some things got cut and some are practically 3 squeezed into one. But still, It’ll be great. Here we go!
1. You are an original
When I started my blog and for years I was so concerned with trying to have a unique angle. At first it was being a mom blogger before having a baby. But once I had a baby I worried if be just like everyone else and no one would want to read my blog because I was no longer unique. I was so wrong. No one has your voice. Your exact thoughts or opinions and personality. Your spin, your touch. Even if your niche feels over-saturated, take pride in knowing you are the only you that has or will ever live. And you have something to say.
2. We can make an impact
For years and years I rambled here without an intention to do much more than journal about my life. But the more I opened up about things that are really important to me, the more I realized I could make an impact. I shared about my news station cutting a segment to get foster kids adopted and another local station got word about my post and and I was able to help them get it restarted with them. We’ve raised money for nonprofits, and inspired people to make big changes in their lives.
I’ve written about pulling my kids out of public school, politics and racism, discovering my daughter is dyslexic, the challenges of being an officer’s wife, putting my kids back in public school, and and and… Being vulnerable is scary, and for me, being courageous enough to intentionally be a leader is scary. But sometimes opening up about a tough topic, and stepping up is the most valuable thing we can share. And something that can really help someone else.
3. Value everyone who takes time to reach out
I am so thankful for each and every one of my readers. Especially the ones who take time to leave a comment here or on Facebook, or reply to me on YouTube or Twitter or slide into my Instagram DMs. I try to take time and reply to each one. Sometimes it takes WAY longer than I mean to, but I eventually get back to everyone. Blog comments are much more scarce these days, and a lot of bloggers are turning them off all together. I like leaving them open in case a post, no matter how old, inspires someone to say something too. And I value each and every one. I know time is a very rare and limited resource and I can’t thank you enough for spending some of yours here with me.
4. I can’t make everyone happy
I’m the kind of person who feels really bad when I accidentally cut someone off and they flip me off then drive around me all angry. I want to chase them down and apologize and tell them I’m not a jerk. I’ve tiptoed around and avoided a lot of topics for fear of saying something wrong that could upset people or make people dislike me.
But the longer I have blogged the more I’ve realized I can’t make everyone happy, and not everyone is going to like me. Some people may even dislike me. And while I will never understand how anyone could do that, I am learning to be ok with that. And learning that it’s not always about me. Sometimes it’s about them, and some people are always going to find a reason to be upset. What’s important is the intention behind my words. It’s up to the receiver to decide how to feel. And it’s up to me to stand in my truth.
5. There is no roadmap to success
In my journalism career it was easy to pinpoint role models and potential mentors and try to follow a similar path, but in the blogging and social media world it’s entirely different. This industry is absolutely incredible. But there’s no roadmap to success. The potential is limitless.
I’m amazed at the unique blogs, YouTube channels and Instagram accounts there are out there. A self-proclaimed expert at comic books? Tell the world about it! Tried a hundred gluten-free Instapot recipes and you know which ones suck and which ones are great? Talk about it!
To some people their end-goal is a book deal. For others it’s making a six or seven-figure income. Others still may want to go to a Disney movie premiere, or take an all-expense paid trip with their family.
Each person is going to have a different idea of what success looks like to them. And anyone can truly take any topic, run with it, make their own business, and even make a killing. There’s so much power in social media.
I would have never guessed opportunities through my blog would have allowed me to meet Oprah, travel to Israel, and save enough to build my dream home. I’m now brewing up new dreams and I’m excited to see where this road will continue to lead me. But there’s no real “on top,” it is what you make of it. And the sky’s the limit.
6. I’m not competing with anyone but myself
I’ve met some of my best friends through blogging and I love cheering them on. Sharing each other’s work, commenting on each other’s good news, or hitting that like button to support each other does nothing to hurt me. It’s like that saying: A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed. And the better we do as an industry as a whole, the better we all do.
I love collaborating! This year, with the baby, I’ve mostly kept to myself and done less travel but I’m an extremely social person and I hope to do more blogger and social media collaborations in the future.
The blogging community is truly remarkable and I’ve loved connecting with people from all over the world and meeting them at conferences. You can become friends with anyone from anywhere and some of my best friends I haven’t even met face to face yet.
7. Choose quality over quantity
When I first started my blog I wrote every. single. day. Sunday through Saturday. Back then it worked. Now I post here Monday, Wednesday and Friday (more on Instagram and Facebook) and I’m focusing more on the quality of my work. Investing in a good camera, and learning how to use it made a big difference for me. I put my heart into every post sponsored or not and really try to tell a story in each one. Even more so, a story with an important takeaway. I know this type of storytelling and the images bring value that isn’t easy to replicate. I’m amazed at some of the opportunities that have come our way because of this space. It pays to stay true to who you are.
8. It’s never too late to pivot. And pivot and pivot
I can’t tell you how many times this blog has taken a shift. From the Baby Making Machine being off, then on, then completely ditching it all together. I was so worried that rebranding would crush what I had built but it wasn’t the case at all. There are some “ah ha!” moments when people stumble upon my page who haven’t seen it in their feeds in awhile. I even started just going by my full name on most of my social media channels because my name will always stay consistent.
On YouTube, my channel has been ALL over the place. I’ve done travel, tips and tricks, and quick well-edited videos. When a vlog I did with Lil’ J about trying out for all-star cheer took off I realized we were onto something. Since then my YouTube channel has become a mommy-daughter video space and I love it.
Whether you’re changing topics or a name, pivoting is a-ok, the commonality is YOU.
9. You can do it all, but not all at the same time
Business wise, the biggest change for me came when I admitted that I couldn’t do everything myself. I called myself a control freak. And I was worried about spending too much but that saying it takes money to make money really rang true for me. And the book I’m a Badass at Making Money really helped me kick the scarcity complex and get in the right mindset. I learned to invest in my business. I hired an amazing woman to help me with the business side of things, and others to help with scheduling while I focus on the stuff I love: Writing and photography.
Once I started treating it all like a business, keeping a schedule, hiring help, learning photography (check out my course), getting better hosting, they all added up to be a good investment.
10. Hobby? Job? It can be both
10 years ago my dream job was to be working at WSB or CNN in Atlanta as a prime time anchor. Now? This is hands down SO much better. I’m still doing what I love: Writing, telling stories, and making a difference while spending time with my young children. What started as a random hobby to brain dump after work has turned into a quirky business I love it so much. I never thought I’d make a dollar from it. Much less pay my bills.
That said, it’s still a job. This is how I get work done most days lately. Rocking a baby to sleep and working at the kitchen counter. There are days I’m overwhelmed, frustrated with clients, or up working way too late. And times I put my heart into my work only to have it chopped to pieces or have to start over. There are weeks I’m too tired to post anything on Instagram other than the sponsored posts I’m contracted to share. It’s still work. But I love what I do and feel incredibly blessed to have a job that feels like work and play.
It’s been a long road but ten years has flown by. I’m constantly thinking of ways I can make this little space of mine even better than the last year. I know so many of you have been with me for years and years and others have recently discovered my site. I want to continue to evolve with you, and I am excited to see what we can do with another 10 years.
If you’ve been thinking of starting a blog I’d say go for it. Just start writing. Hopefully the lessons I’ve learned the long way can help give you a good head start.
I’m thinking I’ll do a Facebook live video talking about this and sharing some tips for beginning bloggers. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to know!
Happy blogiversary! Your blog is one of the few that I read consistently. I am sure it’s because of your authenticity. 🙂
I can’t tell you how much that means to me! Thank you!
Happy Blogiversary!! Yes to allll of these lessons!
Thank you LaShawn! I love that we’ve been throug so many of these years together!
I’d love to hear more about the technical side of things. What does your day do day schedule look like? How do you schedule? What programs do you use? How do you contact sponsors?
Hi my name is totiyanna and I have a lot of good bloging ideas but don’t know were to start some help if u can
I say the fact that you have good ideas is great! You can start a free blog on blogspot.com and do a lot there!
Thank you for sharing this. Great information. I am wanting to begin a blog. I love to write. Cannot wait to read more. Congrats to 10 years!!
Thank you so much for reading! If you love to write a blog is so fun to have! Go for it girl!
I agree with you about leaving comments on. Bloggers who turn them off are making a mistake. Don’t they know that some content is evergreen, and like books, cannot be replaced.
The Comment Section is a built-in and should be permanent part of the site.
Great post, interesting site!
I like that I can go back and read little tidbits and nice things people left me years later (I’ve started deleted the rude ones, lol)
Such great nuggets of inspiration, so empowering. And thank you, you make my job easy! xo
No, you make MY job easy! Love you Cara!!
I love your transparency. I have been wanting to blog for quite a while. I started one last year after I had my 3rd baby, but got discouraged. It’s still a passion of mine and I’m hoping that I can get started again.
You are one of the few that I love following on social media (even though I don’t always comment).
Hi Felice! It means a lot that you follow along, and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I know how scare and valuable time is. I hope you don’t get too discouraged by blogging (trust me, we’ve all been there) but just keeping it going, one day at a time is an approachable way to think about it.
Happy Blogiverary! I think it is wonderful that you have stuck with it and are sharing such great insights. Congratulations!
Thank you Susan! I can’t believe it’s already been ten years. It’s really flown by.
Very nice and meaningful.
happy blogversary, I discovered you back when you were still baby making machine and I would read you here and there, last year I finally started a blog and this post is very helpful. It is encouraging to see people who really are doing what they love, I love writing it has always been one of my passion even back in college I would feel proud everytime I finish any of my papers, it felt like I put my ideas out into the world, I felt like I was participating in this journey of life somehow. thank you so much for sharing these.
Great tips, thanks for sharing, Jennifer. Happy Blogiversary! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a few years now. 🙂
I commented on your Instagram and then came here to read this post! Love these lessons! So many already ring true for me, just in all my research of wanting to start and not doing it – mainly the being vulnerable and people not liking me thing! I think I’ve finally accepted it & am ready to move past my limiting thoughts! Congrats again! 🙂
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Happy blogaversary!! I appreciate this post! I have been on and off my blog since 2011. At first I named it “New to the Motherhood” and I just revamped recently and named it “Live, Laugh, Pray, Love Mommy.” I love to write but I get in my head too much about content and how much I should share or if I should share or if anyone cares. I am glad to find out that these thoughts don’t just belong to me. I am still trying to figure it all out but reading this has really encouraged me to keep pressing forward and just write! Congratulations to you and thank you!