Thursday, 12 June 2014

Eight Months In: Five Lessons Learnt from Blogging (So Far)

Ok, you got me. I meant to write a post like this on my blog's half-birthday (which would have been at the very end of April) but I became entangled in life and, suddenly, it's June. I'm pretty sure I've learnt some valuable lessons from blogging in those extra two months, however, so I think they'll just add to this post even more.

The first eight months of my blogging 'career' have been a roller-coaster. After years of reading blogs, building up a list of favourites, feeling quietly inspired, motivated and enchanted, I finally took the step to create my own blog, She Wears Burgundy, at the end of October last year. I finally had a space to share my thoughts, fears, passions, adventures and loves with strangers from all over the world. I had a little experience blogging as a student, but I was incredibly excited to finally be able to rule my own corner of the web. All of the ideas and excitement which had been bubbling up under my skin while I finished my postgraduate degree could finally be released, and I was able to start writing what I wanted, at any time. The idea of being able to share the things I loved, be they ideas or my favourite new product or restaurant, filled me with happiness.

Since then, it's been one hell of a journey; I've spent my short blogging life trying to find a sense of self, and a purpose for my little blog. I've tried a number of series', attempted to post about beauty (with limited knowledge), fought with the guilt of posting infrequently, and even dipped my toes into the world of OOTDs. I've had a chance to practice my photography (I have never loved my little iPhone more), made new online 'acquaintances' (I've not made a strong blogging friendship just yet!) and have found countless new bloggers to follow along the way. I've felt jealousy, determination, fatigue, inspiration, peace, encouragement and despair. I've had moments where my fingertips glowed with inspiration as I wrote; when I'd write post after post after post, bursting at the very seams with ideas. I've also had (many more) moments where the words just wouldn't form; ideas were half finished and confidence was at an all time low. And, all the time, I've been trying to work out who I am; how I react, how I think, and how I see the world.

I've been blogging alongside a huge change in my life, too; I've entered the life of a graduate; post-university, with a new job, and a new home. With the ups and downs of life in general; sadness, happiness, realisations a-plenty, new experiences and challenges outside of the blogosphere, I've had a turbulent few months.

Within this time, my attitude to blogging has fluctuated. Sometimes I absolutely love it; I love the creativity, the community, the way it makes me see life differently. Yet sometimes I do resent it; the hopelessness when big milestones seem impossible; the obsession with stats, followers, and comments (or lack thereof); the fleeting envy when reading about the more experienced bloggers (notice I don't use the term 'bigger' or 'professional' as, really, that's not fair on them) who attend events weekly, posting stunning photos and engaging with their adoring readers.




It's been an interesting eight months, which have taught me a few lessons. Allow me to elaborate on a few:


1. Blogging is not a competition.

At first, I was filled with pride as my viewing stats slowly increased. The excitement brought on by viewing figures rising, comments being written and followers choosing my blog was amazing and, admittedly, I think it always will be. Of course as writers, bloggers and creatives, we want our work to be enjoyed by as many people who care as possible. But then I began to feel pangs of envy when other bloggers seemed to succeed with ease; when milestones were hit by others successively; when posts featured high-end products, and I felt as though I had been left in the dust. I began demanding too much of myself: aiming to post every other day, trying to stay inspired, working in my lunch breaks and late into the night - while all the time working a 9-5 job, adjusting to a new life, coping with certain personal ups-and-downs and trying to go to the gym on a regular basis. It was exhausting. I started burn out. I began to resent blogging. I felt like I was failing. And my personal confidence took a hit.

And then a few of my favourite bloggers wrote a number of posts on a similar subject, and it hit me. The blogging community is wonderful; we encourage and support each other. But, ultimately, the blog is down to me. These are my thoughts, my passions, my feelings. I'll post when I want. And, more to the point, there are thousands of blogs out there. Nobody wants to read the same post on repeat; trying to be like some of my favourite bloggers just wouldn't be honest. It wouldn't be right, and it wouldn't be me.

So lesson number one is that blogging, like all aspects of life, is not a competition. Sure, I'll still compare myself to others - it's only natural. But it's time for me to understand that blogging is a small extension of my life and I must live life my way in order to feel inspired to write and create. I'm reclaiming my corner of the web by writing what I want to write about. 

I could write about this for pages and pages, but that would be unnecessary. But, much like in life, I want people to like me for being me. And if that means occasionally losing inspiration, taking a slightly imperfect photo, not writing about Ladurée macarons or Diptyque candles (I'll still be lusting after them, though!) or taking the occasional hiatus, then so be it.



2. Showing appreciation is the next best thing.

I realised today that I spend a lot more time at the moment reading and commenting on other people's blogs than writing my own pieces. It's time consuming and, of course, sometimes I run out of time and can't read every single one. In fact, I think I need to re-organise my Bloglovin' account, as I may be following a few too many blogs! However, as you can tell from my monthly Blogroll series, I am a huge fan of showing appreciation for posts which inspire me, entertain  me, inform me or make me smile. I am sure many of the bloggers out there cherish their comments, and if I can make someone's day, or help them to realise how much their work can affect people, then that's my job done. Blogging isn't just about writing, spewing your thoughts onto virtual paper and throwing them out for the world to stumble upon. It's also about interacting, communicating, learning and making connections with people. Maybe I need to comment less and write more sometimes, but I will still choose reading my favourite blogs over watching TV after work.

So, lesson number two is if you can't write, read. Show your appreciation where it's deserved. Share the love. If you like something, say so. You might make someone's day, and become inspired along the way.



3. You don't need to be rich to blog

This completely stems from Zoe London's post, which I shared in my last blogroll. You don't need to have a lot of money to blog. All you need is passion, a computer, a camera and spirit. A few months into my blogging experiences I started to lust after high-end beauty products, expensive nights out, gourmet meals and clothes I would only wear once. I started to feel like I needed these things to be a good blogger. It was natural, yes, but it was also shallow and untrueAs long as you can write well and communicate interesting thoughts, you're a blogger. So what if I don't own the latest Illamasqua or Nars beauty product? So what if I can't afford to eat at fancy restaurants every night? So what if I bought most of my clothes when I was seventeen? (ok, yes, maybe I do need to go on a little shopping spree!). I can still be a great blogger. I am in no way criticising those who do have all of those things; in fact, if I could, I probably would too, and I have a lot of respect for the more experienced writers. However, it doesn't matter. As long as I maintain personality and passion, that's more than enough. I'm happy reviewing my high-street nail polishes and discussing life in general for now.



4. iPhone photography apps are your best friend

Since I began to blog, I've been enjoying developing my photography skills. I used a small old point-and-shoot camera as well as my iPhone camera to begin with and, after a few months, realised photos from my iPhone were still better than a proper camera. I did at one stage consider getting a DSLR, but that would have been expensive and pretty unnecessary - if I want to buy a DSLR it will be for catching memories, not photos of my latest Lush haul. I've experimented with filters, effects and apps and, at the moment, Afterlight is what I use 95% of the time. I've even had a few compliments about the photos on my blog (which was so exciting!) and all I use is a simple iPhone 4. Don't feel you have to invest in professional equipment; it's all there at the click of a simple camera. You don't need to be trained in photography to have an eye for beauty. 



5. Blogging is a journey; not a destination

Ok, it's a pretty corny final lesson, but it's undoubtedly true. I have been constantly learning, changing my blog layout, attitude, content and focus...and I'm only eight months in! Even bloggers who have been writing for years are still changing things, adapting and focusing on different areas. A writer changes naturally over time, and therefore so does their platform for creativity. I know that my blog will look different in another eight-months time; my writing style may evolve, my outlook my alter, and that's ok. There is no success point, just the experiences along the way for however long I choose to write for. For me, blogging runs parallel to my life, and will therefore change and grow as my life does the same.


I've learnt so much over the last eight months, but I hope these lessons give a little insight into my experiences so far. Who knows what's around the corner? All I know is, whatever it is, it will hopefully make my writing and blogging stronger.


Have you learnt anything from blogging? I'd love to know your thoughts.



26 comments:

  1. This is a great post Jo! As a new blogger myself I identify with a lot of it. I love your little space, just carry on being you x

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    1. Thank you so much, what a sweet comment. I hope you're still enjoying blogging too! x

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  2. I can relate to SO much of this. What a lovely post! And congratulations on hitting 8 months:) How exciting. I definitely spend more of my time reading and commenting on others then I do my own posts like you and I really enjoy it that way. Like you said it is time consuming but I love being apart of the blogging community. I know how a comment or a like on bloglovin can put a smile on my face and I like thought of being able to do that for someone else! Also, how can I expect others to put time and effort into my posts if I'm not willing to do it to theirs? I can't! - I will be looking into that photo app!

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    1. Thank you :) It's good to know I'm so similar to other bloggers out there in the way I work. Your comments always put a smile on my face, so thank you for each one of them. I completely agree with your comment about putting effort into others - it can't be all take and no give! x

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  3. What a wonderful, well informed and very well written post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and happy to discover your blog since moving to the UK! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are very much on point!

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    1. Thank you so much, that's such a lovely comment and is very much appreciated! I hope you are still enjoying my blog and thank you for stopping by :) x

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  4. Love this sooo much!! so relevant and i agree with a lot of it. Especially being rich, i won't lie though it does make me a tincy bit poor reading all the makeup reviews, several times i've bought something really pricey and never even used it though! love your blog,
    Jennifers Journal | Check out my giveaway! X

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    1. Thank you so much Jennifer - I completely agree, it can be tempting to just go for it and shop until we drop but we do have to be a little realistic sometimes! Though we always deserve a treat....x

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  5. Thank you so much for writing this Jo. This week I have been feeling a bit demoralised by blogging. I feel like because there are so many blogs out there it can be hard to make connections with other bloggers especially as I work full time so finding time is always an issue. I totally agree with your point about showing appreciation though, I try my hardest to comment on other blogs, but like you I also have a bloglovin' feed that gets a little out of hand sometimes! X

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    1. I hope you've been feeling better about blogging since you commented Sarah! It can be hard and we have our ups and downs but I think we just need to remember why we started in the first place. And juggling it with full time work can be so tiring! Your little comment has definitely made my day and I appreciate you taking the time to write - thanks so much x

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  6. Love this blog post. You're spot on with everything :). Just found your blog and I really like it, great work xx

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    1. Thank you! That means a lot :) x

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  7. I really enjoyed really this post -so relatable and down-to-earth. I love your writing - keep on doing your thing just as you are! H x

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    1. Thank you - I will try, I hope you are still enjoying my posts! x

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  8. YES amen! Really loved reading this and agree with so much of it!! Especially appreciated your thoughts on how blogging is not a competition and that it's your own space to express the person you are! Also, I use afterlight to edit all my photos as well! Even the ones I take on my camera, I dunno, I feel like it enhances the quality of iPhone photos, it's great! xx

    www.alphabeth.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Beth :) Such a lovely comment. Isn't Afterlight amazing? I don't know where I'd be without it now! x

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  9. This is a great post! <3 I too have learnt that blogging is not about the numbers, yes it's nice, but I am just happier blogging because I try to enjoy life, even if it's just a good book or a walk in the park..

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    1. Thanks so much Margot :) I agree, blogging is just another way for us to make the most of life x

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  10. Love this post! I've been blogging for almost six months now x

    www.lizwills.blogspot.com

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    1. Well done for blogging for six months! I hope you're still enjoying it :) x

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  11. Love this post! I'm relatively new to blogging (it's been about 10 months since I published my first post) and agree with so much of what you say. I've only just discovered your blog, but I'm glad I have - following you on Bloglovin now :)

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    1. Thanks - and well done for surviving 10 months of blogging! Thank you for following and commenting, it's appreciated and has certainly brought a smile to my face today x

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  12. Thanke You , I am a new blogger and it vas sooo inspiring. As I said thanks :)
    Have a nice day
    :)

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    1. I am so happy to hear that I have inspired you, even just a little! I hope you're enjoying blogging! x

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  13. I've just discovered your blog today and this is one of the most refreshing and honest posts i've ever read. I've only been blogging for about 2 months but already I can see where you're coming from and trying to find where my blog fits in my life.

    Your new follower :) Jen x
    http://littlejen1.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much Jenny for such a lovely comment! I hope you're finding your feet ok in the world of blogging, just keep going and bear these things in mind! And thank you for following - I hope you continue to enjoy my little ramblings :) x

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