Today I’m sharing 10 lessons learned in 10 years of blogging.
TEN YEARS… ten years ago I started a little blog called Think Happy Thoughts. My online wedding journal turned into a life + style blog that I’m humbled to call my own Confessions of a Northern Belle. To honor the milestone, I took my Macbook, a bottle of Veuve, a delicious cupcake and my favorite photographer to a Christmas tree farm. We toasted ten years of life with my blog.
1. Blogging is a time consuming beast.
I spend more hours sitting on my laptop either writing or doing research for my blog than I care to admit. There’s also time spent with my camera, shopping for sponsored posts, emailing brands, applying to campaigns, and scheduling content in my planner. Blogging is a beast who consumes SO much of my time and can only be tamed with a quick dose of time management (which I’m still trying to figure out).
2. Trolls don’t live under bridges, they live online.
I’ve encountered my fair share of internet trolls over the last 10 years. Before I had children, there was a 7 page thread going on about me and this blog, tearing apart everything from my name to my profession. I almost quit… shut the blog down… but realized there were more people reading my blog than bashing it. You can’t really fight internet trolls because your words only give them fuel to their fire. The the best thing I can do about internet trolls is to ignore them.
3. There are no rules, just write.
Every blogger finds a routine that works for them and just because they’re rising to the top doesn’t mean if do the same I will join them. I spent way too long in the last ten years trying to figure out the rules to the game. I’ve recently discovered there’s only one way to blog and that’s to WRITE.
Which is exactly why I’m sharing 10 lessons learned in 10 years
4. Readers like you for YOU, so stay true to yourself.
You know that Blessid Union of Souls song, “Hey Leonardo” – I’m singing that to myself after 10 years of blogging. I’m not a celebrity who hangs with other celebrities, nor do I live in a monstrous home on a tropical island. The readers of this blog come back day after day because they like me for me. I’ve learned I need to stay true to that 23 year old version of myself who started it all with silly wedding posts and mirror selfies of Blair Waldorf inspired outfits.
Just recently, I noticed a few people on Instagram stopped following me. These girls have been fans of my blog since the beginning – I know this because they’ve told me so. It happens – my readers aren’t going to like me forever and I’m OK with that because there are other fish in the sea. And my blog will always love me no matter what I write, right?
5. I don’t know it all.
After 3,650 days as a blogger, you’d think I would have mastered all the tricks of the trade. Fact is, I don’t even come close to knowing it all.I am always learning something new about the blog world, which is exciting and keeps me on my toes. It’s okay to to not be a BlogMaster. There are some days I feel like a newbie with the ever-changing social media algorithms and SEO rules. Then other days I’m just an ole G, enjoying my consultations with new bloggers and building relationships with the amazing people I’ve met through Confessions of a Northern Belle. Both roles are just fine.
6. Be persistent. Be patient.
Dreams do NOT come true in a day. Or a month. Or even five years. I have learned the only way I can make my dreams come true when it comes to the success of my blog is by being persistent and being patient. I waited for months after sending one too many emails to collaborate with some of the brands I’ve had the privilege of working with in the last year.
7. Blogging quality over quantity.
I used to post 7 days a week on my blog. It was exhausting, but effortless since I threw anything out there to take up space. I realized my lazy writing wasn’t being read and I was tired from working all the time. I committed to writing quality posts just 4-5 times a week and not only am I happier, but so are my readers.
8. Blogging isn’t free.
In 10 years of blogging, I’ve learned you have to spend money to make money. My success did NOT come for free as there are costs everywhere. The cost of my camera (my third), memory cards ( over 10 owned), an external hard drive, photo editing programs, my web host fees, supplies for content, travel expenses, etc. Every penny spent on blogging has been worth it!
I love my blog, but sometimes I just want to slap it across the face.
9. Blogging is not my hobby.
Cooking, reading, dancing – those are the hobbies I write down on interest sheets. They are carefree activities I like to do in my spare time that bring me nothing but joy. I love those hobbies unconditionally! Blogging is NOT a hobby – it is stressful, time consuming, and sometimes I just want to slap it across the face. Blogging is my job, a job I really do love, but it can make me really mad sometimes. But if I quit, there goes my income.
10. I can’t do this alone.
There are SO many people (and things like my Macbook) that make THIS blog possible and I cannot thank them enough. THANK YOU… to my favorite photographer, Beth, for being brutally honest with me when I need it. And for rushing over to my house at the last minute when a huge campaign is due and I can’t take my own pictures. To my Mom and sisters for proofreading posts, giving advice on blog topics, and their never-ending encouragement. To my husband who pretends he understands the stressors of blog drama. To my daughters who have to pose for more photos than they probably want to. To the friends I’ve made in this blogging community that lift me up when I am down. And to the READERS because YOU are the reason I’m still here writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you to Dumas Christmas Tree farm for allowing this crazy photo shoot to take place among your beloved Christmas Trees. Thank you Alyssa’s Cakery for the DELICIOUS anniversary cupcake. And THANK YOU to Beth Grant of Elizabeth Grant Photography for envisioning the blogiversary photo session of my dreams.
Caitlin Houston is a Connecticut based life and style blogger.