5 Things I've Learned From 2 Years of Blogging
About 3 years ago, I started thinking about quitting my job. I loved it, and definitely didn't dread going into work every day (apart from Monday's, because.....well, Monday's) but I wanted something different. I always knew I wanted to travel, so I was basically just waiting for the right time/confidence boost to kick in, but I never thought about what I would do when I got back.
Like many women in their late twenties & thirties -- I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.
The idea of it is completely overwhelming when you already have a job. To be honest, I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life! I think that's okay. I know that's okay, actually. My bff recently told me that she had just realised that she'll be working for another thirty years (at least!), so she feels okay with not worrying about it too much for the next few. Anyway, that got me thinking about my career, how I got here and whether it's what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.
First off - what do I actually do? I get asked that question more than any other, and it's usually prefaced with something derogatory about working from home and postfixed with a glazed over look as they realise what I actually do is work. Yep, actual work that I am assigned by various clients, do (albeit from my home), get paid for and then declare to the taxman is due course.
I never truly know how to describe myself when the inevitable question of what I do for work arises. Linked In and Facebook profiles change often and I never know what to state as my 'Occupation'. I suppose I was a 'Digital Nomad' while I was travelling, but now -- with a home base in London, I guess the semantics of that title make no sense anymore. I make the majority of my money through things other than blogging, however all of the things I do are on a freelance basis -- so am I a Freelancer? A freelance what? Don't get me started
The truth is, I consider myself a blogger. That is what I love doing, and it's how I have ended up in the very privileged position of being able to work from home, getting paid to do what I love. It's how I have been able to travel, and go to amazing parties (every so often) and to meet epic new friends. I am challenged daily, and have learned more in the past two years than I have in a decade. More than just a creative output, it's technically challenging my inner geek -- and teaching me the value of believing in myself. Because when you are a freelancer, if you don't muster up some self confidence -- you won't progress. Fact.
So, what have I learned from two years of blogging?
Rome wasn't built in a day, and a successful blog wasn't built in one either. Actually, the term 'successful' is a tricky one when it comes to blogging, as there is often a real tendency to look at stats daily, compare yourself to others and take every knock back as a rejection. Which leads me nicely onto....
Comparison is Pointless
I think that this is the hardest thing to overcome. Particularly as a woman. It's practically impossible to shut yourself off to all outside influences, but you have to try. You have to! Comparing yourself to anybody else will happen, and you have to take a breath and remind yourself of how futile this exercise is. Note all of the things you are doing right, make a list of the things you would like to be doing but currently aren't, and move on.
Content is King
When I first started, I didn't even think about the fact that anyone else would be reading the content I produced. I took bad pictures, and didn't edit them. I wrote posts that were short and offered little value other than denoting my existence and even worse -- I started to become obsessed with the detail of the blogging business. I tried to learn how to code, and how to create websites (although that is now very helpful) and become obsessed with SEO. I even started looking into the dark arts of the Google Algorithm.
Now, all of this is absolutely fine -- if you are already producing the best content you can. But I wasn't. Sometimes I still don't! There is no magic shortcut to getting a stack of traffic to your blog, and nor should there be. That;s not to say that there aren't successful and substandard blogs out there, but did I want to be one of them? No way. I want to feel proud of the work I do, and make sure that it is the absolute best it can be.
You Are What You Write
This may be a little controversial but hear me out. While I absolutely, wholeheartedly do NOT believe in censoring yourself, or for that matter do I believe that you have to provide an 'on brand' message at all times. What I do think is that for me, writing is catharsis and I like nothing more than getting my feelings out there 'on paper' as it were. However, the pen is mightier than the sword so if you want to keep your friends, and ensure you are don't alienate brands and BFF's alike -- temper yourself. Write about it, sure -- but do not hit publish on a piece of work you may later regret. For me, negativity breeds negativity -- and while I have to work a little harder than most to maintain a positive attitude -- a big lesson I have learned is to mix up my posts. If I write a ranty one, I try not to follow that with three more in the same ilk.
Be Proud Of Being a Blogger
This may seem a little odd, but I don't always love to say that I am a 'Blogger'. As I mentioned before, I often say I am a writer, or a Social Media Manager or whatever. I mean, I am all of those things and that is how I get paid also....but being a Blogger got me there. So why do I cringe in embarrassment when someone calls me that, or when I say it myself? I know exactly why. Because I am worried about what other people think.
In the past, I have had derogatory comments from others. Often because they either want to do the same thing as me, and are a little jealous that I have managed to do it without a journalism degree or 'proper' training or perhaps because they just think it's a BS job. Either way, that's okay -- and I can either choose to let the negativity in....or Shake It Off Taylor style.
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