Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's my blogging anniversary! 8 things I've learned in 8 years of blogging

It's all mad that 8 years ago, I started up my blog as a bit of craic, to distract me a bit from what was going on in my life and as cheesy as it sounds, it has literally changed my life.  Because of it and because of everyone who reads the blog and follows my Instagram account (and Snapchat too, aw RIP Snapchat), I was able to leave my full time job at the start of the year and give this freelance content creation malarkey a go full time.  It's crazy!  And while it has been one of the most stressful years of my life, it's been one of the most rewarding too.

By no means do I claim to know everything when it comes to blogging, but the fact that I'm still here all these years later, that I write my own posts, take my own photos and still kick ass, I'm proud of what I've achieved and for fellow bloggers out there who might be looking for some tips or insight into blogging, maybe this post might help!

So behold 8 things I've learned in 8 years of blogging but to be honest, I've learned so much more, so if you want more tips, I've got 'em!

1. The blog isn't about me.

This has always been the case.  Each post I write has you, the reader, in mind.  I try to give as much information on the products as possible so you can make an informed decision on whether to buy something or not.  I'm not here to influence you.  It's up to you to make up your own mind whether you want to buy something, but I always encourage you to read more reviews than just mine, because what works for me might not work for you and as a reader of blogs and consumer of content, I like to get a feel for products by reading a few reviews or watching a few videos.  Whether you're a hobby blogger or this is a job for you, it's our responsibility as bloggers to serve our readers in an honest, trustworthy, authentic way.  Using ring lights or filters to make ourselves look lovely isn't helpful for that person who has €20 to treat themselves to a bit of makeup with.  It's about the readers, not us.

2. I found my tribe.

I've had blogging friends come and go over the last 8 years, but now I have a core group of gals who are the best and are from both inside and outside of the blogging world.  None of them have an agenda.  They don't want any PR contacts, they don't pump me for information and then go radio silent when I give them what they were looking for until the next time they need something else!  The gang I have now is deadly and we encourage each other, we bounce ideas off each other, we support each other and we get each other.  So my advice is to ditch the leeches and find yourself some new pals.  It's the best!

3. I know my worth.

This has been such a learning curve and it still is to this day.  I'm a people pleaser and have said yes to things I regretted shortly after, have been taken advantage of and have learned all the lessons.  I make great content.  When it comes to collaborations, and even my regular content, I pour my guts into it.  I owe it to the readers and to those who follow me on Instagram and I've shown behind the scenes on how I go about taking photos and creating content.  I also owe it to the brands to create the best content possible.  While I can make it look easy, you don't see the times where I'm just sitting looking at the products for ages, hoping inspiration will hit!

It's heartening when a brand approaches and wants to work with me and I always take time to see if it's going to be a good fit for me, for the brand and for the audience.  On the other hand, it's incredibly disheartening when I'm approached by brands who want me to "collaborate" with them and I use inverted commas because mostly, they want me to create content for them, for their social platforms, for nothing.   I know how long it takes me to create deadly content and I've stopped apologising for wanting to be paid.  My free time is worth more than that.  I've said yes to a lot more things this year, but I've also said no, and I'll explain more in one of the points below.

4. I've stayed true to myself.

I know it's such a cliche to say when you're starting a blog, to stay true to who you are, but it's one of the most important things ever.  It can be easy to do what others are doing if you see the success they're having, but if it's not you and not what you're about, it'll show.  It'll show in your face, in your guts and your audience will spot it a mile away.  So keep your own voice, try your own things and you do you!

If a brand approaches and asks to do a collaboration, and you haven't tried the products yet, ask to try them first.  Don't be someone who will do anything for a few bob.  I can spot it a mile away, and you may as well change your name to Mi Wadi because you're diluting what you're about and if I can spot it, so can your readers.  Being selective and talking about things that fit with your blog and what you're about will pay off in the long term because your audience will know you won't sell out and they'll be able to trust you.   Don't sell out lads.  It's not worth it.

5. I never stop learning.

I'm sure someone will tell me how self indulgent this sounds, but I'm going there!  Everything I've learned about blogging, photography, filming etc has been self taught.  I know I'm not a great writer and have so much to learn when it comes to cameras, programs and apps, I could go on, but I love learning new techniques and experimenting.  One thing that made my day recently was someone seeing a photo I'd taken for a brand and knowing it was mine!  I have a list of things I want to learn more about and I'll be googling and searching on YouTube for how to do them.  Every day I listen to podcasts and most of the time they're on social media, digital media, that kind of thing and I just love the behind the scenes of this industry.  All I need to do now is learn what ISO and aperture means and I'll be grand!

6. I keep stepping outside of comfort zone and trying new things.

It took me ages to build up the courage to show my face on the blog, to start doing YouTube, to start Snapchat and Instastories and to speak at events.  And I take every single opportunity as a learning experience.  Either it works out and I learn from it, or it doesn't work out and I learn from it.  But the most important thing is I'm trying new things, I'm trying to stand out in a saturated market, I'm trying to be different and I'm trying to be one step ahead when it comes to content.  There's something I want to tick off my list before the year is over and the thought of it gives me pains in my stomach, so hopefully I won't die of nerves!  I get questions every week from new bloggers who are nervous about putting themselves out there, and I get it.  When I started, there were no online forums (that I knew about anyway), no Facebook groups and it wasn't the massive industry it is now.  There was a lot less judgement, publicly anyway, and it was an easier place to navigate, but the way I see it, stepping outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.  Experiment with new types of content.  Try different angles when filming videos.  Up your game, try new bits and see what happens!

7. It's ok to take a break.

This has been huge for me over the last couple of years.  Blogging burnout is real and it was only up until a couple of years ago that I let myself take time off.  I felt self imposed pressure too post a certain number of times a week, to have the chats on Instastories every day and reply to every single comment all day every day.  But then I realised that I don't get paid to do all blog posts or Instagram posts (in my last 30 blog posts, 1 has been an ad and in the last 100 instagram posts, 3 have been ads.  That's 97 unpaid Instagram posts and 29 blog posts that I've done in my own time, so while I might call it a job, it's more like I'm volunteering! )  So taking days off and time off social media is totally allowed and needed and I've stopped apologising for that.  Now when I'm having dinner, I keep my phone upstairs so I'm not tempted to get sucked in to replying to comments.  I don't reply to emails after 6pm, I try to take one day off a week from social media and it's helped my mental health so much.  I took time off when I was in France during the summer, switching my comments off for the five days and I'm so glad I did.  This could be a 24/7 thing if I let it, so my advice is to have limits, boundaries, whatever you need to not let it give you brain mush.

8. I'm not going to be able please everyone.

I think this is something I've learned just over the last 3 years or so and Snapchat and Instastories has a lot to do with it.  I've had people tell me all I do is talk about the products I've been sent.  I've had people giving out to me for buying products myself as I'm sent so much.  I've had people give out about posting affiliate links and I've had people asking me to go find them links for products (not affiliate links obvs!).  There are people who want me to go and buy a product myself, photograph it, test it out, write about it, talk about it online, and report back with a link to the product that is not an affiliate link because they don't like them.  So while I won't be able to keep everyone happy all the time, I do my best by respecting the readers, by not trying to take advantage of them and again, by staying true to myself.  With brands, I've been saying no a lot more this year as they want more and more for less and less.  I have to keep myself happy and in turn, that makes it easier to keep as many of you happy as I can!

And those are my words of wisdom as a geriatric blogger in both senses of the word!  I'm an aul one compared to all the young and up and coming bloggers, and I've been doing this long enough to see bloggers come and go.  And I still love it so much!

I have so many plans for the next year, but rather than tell you about them, I'm going to show you.  Thank you to everyone who has been reading the blog for years and thank you to the new bridies who have joined the tribe along the way.  You have all made this possible for me and I won't let you down.  Yizzer only massive lads!


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