This is my 500th blog post, I feel I should have balloons or a cake but all I have is my thoughts and the keyboard which isn't quite as exciting. When I first started this blog I had no idea what I was getting myself in to, had I known I would have run a mile, but then it is those things that truly stretch you out of your comfort zone that you learn and grow from. I am not overly romantic about blogging, it has it's ups and downs but personally I have taken everything I could ever have wanted from it then a little bit more for good measure. To mark 500 posts here are the top 5 things that blogging has taught me:
You make your own community: When you embark on a journey in to the on line world you discover people from around the world, some which you have lot's in common with some who are simply interesting and inspirational. I love that blogging has enabled me to meet and chat with plenty of like minded people or people who inspire me to think differently, it opens your eyes to the world, be it good, or downright ugly there is never a dull moment in the on line world. Edit your social media channels to include only those voices which add value to your day, yes I blog about more natural and organic options but I don't want my feed to be just bloggers who cover those topics, I find inspiration in all kinds of blogs and people and that's the way I like it, the people I have met along the way have made this journey much more fun than it would have been alone.
Blogging is a marathon not a sprint: In the years that I have been blogging I have seen my fair share of bloggers that feel the need to go full steam ahead and then rapidly crash and burn. Blogs these days are as much work as a part time job and for many, including myself they are more than a hobby but a source of income and opportunity. If you want to be a blogger you need to know that there will be times when you don't want to create content, when you feel like you have nothing to say, it's often those times that will define your blog. In order to keep going week after week taking photos, writing in the early hours of the morning and publicising posts you have to draw on inspiration when there really is none. There is a difference between forcing yourself to create content and digging deep, the former will lead to resentment but the latter for me always leads to a sense of achievement.
You can make successes of your failures: No one is perfect 100% of time, but in an on line world where you are exposed to 100's of other blogs with potentially better content, photos or reviews than yours it is so easy to question yourself and feel like your blog isn't good enough. Add to that the fact that any mistakes you make are on a public platform, be it your blog, Twitter or Instagram and it is extremely easy to over think things and fall out of love with blogging as well as potentially holding yourself up for a public judgement. For me, my mistakes are not only part of who I am, but have become very much the defining moments of this blog. If I could make some decisions differently potentially I would, but on the whole those moments that weren't so great encouraged me to dig deep and keep going. I am well aware that my blog could always be improved and I work on it daily but only competing with yourself is extremely freeing, your blog is an extension of you even the bits that aren't great. I owe just as much to those who don't like me or my blog as I do to my supporters because the lesson they taught me is to never let someone else determine your worth.
Make your blog what you want it to be: I do wonder what young teenage girls think when they see blogs, do they think it is a valid career choice, do they want to be like Zoella. The key to Zoella's and may others success is being in the right place at the right time, don't limit yourself to thinking that success in blogging only has one form, for me success has come from carving out a niche and being open to opportunity when it came knocking on my door. Success for you may look completely different but your achievements are worthy whatever they are, don't forget to enjoy them and to look at the bigger picture. Carving out your path in a saturated on line world is harder that is ever has been before but it's not impossible, you just have to be open minded about what your path might be. I am far from your average blogger, I am in my thirties with a child and I don't have a Michael Korrs watch or the latest rose gold brushes (blogger cliches abound!) and yet here I am, happily writing away in my little niche. The joy of the internet is that there is room for different types of people and please never let just your stats define your success, there is more to blogging than numbers.
You can never please everyone: When you choose to write on a public forum like this you are opening yourself up to criticism and people will not always like you or what you have to say. I think you would have to have a heart made of stone if it didn't bother you at all but whilst I listen to constructive criticism or feedback and am always trying to improve the blog I am not out to please everyone, I think you loose far to much of who you are that way. I have never shied away from being true to me for fear of what others may think (including brands), after all it is MY blog and my voice, without that this would all be a very big waste of time.
Last but not least this blog would be no fun without the people that read it, every time someone comments or contacts me to tell me they enjoyed the post or ask a question it reminds me that blogging is a two way conversation. To all of you who are the light in my internet life, to those that add value each and every day, who picked me up when I was down, thank you, you know who you are.