8 Things I've Learned in my First Year of Blogging

WOW. I can’t believe that today marks one whole year of A Girl, Her Life! One year ago, I launched this website. A year and a week ago, I launched my Instagram and announced it to my friends and family.

I created this blog over four years ago, and it’s been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, but I always held back because of fear. So to be here today and have all of you here alongside me, it truly means the world.

So from the absolute deepest part of my heart, THANK YOU! Thank you for every “like” you place on an Instagram photo, every question or idea you submit, every blog post you read and every purchase you make through A Girl, Her Life. It means the absolute world to me and I wouldn’t be here writing this post if it wasn’t for all of you!

Over the past year, I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve been a digital marketer for the entirety of my career, and this blog has challenged me in new ways, to implement that knowledge and to approach social marketing in new ways at times. I’ve read book after book targeted towards business ownership, social marketing and influencer relations. I’ve subscribed to countless newsletters and podcasts. And I’ve networked with some of the best, picking their brains along the way. Through all of that, I’m excited to launch the newest section of my site, dedicated to sharing my social marketing knowledge, tips for email conversions, pitching advice and more! By no means would I consider myself an absolute expert - I’m just learning as I go. But I do get to do this for a living + my blog, and I absolutely want to share some of that knowledge.

But today, in celebration of one year of blogging, I want to share 8 things that I’ve learned in my first year of blogging outside of the technical stuff. If you are thinking about launching a blog, a newbie blogger or just feeling in a rut, this post could be for you!

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8 Things I’ve Learned in my First Year of Blogging

I’ve learned quite a bit in the last year, and I know I have a lifetime of learning to go in this every-changing field. But beyond all of the technical stuff, the below list is probably some of the most valuable.

  1. People will support you. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I created this blog four years ago. I was paying the domain fees, drafting content and hovering over the “publish” button for three whole years before I finally hit “publish!” Why? Because I was scared of being judged, of failing of being embarrassed. How dumb was I? When I finally decided to do the damn thing and announced it to family and friends, the outpouring support was amazing. So don’t let fear hold you back, hit publish and go for it!

  2. The blogging community is amazing! I have made so many friends in this amazing, wonderful and supportive blogging community. I remember going to my very first event and being TERRIFIED. Who would I talk to? What would I wear? Will I make new connections? When I left, I had a phone full of new contacts and plans to meet up with multiple girls later. Since, I’ve loved every event opportunity because I know it’s a chance to meet up with some of my blogger gal pals while working! Additionally, I’ve also learned so, so much from them! These women are incredible sounding boards, idea and knowledge sharers! Getting to connect with women (and men!) who share your same values, drive and passion is an experience like no other.

  3. Blogging takes work. Listen, I knew that starting a side gig would be a lot of work. What I didn’t think about was the early morning alarms to wake up and do a final proof of a post before it goes live. The hours engaging on Instagram to reach new users. The late nights up finishing editing photos. The long hours of shooting content and missing out on fun. The hundreds of emails being sent for negotiations every week. Blogging takes work (I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back!) It takes long hours, it takes dedication and it takes consistency. I haven’t always been the greatest about it (I’ll give myself a bit of a pass though - I am planning a wedding!) So if you want to start a blog because it seems like easy money, you should definitely evaluate the time that you actually want to put in.

  4. Numbers don’t determine your value. So it’s a business, numbers do matter. And when you are your brand, it’s so easy to allow every like, or lack thereof, to determine your self-worth. A stranger’s like on Instagram does not determine your worth. Every like, read, email open, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Keep producing quality content, learn from what content performs well and what doesn’t and keep chugging along. What you have to say matters.

  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. In the comparative world of Instagram, it’s so easy to get bogged down by comparing your content, numbers, etc… to someone else. This is a slippery, slippery slope of losing yourself and the things that make you and your brand special. Produce what calls to you, revel in your successes and avoid jealousy over the success of others.

  6. Focus efforts on what you own. Over the past year, my Instagram metrics have been all over the place. Instagram will be working on their platform and the next week my content reach and engagement will skyrocket. Then the next time they work on it, it will half. I’ve been looking at my top performing and reaching posts, and despite the fact that my content quality has overall increased, my reach has halved twice in the past 4 months. You don’t own Instagram, the content you put out on Instagram and you can’t control it. What do you own and can you control? Your website, your email marketing efforts and the content that you develop. Focus on building your blog and driving traffic there. Not only is this something that you own and don’t have to fight an algorithm for views on, users who visit your blog are of much higher quality and more likely to convert/continue viewing your content.

  7. Your content has value. I am 100% for creating content for free product… at first. I did a lot of free product trades in the beginning of my blog that have lead to strong, long-term relationships that have helped me build an income from this blog. I think that doing product trade helps you build up a portfolio and makes you a stronger candidate for paid partnerships, both with that brand and others, later. However, you are a content creator. You are developing quality content and connecting that brand with your audience. You and your content has value, fight for it.

  8. Lastly, you can do this. Blogging is a lot of work, it is a lot of continued education, it is a lot of late nights and tough decisions. But it is worth every second to me. I LOVE creating content and sharing it with you all. There is nothing more rewarding than receiving a message on Instagram that someone found a piece that they love through my posts, that they tried a new trend that they were nervous to give a whirl, or that they tried a new product and it’s helped their beauty regimen. That is EXACTLY why I do this. I love to create content that empowers other. And guess what? If you are willing to put in the time, you can do this, too.

A year ago, I conquered one of my biggest fears. I hit “publish” with so much excitement and fear in my heart. And here I am, a year later. Of course, I’ve had people say snide comments about me “trying to be an influencer” and every car that drives past Logan and I while shooting stop and stare. But you know what? This is an extremely misunderstood industry that has quality and is a leading driver of sales in today’s social world. I get to be a part of that! I get to make some extra cash doing something I love and talking about products and trends that I love! It’s worth every second, every car honk and every side-eyed stare that I get.

If you are looking to start your own blog, I hope these learnings help you get started. If you already have a blog, I hope they are reminders and make you feel reinvigorated going into this week.

A whole year. I can’t get over it. Thank you for allowing and supporting that. <3

XOXO
Chelsea