Today marks five years since I started this blog. And if I’m honest, I’ve been feeling a little lacking in inspiration lately.
The combination of trying to find my bearings with a new job I took on in March (managing and editing two large fashion and lifestyle sites) along with two months of family birthdays (including my 35th, Lucy’s 2nd, and Tony’s 36th) and a (successful!) search for a (nearby, bilingual, and affordable) preschool for Lucy have had me feeling overwhelmed, if not absolutely inundated. This also means it’s been about two months since I dedicated any time to my own blog or personal writing. And while the goal was always to land my dream job of being a fulltime writer and editor for a living, now that the role has been taking its toll on my time, I find that I miss my own passion projects more than ever.
Things are starting to level out a bit, thankfully, and I’m hoping to come back to my regular (twice a week) posting schedule. But thanks to this time off, I’ve been able to gain a little perspective. So in honor of Bubbles & Ink’s 5th Anniversary, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned since I started my blog. There are certainly more obvious basics (keep an editorial calendar, post consistently, check and double-check your spelling and grammar) that make for a successful blog. But these are some of the more fundamental things I wish I’d stuck to when I first started out. I’m still learning and have quite a ways to go (by no means am I a major blogger). But if you’ve ever thought about starting a blog of your own, I hope this will help give you a bit of a push in the right direction.
1. Do what you love – whatever that may be. When I first started writing this blog, I had no idea what I wanted to write about. I only knew that I wanted to have a creative outlet. So I thought I had to become an outfit-posting, accessory-styling blogger to get noticed (even though I wasn’t aiming to be a stylist) instead of focusing on just really writing and sharing my experiences. Sure, I love clothes and enjoy putting outfits together from time to time (I did grow up in an atelier, after all). But there are so many other interests and topics (food, travel, art!) I wanted to cover. And I’m not as gifted as the ladies who truly do styling and outfit planning with passion every single day because it’s their calling. At the end of the day, I’m just a writer with a serious love for creative things. And until I focused on having fun and being myself, nothing really changed.
I wish I’d stuck to my own weird, quirky, sometimes-odd interests sooner rather than trying to fit into what everyone else was doing. Because I quickly learned (from bloggers that I admire, like Nicolette Mason and Gala Darling, among several others) that being true to yourself is the only way to really stand out. The truth is, no one wants to read the same recycled stuff (in listicle form or otherwise). Being genuine goes a very long way. These days, I’m posting less, but making an effort to put out more of what I really want to say. There’s no sense in having a creative project if you’re not being original.
2. Be a little vulnerable – For the longest time, I hid behind the blog, not really wanting to be the center of it, even though I was the one creating it. I chose to cover stories without sharing any of my own. This made the whole experience detached and pretty boring. When my friends suggested sharing more of my own plights (pretty much everything in the “Life & Family” category), I saw a big difference in traffic and engagement. And it’s also really great to feel like you’re not the only one going through something – good, bad, or even a little ugly. I’ve learned that, just as in relationships, nobody really wants perfect. They just want real. And if you’re willing to let down your barriers a bit, what you get in return is truly rewarding.
3. Take a break if you need it – Being a creative sometimes means not creating at all – and learning to be OK with that. I’m still learning to cut myself some slack if the muse isn’t always there. But taking a little time off has shown me that sometimes the break in creating is just as important as the time spent developing the project.
4. Reach out and make friends – Some of the best times I’ve had at work-related conferences (Lucky FABB, IFB) have been in line making friends before an event or at the end of a long day recapping with the people I met earlier. These are the same people I keep up with now on social media, the people who inspire me and keep me excited about what I do. I’ve learned that a community is incredibly important. Particularly if you’re a creative who works on her own. Tempting as it may be to get comfortable with being a total recluse (my introverted side tries so hard to take over), having a group to support you is an essential asset. As Kelly Cutrone often says, go find your tribe!
5. Always give back – Whether it’s sharing your experience, wisdom, or insight, don’t keep it all to yourself. Share! Share what you know. Tell what you’ve learned. Help someone who’s starting out. And always leave your readers with something useful. That’s the whole point of the creative process. It can be difficult (see above under being vulnerable) but absolutely necessary to the endeavor. Otherwise, what’s the point?
P.S. As always, if you’ve been reading along, THANK YOU so much. I really, really appreciate it!
P.P.S. If you’re in Miami and hope to start your own blog, let my friend and expert Nikki Novo guide you. She hosts classes & workshops with tons of wisdom to share. I interviewed her a short while ago when she wrote her first book on dating, love, and breakups. Here’s what she had to say.
P.P.P.S. (Last one, promise!) I received the inspiration for this post from The Blogcademy newsletter. If you’re looking for fearless, fabulous babes who make blogging fun at any level, check them out here.