Today marks one year since I bit the bullet and released Spinkdot into the blogosphere and what an exciting year it has been. I have always enjoyed writing, I used to write short stories when I was younger and I studied Journalism at University, so a career with words always made sense to me, but blogging just always seemed scary.
I started a blog whilst at University as part of a module we were studying and back then I had a lot to learn about how to write, what to write and how to proof!! Unfortunately there were some girls who picked up on that and decided to share their delightful negative insights with the world of Facebook. Safe to say I immediately shut that blogspot down and hid under a rock, never again would I start a blog.
Fast forward 10 years; older, wiser, more confident and one hell of a better writer, but still not ready to commit to putting my writing out into the world. Until last February. I had just come down from my post wedding high with a big bump, the honeymoon was over, the house move was done and I needed a new challenge. I have always been the kind of person that is brutally honest, tries all the new fads, takes risks, shops like there is no tomorrow and will travel whenever I can, so I started to find that people would come to me for little bits of advice here and there. Whether it was what fake tan to buy, which makeup to try, where they could start with wedding planning or a little bit of a boy advice. I have always been a bit of an agony aunt and I love that. Talking is my absolute favourite thing to do. So after chatting to fellow blogger and work buddy Sophie etc I was convinced that now would be the time to start my blog.
Weddings were an easy first choice for content, but I swiftly branched out into Travel and Lifestyle too and I couldn’t believe it when people actually started reading and commenting on my content. Nothing beats that little buzz you get when you see someone reply to a tweet, Instagram post or comment on a blog, it means someone actually found some enjoyment in what you were sharing.
So as the first year of Spinkdot comes to a close I thought I would note down all the things I have learnt along the way in the hope that all the other fellow newbies, or those thinking about starting a blog, will be inspired by my home truths on the industry and take the plunge.
So grab a cuppa, and have a read of all the things I have learnt this past year.
It’s bloody hard work
Blogging is a big commitment. Once you start you can’t just stop, you have to keep up the momentum, especially if you really want to build a following and spark engagement. It’s pretty much a full time job keeping your social feeds populated, taking and editing photos, writing content, thinking up new ideas, managing a blog schedule and trying to keep on top of emails and contacts, so just remember you will have to commit part of your life to your blog. But, it’s important to remember why you love it, if you don’t see it as a fun extension of your daily life then it will become a chore and not an enjoyable hobby.
It’s not all about the freebies
I think some people have a warped impression of what a blogger is. The amount of times I have had someone say to me “so, do you get free stuff?” is crazy. I hate to burst your bubble but you won’t get the brands and PR’s flooding your inbox the day you hit publish on your first blog and if that’s the only reason you are starting, you have already failed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when you bag a freebie, especially when you are a super new blogger, but it’s not why you should start.
Frankly my dear, don’t give a damn
One of the hardest things to get your head around is not caring what others think. Whether it’s the sniggers or looks you get when you are holding up the traffic to get ‘the shot’ (safety permitting of course…), or the negative comments you might receive online or in person. I think a lot of that is unfortunately jealousy and that’s not an attractive trait on anyone. You just carry on doing what you are doing and if you are happy that’s all that really matters. Blogging for me is an outlet, I like writing, it’s therapeutic, if other people get enjoyment out of it too, then great, if they don’t, they don’t have to read it…
Fake it til you make it
Just because you don’t have thousands of followers, a fancy camera and a marble kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t post quality content. As a new blogger you can make your site and feed look just as luxury as some of the big name bloggers if you learn how to edit photos on an iPhone and stay savvy with your smartphone camera. My favourite apps for editing photos on my phone are Colourstory and Snapseed, both are free and can be found in the app store. Another handy trick if you can’t invest in a decent camera and lenses to start with is to use the portrait function on your iPhone, blurs the background perfectly and sometimes I prefer the pictures to those from my Olympus Pen.
There is a Girl Squad
The internet is full of negative Nancy’s and trolls that get enjoyment from bringing others down and that is such a shame. I have however been really lucky and realised that there is a really nice community of bloggers who are happy to share advice, support, handy tips and even a coffee if you are willing to do the same. In Milton Keynes in particular I have met some really lovely girls at various events and through networking that always share nice comments, boost engagement and genuinely want to help when they can. If you want to start blogging be sure to link up with a local blogger network and make some blogger friends, it has really helped me.
Just do you
Blogging is extremely commoditised and there are hundreds and hundreds of feeds that look great, but very similar. So, it is super important to find your niche and do you. I think I am still finding my niche, it started as weddings for sure but actually I get far more engagement on life based posts and a lot of my followers requested more travel based more content so we will see how things evolve over the coming months. But whatever you decide to choose as your niche, do it with passion, be unique, stand out on your own and most importantly - have fun!