At the end of last week my little Blog 'House of Paper Doll' turned 2 years old. I can't actually believe I have been blogging for that long now, albeit at times its been pretty sporadic. Of late I have been able to 'press publish' on a lot more blog posts, a pattern I hope I will certainly continue over this next year along with developing my YouTube Channel more.
So what have I learnt during the past 2 years?
As I sit back and reflect I feel pretty proud of where my little blog has taken me, what started out as an outlet for a bit of 'me' time, now dominates a large portion of my daily life. I love it and I am continuing to embrace this journey and see where it can take me. In particular this past year has lead me to work with some of my favourite brands, and I am incredibly grateful. I have been and continue to be 'gifted' some beautiful products for which I feel very lucky. I have started receiving offers for paid work/sponsored content and I am happy at how my blog is moving along, and all I hope is for that to continue for as long as it can.
Blogging can be abit of a mind-field and its easy to get caught up in the whole social media/numbers craziness, I still very much consider myself a newbie to blogging but here is what the past 2 years have taught me, so far....
It feels like there is never enough 'Time'.....
To be able to have your own little creative space where you can make content from concept to pressing that publish button is a pretty satisfying process. I love it, for me its fun rather than work, the most difficult part however has been how time consuming it all is. Planning, taking photos, editing, writing, proof reading, deadlines, emails, etc, it all takes time (and that's not including the business side of it) - an hour, an evening, a weekend can soon be eaten up before you know it. I'm certainly not complaining as this is a direction I want to expand and pursue further this year, I would like to try and grow my blog as much as I can, its just often difficult trying to balance it all, especially when you have a family.
For me its learning when its ok to switch off (especially from Social Media), to put the phone down and not fret about checking how many likes a photo might have, to try to not feel guilty for working when the children are at home (which as a Mum, feeling guilty is something you battle with constantly). Its all a 'work in progress', but my main goal for 2018 is to try to plan ahead with the Blog and YouTube so I have weekends where I can totally switch off to spend more quality time with my kids and hubbie. Life is all about balance and thats going to be ingrained in my head this year.
Its not all about Numbers...
When I first started blogging it appeared to be all about the 'Numbers', especially with Instagram. You would often see some of the smaller bloggers (and I mean that in solely a numbers sense) overlooked by brands and companies in favour of, well, purely a numbers game. Some of these 'smaller-in-numbers' bloggers' content were and still are incredible, many have been blogging away for years and have steadily built up a faithful audience and following. The rise of the 'Micro-Blogger' over the past couple of years thankfully appears to be slowly but surely turning the tide with more and more brands coming round to the fact that the quality of engagement can be far more beneficial (and lucrative) than just purely numbers.
The recent Instagram algorithm change has made that platform a bit of a battle, its hard to get your content to be seen even by your own audience (my numbers have decreased as a result and I am in no way alone). This however is leading people to readjust and refocus back to the 'quality' of their blog. Pretty pictures are beautiful to look at, and despite the crazy algorithm, Instagram is still my favourite social media platform for creative inspiration, but since its change I've found myself heading back to my favourite bloggers actual blog content more and more and I am really enjoying it. Its almost like its back to where it started, where the quality of the blog content is the main foundation again rather than the number of Instagram followers or picture likes, so aleast there is a good thing to come out of the Instagram shift.
I no longer focus on my numbers on social media like I did, so many people use bots nowadays that it throws off your stats and alters your figures in a way that is completely out of your control, alot of the numbers are misleading. Instead I concentrate on my engagement, at my blog stats, where my readers are from, what blog pages are most read....information like this I find to be far more beneficial and rewarding, and luckily the brands I am working with appear to feel the same.
Don't compare yourself to other Bloggers 'Be You!'
Its easy to look at bloggers that are just starting out who seem to gain a huge amount of followers within just a few months and who seem to be enjoying incredible opportunities almost overnight. Its easy to compare yourself and where you are and ask what are you doing wrong? Often the answer is absolutely nothing. Don't compare yourself because every one is different, every blog offers something slightly different and you will only get disheartened and disappointed. I have been overlooked so many times for bloggers with higher numbers, bloggers who are much younger in age and bloggers who have been blogging far less in time than me, and I still consider myself newbie at 2 years, and its OK.
Some bloggers start getting paid work straight away, some it takes months, some years. I only received my first sponsored work last year after well over 12 months of blogging and I think that's realistic. I'm heading towards my late 30's (definitely need to work on embracing my age a little more), I'm a Mum and a Wife, and I'm not necessarily going to attract the same audience as a 20 year old and thats OK. My style and tastes have changed and matured over the years, this is who I am now and that's what I hope my blog will reflect, but I still dance and twirl around the house thinking I am Stevie Nicks.
Be happy for those who win contracts with a brand you love because they are also working away hard too. The blogging world can be incredibly supportive (if also a little off at times), but the main thing is to do 'you', because there is no-one else out there like it. Stay true to who you are, be inspired but don't copy, be supportive without comparing and keep plugging away because brands will see. It all takes time, be patient and don't expect opportunities overnight. If I am feeling a little flat I just remember that one email can change so much.
Get involved in the Blogging Community...
This is something I definitely need to work on this year and I hope I can start joining in on Twitter chats because I know I don't really do this. I think it certainly has its benefits of helping with the gaining of followers, etc but the major benefit is the support you will receive from fellow bloggers.
I have met some really lovely bloggers at events who I keep in touch with, some have even pointed brands they are working with in my direction which was so kind. I'm not great at joining in the Social Media debates/chats mainly due to time restrictions but this is an area that I hope I can improve in.
The beauty of social media is that it doesn't matter if you are a London blogger or you live in a small town. I see bloggers forming some great friendships online from all over the world, they have each others back and support each other and their achievements, and thats what makes blogging pretty awesome. Working at home by yourself can sometimes feel pretty isolated, especially if you aren't able to make any of the blogger events, so getting involved in the blogging community online is certainly a way to help and to offer that like-minded support.
Being realistic, but most of all have 'fun!'
If you are having fun then it doesn't really feel like work and if you can make a living out of doing something you love then that's a pretty special way to live. I have had countless office jobs over the years some of them to be honest I have hated. Monday mornings were always a struggle so I feel really fortunate that blogging has come along and somehow found me. I feel like its a combination of so many of my past jobs, experiences and passions joined together that I can fit around the children. Its a wonderful creative outlet that is steadily becoming a career I never thought of.
Sure the events and gifted products are a fabulous bonus but most of all for me is that I love it - I love creating, taking photos, writing, I just love the whole process. The hardest part is probably accepting I can't do everything I would like to. I turn down alot of events because I just can't make it. There are so many ideas that run through my head for blog posts and so many posts I have planned to do that never make it, and a large part of that is 'I simply run out of time'. I am trying harder now to be realistic in what I can and cannot do, accepting I can't do everything and I think the same applies to blogging in general. I would rather put one or two posts out per week I am really proud of than five posts I felt I rushed just because I wanted to cover a certain topic or I felt I needed to produce more content.
At the end of day the blog is yours and the direction of the content you take is down to the individual, plus how much work is realistic for you to produce in the time/circumstance/situation you are in. I think once you take that extra pressure off you enjoy the whole experience even more and the work just flows more easily.
2018 I am ready.....
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Faux Fur Scarf: Primark
Boots: New Look
Watch: New Look
Face & Eye Makeup: Charlotte Tilbury
Lipstick: Charlotte Tilbury