Earlier this year, little old ShinyThoughts turned 7! HOORAY!
With every Bloggiversary, I become a an even prouder parent. Despite there being plenty of brilliant blogs out there who have been around far longer than I have, I pat myself on the back for sticking it out this long (it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had)!
Start a blog today and with a bit of strategy planning, sweat and hard graft, you can go far. However there is something to be said for the wisdom acquired from long-term blogging. I’m finally starting to realise that I know a few things. Longevity is one of my selling points and seeing the blogging trends come and go throughout the last 7 years has taught me some little lessons. 7 in fact. Let me know if you agree with them!
1 – I must remember to blog for me.
I, like many other long-termers, started Blogging as a creative outlet (cutting out clippings from magazines had had its day). We created content on our own and on our own terms without a flicker of a thought for commercialisation. Nowadays, we’re having to act like a business because we’re monetising our blogs. It’s an amazing feat to have gone from bedroom to boardroom (doing talks or pitches in boardrooms I mean, we all still rely on the bedroom part!) but we still have to remember to check in with number 1 to ensure we’re still in love with it as ever.
Questions I force myself to regularly answer are ‘Am I enjoying this right now?’ or ‘Would I rather be doing something else?’
A lot of you will understand the feeling of being chained to your laptop or beating yourself up for not posting for weeks. I’ve learned to let go and be ok with it. When doing this on the side of a full time job, it’s important that IRL relaxation takes priority over facing yet another screen, (she says, writing this at 10pm).
Many of us are getting enough pressure from the 9-5 that Blogging has to remain a joy, a treat almost, in order to keep us from feeling bogged down.
I’ve always reminded myself that no-one’s sitting there refreshing my page worrying where I’ve gone. It’s much better to give myself a break and come back strong with great content than to push something half-hearted out on the www.
Read Kristabel’s interview with me about juggling a full-time job and blogging ›
2 – If I want my blog to be good, I have to invest the time.
I’ve learned that if I want to be held in high regard then I have to keep producing quality content. Bye bye time! I’ve probably spent a full year of my life bent over my laptop at home while my friends are out living actual lives. But then I am thrilled to think about the friends and opportunities created as a result of my dedication, not to mention honing my creative skills and increasing my potential to get a job (I’m pleased to say both my jobs can be attributed directly to blogging)!
Time saving. The big ‘how?!’ I’ve frequently wondered how I can change my habits to improve efficiency.
“Can I edit my photos faster?” In came Lightroom.
“Can I write more efficiently?” I started note-taking on commute/lunchtime/loo…
“Should I not write anything at all or upload phone photos?” It might save time but I can’t quite get myself to do it.
I’ve learned to accept blogging takes time but I look to cut corners where I can.
3 – I’ve got to think like a business.
If you’re intending on blogging being your career, or even a part of your career, you need to act and think like a business at all times. I still catch myself thinking like a student or an individual where I’m afraid to stand my ground or make decisions based on silly ideas.
Always think ‘If I was a company, how would I approach this?’ and then try to do the same.
I’ve applied this thinking to my time investment, worth, expertise, contacts and pay. If I take myself out of the equation and add in ‘the business’, I’m more likely to make balanced decisions as my emotions are out of the equation.
4- I have to be proud to be unique
A lot of Bloggers lately have discussed comparing themselves to others and struggling with their confidence. Today’s blogging scene is a sea of beautiful girls falling over each other to sport the latest trend piece and to look just so. But ‘so‘ has become the new norm. Admirers aspire and imitate and in the end everyone starts to look the same.
I try to remember that the dominant aesthetic isn’t necessarily what’s right for me. I have to stand my ground and be myself.
Look back at the grass roots of blogging and everyone was different. 7 years ago, it was those who were the pioneers of a particular style who got all the attention. Some of them might have felt like outsiders IRL but found that blogging brought them new friends (online) who understood them.
I set myself a mission statement to be known as a happy, colourful lifestyle blogger who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Over the years I’ve tried to stay on that track even though my tastes have changed. I wear less colour now but I’ll still aim to feature the outfits that are most ‘on-brand’ for ShinyThoughts.
I might not be getting all the attention but I hope that anyone who’s looking for something a bit different will be happy to see me.
The lack of attention can be disheartening, I might rarely get comments on posts or feedback on social media but out of the blue I might meet someone who tells me they LOVE what I do. Similarly a brand who I’m perfect for might come along and pitch a brilliant project that only I am made for because there’s a unique point of view that only we both share.
How can you be proud to be unique? Actively seek out how you can be different. Work with a designer to create a bespoke website that makes sense for what you talk about or edit one yourself, be creative!
It’s fine to use other influencers as inspiration but think outside the box. What can you do that sets you apart whether that be in the topic of a post, a layout, an Instagram photo?
I’m hardly a pioneer, but I do try and add something new where I can.
See my unique style ›
5 – Blog by the 80% no, 20% yes rule
Opportunities. They’re wonderful things and I’m thankful for them but I don’t have time to do them all. Instead of jumping at everything offered my way, I tell myself that something better will always come along.
The idea of “Unless it makes you say HELL YES then it’s hell no” * is one I try to remember as I toss up the idea of replying ‘Yes’ to yet another email.
If you find yourself stretched for time and cancelling events at the last minute, it might be time to say no more. Put time into the key projects that really excite you and you won’t dilute your brand nor wear yourself out by taking it all on. I’ve gotten pretty good at this now as I strive to find more ‘me’ time but I’ll always put time in for the special projects. Over the years I’ve built great relationships with a handful of brands: Etsy, Boden, Lazy Oaf to name a couple.
Find the brands that understand you, your audience love and are great to work with. Then continue the relationship to build a strong partnership that has meaning and save that spare evening for yourself.
If you say yes to every offer coming your way, your readers may switch off. I can’t be the only one with #ad fatigue but if the partnership is perfect, it makes sense and I don’t mind seeing it.
6 – I’ll always have competition
I might think I’ve been blogging for years and know my shit but there are new kids on the block doing it better. It can sting a little to realise that younger bloggers are getting all the gigs but that’s the nature of the business. I try to stay true to my brand and use my longevity as a USP.
In the same position as me? Show your followers and brands that you’ve got heritage whether that be in ‘looking back’ posts (like these) or an explanation in the line of a pitch. Make sure that you show that having been around for longer means you’re a better punt for a project due to the quality of your content and your maturity.
It’s a very fast paced world, that of influencers. Keep an eye on trends, stay ahead of them, constantly question whether what you’re doing is the best way of doing it.
If you started again today, what would you change? If a platform isn’t working for you, consider ditching it and focusing efforts elsewhere. Your blog name not doing anything for you? Consider rebranding.
I personally haven’t been particularly pro-active on this point but it’s advice I give to others so if you’re in this position, this one’s for you!
7 – I’ve learned to understand the industry as a whole.
Going back to point 2, I’ve been lucky enough to use blogging as a tool to getting a job. Because my career is so closely linked to blogging (I’ve always worked within marketing and in roles that involve influencers), I’ve been able to see many sides of the industry and this has been really beneficial to me as a blogger. I’m going to save what I’ve learned for another post so stay tuned!
There you are, my musings on being an old dog in the blogging world. Are you a ‘mature’ blogger and think the blogging world has changed or are you a newbie looking for longevity? Let me know your thoughts!