That’s right, kids! I’ve been writing on The Life of Lilly for an entire year today. It’s not always been easy and there were a few months where I only managed to squeeze out one post, but I’m still here.
As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of the blog, life has not always been smooth sailing for little old me. This is why I’m extremely proud to have kept it up and produced content which matters to me. And here’s to the next however-many-years of doing the exact same thing.
I asked on Twitter, what kind of anniversary post should I do? I was torn between a post explaining how educational the last year has been and a giveaway. For now, I’m sticking with the former, but I do hope to do a giveaway when my bank account is a little more friendly.
So without further ado, here are the biggest lessons I learned in the first year of blogging on The Life of Lilly!
The best thing you can be is yourself
I fully believe that the best content is the stuff that comes right from the heart: the true, real you. It’s hard work keeping up with an image that you’re projecting. Become the person you want to be as you grow, rather than trying to be that person from the start.
You don’t have to flatlay or buy makeup… but it’s ok if you do!
When I first started The Life of Lilly, I just kept thinking about how I couldn’t (and still can’t) take a decent picture, or the fact that I don’t wear make up meant that some how I was missing out. There is a stereotype, I know, but you don’t have to fit it. But guess what? If that’s what you’re into and it’s what you want to do, that’s completely fine.
Blogging is like a second job
It’s not about writing a post in 15 minutes and hitting publish. Sometimes, you can be really productive and bang them out quickly, but often it takes a lot of time and effort. The writing can come easily, but then you’ve got to consider photos, SEO and editing and the clock soon ticks by.
Most bloggers I know are either studying at university or in full-time work. It’s kind of unimaginable when you think about it – dedicating what little spare time you’ve got to a blog is an incredible feat. It definitely is a second job for me and trying to fit in healthy habits like going to the gym (or training for a marathon…) and cooking homemade, nutritional meals is even harder!
I write the majority of my blog posts in the hour and thirty (-ish) minutes a day that I’m sat commuting to/from London. I wake up at 6:30 and I get home at 7:30. That entire time is taken up by blogging and work. Life is insane, I can’t imagine squeezing another thing into it!
It’s ok to take breaks
As a result of the above, it’s important to remember that it’s totally ok to take breaks. Sometimes that’s a week or so, sometimes it’s a bit longer. The important thing to remember is that you don’t owe anyone anything. Well, actually, you do. You owe yourself that time off. You owe it to yourself to put your mind and health over getting a blog post out on a day you wanted to.
Also – sometimes the ideas aren’t totally flowing. I’d always rather take a break until I’ve got them than write about stuff I don’t want to, just to fill gaps.
You don’t have to collaborate with brands to be a blogger
Another assumption about being a blogger is that you’ve got to collaborate with brands right from the get-go. Not only is this really difficult (brands often want high DAs, proof of great engagement etc), but there is so much to learn about yourself as a blogger first. You could, as I have done before, avoid collaborating completely.
My opinions on collaborating have definitely grown and I am far more open to collaborating now that I have found my own identity and integrity in the blogging world (one that I wouldn’t drop for money or freebies). It took me a long time to fall into my own ‘brand’ though and I don’t think I had the strength to stand up for it when I wrote about working with brands. I’ve got a lot more to say on this so you’ll be seeing a post dedicated to the topic next month!
It’s not about free stuff
Regardless of my view on collaborating, I remain absolutely fixed on the fact that blogging is not all about free stuff. I would only blog about something that was sent to me for free if it was something I genuinely wanted and would have purchased for myself if I had the money.
Starting a blog with the aim to get freebies doesn’t fall in line with my own definition of what blogging is, so clearly I am against it.
Numbers don’t matter
I’ve repeated this many times, but it is important so I’m saying it again: Stats. Don’t. Matter.
Blog because you love it and because you’ve got things to say. Learn best practises and do exactly that – practice – you can’t go wrong. It’s a bit dated, but I found this post from Moz to be incredibly useful.
Ideas come up at the weirdest times, in the weirdest places…
Always have a notepad and pen ready. You never know when you’ll get an idea and no matter what you say to yourself (I’ll remember this), you will probably forget it. My trusty notepad goes everywhere with me.
People won’t always agree with you
I would be lying if I said that I haven’t held my tongue on certain topics in order to keep the peace. It’s difficult to have an opinion that seems to differ from everybody else around you, but I’ve often found that you’re not as alone in those thoughts as you think. When you’re writing and sharing content in the blogging world, you do have to brace yourself for disagreement. As long as you’re not rude or disrespectful with the way you do it, hold your ground!
You blog for you
Not for your mum, or your followers, or even for your niche. Write what you feel you should write. If you’re not in love with it, don’t post it. I went through Blogtober with some lacking content and it taught me a lot about who I was trying to write for. I’m so glad I’ve figured out who I am now.
I’m so proud of what I’ve created
Looking at the homepage of my blog, I’m still totally taken aback by how proud I am. It’s all mine, I’ve built it up from literally nothing. Don’t stop doing what you love and creating something that makes you extremely happy.
Huge thank you to Beth Roach Photography – all images in this blog post were taken and edited by her and she did an amazing job!