5 Things I’ve Learned in 5 Years of Blogging

Hey there! This is a special post for me because today marks five years of blogging! I can’t believe that I’ve had this little corner of the internet for five years! Over that time, I’ve learned a lot of things, made some mistakes, and have grown. I want to share some of the most important things that I have learned in 5 years, hoping that you’ll avoid some of the missteps that I made.

5 Things I've Learned in 5 Years of Blogging

A Little Background

I started my blog under the name The Arizona Prepster on July 31, 2014, on Blogger. My original intent was to be a fashion blogger and make money through fashion blogging and Instagram. Well, that’s not quite the way it worked out. I started out using my blog more like a journal, updating my personal life and sharing college tips (I still don’t know what to do with those older posts). It wasn’t until almost two years later that I decided it was time for a rebrand.

In May 2016 I changed my blog name to Creatively Lauren and changed my brand colors, fonts, the whole shebang. It was time for a change, I wasn’t feeling the old name. (I go into more detail in a separate blog post.) Things were going pretty well until they weren’t. I took a blogging hiatus at the end of 2017. It wasn’t intentional. I missed posting a week, and that turned into two, and that turned into months. I hadn’t posted between mid-November to the end of March It felt good but it also bummed me out. For a hot minute, I thought it was the end of my blogging journey. It happened because I was in the midst of wedding planning and my full-time job and the way I was going with my blog was not where I should have.

What I mean by that is I was trying to grow my blog and reach and make money from my blog but I was doing it in ways that I didn’t really feel comfortable with, so they weren’t really working. Because they weren’t working, I was getting discouraged and then it became a vicious cycle. I talk more about it in a dedicated blog post you can read here. My last big change was in November 2018. I finally moved my blog to self-hosted WordPress. I finally decided that I wasn’t going to grow or do what I want without moving to a self-hosted WordPress site.

Now, in 2019, I’m happy with where my blog is. I’m still fine-tuning my brand, trying to turn away from the college content since I’m 2.5 years post-grad, unless it pertains to blogging. I want my blog to help others realize they can start their own blog as well. Five years of blogging later, I think I finally have figured out my blog brand.

What I Want You to Learn from My 5 Years of Blogging

Now that I’m five years into blogging, I want to reflect on this journey and give you my top 5 tips so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Now, I’m also a believer in that things happen for a reason and that if you want to be successful, you have to be prepared to stumble along the way. But I want to share these tips with you so you can be off to a better start, and maybe avoid some of the missteps that I took.

1 // Stay true to yourself

It’s very easy to see others doing what you want to do when you’re just starting out. You see people with large Facebook groups, selling ebooks and courses. That’s what you want to do and there is nothing wrong with that. But don’t get sucked up in what they’re doing that you lose sight of you, your voice, and your vision. Remember why you started your blog, who you want to serve. You can still make money no matter your niche.

But the biggest part about making money is that you have to make a connection with your audience so that they will trust you and your opinion. Then they will eventually trust the value you provide them. But, you can’t do that if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not. Your audience is not stupid, they will see when you’ve started to shift. Even if they don’t say anything, you’ll start to feel it yourself. You won’t be as passionate about what you’re writing about. If you notice it in yourself, take a step back and re-evaluate.

2 // Invest in yourself and your blog sooner rather than later

Earlier in the post, I mentioned that I didn’t switch over to self-hosted WordPress until November 2018. That’s over four years after I started blogging! What the heck? I still beat myself up over that. I didn’t want to spend money until I was making money. You can’t always do that in blogging. There are certain limitations to using a hosted platform such as Blogger to host your blog. You actually severely limit your monetization capabilities when you choose a hosted platform, especially Blogger. (I talk about this in my How to Start a Blog post) If you go in thinking you’re not going to spend a dime, you will probably have a harder time than you need to trying to make money.

You know the old saying “you can’t make money without spending money” it’s true. You have to invest in yourself and your blog if you want to make money doing it. I’m not saying to just go ahead and spend money on everything, be smart about what you’re investing in. Right off the bat, a domain name and self-hosting would be the first things to spend money on. After that, evaluate if spending money on it will help you make money in the long-run. As you start to make money, invest it back in your blog by upgrading plans for services you use or need. Whether that’s Tailwind, or a cart functionality so you can sell digital products (here are some ideas!) or a new and improved theme!

3 // It’s not all about the money

When I started my blog, I had the intent of making money being a fashion blogger. I saw other bloggers doing it and I thought I could too. I quickly realized that it was not what I wanted to do. When I started sharing advice on things that I actually knew and really wanted to talk about, I was feeling good. I realized that the real reason I started a blog was to help people. Do I want to make money from my blog? Yes, I still do. But it’s not all about making money. I want to make money, but I also want to help people. It’s possible to do both, you just have to keep in mind that it’s not always all about the money.

This ties back to making sure you’re staying true to yourself. I can admit that I was all eyes on the money when I first started my blog. I was seeing green. My intent was to start a fashion blog, specifically a preppy fashion blog when I never dressed that way before. What was I thinking? I was thinking that they were making money wearing cute clothes and I wanted to as well. That’s where I went wrong. Blogging is not about making money. It’s about helping solve your audience’s pain points, providing value in your solutions, and getting compensated based on that value that you provide. You can’t just slap some posts on a site and call it good.

4 // Blogging is not as easy as you think it is

I know what you’re thinking, I love writing, I’ll love blogging, this will be great. Let me sit you down really quick before you jump on the blogging train. Blogging is not just writing and publishing a post and raking in the views. There are a lot more things to blogging that people don’t realize until they start. Blogging is:

  • Content Creation (not just blog posts)
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Graphic Design
  • Researching
  • SEO
  • Copywriting
  • Community Building
  • Photography + Editing
  • And so much more depending on your niche!

There are a lot of skills required to be a blogger and some aren’t easy and aren’t for everybody. Now, you don’t have to know all of these skills right off the bat, but you have to be willing to learn them or outsource them if you have the finances. If you’re not, then you’re not going to succeed as a blogger. It’s going to be difficult at first. Every big blogger was new at one point, having to learn social media marketing and SEO. As long as you’re willing to continuously learn and improve yourself and your blog, then you have a good foundation to get started.

5 // Don’t post every day

When I first started blogging, I thought that I had to post five days a week to be able to grow. That’s not the case. For most people, they can’t churn out quality content five days a week. An example of someone who can is Tati aka GlamLifeGuru on YouTube, however, YouTube is her job. (Looking at her YouTube header, even she cut down to 3 days a week!) However, she is an exception to the rule. It takes a lot of work to write and edit blog posts/YouTube videos. If you have a full-time job or you’re still in school, you’re going to have a hard time posting quality content five days a week.

Quality over quantity. That’s one of the biggest things to remember in blogging. You want to give your audience quality content. That way they will come back to you, start trusting you and your opinion and eventually help you make an income from blogging. If you’re sharing fluff pieces just to post five days a week, they won’t come back to you. They want quality, valuable content and that’s hard to consistently provide five days a week.

It’s been a journey getting to five years. I can’t wait to see what the next five have in store! Thank you for joining me on the ride, I appreciate you so much.

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Lauren