5 Lessons Learned from Blogging (and IFB)


When I began blogging, I wasn't thinking about my future with it.  Chances are, you may not have been either.  Yet, here I am: 6.5 years later, still blogging.  And here I am, 3 years later, still contributing to IFB.  It turns out I've learned a lot over the years and have a lot to share. Here are the 5 best lessons I've learned from blogging — and from IFB.

There's a community for everyone.

Finding a community – that's why I began blogging.

You may think, “Who can possibly want to read what I have to say?” but the fact is, there's a community for everyone.  Finding your community online is much like finding a community in real life – sometimes you kiss a lot of frogs.  You'll find a lot of bloggers whose writing styles don't jive with you, whose content just doesn't interest you, and that's okay.  Then you'll find those amazing you mesh with and build relationships with them.  It'll take energy, honesty and openness, just like it would in real life.

I write for IFB because it was so instrumental to building that community for me.  When another blogger shares the positive impact IFB had on their site and their relationships with other bloggers… well, it's just incredible.  I understand that feeling, and it continues to give me bonding moments with other bloggers, because we've all felt that way.

Not everyone will agree with you…

Each week, there's someone who doesn't agree with something I post at IFB! (How dare they, right??) That's okay – because I'm not the definitive expert on blogging.  All I can share is my own personal experience and hope that you all have had a different experience.

You think I'd have learned before blogging that not everyone will agree with me.  And I did, but blogging opened up the new idea that people will choose to actively not agree with you. They'll visit your site out of spite, dislike, and hate-reading.  It's kind of crazy, but it's there.

Disagreement may also come in the form of brands who expect you to write favorable reviews or cover every press release they send you.  It may come from your readers: they may leave if you take too long a break or get disappointed when you write a post for your own enjoyment rather than theirs. No matter what you do, say, or believe, there's someone who won't agree.  That's okay.  It doesn't feel like it, but it is okay.

Like Dita Von Teese said, “You can be a juicy, ripe peach and there's still going to be someone who doesn't like peaches…” (That'd be me; I don't like peaches.)

If you take the time at the beginning, it'll save you time later on.

When I started, there weren't many resources to help bloggers learn how to blog: from structure, to optimization and organization, to community building.

Now? There are TONS of resources available for you.

Take a little bit of time early on to understand how blogging works from the back-end.  Don't go crazy using tags on your site.  Learn some quick basics for using SEO.  You don't have to become an expert, but if you can spend an afternoon researching how to set up the back end of your site, it'll save you hours and hours of work fixing it later on. (This is coming from a lady who spent her weekend rebuilding the tagging structure on her site– and still isn't finished!)

I wish when I had started blogging that IFB was around; Jennine began it months later, and it's been a daily part of my life since.  Every day, I've learned something new that has saved me time in the future.  So if you have a quiet weekend ahead, dig into our forums.  Search the site by keywords and open up a new world of tips for becoming a better blogger.

Blogging can take over your life, if you let it.

Many of us begin blogging for an outlet of some kind — maybe to share the things we wish we could buy.  Maybe we start to find a community or inspire others with our unique stories.  Somewhere between that unbridled enthusiasm and where we are now, we get so invested and involved that it feels like we lose our lives to blogging.

With this, I'm always reminded of a quote from Julie from Orchid Grey at Texas Style Council: “Balance will not happen. Fit – finding a way to make those things [that you love and want to do] is more natural.” This is paraphrased, but Julie suggested that we stop finding balance in our lives.  Balance indicates that things are on a scale, and together the weight of them all will balance out.  This is an unattainable goal, and she instead encouraged us to find “fit” in our lives. Much like a puzzle, we can make the things we love “fit” into our lives in a way that is realistic and manageable.

So now, 6.5 years in and having just turned 30, that's my my goal: finding a way to make blogging “fit” with the other parts of my life that have become important.  It isn't always easy, but the feedback YOU all share with me reminds me that it can be done with energy, enthusiasm, and passion.

Your life can be transformed by blogging, if you let it.

I question my relationship with blogging ALL.THE.TIME. But… I'll always acknowledge the amazing ways blogging has transformed my life.  Because I began blogging…

  • I have met some incredible women. What's even more amazing is that, for some crazy reason, these women have faith and trust in me. They respect me and believe in the work I produce.  Some days, that's absolutely mind-blowing, and I'm so grateful for it.
  • I have been able to supplement my income. Some months this is a nice way to buy myself something pretty.  During the last 7 months my fiance has been unemployed, and it's been resourceful and reassuring to know that I have skills that can bring in extra revenue.
  • Every chance I have to interact and network with other bloggers has been an amazing experience – finding a community online when I needed it was a pivotal part of my life.  Meeting those women in person? Is just mind blowing.

Whenever I feel down, overworked, or hard on myself (which is pretty much daily), I try to think about the lessons I've learned and the ways blogging and IFB have changed my life for the better.  Every day I want to quit, and yet, every day I don't.  There's something incredibly powerful, cathartic, and addictive about the process of blogging, and one that I can't quite imagine my life without.

If you've been blogging a while, I'd love to hear the lessons blogging has taught you. Every day is a learn experience, that's for sure!

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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11 Responses

  1. Stacey

    Great tips for a newbie blogger (like me!) 🙂 I don’t have much traffic yet, but I welcome constructive criticism (and disagreements) because I think it helps you get better (unless they are just irrational and mean-spirited comments, that is).

    Last week, I posted a comment on a very well-known blog and her response seemed dismissive and even kinda rude, even though I think my comment was very constructive and I was actually asking for more information/clarification on the post. I was a bit surprised by her response…I guess I thought bloggers liked to have discussions. Is there a point where ‘famous’ bloggers only want people who suck up to them? :/

  2. billimarie

    That last one really hit home for me. I’ve been so focused on the “fitting” aspect of keeping up…I sometimes forget it’s good to take a step back and acknowledge all the beautiful and amazing opportunities that I’ve come across, just by posting, keeping in touch, and connecting with strangers online.

    Thanks for the reminders! 🙂

    • Ashley Robison

      You and me both, Billimarie! I tend to focus too much on the “fitting” and “balancing” that I always forget those bright and beautiful moments and opportunities… and I’m sure many of us do. I’m glad it reminded you of those moments, too 🙂

  3. Jessica Luxe

    I’ve learned that not everyone ‘gets’ blogging (well at least the fashion blogging that I do), but once you find someone who does.. their reaction and excitement is totally worth it!

    I went to a wedding and people were asking what I was up to.. so I told them I had just hit a year of fashion blogging and they were all asking me to define it, what is it, etc. and still didn’t get it! This is a daily occurrence for me.

    Compared to having just spent a few days at Vancouver Fashion Week and as soon as I mentioned blogging, they were like a light switch, giving me their card and wanting to know more about it.

    Patience was definitely a key part in my experience, as well as learning not to care what others thought because my sense of style isn’t for everyone and I know that, but am still proud! xx

    • Ashley Robison

      “I’ve learned that not everyone ‘gets’ blogging (well at least the fashion blogging that I do), but once you find someone who does.. their reaction and excitement is totally worth it!”

      It’s so true, Jessica! We all live online so much that it’s easy to forget the majority of people don’t — and they don’t understand it, get it, or really WANT TO. But the payoff of meeting the people who do…. well, it’s awesome.

  4. Paula shoe fiend

    I still have never had a mean comment – I’ve only ever had one spammy comment too – and I’m kinda scared for the moment that I do… but I think it’s because I don’t post outfits?
    One thing I have learned from blogging is that it is an international pursuit – many of your visitors will have English as a second language and may only look at your pictures and not read your spiel – so don’t be frustrated if they only say “Cool skirt” even if you wrote a long and informative post. They may not even SPEAK English in which case they may not be able to understand what you’ve written – or WORSE they may have run it thorough Google translate #wink.
    Another thing I have learned is – if you’re not happy with the post yet, don;t publish it. I’ve spent several hours writing a post and ended up scrapping it completely – nobody is that desperate to read what you’ve written that you can afford to publish bilge. I still have trouble with this from time to time and maybe don’t always send out my best work.
    I really appreciate IFB and all of your informative articles. I learn a lot from you guys and all the blogs I frequent. I think that is the best thing we can do as bloggers and even as people – is to learn from each other. Keep up the good work 🙂

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

    • Ashley Robison

      Those are GREAT tips, Paula! I often forget about how global blogging can be, I’m ashamed to admit.

      And it’s wonderful to hear someone reiterating to hit publish only when you’re happy with it. I think too many of us get focused on deadlines, consistency, and production that we sacrifice quality along the way…

  5. Naaj Rona

    These tips are so helpful. Being honest and genuine in what you write is the key. Blogging is like an ice-cream or a chocolate for me which i indulge in whenever i am stressed or need a break or me time. A hobby that manages to relax me and out a smile on my face when i am going through a very difficult time.

    It is so important to be yourself, not everybody is going to like it but that is the beauty of it. You cannot please everybody. You are not perfect, you are you.

    Naaj Ronas Lifestyle

  6. Ashley Taylor

    That quote from Dita has been my favorite for a long time 🙂 Thanks for sharing all this. It puts some things in perspective while I’m feeling overwhelmed over here.

    xo Ashley

  7. choolee

    what an amazing post. thank you so much for your honestly, that its hard for you too – the blogging stuff, some days i feel like im gonna collapse. i love blogging and its totally my business! i spend a lot of time beside my fulltime job (which is also very stressful) I cant think about stop writing but i thought about it some times couse its crazy. i hope to get one better, bigger fashion blogger in the future – it would be the greatest pleasure for me so far. well now after 9 month i take part at the first austrian blogaward – so you guys may have some extra minute for me to vote 🙂 klick the link below http://www.ottoversand.at/blogaward-2013/blog/?blog_id=95 oh and visit my blog http://www.chicchoolee.com and say hello, cant wait to get in touch with some other fashionfreax. love choolee <3