My tenth year blogging came and went last year without a lot of fanfare, honestly, at least not of the external kind. But, it was a big milestone for me. I realized that I was doing exactly what I want to, exactly what I was meant to do. And by the end of the year, even thought I was trying to shift gears a little and thinking, “I can't possibly be a BLOGGER forever,” I began to realize that “blogging” is only part of what I do, and that indeed, I can be whatever I want to be, for however long I can continue to make a living at it.
I've always said, I think I got “lucky” to a certain extent, because I started fashion blogging early, back when it was mostly full-length selfies in a mirror. I have been building trust with my readers, a firm search engine ranking for key terms and brands I write about, and relationships with brands & affiliate companies since it was brand new.
Yes, it is true that the new crop of fashion bloggers are making several times the amount of money I make per year, and are getting recognition, even from traditional print media, but I wonder how long they will be able to keep that up. New is always interesting, and compelling, but slow and steady wins the race. I've always been better at keeping my head down and plugging on rather quietly.
Not that being an OG blogger means anything anyway. It doesn't. I still have to “prove” my value every day, to advertisers, affiliates, and my readers. And if I was still looking for outside validation, I would be mostly disappointed. It's true that 2014 brought with it some amazing recognition for my work, but I felt that anyway, internally. I knew I was going in the right direction as I shifted gears from an all-shopping-all-the-time blog to a more conscious, thoughtful, slower shopping blog. Confirmation of that is always nice, but thankfully, at my age, not as necessary as it used to be.
So besides the usual “success is how you define it,” and advice on blogging for the long haul, I've noticed a couple of key things after blogging for ten years, maybe they will help you stick it out?
You Come Full Circle
When I first started blogging, I didn't have a particular goal in mind, or a vision – I just wanted to share my passion and create an outlet for my new online shopping addiction. Over time, I started focusing more on the business of blogging, and got caught up in caring about what other people thought, how I compared to other bloggers, etc., etc., but at first, it was just fun. And now it is again. I don't care a bit how I compare to other bloggers, because most are 10-15 years younger than me, and are in a completely different stage of life; there is no comparison. You've got to play where you are!
Now, after ten years, I'm back to just having fun again. Sure, I have business goals, and if I want this to still be my “career,” I have to continue to make a living from it and working hard, but I've learned that comparing myself, and measuring my success against others' gets me nowhere – all that time I spend in the “middle” caring about the opinions of others was useless.
You Realize what's important
Doing anything for 10 years sort of helps clarify what's really important. Now, instead of just “blogging,” I write. Maybe you'll be a photographer instead of just taking pictures, or you'll become a stylist, instead of just building outfits. As you hone your skills blogging, you begin to realize what it is you are REALLY doing, and what's really important underneath it all.
Now, I realize that I'm a writer, and my blog is just an outlet for me to share that with others. Blogging is a path towards other things. Or not. It doesn't have to lead to anything else. I may or may not ever write a book, or publish outside my blog, but blogging has helped me see that I CAN, and that there is more to blogging than just having a blog.
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