Three years ago today, I hit publish on my first blog post. Who knew that three years later, I’d be hitting publish on post number 1157? (Good Lord that’s a lot of blogging).
To say that I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in three years is a bit hard for me to openly admit, actually, because I’m quite modest by nature. I’m also quite hard on myself, so I tend to get in the mindset of thinking I never have enough readers, enough followers, enough work coming in, enough achievements to count (the list goes on!).
But today I’m putting all of that negative thinking aside. Because as I look back on the highs I’ve experienced over the past three years – I can’t help but be impressed. And while there have been many low moments (I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve considered shutting down the blog), the ecstasy far outweighs the agony. And today, I want to take a little trip down memory lane, look at some of the incredible things I’ve achieved and share with you a few lessons I’ve learnt too.
But before I do that, I want you to know something about going after your dreams:
Three years ago I was an unhappy sub editor at Living Social (you know, the daily deals site that’s similar to Groupon, Scoopon etc?). Apart from having studied journalism about 5 years prior, I had no other formal qualifications in terms of design, decorating, blogging or presenting.
I tell you this because you might, at this point, have no qualifications in the field you wish to be a part of, either. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and ‘make it big’ regardless. I created a blog, business and brand in under three years. And I got there purely because I wanted it So F*cking Badly. And I was looney enough to believe I could make it happen.
You can do it too!
Year One of TLC Interiors
I worked full time at Living Social for close to a year while I blogged and grew TLC Interiors’s following. I would blog before work, after it, on lunch breaks. It consumed so much of my life that eventually, in my hopes of taking it full time and making some money from it, I knew I couldn’t keep both it and a daytime job going.
I was also studying design at the International School of Colour and Design at the same time as blogging and working. I studied because I had decided early on that I didn’t want TLC to be an enthusiast blog. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the world of design so that I could educate readers in a fun, light-hearted way. Of course, working full time, writing about 10 posts a week and studying had me at breaking point and I feared a nervous breakdown was on the way!
Before that first year ended, I quit my full-time job. Living Social had actually offered me an Editor role and I turned it down. It was a bit of a crossroads moment, actually. I knew if I took that role, I had to really dedicate myself to it completely. And I knew my heart was with TLC Interiors.
I got myself a part time job as a sub editor, enrolled in a second course at ISCD (interior styling), and coincidentally at the same time, was approached by Bloggerati by Nuffnang (the blogger talent agency), asking me if I’d like to come on board and have them represent me.
I was so excited about where the blog was going, I could barely contain the joy and rapture.
Year Two of TLC Interiors
One of my goals for year two was to go beyond the blog. Oh, and I should say before I go any further that I always wanted the blog and the brand to be big. Many bloggers say things like “It was a hobby that just got a following and grew from there”, but for me it was always my intention for it to be a brand from the get-go.
For year two, I wanted to get on TV. Part of me was so excited by the idea, and part of me was shitting myself. But, I dreamt big and I made it happen. I booked two decorating segments on Channel 7’s The Morning Show, running about one month apart. The first appearance was me talking all things Autumn decorating and the second was on Easter table styling ideas.
Both segments changed me and changed the brand. It didn’t get me more readers, I should tell you that. But being on TV is a funny thing. People think you’re suddenly more important. I didn’t know it at the time, but some key eyes were watching me – and it opened up a door to my presenting career, which is actually how I make most of my money now.
Later that year, Bloggerati by Nuffnang flew all of their bloggers over to Dubai for a world-first blogger trip. It was nothing short of amazing and I was pinching myself over and over again the entire time I was there.
I didn’t think it could get better than that, but then toward the end of 2014 Hardie Grant publishing approached me and asked if I’d be interested in authoring a book. It’s so funny, actually, because I remember saying to my partner not long after I started the blog that I wanted a book deal within 5 years of blogging. It only took 2.
Year Three of TLC Interiors
For year three, I had some more goals for TLC Interiors brand. I had graduated from my interior styling course at ISCD at the end of 2014, so I was ready to open up the home decorating arm of the business.
I have to say, honestly, that putting all of my eggs in one basket never worked for me. When I had nothing going but the blog, it was hard. I learnt early on that diversification was key to my personal success.
When you’re the ‘face’ of a blog (and some blogs that are successful aren’t headed up by one person), it’s a tough slog, because you often wonder if readers don’t come to your blog because they just don’t like you. It can do your head in if you worry about it too much, so I decided along the way that I’d have to look to other means of income, and home decorating was a natural progression for the brand and for me personally, given my study.
Before I could set up TLC Interiors Interiors in Sydney, I was offered a presenting role with Metricon Homes in Melbourne. If I accepted the role, not only would I host their weekly Build Smart Series events, but I would film decorating segments for their Youtube channel and website. It was a no brainer. With my partner Gavin eager to move to Melbourne, the timing felt right. We packed up our home and moved states in May 2015.
A few months later, after having hunted out and championed local brands on the blog for close to three years, I decided it was again time to expand the brand’s offering, and so TLC Interiors Shop was born. I am so proud to be stocking a host of amazing Aussie brands and exposing their creations to readers.
And since having moved here, I’ve finally been able to focus on TLC Interiors, which is now fully operational and with clients already working with me (click here to find out more on that).
So, what have I learnt?
I feel exhausted just looking back on all of those achievements, but I’ve definitely learnt a few things about blogging and business that I really want to share with you if you’re considering embarking on this journey:
Just start – even if you’re not ready. Because you never will be – and it’s ok to fumble your way through it.
Say yes and figure it out later. I said “of course” to so many opportunities along the way when I had no idea what I was doing. Just say yes and you’ll find your feet.
Don’t focus on competitors. I don’t really follow many local bloggers in my niche. I’ve seen many (even the bigger ones) copy my ideas and content, and I don’t want to focus on things like that. It’s not worth your energy and it makes you lose focus on your own journey. Only compete with yourself.
Think about how you can diversify. I think it’s good to offer the market a few skillsets that tie into one another. I’m now a blogger, stylist, author and presenter – and it opens the doors up for SO many diverse opportunities when you have cross-over skills like that.
Celebrate the good times. Because trust me, this post is long, but I could write three times as much about the bad times and some of the stuff that’s gone down with people, brands, competitors, finances, lost opportunities, disappointments and more. All of those things will happen, so when you unlock an achievement, celebrate the hell out of it!
Hang around and promote yourself – endlessly. Seriously, I swear I got gigs half the time because a stylist pulled out or a more successful blogger said no. I also probably got interviews in mags because I pestered them, emailed them endlessly, and was on social media all the time. I am more than happy being the Sandra Bullock to blogging’s Julia Roberts. Sandra is now A-list. You just have to stick it out until it’s your time.
Don’t give up! You’ll want to. And it’s usually the moment you’re about to do that in which something amazing happens. Seriously, never throw it in. If something is not working, move in a new direction, tweak it, alter how you do it, but just keep going. People trust the names who stay around a while. And the longer you are around, the more cred you have!
THANK YOU for your support
Seriously, this is such a common line, but I 100% mean it when I say that if you weren’t reading this, if you didn’t come back to the blog, if you didn’t like my photos on social media or comment below, and if you didn’t browse the TLC Shop, TLC Interiors would have died off years ago.
I am so, so grateful for your readership. You have no idea. I remember starting out and being elated when I had 100 Facebook followers and 500 blog visits a month. I remember how exciting it was when I got my first comment, and when someone recognised me on the street, or I uploaded by first paid banner ad. Or when I walked out of Channel 7 studios and realised I had just been on live TV, thinking that I had truly made it.
Every single one of those little moments will be cherished forever. And to see readers commenting and engaging who were there from the start back in 2012, it just makes my heart happy.
I am eternally grateful to you and your kindness.
Big love, Chris xxx
And here’s to a huge year four 🙂