It was this day two years ago that I hit publish on my first post. It was a tutorial on how to package up a gift box and I’m not sure I knew what I was talking about, but it was fun to write all the same.
So many things have happened to this blog since then. It’s had about 45 logos, changed website designs four or more times, been in mags and on TV, had good months and bad in terms of readership and I’ve definitely had my fair share of “should I keep doing this?” moments. Probably more than I’d like to recount!
I thought it timely I share a few lessons I’ve learnt over my two years as a blogger, writer, stylist and jack of all trades. I’ve probably made every mistake you can when it comes to online publishing, actually, but it’s been one hell of a ride and it’s important to embrace the good times just as much as the bad.
So here we go; a few things I’ve learnt on my blogging journey (and a small whinge, if you’ll allow it)…
1. It’s hard work. Really hard.
I don’t gripe often because I don’t like negativity, but full time blogging is a lot of work. The writing is about 20% of the hard yards, actually. I also take and edit photos, do all the emails and admin, market myself and the blog, do all the PR stuff, deal with the analytics side as well as web design, run all of my social media networks, take care of all the accounts side of the business and more.
In a world where some sites have third parties selling ads for them, assistants doing their admin, contributors who write for them and PR firms doing their social media, I do the majority of it my own. I reckon this is why I have frown lines. I blame the blog!
Did I mention I also run my interior styling arm of the business alongside the blog lol?
2. Some brands will never want you.
It was a hard blow to the ego to have brands I adored, grew up with and lusted over not want to work with me on the blog. They still don’t. Sometimes, you just don’t have a big enough readership for them to bother, sometimes they’re working exclusively with other bloggers and other times they just don’t like you. If you ever wonder why a brand is all over other blogs and not this one, that’s probably why.
You do learn to get past it, though. Not every brand will want to work with you and that’s OK. I treat brands like relationships now; why chase after one that doesn’t want to bother with you? Save yourself and your energies for the brands who see your value and put your heart and soul into them. I’ve engaged with some amazing brands that ‘get me’ and the blog and some beautiful things are happening.
3. It’s not all about the numbers – for me anyway!
When a brand’s first question is “what are your unique visitors?” is always turns me off them. Mainly because I’ve never thought the biggest readership numbers equals the biggest return for the brand in question.
As a full time blogger, readership is everything. It’s how you make your money, because the more readers you have, the more brands will pay to appear on your blog. I mainly hate this philosophy because a high audience isn’t necessarily an engaged one. Having 100,000 visitors a month that don’t stay long on your blog is far worse than 20,000 who spend hours, leave comments, interact on social media and love what you’re about.
It’s these people who feel connected to you and trust that you’re telling an authentic story.
4. Sponsored posts are a misunderstood – and necessary – thing.
I’ve seen many bloggers – and readers – get a bit up in arms about sponsored posts, with the impression that bloggers just churn out bad content in exchange for some cash. I assume some probably do, actually, but I know I don’t.
It’s important to understand that if I don’t have people pay to promote their brands on my blog, I can’t pay my bills. It’s a hard one for people – especially PR agencies – to understand.
I’m also a trained writer and stylist. I’ve been writing for 10 years, sub editing for a few more and spent time copywriting for online media giants. You wouldn’t ask a doctor to see you for nothing, so it baffles me as to why I’m asked to use my education to get brands business without any benefit to me.
It’s probably the most frustrating thing about being in a creative field, actually. People don’t value your work.
Facebook is driving me batty. It blocks so many posts from being seen by my audience. I have over 13,000 Facebook followers and my posts reach a few hundred each time. In Facebook’s attempt to get you to pay to promote posts, it restricts readers from seeing them.
The bad news is that Instagram seems to be heading in the same direction. The only way to overcome this is to sign up to my newsletter, so you get an email that shows you the best bits from the blog each week.
6. Some blogs are actually not blogs.
I don’t like it when websites – or their operators – call themselves bloggers. If you’re not talking about your life, your home, what’s happening to you and putting your opinion into your posts, you’re a website and not a blog.
I made a conscious decision a year or so ago not to head down the road of becoming a publishing house or news site. There are other bloggers (websites) doing that and I don’t enjoy the content.
TLC Interiors exists to inform and entertain. I write each feature with the goal of helping you style and shape your ideal home. If I am telling you about a product, I’m telling you why I love it and how you can make it work in your home. This approach might not get me the audience numbers, but that’s OK.
7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
I wanted the blog to be my sole source of income. Turns out, for me anyway, that’s not the case. I also freelance write for other interiors websites and blogs, contribute in magazines, carry out interior styling jobs and do some store merchandising as well.
It’s probably the most important lesson I’ve learnt along the way, actually; ensure you have a few things going at once, so if one fails you’re not totally screwed.
I have a few other exciting things to announce soon in that respect, but I can’t reveal it just yet, so stay tuned 🙂
One gripe post in two years isn’t too bad, Creatives, and don’t let any of this put you off writing your own blogs or making your own dreams come true!
In two years I’ve been in my fave magazines, appeared on The Morning Show conducting my own decorating segments, recorded numerous videos for brands, opened my own interior styling business, am set to jet to Dubai in December thanks to Nuffnang and have even more exciting news to come. All of this from, well, nothing! I’m pretty proud to have created a brand and following from scratch in just two years.
The lesson here is this: dream big, work hard, tell everyone what you’re doing, turn up to everything, collaborate, ask for help, be honest, stick to your guns and give it a go. If you do that, I’m certain your dreams will come true too!
A big thank you for all your support and here’s to many more years of living TLC Interiors together!