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10 Lessons I Have Learned in 10 Years of Blogging

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Hi friends! This little slice of the internet turned 10 this week and I thought I would share some of the life lessons I have learned along the way.

1. It is okay to say “no”.

For years I felt like I shouldn’t say no. I felt like every event invitation was an opportunity. Now I realize that it is very rare that attendance at an event will turn into a partnership. Usually, brands just want people at parties in hopes they share something on social. They aren’t seeking out brand partners. Alternatively, you can pitch brands without attending their events! Now, I just go to the events that I actually want to attend. I no longer feel like I have to be at events.

photo by Ashlee O’Neil

2. Base your goals on what you want to do, not what you see others doing.

I see fellow bloggers hiring teams, hosting television shows, doing news segments, writing books, launching product lines, and doing other incredibly amazing things. I am so proud of them! But, that doesn’t mean that I want to do those things. Everyone has different interests and priorities and that’s ok. In the future, maybe I will pursue some of those goals, but right now I am very happy writing here.

3. Some people are mean. Some people are crazy. Some people are both.

I have dealt with A LOT in the past 10 years. I’ve been bullied face-to-face and online. There have been some low moments, but I try my best to brush if off and move on.

4. Exposure does not pay the bills! But if it did, my mortgage would be paid off.

We have all fallen for it. The brand that approaches us and promises to help promote your work in exchange for taking on a project. I have never ever heard of this being a fair exchange of services. When you do work, you need to be fairly compensated. No matter what you do for a living. In the blogging world, that compensation might not be a check. I do believe in accepting something that I need or want and would have spent money on in exchange for work. This is often the case with travel. And if a brand wants to collaborate in exchange for a couch – call me!

An important note: when brands email asking to collaborate, pay attention to who sent the email. It’s usually an agency that is getting paid. These brands have money, which is how they can afford to hire an agency. They just hired an agency that expects creatives to do work for free while they build their brand on our backs. It isn’t ok. I called a brand out for this earlier this year after I got an email asked me to agree to deliver over $1500 of work in exchange for a $15 meal. I ended up talking to the head of that company on the phone; she had hired an agency and didn’t realize that their ask was so out of line. She explained that her company had a budget and was open to paying for the work. The issue: when I asked to be paid, the agency didn’t even bother to communicate this to their client. What I am trying to say is, there are agencies that will have your back and help you build your career. There are agencies that won’t. Learn the difference.

5. I don’t own social media.

I limit how much time I devote to Instagram and other social media platforms because I don’t own them. The algorithms constantly change. It’s a losing game. Even if I try to keep up, I will lose out to the Instagrammers who buy their followers or who constantly do giveaways. It’s not a level playing field. Instead I focus my attention here, on a website that I own and that brings in money to pay my bills.

6. Hire people to do what you can’t.

I don’t know code and that’s ok. When I need to have changes made to my website, I hire a professional and pay them. On average, I might spend about $500 a year on web development. In my mind, it makes more sense to outsource than to spend a significant amount of time learning something that I don’t want to learn from scratch.

7. You don’t have to do coffee.

I can’t tell you how many times I have met someone for coffee so that they could pick my brain. I can tell you that none of them used my advice to create blogs that became their career. Your time is precious. You do not have to share it or give it away.

8. Professionalism is important.

Be on time. When you say you are going to do something, do it. Be polite. There are so many bloggers out there, which means it’s important to be someone that a brand wants to work with. If you don’t follow through, or aren’t kind, it’s easy for a brand to just turn to someone else.

9. Build passive income.

When you don’t have to worry about earning a paycheck because passive income is flowing into your bank account, it gives you the gift of flexibility. I don’t have to take on work. I am never saying yes to something because I need the paycheck. I think that this makes my work better. It definitely makes my life better. (If you are curious, my sources of passive income are the ads on this website and rental income.)

10. Just do it and learn by doing.

I have met so many people who have told me that they want to start a blog but don’t know how, or that they don’t know what it would be about. I always tell them to just start. They will learn and find their way as they go. I didn’t know anything about photography when I started, but now brands pay for my photos! Dive in. You will figure it out.

Bonus 11: Online friends can become real friends!

All those things your parents told you about meeting people on the internet are wrong. I’ve met some of my best friends through the internet! This summer Cathy from Poor Little It Girl came to visit after we chatted online for years! I am so thankful for all my virtual friendships!

tanja/the red phone box travels

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

great lessons, thanks for sharing them!

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