I’ve been blogging over here on Katie Writes for six years. It’ll be seven years in June! So, I thought it would be fun to talk you through six big lessons that I’ve learned in those six years of regular blogging.
Some people assume that we’re all narcissists
Don’t get me wrong, without throwing too much shade, I do believe that blogging (and the influencer industry in general) attracts some narcissists. But, there’s also a large swathe of bloggers who aren’t in it because they love themselves and want everyone to know how great they are. Honestly, we’re not all raging narcissists, I promise.
There are also plenty of bloggers (like me, I hope!) who have greater self-awareness, and were the kind of girls at school who were shy and socially awkward. The kind of girls who were invisible and never really had a voice. Blogging gave me somewhere to be heard, it enabled me to kind of find my voice online in a way that no other platform afforded me to. I’ll be forever grateful to this little corner of the Internet for that.
Nobody tells you about the running costs. (Especially if you’re on WordPress running a self-hosted blog like yours truly.)
Hosting fees are mega expensive (to a tight gal like me anyway) plus you have your domain to consider, your design, your camera kit, and the cost of products you want to talk about*. All in all, it gradually becomes quite an expensive hobby!
*It’s also a common misconception that we get everything for free. We might get a few samples here and there, but hobby bloggers like me are usually paying for the items we write about.
It’s very difficult to take a break
WordPress, in particular, attracts a lot of hackers. Every day, I get loads of different hacking attempts. From brute force attacks, where they try and guess your password to get in, to trying to inject nefarious code into your blog, it’s never ending.
For many years now, even when I’ve said that I’m taking a break, I’m rarely far away. (Even on Christmas Day or my birthday!) I’m always checking up on the stats, which is a weird addiction of mine. I’m always making sure that nothing’s broken, or that a cheeky hacker’s not broken in and ruined anything.
This happened on my other blog a few years back and it was soul-destroying. It took about four days to clean up all the mess they’d left behind. (You seriously don’t want to know what they’d replaced the original blog posts with.)
You’ll surprise yourself with the skills you pick up
Six years ago, I wouldn’t know where to start with Photoshop. Fast forward to today, and thanks to this blog, I’ve recently opened an Etsy shop where I sell prints that I’ve (mainly) designed in Photoshop.
I didn’t have a clue what SEO was in 2014. Now my blog ranks at the top of search engines for a few different search terms, bringing in a good stream of traffic each and every day.
I’d had a DSLR for years before I started blogging, but I was too overwhelmed to learn what the settings meant. Now, I can easily shoot in manual mode and have absolutely no problem tinkering with shutter speed, aperture or ISO. All thanks to this blog.
There are so many more things I could waffle on about, but you get the picture. Being a blogger has ensured that I’ve picked up countless new skills and honed many existing ones.
Some people can get a bit weird
I mean this in the nicest way possible, but even being a small-fry blogger, I’ve still had a handful of negative, and frankly strange, experiences.
Over 2017 and 2018, I got a cyberstalker who started trying to follow me in real life, but thankfully only succeeded the once. The stress that caused me was awful, and I considered quitting altogether just to get away from him.
I had somebody go all creepy and start trying to find blog posts about knickers…
I had a life coach steal the majority of one of my most popular blog posts and pass it off as her own work (with no permission or credit whatsoever) on her business blog.
I had a Hungarian guy steal one of my Instagram pictures, and when I reported him for copyright infringement, he added me to the mailing list of an American plus-size lingerie company in a childish fit of revenge. (IG give the reported user your email address, which is just great.)
I had a middle aged man get very annoyed at my blog post about buying myself some flowers.
And, of course, I got wrapped up in all of the Pipdig stuff. That scandal really left a bitter taste in my mouth, and caused a great deal of stress to so many in the blogosphere – something the company have never made up for.
For saying it’s just a hobby, the negative stuff has been a lot to put up with over the years!
I’m weirdly grateful I’m not more successful
I know I’m not a particularly successful blogger. After all, this is just a hobby and I haven’t been able to turn it into a job. But, I’m surprisingly glad about that.
I’m okay with not being a big name, because I don’t want to have to deal with all that comes with that.
I don’t have to deal with my life being discussed and dissected on gossip sites. I don’t have to overshare to please my audience. I don’t have to be on social media 24/7 to keep my audience.
I’m only a small blogger, and I’m insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but with that I get freedom.
Freedom to talk about what I want to talk about more. Freedom to keep my private life utterly private. Freedom to step away from social media when I realise it’s not good for me.
If I’d have become a big name, I wouldn’t really have any of that freedom, would I?
There’s the misconception out there that bloggers who haven’t turned their blogs into their jobs are failures. If anything, these days, I think we’re the lucky ones. Keeping your blog as a hobby gives you more space and time to step away when you need it, without worrying about losing income, and you’re also given that freedom that I keep banging on about.
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