I started my blog on Sept. 21, 2009 – 12 years ago yesterday! I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the last 12 years and what I’ve leaned from this space about myself, my business and more!
THEN & NOW: My very first outfit photo in 2009 & a current photo:
THEN & NOW: We were newlyweds when I started my blog and now we have a wonderful family of five (missing Teddy in this photo!) [second photo by Erin Nickolas]
WHAT I’VE LEARNED IN 12 YEARS OF BLOGGING
When you follow your passion, you can’t lose – I always loved sharing my favorite things with family and friends – whether it was a new nail polish color or a cute pair of sandals. Blogging allowed me to do that on much greater scale and all these years later, I’m still blown away by how my passion for sharing what I loved turned into a hobby, and then, a business.
Community is king – when I think about what I love most about blogging, it’s the community I’ve built. The amount of DMs I get from women who tell me they’ve been following from the start (No. 2 pencil skirt and mirror selfies with an actual camera days!) or since H was born bring me so much joy. I love that I have this amazing group of women I can share so many things with but I get so much more in return from y’all. From recommendations to supportive and uplifting messages – the community (YOU GUYS!) are why I’m still here. There are some of y’all I DM with daily or multiple times a week on IG – and that’s special to me!
Blogging taught me to believe in myself. I used to downplay how well my blog was doing and never believed I could do this full time. I hung onto a career I wasn’t happy in/challenged by anymore for far too long because I didn’t have the confidence to believe that this space could be my sole source of income and job fulfillment – I was SO very wrong. I actually work more now than I ever did at my 9-5 job, but I have more balance in my days, feel more fulfilled and love that I’m continuing to build something I created from scratch.
Vulnerability is everything – putting yourself out there isn’t easy, but it has been essential to my personal growth and my growth as a writer and content creator. With vulnerability comes risk that people will judge or misconstrue feelings or intent – but it also comes with great reward – being your authentic self and showing up for your community even during the most difficult times and challenges.
Blogging is therapy – there have been so many blog posts over the last decade that have sat in my drafts for weeks or months before I had the courage to click the “publish” button. Those posts helped me process, reflect and heal in more ways than I realized.
I know where to invest my time – I used to be so affected by criticism, speculation and internet bullying. I read it, it made me feel bad and it made me dislike this space sometimes. For the last six years (since my son was born), I committed to ignoring it and I pretend it doesn’t exist.
When I’m contacted by someone who wants to insult or argue with me, I’m quicker to delete, block, etc., recognizing I don’t have the time or mental /emotional energy go deal with others projecting their feelings onto me. My energy is better invested in people and things that make me grow, not those who try to make me feel small. This was a lesson that took me a very long time to learn, but it has been among the most important ones.
Boundaries. I’m better at saying “no” and this goes beyond just my blog. Working in a traditional 9-5 job while simultaneously running my business for 11 years meant gaining a deeper understanding of my limits and boundaries. I turn down opportunities (yes, even paid work!) all the time because they don’t align with my values or how I want to spend why time and have zero guilt about it. Similarly, I’m better at setting boundaries in other areas of my life too, because I’m so much more aware of how my time is best spent and what brings me the most fulfillment.
That pushing my creative limits is important – working with brands to create content has challenged me to find ways to share something I love with storytelling I hope provides value to my readers. I really put effort into coming up with concepts for posts that are different. For example, a couple of years ago I worked on a collaboration related to back-to-school, but was tired of seeing all of the same posts about backpacks and crayons and notebooks. I decided to share which toys our kids love and play with most that encourage extended learning at home, because toy recommendations are something I get a lot of requests for and I felt the post would resonate more. Blogging has also allowed me learn a ton of skills I otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity or need to like taking and editing video, SEO, affiliate marketing strategies, graphic design, etc.
That I’m only competing with myself. The blogging industry can be cliquey and competitive and that’s just not my jam at all. My personal motto is to be kind to everyone. When I see blogging friends succeeding, getting great campaigns and growing – I’m so happy for them! Their success is just another reassurance that the industry is growing and that there is room for all of us. My goal was never to be “famous” or have a huge following (I’m not even sure that’s something I’d want, TBH!) but it has been frustrating at times to compare my growth to others. I always remind myself that I’m not comparing apples to apples – until May of this year, my blog was a side business. I have to remind myself that even getting as far as I have – to the point where my blog has become a profitable business that I created while also working full time in the corporate world for 99% of the time I’ve had my blog, is in and of itself something to be incredibly proud of.
That I can do more than I thought I could. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been victimized by imposter syndrome? Sometimes, when I reflect on this blogging journey, I’m kind of taken aback by it all. I’ve always considered myself to be a hard worker, but I never imagined I’d be in a place to have the confidence and trust that I could run this business full time. I have to remind myself of this constantly, because I definitely have moments where I feel I’m not doing enough, accomplished enough, etc. Reminding myself of what I’ve built here has been humbling.
It’s OK to evolve/you cannot please everyone. I know I have a lot of OG readers and it’s very clear I (as a person) and my blog have evolved a lot over the years. I started this blog as a newlywed and am now in a totally different place in my life with my family, career, lifestyle, etc. I occasionally get comments that people miss the pencil skirt days and outfits from that era which I totally get – it was a fun time for fashion and it was during a time when Instagram didn’t exist and blogs are where everyone went for style posts. I loved those outfits at the time, but it would be weird if 13 years later I continued to dress the exact same way and only cover the same topics I did in the beginning – I’ve evolved a lot and my readers have grown and evolved along with me too. I love who I am and where my life is. I’ve also evolved in my stances and opinions on many topics – and I know not everyone will like my opinions and beliefs and that’s OK. I know I’m not for everyone – no one in the world is liked by everyone.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. When the pandemic started and everyone was doing more home projects, I realized that it would be amazing to bring together a community of women to discuss our homes, interior design, etc. My friend Britt and I co-founded a home decor focused Facebook group called Grandmillennial Style. It grew rapidly and in just over a year we have more than 18,000 members. It’s such an amazing community and I’m so glad I took the leap to bring it to fruition because it’s truly one of the only reasons I go on Facebook now. Don’t be afraid to try new things – if they fail, that’s OK. If they thrive – amazing!
Great risk comes with great reward. My anxiety always made me an extremely risk-adverse person. Leaving my corporate job was truly a risk that was unimaginable to me, even when from all logical standpoints, it was the right decision. However, once I took the leap, I realized that I should have done it sooner. The reward has been beyond what I could have imagined. I realize now that without risk we can’t grow, get out of our comfort zones and do our best work.
Thank you for reading and for being here – I appreciate you all so much!