Last month marked my 2 and a half years of blogging! (Queue applause!) I honestly can’t remember a time now where I didn’t have to write, snap, explore, or discover something new and I am deeply grateful for all the help, support, love, and fun that has come out of it. I am also so happy I took a risk, put aside feeling stupid, and just did it!
All that said, I have, of course, learned some great and surprising things. I had no idea what it would/could turn into when I started so I’m happy to share with you all. This might be relatable for some of you and helpful for others, especially if you are contemplating jumping in the blog world yourself!
San Francisco Blogging Community boasts some of the most wonderful, creative, hilarious, talented and supportive women out there. The competitive spirit is nil and the willingness to support, help and network with each other was the most pleasant and wonderful of surprises. – And I honestly mean every word. The camaraderie is unlike anything I have ever been a part of.
Surprising people from your past and present will follow you. – It’s a pleasant surprise when you see old names pop up and supporting you. It’s also interesting to see who doesn’t.
It takes a while to find your own brand.- I just now after 2 and a half years feel like I am starting to get my footing a bit on what sort of branding I want to direct my blog into. I’m sure it will change. It’s a lifestyle blog reflected on my tastes, thoughts, and opinions and I’m sure 29-year-old Jenna will not be the same at 35-year-old Jenna.
I learn something new every single week.- Digital marketing is always evolving. There is always a new product, brand, method, update, blogger or something that crosses your path and gives inspiration as well as things to learn. This is probably one of my favorite things… unexpected surprises and lessons!
It can be a grind. – Nothing worth having comes easy. Not relationships, not children, not jobs, and not side hustles. To make something work – and work well- you need to work hard and it can be taxing to fit in the time to do things. The thing that helps though is that I accept that nothing will be perfect. I just want to have fun doing it and enjoy it but since I have a full-time job and a million other things on my calendar, I simply just do what I can. So if there is a typo here and there, or a missing picture or bit of info, so be it. Balancing is tricky so you just need to do your best and make peace with what you would like to change.
Engagement, followers, posting and all the patterns and strategizing behind it tends to be different for everyone. – I get asked this A LOT. And I honestly, have bits of advice but the thing that I discovered is that everyone’s path, audience, engagement varies and there really is no recipe. What works for some people doesn’t work for others. (And such as life.) My boost of a following came from exposure via other writing endeavors and it has been tricky to keep it growing. Gotta be honest here! But I try to focus on the fact that this is my creative outlet and something I love to do so no matter how it evolves or changes audience wise- I do it for me and not just the “likes”. I think it’s good advice to not be defined by numbers and something that should be applied in other parts of life too. Though I will say, the marketing guru in me is always interested in ways to grow but again, this is just one of those things that I keep learning as I go!
Don’t wait for it to be perfect to start. You will kill half the fun and in being too particular.- Perfection is an illusion. Just stop worrying about the details and START! Discovering what’s right and wrong is half the fun of the journey!
You will gain a new wave of confidence. You care less about looking stupid while your friends snap model shots of you in the street. You get over it. The fun, opportunities and simple return on 5 minutes of feeling lame is simply worth it. – When I first started, I was terrified to ask people to take pictures. Now I just DGAF. It’s liberating! Once my best friend was taking pictures and I guy walked by and said “Oh my God, so gonna put this on my blog” and she got her defensive face on for me (love) but I just and shrugged. He was right! And it was good for a laugh.
Random people will support you and people will ask you for help.- I remember when I first started, I asked for help from much more experienced bloggers. Things I wasn’t sure about or didn’t understand, they were more than happy to share their experiences and knowledge. It was pretty fun when I felt the transition and had the chance to pay it forward. This is just one of the great things that expands the community!
Crazy, cool and fun opportunities you never thought would come from it will eventually transpire.- I never dreamed that I would have had so many opportunities from food, fitness, fashion, beauty, and travel come from this. And that is just the tip of the ice burg!
It’s hands down the best way to explore a new city. – I am from the Bay Area and moving back home after 7 years away in school, working, and traveling, scared me a bit. I wanted to make sure I didn’t digress and was always growing. My boyfriend, old friends, and family were here but I wanted to make sure I still found opportunities to expand, make new friends, and explore. I have always been pretty independent this way and knew if I didn’t keep this aspect in my life, I would not be happy. The blog world allowed me everything I needed. A new community, new friends, reasons to explore, and inspiration for projects and places to visit. I have found amazing companies, restaurants, services, shopping, getaways, wineries, and corners in this city all thanks to blogging!
Free things were cool in college and free things are still cool now, with a salary.- Whenever there was an event or discussion in college and they served free pizza, I was there! I loved the opportunity to save money and as a young collegiate, it’s your first taste of really appreciating the value of money. My parents always instilled this in me but this was when I got to live it. I discovered free things are pretty much awesome and now that I support myself, I have found that blog perks and free samples via blogging is still just as awesome! I love receiving new products and writing about them and sharing with my audience but trying them out is always exciting! I have found some amazing things this way!
It’s a great way to make new friends.- It’s wonderful to have friends that have different interests in you that allow you to stay balanced and discover new things. It is also fun to have friends who share the same interests as you that can really understand where you are coming from. I have definitely found the latter in the blog world and some amazing, supportive, creative, funny ladies have become my friends in the process.
You learn to network in a more natural, easy way that doesn’t feel like schmoozing, it feels more like helping. – If there is anything I have learned in my career in general, it is that networking is key. I HATED the idea of it when I was younger because it felt fake but I have found a way to be comfortable in this while still staying genuine. Help others and they help you and don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes what you want is mutually benenficial!
You DGAF about anyones opinions because you love your work and creative outlet more than you care about what people think anyway. –And what’s more, people will respect you regardless of any negative responses because you took a risk and tried something different.
What you learn from your side hustle can become your career, or extend upon your current one.- My full-time jobs were snagged thanks to the marketing, networking, and writing prowess that having my blog helped hone. One door can really lead to another!
Mean people suck and they don’t get far either.- People are always going to say bad things, especially when you do something like this and put yourself out there. Luckily, no one has yet to try saying anything to my face (haha) but even if they did, I’m ready for ya! I just don’t care. Anyone’s negativity on the matter affects me so little at this point because any heat is worth all the wonderful gifts that came out of taking this risk.
There are weirdos out there. – I have seen some pretty hilarious responses through social media on certain things. I’ll just leave it at that but there definitely are some oddballs in the world!
People from your life who may not be your favorite might as for help. Just do it. -Karma rules.- The thing with networking is that you should never burn a bridge but if you are on the side that can be helpful and the bridge is a bit tattered, swallow your pride and do what you can anyway. It will pay off some way or another. It’s nice to be a bigger person.
Comparing is rough.- Comparison is the root of all evil. It really is and it sets a weird expectation that can lead to disappointment because everyone’s journey is different. Not to mention, it definitely makes us assholes (sorry but the word fits) to ourselves. We don’t appreciate or enjoy what we have when comparing and how unfair is that? Since blog world is half social, it brings even more opportunity for comparison but I have found ignoring any inner jab of wondering and comparing is beneficial. There is no other bit of advice put to literally turn it off when you see your mind going there.