What I've learned from a year of blogging

Today is my blog anniversary. (!!!) One year ago, I published my first post. I was excited, terrified and feeling incredibly vulnerable. I'm sure most new bloggers have similar worries. Will anyone read this? Will anyone really care what I have to say? Am I ready to expose myself to the world like this?

I've been a writer professionally for six years, but I've only been blogging for one. And let me tell you, blogging and copywriting are NOT THE SAME.

I entered the blogging realm somewhat confident. I've worked with bloggers in the ad agency world and I've been an avid blog reader since Google Reader was a thing. (RIP, Google Reader.) And those things helped me, but you just don't know what it's like until you do it. Thinking about it and doing it are not the same thing, and I've been humbled many times. 

It's been a big year for me, personally and professionally. I've experienced growth and hardships. And I've shared a lot of that journey with whoever happens to stumble upon this site. Some of my growth has come from sharing that journey. (Whoa. So meta.)

They say hindsight is 20/20. Here are some things I've learned (through success and failure) from blogging for a year.

1. “Best Practices” aren’t always best

Working in advertising has both helped me and hurt me. I have studied up on “best practices” in blogging, having blogged for brands/clients. But blogging for a big brand is different from blogging for yourself. I tried to force myself into best practices to “optimize for engagement.” Then, I broke all the rules and just wrote about something I felt compelled to write about. And it’s still one of my most-visited posts. So, out with the rules. 

2. Being authentic > everything

When I realized this, it was easy to give up on some rules. Does Joe Blogger say you should write “Top 10” posts or focus on great imagery? That’s cool. But if you’re not into Top 10 posts or images, it’s not cool for you. I’ve learned that if I’m doing something authentic, it’s never wrong.

3. I am my own audience

Insecurity got the best of me and I was caught up in numbers. I would check my page views daily to see what people liked. When a post didn’t “perform well,” I would be upset. Then I realized (after a pep talk with the insightful hubs) that I needed to shift my perspective; I had lost sight of my purpose. Now, I seldom check the numbers and I turned off Instagram notifications. This blog isn’t my job. I don’t make a living off it and I’m not trying to. It’s a hobby. A hobby that I love and that brings me joy. So I stopped trying to write for “success” and started writing for myself. I write what I want, when I want. When other people dig it, that’s a bonus. Maybe that sounds selfish, but I don't think it's selfish to do what feels authentic to you.

4. We need to talk about our struggles openly

I’ve received emails and messages from girls battling eating disorders who thank me for sharing my struggle. They say things like it "inspires" them to see someone in recovery. They say things like it’s good to know that they are “normal.” I’m incredibly humbled by these messages, and I always encourage them to open up to others about their struggle. Some of them are still “in the closet,” and only by being open and honest with ourselves and others can we begin to heal and change the world’s perceptions of ED. 

/steps off soapbox

When I think back to May 1, 2014, it’s amazing how much has changed. I was unsure. Unsure about blogging, unsure about putting myself out there, unsure about my ability to teach yoga. So last, but definitely not least, this journey has taught me that

5. Risks are good

If I didn’t overcome these insecurities, I’d still be dreaming about yoga school, tucking those thoughts away in the same place unicorns and world peace live in my brain. Because I took some chances and was vulnerable, I have met some amazing forever friends, grown so much as a person and had life-changing experiences. I’ve also failed. I’ve made mistakes as a blogger, teacher and friend and I’ve taken the wrong risks. But I don’t regret it. Because I’m a better person now than I was on May 1, 2014 and I can’t wait to see what the risks I take from now until May 1, 2016 teach me.

Check out your favorite posts from the past year.