When I flipped open my planner a while back, I noticed a little note squiggled at the bottom I stuck in there months ago – my 5 year blog anniversary.x
Wow, what a milestone.
At first I didn’t really know how to feel. What to feel guys?
I know what I probably should be feeling: happy? Proud? Accomplished? Like my life has changed? Glancing in the mirror, I look exactly the same. Skimming through my photos from 5 years ago, and I look the same. Mostly. Less skinny, longer hair.
After such a big amount of time (for me) and equally powerful changes in my life, shouldn’t I be transformed? Shouldn’t I feel different?
Well, that’s fairly pessimistic isn’t it? Maybe it’s the depression talking. The reality is I am a completely different person from who I was 5 years ago.
Ok, I am not really depressed, but I am in a rut. A big one. I have been feeling creatively constipated and on a major brain burnout for the past few months. Almost to the point where I can’t even remember my name. Yup, that’s not good.
Please bear with me as I try and pick myself up by the bootstraps and man the fuck up.
So where were we? Five years of blogging, holy hell!
5 years ago today I was sitting in the library at Mt. Holyoke College, where I was trying to get through my final year of university without going berserk. An ex and I booked a spontaneous trip to Peru for spring break, and I was likely procrastinating on my thesis by creating an account on Blogspot – do any of you guys remember those days? Memoirs of a Young Adventuress.
Like I’ve always said, aim high with a blog name haha.
I had been going on adventures overseas for a few years at that point and decided it was high time to start documenting it. How hard could blogging be?
Tangent – it really amazes me now when I meet people who start blogs with a whole purpose, already have a theme or genre picked out, and especially those guys who go into it with the ultimate goal of making money. I’m pretty sure my only goal back then was to talk about myself. You know, more than I already do. Any blogger who denies being narcissistic is a liar. Me, me, me, that’s what blogs are AND there is nothing wrong with that.
It’s your own little space of the internet to do what you want with, and the best blogs are the ones that have kickass personalities behind them IMO. Might as well own up to it, right?
Anyways, I had zero idea of what I was doing. None, zip, zilch. If that doesn’t inspire any up-and-comers, I don’t know what will.
5 years ago I was a different human.
I was just about to graduate university and I was completely unsure of my future, not that I am sure of my future now or anything, but certainly less so back then. I had a one-way ticket booked to Spain in the fall to teach English and grad school applications saved on my desktop and I was studying for the GRE.
But I also had a blog that I just started. It took about 6 months for me to really get into blogging (and how it saved me), and from there it was a slippery slope downhill into this maniacal, thrillable fast-paced world of travel blogging. A crucial stepping stone in becoming a successful travel blogger came in the form of Travel Blog Success, an amazing resource for bloggers who are starting out and would like to know more about the possibility of making travel a full time job.
In those short 5 years I have taken this little blog and turned it into my full-time job. Travel blogging has opened more doors for me than I ever could have imagined.
It has also taught me some incredible life lessons and helped me grow as a person in ways I could have never imagined. The majority of those lessons have been positive ones, but man, some of them SUCKED. Ultimately, as long as you grow, I suppose we have to look on the brightside, right? Right??
Ok, I’m done now.
Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned over the course of 5 years of travel blogging, the good, the bad and the ugly. Enjoy!
1. Have confidence in yourself
Confidence is probably the most important thing I’ve personally learned through blogging. Hands down.
That isn’t to say I wasn’t a confident person before, but I used to be very very shy. I didn’t like attention. I didn’t like speaking outloud or even being noticed. But that didn’t mean I didn’t have something to say.
I’ve got a lot to say. Hence the blog.
While I’m still massively introverted, I have learned through my blog to have confidence in everything I publish. Let’s be honest here, I put my entire life on the interwebs and social media waiting to be judged. And let’s be honest again, I DO get seriously judged and hated.
I mean seriously, what a scary thought!
The first hate comment I ever got made me cry for a solid hour. Now I get them all the time and I just laugh. People aren’t always going to agree with you and not everyone is always going to like you, so why waste your energy? And on top of that some people are just plain dbags.
If you have something to say, say it.
By putting myself out there every day all day for 5 years straight, I’ve learned to shake it off, move on, and smile and laugh. At the end of the day, my blog is for me. It’s like my journal and my space of the interwebs, and if people happen to enjoy, then they are welcome to come along for the ride.
2. Love what you do
Whoever said that if have a job that you love then you’ll never work a day in your life wasn’t wrong.
Even now I have to pinch myself all the time to remember that all of this amazing shit I get to do is my job. Sure some aspects of it suck – like I hate emails so much. So. Much. And if you’ve ever emailed me and I haven’t answered, I am really sorry. Emails are not my thing.
But I didn’t leave the stability of a great job to start travel blogging for the money. I did it because I loved traveling and I wanted to keep sharing stories and I wanted to continue being creative. Personally I have a policy that when what I am doing starts to seriously stress me out or I am not enjoying it, I take a step back and reevaluate what I’m doing.
That also means I only publish when I feel like it. If I don’t have something to say, then I don’t say anything.
I’m in this because I love it. I want to keep on working on what I love. If I ever get tired of it, I’ll probably move on to something else.
3. People are either givers or takers
This is probably the hardest lesson I’ve learned through blogging, and it freaking sucks.
I truly believe there are two types of people in this world, people who are inherently givers, and by that I mean people who are open, honest and willing to share and help others not expecting things in return, and then there are the opposite. People who take.
And you know what? I hate those people. They ruin everything. Can you tell I am kinda bitter about this right now?
Now I’m sure I’ve inadvertently been a taker in the past, I think we all cross those lines back and forth now and then, but in general, I try to not be like that.
I’ve always tried to be a giver in the past, to smile and remain positive, help people, good karma and all that, even more so since moving to New Zealand where everyone seems so nice. I think it’s really important to be honest, respectful and try and be a generally good person. But one thing I’ve learned through having a travel blog, especially a successful travel blog, is that people can and will try to take advantage of you.
I hate that.
I get about 50 emails a day from people wanting something from me, is it any surprise that I hate emails?
Take take take, I can’t take it anymore!
I suppose I should be grateful that I’ve gone so long in this industry without getting screwed over, right?
I’m used to putting myself out there for everything, and I’ve definitely come to a point in my life where I am sick of being around people who take from me and offer nothing in return ever. Whether that’s getting free content or work from me as a blogger and Instagrammer, other influencers ripping off my ideas and projects or just straight up copying me (I know who you are f*ckers), or even friends who don’t pull their weight in a friendship, I’m over it.
If you subscribe to my newsletter you will already have heard about how I got mega burned a few months ago on a project and why I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging as much as I used to. I need to get over it and enjoy it again. I am not trying to be intentionally vague, but I don’t want to put the details out publicly, at least not yet.
Anyways, up until now I was never really aware of this people dynamic, and I am not sure how I am going to proceed. I’ve certainly learned to be careful about what I share with people and I’ve learned to read people and their motivations a lot better than in the past. Whether that is going to change my personality, I am not sure. I hope not. I like being open and honest, but we’ll see how things progress.
In the meantime, I am definitely reevaluating who my real friends are.
4. Creativity is the most important thing
If blogging has taught me one great thing, it’s that life rewards creativity and you will never get anywhere unless you take risks.
I’ve already had a big rant against travel bloggers, and I feel another one coming about Instagrammers soon, but one thing that drives me nuts is the total lack of creativity. I mean come ON, if you get into this work it’s generally because you are creative. Stop copying everyone else and start being innovative.
I guess I can’t speak for everyone else’s styles and I definitely need to work on not even looking at what everyone else is doing, let alone let it bother me, but I’ve found over the years that every single time I challenge myself creatively, it pays off BIG TIME.
So don’t be afraid to be bold, try something new and create!
5. Don’t Tinder when you are “internet famous”
Trust me on this one. Just don’t.
What are some good/bad life lessons you’ve learned over the years? Can you relate to any of these?
Psst! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. It helps pay the bills! Cheers.