At the beginning of this month, it was my first year anniversary for Scarlett O’Chunky (the blog) and my fifth year as a blogger in the ever increasing game of blogging. I realised, while thinking about how I started my original blog on a rainy January morning so many years ago while wearing fluffy pink pyjamas and red lipstick, in bed; that I have spent countless hours penning thoughts, dreams, asking questions that are still yet to be answered and retelling stories of what my life was like as a nursing student.
So without wanting to sound cocky but probably will sound just a smidge, I think after five years of blogging my thoughts for you and myself to read, it can be stated that I have may have hundreds of lessons packed away in my brain on the world of online blogging and as a writer. Having made the decision that I would write a blog all those years ago while sitting in bed, there have been 5 major lessons I’ve experienced while blogging.
1. Blogging & Competitiveness
When I first started blogging and learning the ropes of what it takes to be one, I discovered that the blogging industry is obsessed with four things: numbers, followers, competition and sponsors. Before this realization struck me while I was face down in my pillows, after a rather tough day on the ward, I felt a sense of guilt over the fact that I didn’t have a flashy looking blog and interesting features that make your mind spin in circles or appear to be crunching certain numbers of expectations when uploading a post.
After five years of blogging, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need to crunch numbers to hit a particular number or goal because I am not in a competition with another person. To my sense of guilt that sometimes still plagues me, I am incredibly proud of what my blog looks like and my relatively small and yet, honest, followers on all social media platforms. As it boils down to the fact of having worked incredibly hard over the past few years to find topics that I want to continue writing and reading about and others having the mutual love for reading as well. Prime example would be me dancing in the kitchen a few days ago when discovering someone from Russia and Mongolia had read my blog and as a result, I get excited when I hit a new destination.
So my advice to those who are starting to hate their passion for writing because you aren’t hitting those numbers you’ve set your heart on or just don’t know if your head is in the game anymore, I suggest rethinking what your goals are as a writer and blogger and if you feel like the blogging society is pressuring you to be something or someone that isn’t you. If it boils down to wondering if you’re going to be as good as the next person who has Gucci on his/her arm, remember it takes a lot of hard work, long hours of writing and constant brain storming to be able to do something that everyone else in the world is doing at the moment.
2. Taking Breaks Is Crucial
One of the many things I regret doing while attending college for my Degree was piling too much on my plate and effectively learnt the hard way as a result of my own stupidity, the importance of why taking a break is crucial. After completing 160 hours of placement, four 2500 word assignments with 50+ references each in a week on little to no sleep and trying to uphold to my blogging schedule, I almost ended up in hospital with sleep deprivation and a compromised immune system. Because of my stupidity and an incredibly hard recovery period, taking a break from blogging is not only vitally important for our sense of wellbeing and mental health but it also gives us an opportunity to unwind from an online world consumed by technology, social media and numbers.
This means taking a day off by disconnecting from social media, various platforms we use to pen our thoughts into blog posts and get out of the house. Whether you decide to visit a friend for brunch, stroll through your nearest gardens and dodging the bird that seems to be stalking you or simply unwinding with a movie date with yourself (this I recommend!) or a book that you’ve been meaning to start and finish.
By taking a break, even if it is for a day or a weekend, it helps with those moments of feeling down, being uninspired and negative about our work that we love doing and recharging those batteries of ours. Like I said, it helps with our physical and mental wellbeing.
Photo taken from Tumblr
3. Perfection Isn’t Everything
Like many of us who grace the blogging industry, we come from a variety of different backgrounds such as those who have studied literature at university, naturally penned stories at the tender age of five or previously owned blogs. As for me, I originally wrote novels behind closed doors until I decided that I would apply for college and thus effectively went from writing novels to assignments and well, my blog.
Those who have come before me and will continue to do so long after I leave the industry, we all make plenty of mistakes. Whether we chose to write in the middle of the page (something I used to do and personally don’t mind), not referencing images borrowed for other websites which is something I am guilty of doing, profuse swearing, incorrect or misspelled grammar and words and having random sized paragraphs.
I know in my case, when I do look back on my first year as a newbie who had no idea what she wanted to write about or how to write my thoughts down, I often tend to cringe. I cringe at how I used to swear and randomly drop the F bomb into sentences, my grammatical errors and lack of set days and time for scheduling posts would give me anxiety now. As a result of sitting down and learning from my mistakes over the last few years, I have discovered what my blog, Scarlett O’Chunky, is really about and what it is that I love to write, talk and educate people on.
Because of this knowledge, I have tried to curb my F bombs because who really wants to read that all the time? Ultimately, I have also learnt after having posts banked that were waiting to be published and consumed, nothing is ever going to be perfect because there is never really a right time. So my suggestions would be to choose quality or quantity, don’t waste important time fretting over details so minor that it can cause you to start feeling uninspired or not worthy of being a blogger. Lastly, just because you seem to think the posts you have hidden away aren’t worthy of being published, they may very well be considered a hit in someone else’s eyes.
At the end of the day, you can’t buy experience in this industry for you have to earn it.
4. Stay Humble
After making my first decision as why I wanted to blog, I made the ultimate promise to myself that no matter what would happen or how big I may or may not get in this industry, I would remain faithful and humble to my beginnings. This ‘stay humble’ promise, for both myself and others, have ultimately lead to people tuning in when we upload a post or video (if we’re vloggers). In return, we’re spending equal time responding and replying to comments, messages and emails that come our way as well as making fun content.
I think as the industry increases alongside our desire to be successful in our own eyes, we can often tend to forget that our Dearest Readers, that being you and me, are people responsible for that success. For if our readers, whether it be family members or someone who lives in Russia, decide to stop reading and tune out completely than essentially we have no one to continue reading our thoughts, feelings and adventures that have spurred us to write.
It also doesn’t take much time and effort as well as brain power to formulate a post that is simply and purely dedicated to thanking the support team i.e. our family members, friends and Readers for their undivided attention and constant support. You’d be surprised at the end of the day, how many will continue to turn on their computers, phones and social media apps to see what the next journey is going to be. All because you stayed humble, thanked your loyal fans and readers and remembered that honey gets you anywhere in life unlike vinegar and salt.
Lastly, the most important fifth lesson that everyone should hold dear to themselves is:
Remember why you started blogging and writing.
Until next time,