Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Most Important Things I've Learned In 2 Years Of Blogging.

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When I hit publish on my very first blog post, not once did I pause to think about how this once nonchalant hobby might have an effect on my life. Back then, my blog was a place for me to share my thoughts on whatever pressing issue sprung to mind. It was a place for me to talk relentlessly about the make-up and skincare products I was using on the daily. It was a place for me to experiment with photography and my writing skills, to learn how to take better photos and better myself as a writer. Although not a whole lot has changed in many of those respects, blogging has, in truth, changed my life. Not once did I imagine that my corner of the internet would help me to secure a full-time role in digital marketing, nor did I ever believe that it would bring me to meet and form connections with an abundance of truly special people within the community. And not once did I imagine that it would ever draw in a loyal readership, one that continues to come back for more. Despite the many tears of frustration and the mountains of self-doubt that I have inevitably had to climb along the way, I am eternally grateful for everything blogging has brought to my life thus far.

Regardless of the fact that I can't quite recall the specific date, as of April this year my blog turns two years old. As cliché as it might sound, it's almost bizarre to think that I have been spilling my thoughts and deepest passions into this little corner of the internet for two whole years (because where has the time disappeared to?) and yet, here we are. After one blogging award, a handful of unexpected opportunities, endless hours worth of writing, dozens of significant moments captured through a lens, and one-hundred and one tears of frustration later; Katy Belle is turning two years old. As I reflect on the last two years of creating and curating content for this blog, I realise that the entire experience has taught me a plethora of valuable lessons about life and blogging, both good and bad. Here are some of the most important ones.

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It teaches you about yourself.

As strange as it may sound (especially to those unfamiliar with blogging) creating and curating content to share online can teach you a ton of things about yourself that you may not have realised before. Truthfully, I think this can be adapted to apply to any niche of the creative industry. For example, blogging consistently (or at least, attempting to, anyway) has personally taught me that I can be a rather impatient person - and since realising it, it is something that I have been consciously working to improve on. For the most part, gone are the days where I would burst into tears of frustration if a photo editing session wasn't going quite the way I imagined - instead, as often as I can, I now take a step back and come back to it later with a refreshed perspective. Blogging has also taught me how to process criticism, how to open my mind up to other ways of thinking. Perhaps most poignantly, and on a somewhat deeper level, blogging has shown me how I present myself and how I can be perceived from the outside. In turn, this has given me the opportunity to better myself.

It can kill your confidence...

...Or it can help it to truly blossom. Towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I found myself greatly struggling with my blogging identity. I was looking at other bloggers, comparing myself, my skills, my content - I was comparing every single part of myself to these people that I deemed to be more successful than me, and somewhere along the line I began to lose myself. It's true what they say, comparison really is the theif of joy. Comparing myself to what others in the industry were doing ate away at my passion, almost to the point of wanting to give up. My confidence fell to an all-time low. I'm not pretty enough to be a style blogger, I told myself. My writing isn't good enough to focus on think-pieces. My personal style isn't polished or luxurious enough to be taken seriously by brands and fellow bloggers. Eventually, I managed to snap myself out of it and silence the negative voices inside my head. Whilst the self-doubts do still creep in and ruin my mood every now and again, it's about using them as motivation to be my best self, rather than letting them win and take over. Now more than ever, I'm embracing who I am as a blogger, whether that be through my personal style, tone of voice or mood of my visuals. I've been making more of a conscious effort to do everything exactly how I want to do it, and truthfully, blogging has never felt so freeing.

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You can't force yourself to write.

If I have learned anything about blogging in the last two years, it is that content cannot be forced, and trying to do so will definitely make you miserable.. As much as I try to stick to a consistent blogging schedule, there are some weeks where it just doesn't happen. Whether that be because life gets in the way (which it totally does, and that's okay) or perhaps I'm going through a horrible bout of writer's block - whatever the reason may be, forcing yourself to produce content just because you feel as though you have to will almost always put a negative strain on your relationship with blogging. If you feel like your ideas are running dry, or maybe you have a particularly busy period in your life coming up which you haven't had time to plan content for - don't stress about it. It's okay to need a break, otherwise you will inevitably burn out. Every now and again, no matter what your creative niche may be, take some time to recharge your batteries and please, I beg you from my soul, stop feeling guilty about it (mental note for myself here, too).

It doesn't look the same for everyone.

Believe it or not, whether you blog, write music, write poetry, create art - whatever it is that you do, it's not a competition. Not for the most part, anyway, and so shouldn't be treated as such. Although it may come as a shock, there truly is room for everyone in the creative industry. The reason for that is because not every single one of us is out to achieve exactly the same thing. Not all of us have the same end goal in mind. What I view as a successful blog might be something entirely different to what you view as a successful blog. Keep in mind that someone else's success is not your failure and, when you accept it, you will begin to feel much more at ease and comfortable within your industry.

What are some of the most important lessons you've learned from what you do?

Katy Belle.
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