LESSONS I’VE LEARNT AFTER FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING

LESSONS I'VE LEARNT AFTER FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING

Image courtesy of DIY Studio

June will see I Heart Fashion reach its fifth birthday. I can’t quite believe I have been blogging pretty much nearly every day for five years. With birthday celebrations in my mind, I decided to take a look back at some of my earlier posts from 2009. And my, my, my, haven’t I come a long way.

I started a blog because we were told to at university. That’s pretty much it. I came across Coco’s Tea Party when searching for what a blog actually entailed, and she kind of inspired me to base mine on fashion. Although there have been some amazing opportunities presented to me, I have also made some mistakes along the way. OK, scrap that last sentence, I don’t want to think of them as mistakes. I’ve learnt some things along the way, we’ll say that instead.

Let’s start at the very beginning back in June 2009. One thing I wish I’d done is give my blog name more thought. I wanted it to be a hub of fashion back then, but as I’ve grown older so has my taste and likes. I now write more lifestyle posts and have branded I Heart
across beauty, interiors and wellbeing, but if I’d have thought more about the name in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to do that now. If I could give you a tip, go with your name. So many bloggers have changed their blog names to their own, including Lily Melrose and Lily Pebbles, and it’s a great way to brand yourself from the very beginning.

Blog design is a major thing to consider and one thing that’s changed dramatically since I started is the amount of help out there for you to be able to create a design you love. Since I launched I Heart Fashion, I have had over 10 revamps, only last year finding the design I finally loved enough to print on business cards. Even though I have managed to teach myself so many tricks with HTML and CSS coding through Youtube and Google, I actually went to Etsy and bought a template for under £20 to save me time and stress. Cool websites to visit for help with Blogger include Pugly Pixel, Blogger Hint and Tips and Fabulous Blogging. Even if you just type your problem/question
into Google, it’s pretty likely you’ll see someone else with an answer.

In the beginning (for those
readers of my era, this was the start of an amazing dance song called Happiness which I now can’t stop singing)
I wrote blog posts which I thought people wanted to read. Truth be told, I did whatever
Coco’s Tea Party did. If I had a blogging idol, she was it. I had about four people
reading it a week, and that included me and my mum. I didn’t have a Facebook
page, Twitter, Instagram etc, so it was difficult to spread the I Heart Fashion
word. And why would they read it, when it was basically just a regurgitated
story I’d seen on JustJared – my celebrity bible back then.

But as the years went on, I learnt the more personal the posts, the more readers liked what I had to say. I stopped writing what I thought I should and start writing what I wanted. One of my most popular posts to date was A Letter to my Teenage Self. I received emails from strangers that had read it saying how much they enjoyed it and wanted to do something similar. Stuff like that is the reason I love blogging.

Looking back it seems I didn’t like to do any of the following: spell check, credit pictures, resize pictures or care if they were pixelated or not. Just as an aesthetics thing, try make all your pictures nice and big and the same size. I can’t talk to you about photography as I’ve only just now invested in a quality camera and lens (Nikon D3200 in case you were wondering) and I still don’t know how to use it. But there so many blog posts out there, which explain all about photography, you don’t need my advice.

One piece of advice I will give you is never write anything on your blog which you wouldn’t want someone to read. I made this mistake in a pretty huge way. Back in 2010 I wrote a post about Cheryl Cole being Glamour magazine’s best-dressed woman for the second year in a row and called it ‘lazy journalism’. A couple of months later I tweeted Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour, asking what she thought of my blog. She must have typed Glamour in, subsequently seeing the lazy journalism comment, and emailed me back saying that she was annoyed that I would call it that, when in fact, it was a readers poll. I was completely shamed into apologising and for a girl who dreamt of working at a glossy like Glamour, I felt like a complete dick – sorry Mum. Lesson learnt.

In terms of traffic, I still don’t have a huge amount in comparison to some bloggers, yet one lesson I’ve learnt is to never compare yourself to someone else. There will always be someone prettier, someone more intelligent, someone funnier, but they’re not you. And that’s where you win. Your blog is your space on the internet to celebrate everything about YOU. I used to hate outfits posts because I was so self-conscious about getting in front of the camera. But I’ve slowly started to push myself to do more things as they seem to get a positive reaction.

Which brings me on to the topic of gifting. Gifting in the blogging world is sometimes seen as a dirty word. It can, and has, provoked jealousy in the blogging community. I know this because I’ve seen this happen. There are bloggers out there who are amazing and get to work with big designer brands such as Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors and why shouldn’t they?

It took a good three years before I started to get emails from brands wanting me to review their product, or write a sponsored post for them and you know what I did with every email I got through? I replied yes, of course. I basically sold out. Getting paid to blog was an amazing thing and at that point did I care if I was blogging about window vents or insurance? Nope. I was getting money in the bank. But I did feel embarrassed with these posts going up and never pushed them through Twitter and Facebook. So now, I’m much more selective about what I want to go on I Heart Fashion, and if I have to turn down a paid job, I’d rather do that than worry about what you, the readers, think of my choice of blog post.

I have never really pushed I Heart Fashion and this is one thing I’m starting to do now. I even went to a bloggers event last night which I have never done before. I’ve been happy plodding along, writing pretty much daily and seeing now and again what the Google Analytics would say. But I never really looked at it as anything other than a hobby. I’m not sure I want to turn IHF into a full-time job, and I’m not
actually sure I could right now, but I want to see what happens if I just let more people know I’m actually here.

Here’s to the next five years and thanks to everyone for one, following me, and two, getting to the end of this post. That’s an achievement in itself.

About the author

Victoria is the editor and founder of award-winning interior design blog Apartment Number 4. When she’s not scouring Pinterest for the latest in home decor inspiration, she’s out shopping trying to recreate the looks herself.

One Comment

  1. Hi Victoria, I really like this post! I just wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for the Liebster Award. It's just a fun little award aimed at getting to know and sharing support for other bloggers. I've written a post on my blog and given you a mention. Thanks for your time, hope you have a great day!

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