Lessons Learned from 3 Years of Blogging

Friends - today is the third anniversary of the day I started October June. At that time, of course, it was called Emphatically Elle (which is not a name anyone has ever called me, even though it's arguably a nickname that could have been applied - anyways, I don't know why I picked that name). I was sitting on the floor of my freshman dorm, thinking I'd be the next big fashion blogger. I wasn't. But we'll get into that in a little bit.

In the past three years, I made the jump from "spilling my thoughts on the internet" to developing an actual content strategy and positioning myself as a creative entrepreneur, and no longer a bored teenage girl with a Blogspot account.

I've grown a lot as a person, I've done things both with this blog and in my own personal life that I never even knew was possible, let alone something I could see myself doing. And frankly, I can't wait to see what the next several years hold.

Of course, over the last three years, I've learned a lot of things about blogging and business, I've hit a lot of ups and downs, and I've made a ton of mistakes before finally figuring out the right direction for me.

So let's take a look at the lessons I've learned since January 2013.1074360_1382488455305843_1144133232_o

(I was super proud of this header until someone told me that it looked like it said "Emphatically Eeee")

Don't quit your daydream

Seriously, I can't stress this enough. There were plenty of times in the past few years that I didn't update for weeks, or that I seriously considered just letting my blog slip into the ether of the rest of the failed websites on the internet.

But I didn't. I took a deep breath and kept doing my thing, and it paid off. Three years ago, becoming a full time blogger was a total pipe dream, and not something that I thought was even possible, at least not for me. Now, it's something that's becoming more and more of a possibility as I hurtle towards college graduation and towards a professional life and career.

If you don't love something, don't keep doing it

Like I said earlier, when I first started writing, I thought I was going to be a fashion or beauty blogger. I loved fashion and style, but after several months of attempting to do this, I realized my heart just wasn't in it. I had started a fashion blog, because at the time, I didn't know there was any other kind. I also thought that fashion blogging was a one way ticket to comped clothing and fancy brunches and makeup that cost more than my rent.

In reality, I just ended up churning out content about designer collaborations and spring trends that I felt less and less interested in. The only free dress I ever got was gorgeous, and did not fit me in the slightest. I still photographed the crap out of it, and it's still in my closet for the day I decide to get it altered to fit me (doubtful).

Finally, I made the switch to "lifestyle" blogging, and found a new love in the form of DIY posts. Holy crap, I love DIY-ing things. And I loved lifestyle topics so much that I had seriously anxiety when I got the nagging feeling that I needed to start blogging about more blog and business related topics a few months back. But since narrowing down my niche, I've only been happier and more creative.

It's okay to screw up

I've done some dumb things. I've screwed up on giveaways and sidebar sponsors before. I've promised things to a (thankfully at the time, nonexistent) audience and didn't come through. I made the mistake of thinking that, by the virtue of the fact that I published information on the internet, people would be endlessly fascinated by it and also somehow find a way to it (without any effort or marketing on my behalf). But guess what - I bounced back from every less than excellent experience, a little bruised, but better for it in the long run.

It takes guts to succeed, but before the success comes the inevitable failure. It takes even more bravery and perseverance to dust yourself off after a big loss and come back swinging.

It's okay to not have a clue

Like I said, for a long long time I was a "lifestyle" blogger, which in my own personal experience, meant that I didn't want to commit to a specific niche because I wanted to write about whatever I happened to think about that day.

And that's okay. Sure, my followers didn't exactly skyrocket during this time, since it was always sort of a surprise what I was going to write about (and when, for that matter). But I had fun, I experimented, and ultimately I found my own voice and figured out what I was passionate about. It's okay to not know exactly where you're going sometimes.

You need to find your tribe

This is true in life and in business - you need to find the people who you vibe well with, who make you a better version of yourself, and who will hold you accountable for what you say. Not to mention, people that know how to have a damn good time. In the past three years, I've found that in my personal life and in my professional life. I have a great blog tribe, and an even better friend tribe.

Develop your own definition of success

Above everything else, you need to figure out what success looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like to you and you alone. No one else can dictate what success means for you, because no one else thinks exactly the way you do. You have to figure out what your end game is, and what you inevitably want to accomplish with your blog - and your life. But the good news is, you don't have to figure it out all at once. Your definition of success can - and should - evolve over time. When I was 13, I was dead set on being the next Project Runway superstar and kicking it backstage with super models and movie stars. At age 19 (an embarrassingly short time ago, to be frank) I thought I was going to be the next Oscar winning wunderkind of Hollywood. Now? I just want to be happy, and if I can manage to be a self-employed entrepreneur, that would be pretty awesome too.

I've learned a lot and done a lot in the past three years, and I absolutely can't wait to see what the rest holds. 

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BloggingElizabeth Benson