A Very, Happy Birthday To This Little Blog.

Today is a big day!

Delish Carrot Cupcake

A celebratory cupcake from my favorite Austin cupcake store, Delish (but that’s worthy of a whole ‘nother post).

Exactly 1 year ago, For The Love Of was born. It’s been a whole 365 days of posting love (though not nearly that many posts), and it’s been truly wonderful. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this year of blogging hasn’t all been a bed of roses – there were definitely some times that I just wasn’t feeling the love, and it reflects in my posts (or in many cases, lack thereof).

In my time as a blogger (and blog lover), I’ve read many “blogiversary” posts that discuss the blogger’s favorite posts and moments from the year passed. While reminiscing is great, it doesn’t provide a whole lot of lessons for anyone, especially those new bloggers aspiring to get to that one year mark. So rather than remember the best posts of old, (though this one was a good one, and I had a blast with this one), I’m going to do something different. I’m going to talk about some lessons learned in the last year.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love blogging, but if I learned anything in the pas year I learned that blogging can be hard…and time consuming. Just because you have a natural affinity for writing, doesn’t mean that you will be an excellent blogger. Like many things in life, blogging takes time, dedication and effort. You have to consciously plan posts, and then you actually have to spend the time writing (and editing them). I can’t tell you the number of times I planned out a fantastic post, only to let it fall through the cracks because I didn’t write it right away. Throughout the year, I also learned the importance of being myself in my posts. No one wants to read a made-up or exaggerated version of you. As a blog reader, I always connected most with the blogs that seemed honest and thoughtful, so as a blogger, it’s important to give my readers the same truth. But, more than anything – and I want all you beginner bloggers to listen up – I learned to HAVE FUN! Blogging is not meant to be an obligation (at least not for me anyway), and I guarantee that the more you enjoy writing your posts, the better your blog will be. You can fake many other things that go with blogging, but don’t fake enjoyment.

Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Rachael, you are one person, and there are thousands of bloggers out there, all with different experiences, so how can you give advice to everyone?”

If that was you, then let me tell you something, reader – you would be right. I am only one person, and my lessons (while applicable to everyone), are specific to what I learned as a year-one blogger…which is why I brought in support. Even before I wrote a blog, I read blogs – lots of them – and I find that seeking advice/inspiration/etc. from a variety of different sources really helps to open up your mind. So, I’ve asked three of my favorite bloggers to join in on my blogging lessons and provide some of their own first-year blogging experiences.

What is the biggest thing you learned in your first year of blogging?

Leslie Blevins, Felt & Honey – “To be honest and personal in your posts. I once read an interview with Joanna Goddard from Cup of Jo where she said that you should write a post like you were writing it for your best friend or mom. I think that’s such good advice. If you don’t think about strangers reading it and just picture your best friend, it will allow you to open up and stay true to your voice, and as a result, I think readers will connect with you.”

Tolly Moseley, Austin Eavesdropper – “In early 2008, I went to LA to visit some friends. My blog was languishing, I wasn’t doing anything with it. But then shortly after my arrival, my friend Eddie in LA grabbed me and said, “Tolly!!!! You should post more!” I was shocked. He had been reading! I didn’t think ANYBODY was reading!  But he told me I was a good writer, a funny writer, and that was honestly a huge turning point for me. That’s when I “committed.” So in my first year, I learned that even when you don’t think anybody’s reading, people are in fact reading. It’s usually your friends or family, but if you think about it, that’s the best fan base to start with.”

Jordan Reid, Ramshackle Glam – “To always be professional; even if you’re your ‘own boss’, that doesn’t mean you can turn in sloppy work, or ignore deadlines.”

What is the one thing you know now that you wish you had known then?

Leslie – “Your blog and posts don’t have to be perfect.  I put off starting my blog for a long time because I was worried my pictures, photoshop and design skills, writing, etc. weren’t good enough. Once I finally began, I was amazed how quickly my pictures improved and writing felt more natural. I even got the hang of CSS! I would tell someone starting out, post consistently and often, play around with your camera and photoshop, and like anything, your hard work will pay off.” 

Tolly – “I wish I had got Austin Eavesdropper on Facebook sooner. I rejected it up until summer 2011, when I finally got a Facebook fan page. I love the little community that’s there now, and I hope it keeps on growing.”

Jordan – “I wish I had known the importance of visuals – I look back at my early posts, and am kind of horrified by the quality of the photography. But hey, it’s a work in progress.”

Great advice from some great bloggers! A HUGE thank you goes out to those three ladies, who despite being in hectic personal situations of their own (we’re talking babies, new job adventures and Hurricane Sandy), were still willing to contribute to this post. And it’s that community feel and helpful environment that I love so much about this little blogging bubble, and one of the major reasons I’ve stayed. No matter the situation, you always have a friend, albeit a virtual one.

Clearly, it’s been a great year, and I’m so excited about all the things to come in year 2 of my adventure. I really hope to turn this little blog into something special, and can’t wait to see all the changes in store for me and For The Love Of. And I really hope that you’ll stick with me for the ride.

And with that, it’s time to enjoy some anniversary cupcakery…

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