10 Things I Learned During My First Year of Blogging

1. Blogging is a lot of work

If you're a new or somewhat seasoned blogger, this fact should come as no surprise to you. While I didn't go into this assuming that it would be a piece of cake, I definitely underestimated the amount of time I would need to put into my blog in order to constantly keep things up and running. Blogging is like spinning plates-there's always something that needs to be done, from taking and editing pictures, writing articles, brainstorming, and scheduling content to sharing posts on social media, updating your blog design, answering e-mails for brand collaborations, etc. 

I honestly don't know how I was able to devote so much time to blogging before I graduated back in December, and strangely enough, it feels as though I had even more time to work on stuff then than I do now. However,if you're considering starting a blog, don't get discouraged by this. You should totally do it! Just realize what you're getting yourself into and plan accordingly!

2. Good photography is invaluable

Confession time: I've used my iPhone for literally every single picture I've uploaded on this blog (with a few obvious exceptions). Sometimes I get lucky and the lighting by my desk where I take my pictures is perfect, but other times I end up with some pretty unfortunate looking, low-quality photos. I've posted them anyways and lied to myself that the most important thing is the content, not the images...but I know the truth of the matter is that good pictures (and good lighting, especially) are so, so, SO important for your blog. 

I'm subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud, which allows me to pay a monthly subscription for access to Photoshop (which is an awesome deal, by the way), but at the very least, downloading and learning to effectively use apps like VSCO, PicTapGo, or Snapseed will make a big difference in your blog photos. 

3. Comparison is the thief of joy

Comparison is something that I'm sure all of us have struggled with and will continue to deal with from time to time. While looking to more established and successful bloggers for inspiration can be a positive experience, it's important that you don't let their success undermine your sense of worth. This is especially true for those of us who are somewhat new to the blogging world!

I recently listened to one of Jess Lively's podcast episodes on The Lively Show, and a blogger guest of hers stated that there is no such thing as an overnight success when it comes to blogging. It takes hard work, a lot of trial and error, and, most importantly, time. It takes time to grow an engaged and loyal audience, it takes time to learn what works and what doesn't work for your particular niche, and it also takes time to ease into the blogging process itself to determine if this is something you even want to seriously pursue. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Cupcakes & Cashmere

4. Hashtags are kind of a big deal

I'm still not as active or present as I'd like to be on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, but lately I've been striving to be more intentional with my posts. Using relevant hashtags on my Instagram photos has been really helpful in growing my audience, and while I can't say that Instagram has necessarily led to more people actually seeing my blog, it's still a great way to connect with the demographic that I'm writing for. Twitter, on the other hand, is a pretty big traffic driver for my blog, so I'm definitely looking into better ways to grow my audience using tweets and group chats. 

5. Perfection is impossible

This has been a hard truth for me to realize over the past twelve months, but it was actually a huge relief to come to terms with the fact that my blog is probably never going to be exactly the way I want it to be. I'm constantly making little tweaks with the design, layout, focus, and direction of my blog, and I get one step closer every day to making everything match the vision I have in my mind for exactly what I want it to look and feel like. 

There are so many things on my blogging to-do list, and I really don't think that's ever going to change. I'm constantly learning and trying new things, and that's a huge part of why I've fallen in love with being a blogger. There are no rules, which can be overwhelming at first, but forging your own path and expressing yourself in a way that feels right and makes sense to you is an incredible experience that I would never trade for perfection. 

6. You are your own boss

Writing articles for my blog and writing articles for College Fashion are two completely different processes. I'm the type of person who really needs someone depending on me in order for me to get things done efficiently and on time, so consistently writing posts for my blog can be pretty challenging at times because I have no one to answer to but myself. Even though I don't have a huge audience right now, I lie to myself and pretend that I have thousands of people sitting on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting every article I post or share online.

Writing and running a blog on your own is hard work, and sometimes it feels like you're a very small voice shouting out into a great and empty abyss. Sometimes it feels pointless to post anything at all, but you have to keep pushing past your doubts and continue putting effort into creating quality content for your audience, whether they're present or not. Believe it or not, people will come across your blog--don't disappoint them. 

7. Simple design is good design

When I first started out on Blogger, I had absolutely no blueprint for how I wanted it to look. My first blog header was border line atrocious, and for some reason, I thought that making my background an awkward off-white color would be a good idea. It wasn't. A few months later, I decided to totally re-design everything and make it super colorful. I had pink buttons, a bright pink and orange header, and, to top it all off, a black and white Aztec print background.

If you're thinking to yourself, "That sounds like one of those pictures where you hold it really closely to your face and cross your eyes and a sea turtle shape pops out at you", then you're absolutely correct! It was horrible. Long story short, when it comes to web design, the simpler the better. White backgrounds, clean lines, and monochromatic color schemes are pretty much fool proof, and while it's definitely ok to experiment and express yourself, simplicity goes a long way. 

8. Utilize a notebook

I touched on this in my "7 Ways to Get Inspired" post, and I honestly can't rave about it enough. I carry my little notebook with me everywhere, and it's become my new best friend. I especially love taking it to work with me so I can jot down the hundreds of thoughts floating around my head while I'm at my desk without access to my laptop. I write down potential post ideas, notes on products I want to review, blogging goals, to-do lists, etc.; it's such a great way to keep all of my ideas in one place that I can easily reference again in the future. Do yourself a favor and invest in a little notebook ASAP, you can thank me later. 

9. Blogging is a "learn as you go" process

Looking back on where I started, it's crazy to wrap my head around the fact that I've been blogging consistently for an entire year. I'm not the kind of person who commits to things easily; I give up on nearly every book I start reading, I can't seem to make myself finish an entire TV series on Netflix, I fall asleep in the middle of almost every movie I watch, and I've attempted almost every hobby known to man without really sparking an interest in anything. Blogging has truly changed my life. 

With that being said, it's not always fun. I get really frustrated when my pictures don't turn out the way I want them to, I feel inadequate when I compare myself to other bloggers, and sometimes I wonder whether or not all of my hard work is a complete waste of time and energy. I think these thoughts are normal, but I always try to remind myself that I'm constantly growing, learning, and bettering my blog. Every time I write an article, I learn something new. Every time I shoot pictures, I edit them a little differently. Every time I share content on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, I'm growing my community. I've come such a long way in 12 short months, so if I continue working and aiming for one step higher each and every day, who knows where I'll be next year? 

10. Don't get too hung up on numbers

This is a hard pill to swallow as a blogger, especially if you're comparing yourself to blogs with thousands of loyal followers. I lost over 200 Bloglovin' subscribers when i switched my platform from Blogger to Squarespace, and while that may not seem like a lot of people to some, I was pretty devastated. I admittedly haven't spent as much time as I should on regaining that following, and I would certainly love to have a strong and engaged community on my blog, I really try to stay away from focusing on numbers too much right now. 

I blog because I enjoy it, not because I want to earn a living. I love to write and express my thoughts in paragraphs and words, and I absolutely adore what little graphic design I know how to do. Even if no one reads my blog but me, that's ok. Writing, blogging, and designing is good for my heart, and whether I have 2 followers or 2 million, that won't change. 

Thank you SO much for reading, and thank you for stopping by! Share your blogging lessons in a comment down below, I'd love to hear from you!