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Random Things I’ve Learned from 9 Years of Blogging

A couple of weeks ago, it suddenly occurred to me that this blog will be 10 years old next year.

And I mean, wow, that’s kinda crazy, isn’t it? I mean, if it was a person, it would be preparing for high school and asking me to buy it a pony by now… but of course it’s a blog, and I’ll probably forget its “birthday” anyway, so it’s probably just as well, huh?

Anyway, nine years feels like a long time in blogging terms (maybe they’re like dogs, and age 7 years for every one of ours, in which case my blog is .. let’s not go there, actually.), so here are some totally random things I’ve learned in that time…

things I've learned from 9 years of blogging

People like stories.

Everyone tells you not to write long posts, because no one will read them, but my longer posts have always been the most successful, and I think it’s because people like stories. They like to know a bit more than what you wore that day or what colour of lipstick you like, so don’t be afraid to tell your story: everyone has one, and no matter how insignificant it might seem, there will be someone out there who will relate to yours.

You can’t please everyone.

As Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” Ain’t that the truth?

It’s easy to annoy people on the internet.

The piece of advice bloggers are given most often is that they should grow a thick skin and not take things personally, but I feel like the internet encourages hyper-sensitivity, which means that no matter what you say,  or how innocuous you think it is, someone, somewhere, will find a way to be offended by it. Because of this, you find yourself having to caveat absolutely everything, and tie yourself in knots wondering if the words you’ve used are politically correct enough not to get jumped on. Which is exhausting, really.

The posts you like the most are rarely the most successful…

…and the ones you think will sink without a trace will often surprise you. (If I particularly like a post, or the photos or whatever, it’s sure-fire way of knowing it’ll get zero comments…)

You’re only as good as your last post.

You can go from 60 comments on one post to zero on the next. You will have no idea why one post was successful and the next one wasn’t, and when a post you’re proud of generates absolutely no response, you feel like you’ve been kicked in the teeth, and you want to quit. You know you won’t, though, because the next day you’ll have the opportunity to try again, and you never know when something is going to resonate with people, and be unexpectedly popular.

Being creative every single day is mentally exhausting.

No matter how much you love writing, the pressure to be creative all the time can be mentally draining – it feels a bit like you’re on a treadmill you can’t ever get off, and the fact that you chose to get on it in the first place doesn’t stop you wanting to hit the “pause” button every now and then.

Never, ever give out your address on the internet.

Get a PO Box. Switch off the location services on your Instagram photos. If you live in a small town, don’t mention it by name. Because people can be creepy, and you can never be too careful.

Not everyone is like you.

Not everyone has the same values, or the same ideas about what constitutes good manners. It’s easy to dismiss tactless or rude people as “haters”, but they’re normally just regular people who have different ideas about what’s appropriate.

Some of them ARE haters, though.

A lot of people like to pretend that all feedback is good feedback, and that there are no “haters”, just people with different opinions. Some people ARE just haters, though. And as Taylor teaches us, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate… (‘Shake It Off’ is my blogging anthem, by the way. GOD, I love that song…)

Always assume good intentions.

With that said, for the reasons given in the “not everyone is like you” point, unless you can be totally sure that someone really IS trying to push your buttons, it’s a good idea to assume that people’s intentions are good, and that it’s just their way of expressing themselves that needs a little work. You might be wrong, but you’ll also be happier.

A decent backdrop and really great lighting does more for your photos than an expensive camera will.

Seriously: a white Ikea coffee table was one of my best blog purchases ever. If you don’t like white, choose a pretty fabric, or a square of wallpaper you like, set it up next to a source of natural light, and never take another blurry, badly-lit photo again.

And fresh flowers are the easiest photo prop ever.

People will tell you it’s “such a blogger cliche!” Those people probably don’t have to try to find an interesting new way to photograph their own home every week, though, and if they did, they’d be all about the fresh flowers, too. (Also, they’re pretty. Who doesn’t like pretty?)

Friday posts get the fewest comments

Or they do for me, anyway – I have no idea why I even post on a Friday, to be honest. I should probably get the message already..

People will never stop asking what you actually DO all day.

Seriously, you just take selfies, right? Like, you don’t actually DO anything?

Brands will never stop expecting you to spend several hours taking and editing photos and then writing a blog post to accompany them, complete with their specified links and marketing messages, in exchange for a £20 dress.

Because THAT’S fair.

You actually can spend the entire day in your pyjamas if you want to.

You probably won’t want to – especially if you blog about fashion, because why wouldn’t you want to actually WEAR all those clothes? – but you could if you wanted to. The dream is real, people.

No matter how successful you are, some people will never take you seriously.

I once walked into a room where a woman was sounding off about “stupid bloggers, who think people are actually interesting in reading their diaries – like, WHO CARES?” Then she turned round and saw me, and my friend said, “Er, this is Amber: she’s a full-time blogger!” It was awkward.

Comments always drop during the summer.

People go on holiday, they become obsessed with Wimbledon, they go for picnics and days out, and they don’t comment on blogs as much as they do during the rest of the year. At least, I HOPE that’s why my comments always divebomb at this time of year…

Humour doesn’t always translate well online.

No matter how obvious you think the joke is, someone will take it seriously – and nothing kills a joke faster than having to explain it.

No one will notice if you take a few days off.

You think everyone’s sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for that post you always publish at 2pm on a Tuesday. But they’re not. No, seriously: they’re not.

You can’t just write ‘for yourself’.

Once you know people are reading what you write, it changes things. It might not necessarily change then in a bad way, but writing a blog isn’t like writing a private journal. Not AT ALL.

But you can blog however you want to.

I’m STILL seeing tons of blog posts from people saying they feel “pressured” to blog in a certain way, and I STILL don’t know where they feel this pressure comes from. You can ignore EVERYTHING anyone tells you about blogging if you want to. I don’t go to events, don’t join in Twitter chats, don’t do many of the things other bloggers do: the only pressure I’m under is self-imposed – which is one of the reasons I chose this as a career.

Everyone else always seems to be doing it better than you.

It’s easier to view this as inspiration, rather than getting jealous. If they can do it, so can you: how amazing is that?

Assume that everyone you know will read every word you write.

That way you’ll never write anything that’s likely to get you in trouble, and will sleep much better as a result.

The night is dark, and full of terrors.

OK, I actually learned this one from Game of Thrones, not from blogging. But it seemed as good a place as any to end…

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29 Comments
  • stella
    July 5, 2015

    Great post. Thanks for the tips Amber. I live in a small town so in never mention the name, just the county. I have been blogging for almost 3 years now and I can relate to all you have said. The brand wanting bloggers to work for almost nothing annoys the hell out of me.

  • Kelsey
    July 5, 2015

    hahaha! Love that you are posting this while Wimbledon is actually on – so I thought I would post a comment from a very Wintery Melbourne.
    Compared to you I am in blogging infancy and have already experienced some of these (the pressure from brands to do this and this and this for a nail polish or free and everyone else DOES seem to be able to do it better than me – death by comparison.)
    Also some practical ones I hadn’t thought of being a small blog (never giving your address out) I just haven’t come to it yet!
    Thanks Amber
    Kelsey x

  • Elise
    July 5, 2015

    Ah yes, the schedule thing – I always wonder why the advice is to always post on the same day because omg everyone will be waiting for your post! I literally never notice when someone posts until Bloglovin tells me – do people actually pay attention to things like that?! I do try to go by the ‘imagine everyone reads every word’ one though. No matter how undiscoverable I try to make myself, it just makes good sense 😉 And happy blog birthday!

    • Amber
      July 5, 2015

      Oh, the blog birthday isn’t until next year – I think it’s in May sometime, but I would have to check: I feel like I should know this, but I’m a terrible blog owner, obviously 😉

      On the post scheduling thing, some people do notice when posts aren’t up at the time they expect… I haven’t experienced it personally, but I used to read Young House Love, who always had their posts up at specific times every day, and if one was late, people would go CRAZY – it was really, really bizarre how upset some of them would get. For the most part, though, I don’t think people notice/care – I honestly couldn’t tell you what days/times the bloggers I follow post at: I just read them when I have time!

  • Amanda
    July 5, 2015

    I would notice if you took a few days off! I look forward to your posts everyday!

  • Jess
    July 5, 2015

    Ahh good post! Compared to yours (and anyones) my blog has just been born! And as for the precious posts that aren’t received as well, they probably resonate with a lot more than you think and is immortalised on the internet! xxx

  • Amanda
    July 5, 2015

    Hi Amber,
    I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Shoes of Prey but if not then they let you design your own shoes and then you can buy them. There is probably other brands that offer the service at a cheaper price but that’s the only one I’ve seen. I like to just design them and then wish I could afford to have them actually made!

    • Amber
      July 5, 2015

      Yes, I’ve heard of Shoes of Prey… do you work for them?

      • Amanda
        July 5, 2015

        No, I don’t. I just really like designing shoes on their website!

  • Kirsty
    July 5, 2015

    Wow, 9 years. What an achievement. I really look up to you as a blogger. Your writing style is witty and captivating. Keep it up 🙂 xx

    http://www.kirstytalks.co.uk

  • Fran
    July 5, 2015

    Congrats on nine years Amber! And I absolutely agree with what you said about stories. I love your style and I’m always happy to check out your latest outfit, but hands down my favourite content is always when you talk about the house/going places with Terry/Ruby.

    I really admire the way you and Terry have been working on your home for the last few years, and how patient and resourceful you are in building an environment you like.

  • Liz Tea Bee
    July 5, 2015

    I’m always amazed by how public people are with where they live. I follow multiple bloggers who I know nearly precisely where they live and that’s without trying. I’m sure readers who wanted to know could find their exact addresses. This seems inadvisable.

    I never fail to be surprised by how little imagination the general public seems to have about work that isn’t done in an office. But the same people who can’t imagine what you do all day think they can tell you how to do your job.

    • Amber
      July 6, 2015

      I think the lack of imagination extends to most things, really – it’s like people just can’t imagine someone being different from them in ANY way, which I find really surprising. I also get a lot of comments from people who “don’t believe” I wore heels all day, for instance, and I always think, “Just because you wouldn’t do it, why do you assume everyone else must be exactly the same as you?” I mean, I find tights really uncomfortable, but I don’t go around accusing bloggers who post photos of them of being lying liars who lie! I also saw some comments recently about “people who have all-white bedrooms” and how “we all know they’re not REALLY that tidy, right?” I just thought, “HOW? How do you know that? Just because YOU’RE not tidy, why does it mean no one else can be either?” I mean, I’m quite anal about tidying – to a degree that can be quite annoying, to be honest – so my bedroom actually IS quite tidy most of the time, and I never leave clothes strewn across the floor, as people were implying “must” be the case. It was really strange to me to see so many people basically agreeing that everyone in the world MUST be exactly the same as them, and if they say they’re not, they’re lying!

  • jodie filogomo
    July 5, 2015

    Good reminiscences!
    Congrats on the “birthday”—what great perserverance! When I tell my mom we’re doing this for 10 years, I get the eye roll (and I thought that was reserved for teenagers?) It’s nice to hear some advice from someone who’s been doing it longer than a year!! jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  • TinaD
    July 5, 2015

    You may not need to post on a regular schedule, but I, for one, appreciate your commitment to fresh content. I’ve lost count of how many blogs on my blog roll dropped to one post a year (if that) seven seconds after I started following them. (Nine years. Wow. I wonder what the word count is on that? Probably more than Agatha Christie.)

  • manon
    July 5, 2015

    Interesting. As a reader, I try hard not too comment too often, as I have the impression too many comments would bother the writer. I always picture her (or him) “oh, no, not her again, hush”. Most of the time, all I could think about would be “I really like what you do”. I wish you could hear recording of people commenting whilst they are reading your blog, you would find that hilarious (in a good way)

    • Amber
      July 6, 2015

      That’s so interesting – I honestly can’t imagine a blogger being bothered by too many comments: they’re really the only thing we have to tell us whether someone is enjoying the writing or not (page views only tell us that someone looked at it, not whether they enjoyed it), so when you post something and no one comments, you assume everyone hated it!

  • Kate
    July 5, 2015

    As usual – great post and all points are true! Your summer time comments divebomb point just gave me a ‘duh!’ moment because every year I forget that is going to happen!

    • Amber
      July 6, 2015

      Me too – and it never fails to frustrate me, because summer is when I’m out and about more too, so it’s when I post what *I* think is some of my best content, only for it to be totally ignored. I sometimes think I should just save it all for winter!

  • Jess Heart
    July 5, 2015

    This was actually quite hilarious, only because it was so relatable! Let us all hope that you are correct on the fact that blog comments and view drop noticeably in the summer time!

    xxxxxx
    http://www.essibell.blogspot.com

  • Raisa
    July 5, 2015

    I hear you about humor not translating well online! I once posted a joke on Twitter about how adding peanut butter on ice cream makes it a “healthy” protein snack, so eat all the ice cream you want. Someone decided to lecture me on dairy and how it’s not actually healthy. Like… I know. That’s the joke.

    • Amber
      July 6, 2015

      People take things so literally sometimes – I once posted a photo of some chocolate Terry had bought, and someone commented telling me I was going to get diabetes – because yeah, sure, I was planning to eat it all at once, and then then do the same again every day after that: that’s *totally* what I was saying in that photo! I also once wrote something about “boat shoes” and got a huge lecture about boat safety from someone – er, that’s just what they’re called, dude, it’s not what I was planning to do with them!

  • Anca
    July 6, 2015

    I’ve been blogging for 6 years in total. I had a cooking blog, then the blog for the dog and after moving to UK my lifestyle blog and a new blog for the dog and, recently, a new cooking blog. It’s a lot as I’m not a full-time (or even part-time) blogger. I agree with what you said about blogging, people love stories, I have more engagement on posts about me instead of fun events or reviews and I used to find it odd.

  • Ayden
    July 6, 2015

    Nodding and agreeing all the way through reading this post! I’ve had a pretty rubbish monday and reading this has cheered me up and made me smile. So, thank you! xx

  • Marnie
    July 7, 2015

    Hi Amber, great post thanks for sharing. Me I just started blogging – http://www.delicatevanilla.com – so I surely meet a lot of your points on my long blogging way;) x Marnie

  • Jane M
    July 8, 2015

    Just because people don’t comment doesn’t mean they don’t love your blog. I have read it for years and this is my first comment.

  • Suya
    July 8, 2015

    I’m just here to say I cracked up so hard at the last point. From the point of view of a pure reader/non-blogger, I sometimes refrain from commenting when I feel I would just say the obvious compliments on your looks or witty writing – I think you have set a high standard in your work, and people can take things for granted sometimes… And if I want to comment on something another person has already commented on, well if they say just what I was about to say, I usually don’t comment – which is to say there’s probably a ton of great feedback, even if there are that many comments. And now I’ve totally contradicted my first sentence… nevermind 🙂

  • Loved this post Amber… it’s interesting to hear that your readers don’t think we want comments when in fact we (or I at least) thrive on them and am gutted when people don’t respond.

    Tonnes of food for thought here (I need to work on the story telling element) but this is my favourite:

    “Everyone else always seems to be doing it better than you.

    It’s easier to view this as inspiration, rather than getting jealous. If they can do it, so can you: how amazing is that?”

    Thank you for inspiring so many of us.

    Nic x

  • Georgia
    July 10, 2015

    Oh I love your friday posts! Thery’re such a lovely send-off into the weekend 🙂

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