Tuesday, April 4, 2017

5 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT BLOGGING IN 5 YEARS | BEHIND THE BLOG


Hi there, lovelies - 

I hope you're all having a great week!  I've wanted to sit down and write a 'Behind the Blog' post for over a month now, but haven't quite been able to put everything I'm feeling into words.  Or at least the right words.  After a few weeks and three drafts all with different titles, I'm hoping that I can verbalize exactly what's been on my heart and mind.  For the last couple months, obviously our lives have simply felt off.  After thinking about it, that's the only word I can use to adequately describe what we've been feeling - just off.  We sold our home in 24 hours, had 30 days to move out around the holidays, packed our entire lives into one huge storage room, purchased another home that we LOVE, but needs to be completely renovated, and moved what little we brought with us in with our family.  Whew.  For a while I was just going through the motions, knowing this is the process that would take us from point A to point B.  I'm a pretty literal person, so for the most part, I was taking all of this with a grain of salt.  However, I also feel things really hard.  Like really, really hard.  So, the 'off' feeling I've had during this transition has really tested me these last few months.  

I actually hit a milestone back in February - FIVE years of blogging.  When I took a step back and realized it was that time of year, I literally had to count twice, using my hands, because I didn't think there was any way it could be that long!  In some ways it feels like yesterday that I sat down with an idea, having no idea what I was doing, created a website, and started taking photos - in my driveway of all places.  In other ways, I reflect on how much I've grown as a person, everything that has changed in our lives, and all the amazing things I've been able to be a part of since starting For All Things Lovely in 2012.  But, regardless of how long I felt it had been, for some reason I didn't have a desire to acknowledge it or draw attention to it.  In other milestone years, I would plan a big shoot - full of macarons and champagne, but since February, all I've been trying to figure out is what the next five will look like, rather than celebrating the present.  Because I work from home, I had no idea the toll that this transition would take on me creatively as a blogger.  I am BEYOND grateful to get to do what I love every day and I know this is THE dream job.  It's definitely my dream job.  Being able to wake up every day and do what I love - there are no words.  So many people never get to do that and I feel so grateful.  But like any job, that doesn't mean that it's always easy or that it doesn't have it's moments of feeling like complete chaos.  What should've been my five year celebration felt more like a five year slump.  However, I had to realize that my 'slump' was probably more about our whirlwind transition than anything else.  Transitioning from one stage or place in life to another can be really hard, but most of all just takes time.  So, it took me a couple of months of reflecting to figure out exactly what this five year mark means to me - the mistakes I've made along the way, and what I've learned.  So here goes nothin' -

1. DO YOU.  
To me, this is the most important lesson I've learned.  Staying true to yourself in every aspect of life is important, but I really had to figure this out for myself and my blog over the last few years.  In blogging, or really just anytime you get a group of women all in the same room/category, there's bound to be a few difficult moments.  I've never really been a competitive person, but in my early years of blogging, I felt like I HAD to be.  In this world, all of your numbers are so visible to everyone else.  How many 'likes' you get on a photo, your comments, your followers and how fast they're growing, etc - it's all out there for everyone to see, but most of all compare.  I struggled with this for a long time, but I also saw how the competitiveness brought out the worst in people.  I've always been determined to never be one of them.  I love the quote 'Never do the envy, jealousy and insecure stuff.  Be the hustler, the go-getter, and the well-wisher.'  I literally knew girls who wouldn't like a bloggers photo because they didn't want to give them the satisfaction of growing their numbers.  I mean, is this real life?  The minute you can be genuinely happy for another's success is the moment you know you've figured it out.  I've learned to focus on progress rather than competition.  Five years later, I have made so many beautiful friends through blogging and want to support them in any and every way I possibly can.  I want to bring the magic out in them, celebrate the little and the big things, the good and the bad - that's what friends are for.  Sometimes nice girls finish last, but I'd take that any day over the alternative.

2. DON'T SWEAT IT. 
Giving myself a little grace when needed (aka, these past few months) has been a big learning experience for me.  Actually one that I'm still daily trying to figure out.  It's so easy to get caught up in the little things that we make bigger and bigger in our heads.  I've had to learn that the world WILL go on if I don't post on instagram for a day or finish my blog post at night.  I know that sounds so silly, but when it's your job to do those things and they don't get done, it's such a heavy weight to carry around at the end of the day.   But, I've realized in the past year that sometimes life just simply has to come first.  There are going to be days when you just can't do it all - and that's okay.  I've had to learn to be extremely disciplined, balance work/home life, and know that it's okay that I'm not a unicorn - all while not sweating the small stuff.  

3. FIND WHAT INSPIRES YOU.
When I used to work in an office, my favorite part of every week was our Friday morning meeting.  It was the one time of the week where the entire department got together, discussed strategies, and bounced ideas off of each other.  By the time I left the company to blog full time, I was leading those Friday meetings and thrived off of having a supportive team around me.  I went from that to a one man show in my living room.  As I mentioned above, the first few months were a lot of trial and error as I figured out exactly what worked for me and my schedule.  Although, I was still missing something creatively.  I started to realize that there were days that I didn't feel creative enough to create great content.  Especially five years in, coming up with new and exciting content can be difficult.  So, I started reflecting on what inspires me.  I've always, always been a lover of music.  I listen to each and every word of a song and feel it to my core.  I love deep, meaningful song lyrics that make you feel things normal words don't.  So I started taking time out of my morning to listen to those songs that would motivate me to write or be creative.  I also have at least 3 movies that I LOVE and can watch over and over.  Sorry J, I know you didn't WANT to know all of the words to Sex in the City One AND TWO.  But, sometimes even turning on one of my OG movies while I work helps me feel like myself and become motivated again.  And last, but not least, there's the water.  I know I've talked about this so many times before, but for me, being by the water is good for my soul.  It's healing, mind clearing, and rejuvenating - everything I need to feel totally inspired.

4. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE.
This one was really hard for me and I actually didn't do it for a long time.  For the first couple of years I started blogging, I wrote 'cookie-cutter' paragraphs at the bottom of every post.  It wasn't until I opened up and shared my story with you that I really realized how good it was.  Even if it was just good for me.  Taking a photo and talking about how amazing a sweater feels is the easy part - being vunerable and letting people in is another story.  Writing has always been an outlet for me, but once I was transparent and felt your love + support, I realized that nothing is more genuine than being relatable.  Some days it's hard to post a photo like everything is ok when you're breaking down on the inside.  Other days I simply don't feel as strong as I know I am.  But, we ALL have those days and all share those feelings.  Sometimes you just need a little help from your friends to get through it.  After all, it's the lows that make the highs so sweet.

5. SECOND WIND.
So, here we are five years later, I'm catching my breath, and my second wind is kicking in!  Yes, it took me a couple of months to figure out what that looked like, but I needed that time more than you know.  Sometimes reflection is completely necessary for moving forward.  I've put so much work into For All Things Lovely over the years and I've never been more passionate or proud about anything in my life.  I love the FATL family we've created and appreciate your kind words and sweet comments every day more than you'll ever know!  It's literally because of you guys that I get to do what I love  and know that I'll never take that for granted for a second.  If you're still reading, and God love you if you are, here's where you come in:

What do you guys want to see more of this year?  Anything from Fashion (closet staples, investment pieces, affordable trendy pieces, weekly #OOTDs, etc) to Home Decor (as we renovate our new place!) to Travel (city guides, bucket list places, etc)?!  Or anything else you want to request!  Let me know in the comment section below and thank you all so much!

Cheers to five years and many more! xoxoxo.
-M

25 comments:

  1. I loved reading this! It really is so true that nothing is more genuine than being relatable. Congrats on 5 years and can't wait to see what is to come!! I would love to see more posts about renovating your new place :)
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

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  2. Loved this post. You are one of my favorite people to follow (as well as a favorite blog!). something about what and how you share things on social platforms all seem so genuine and kind, from your big & little dogs to the fun adventures with family and friends.

    I would love to see more posts about home decor (I'm terrible at it) and renovations!! <3

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  3. Ahhh, even though I have never met you in person (I hope one day I do), I just adore you and your blog and love following along each and every day. You are original and classy and you're a girl after my own heart with your love for the bubbly!!!

    I would love to see more of affordable pieces/outfits that are classic and trendy but also of quality that don't break the bank. You are great at balancing that on your blog and more would be awesome.

    Thanks so much!! XO

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  4. Congrats on 5 years!! I loved this so much and thank you for opening up! As a small blogger, I have always looked up to you! This post really hit close to home and inspired me, thank you for that!

    xo,

    Brittany || The Everyday B.

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  5. Well said! I think the best is yet to come and can't wait to follow along!

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  6. I would love to see home decor posts and a travel bucket list!

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  7. Congratulations! In terms of future content, I'd love to see more home dรฉcor posts, save vs. splurge or more of a mix of classic affordable pieces and investments in outfit posts. Also, I know you don't go to NYC all the time, but I really like your NY posts so whenever you do go, it'd be fun to see your photographs and places you visit! :) -Anne

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  8. These are all great lessons - thank you for sharing! Congratulations on 5 years of blogging!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

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  9. I have so much to say with this post, Megan! First of all, congratulations on a HUGE milestone! I don't remember how I found you, but I'm SO glad I did. Secondly, you're definitely one of my favorite bloggers I can relate to (especially with this post and your story - I remember emailing you about it) and with my style. Both of our styles have evolved tremendously, lol!

    This post resonates with me so much. I started blogging about ten years ago and this September marks five years when I incorporated fashion into my blog. But I kept starting the fashion portion and giving it up and starting it again and giving it up over and over again. I didn't think I was good enough. And you're right. I should've focused on my own progress rather than the competition. I'd be further along for sure. Anyway, I started again this past January to see where my style takes me.

    Today, the competition drives me to do better in a good way. with such a saturated market, I want to earn my followers and their trust and building relationships with them rather than buying them just for numbers-sake. I can't believe what you said about bloggers not liking another blogger's photo because they didn't want their numbers to grow! That's so sad. :( I was always leery about the blogging community because of things like that, but bloggers like you void out the bad ones I don't want to interact with! :)

    It's so true about life going on whether you post or not. I'm on a 90-day Facebook hiatus and I'm LOVING it! I'm with you on the water thing. There's just something about being near the water that's good for the soul and that's coming from someone who can't swim, ha! As for putting myself out there, I'm a pretty open book, but when it comes to online, it's easier to talk about clothes, fashion and topics that add to people's lives. I'm going to take what you said as a challenge to be more personal on my blog in the coming months.

    To end my novel of a post, I'd LOVE to see all of the above! Wardrobe staples (like a must-have capsule collection every woman should have - I have a hard time finding a post dedicated to it that I can relate to), your thoughts on investment pieces (maybe comparisons or reviews on classic pieces you've purchased? can range from bags to clothes to jewelry), home decor in various price ranges (like those concrete planters you found at Target; your home reno, of course!), travel and posts on the ugly side of blogging (like media kits, collabs/negotiations with brands, how to grow your following, etc). I know this is a lot for a comment, but I truly feel you're one of the few bloggers I'd follow forever because of how genuine you are. You've taught me to love and celebrate every moment of life because "why shouldn't we be obsessed with everything?" I'll never forget that! Congrats on 5 years, Megan! xo

    She Sweats Diamonds




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  10. I loved this post! Congratulations on five years! I draw such inspiration from you, from your beautiful photography and aesthetic, to your amazing style, to your writing, all of which resonates with me deeply. I'm thinking about starting a blog myself and I really look up to you. Thank you for doing what you do! As far as blog posts - I love the outfit posts, home decor (for sure!) and more "blogging tips" posts. And of course I love the personal posts about life, love, and everything in between. Take good care, and I can't wait to keep following along on your journey! <3

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  11. Absolutely love this post! Opening up and letting us readers know that it isn't always hearts and rainbows is very much appreciated. I started blogging a year ago and still working full time so it is a struggle at times to fit it all in. I get when you say about being competitive. I'm always comparing myself to other bloggers which I know I shouldn't. It's a struggle but I'm learning that I just have to be patient and do what I can when I can. You said it best when you said to do just you. Opening up can be difficult but exciting as well because you never know who is going through the same things as you. I love reading your blog and seeing your pictures. They are always stunning! Happy 5th anniversary! Hope you have plenty more! As for what I want to see more from you: I think what you have been doing is great! I love the fashion, the travel guides, and definitely love seeing home decor! Bring it all on girl! xoxo

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  12. Happy 5 years!!!

    Can't wait to see your home progress pics!

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  13. Loved this post so much! I needed to hear a lot of what you said and to learn to live life in the moment. I so easily get caught up in what's next and need to really appreciate the wonderful blessings I do have and not just the things I think I "want" in my life. Currently feeling insecure, unsure, and down right scared to thing about jumping into the blogging world, but it's also exciting and exhilarating! Your blog is always so inspiring to me because you are so extremely talented at what you do! My favorite thing about you is how endearing you are, being able to be happy for others is an incredible quality and a real tribute to who you really are :-) And for your next post......I'd like for it to be with me rose in hand on a beach!!! <3

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  14. Loved this post so much! I needed to hear a lot of what you said and to learn to live life in the moment. I so easily get caught up in what's next and need to really appreciate the wonderful blessings I do have and not just the things I think I "want" in my life. Currently feeling insecure, unsure, and down right scared to thing about jumping into the blogging world, but it's also exciting and exhilarating! Your blog is always so inspiring to me because you are so extremely talented at what you do! My favorite thing about you is how endearing you are, being able to be happy for others is an incredible quality and a real tribute to who you really are :-) And for your next post......I'd like for it to be with me rose in hand on a beach!!! <3

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  15. Loved this post so much! I needed to hear a lot of what you said and to learn to live life in the moment. I get caught up in what's next so often and need to really appreciate the wonderful blessings I do have not just what I want in my life. Currently feeling insecure, unsure and down right scared to think about jumping into the blogging world, but it's also exciting and exhilarating and you are so extremely talented at what you do! My favorite thing about you is how endearing you are, being able to be happy for others is an incredible quality and a real tribute to who you really are ๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ˜˜ And for your next post...... I'd like it to be with me rose in hand on a beach ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป๐Ÿท

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  16. Loved this post so much! I needed to hear a lot of what you said and to learn to live life in the moment. I so easily get caught up in what's next and need to really appreciate the wonderful blessings I do have and not just the things I think I "want" in my life. Currently feeling insecure, unsure, and down right scared to thing about jumping into the blogging world, but it's also exciting and exhilarating! Your blog is always so inspiring to me because you are so extremely talented at what you do! My favorite thing about you is how endearing you are, being able to be happy for others is an incredible quality and a real tribute to who you really are :-) And for your next post......I'd like for it to be with me rose in hand on a beach!!! <3

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    1. Oops looks like I hit refresh 4 times!! Label me idiot for the day ����

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  17. You are amazing! Keep up the great work, I love your blog! Congrats on 5 years and many more to come!

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  18. Congratulations Megan on five years! It's so great seeing a blogger be open about the highs and lows of blogging. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

    Ilse
    www.livelearnluxeit.com

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  19. Happy 5 years of blogging! I have only been blogging for over a year and I already feel the pressure to post on IG daily and publish a certain amount of posts on my blog each week. It's really hard not to play the comparison game but we're all on our own journey. As bloggers, we should be able to enjoy what we do, otherwise it becomes easy get to get burnt out. I don't always comment but I enjoy reading your blog, especially when you share personal things that make you seem more relatable. I would like to see more affordable outfits highlighted in future blog posts. :)

    Polly
    http://gemsandjoy.com

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  20. All of these are spot on, but 1 and 4 get all the praise hands from me!! I love what you've said and it's exactly what I have to remind myself of all the time to stay in my lane and keep chugging along. I started blogging around the same time, but made the decision that what I started didn't match with my intentions and where I wanted to go, so I started over entirely! It's scary to leave behind what I'd already created but it was so worth it all to stay true to myself.

    Congratulations on five years! I've been following along for quite some time and love to see your space grow. :) Looking forward to what's to come, and I'd especially love to see your renovation journey and more in the moment thoughts like this.

    xx <a href="http://www.fonderlove.com>Lindsey</a>

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  21. Happy blogging anniversary! You should be so very hard of yourself! I can't wait to see what this year in your newly updated home looks like! I love your outfit posts, too. I love how honest you are with your fans!
    xxoo
    Mary
    www.BelleOnTrend.com

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  22. thanks for sharing! your blog is great, and it'is a big result!
    ❤ The Photoholic Girl by Michela M.

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  23. I cannot believe it has been five years! I am so proud of you! It took a lot of determination and hard work, but I'm glad to see how well it has played out for you. I love you and your hubby so much, and I'm so glad we were a part of one another lives while we were in South Carolina. To think we working at the same office five years ago....

    As for the blog, I've always said you need to post more home decor and decorating ideas. I saw your first home and you have such a talent for cohesive design. Oh, and I really think the world wants to see you travel to ALL 50 states. I think it would be a fun way for all of us to experience a piece of each and every one of your followers lives. You should have some meet and greets when you go! So let me know when you are kicking off the US tour.....hmmm....I guess Alabama is a great place to start. Here's to five more years!!

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