Yesterday, August 4, 2016 marked my five year anniversary of blogging. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even realize it until my friend pointed it out. But I’m happy she did, because after that I fell down a pit of nostalgia. Five years, how can that be? During the last five years I’ve written 1700+ articles, made a ton of new friends, and had so many amazing adventures. Five years is a long time but it seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye.
Five years ago I was working at my day job, thinking about our upcoming wedding, as I often did during that time period. I was thinking about how difficult it was to find information about getting married at Disneyland, and I was thinking about how helpful my favorite blogs were regarding wedding advice in general. I had actually been thinking about starting my own blog for a while, just to journal about our wedding planning and sharing what I found out about Disneyland weddings. But I was stuck on a name. I’m really not sure how or why I thought of the name Budget Fairy Tale, but as soon as I did I went to Blogger and grabbed the URL. It’s cliché, but I do remember it as if it happened yesterday. I remember registering the username, setting up a basic template, and publishing my first post. I did it all within about 10 minutes, I think. And after I had published my first post, I thought, “Well, we’ll see what happens with that.”
Five years later …
To say starting that little blog has changed my life would be a total understatement. My life is totally different from what it was five years ago, in the best possible way. Blogging has brought me a new career, freedom from the cubicle, a new sense of self-esteem, and amazing friends. There’s no way I could have predicted how my life would change five years ago when I published that first blog post, so I figured it might be appropriate to share a list of five surprising lessons I’ve learned in five years of blogging.
5 Surprising Lessons Learned from 5 Years of Blogging
1. Don’t spend too much time helping other blogs grow while neglecting your own. In my first couple years of blogging I was eager to learn everything I could possibly know about how to run a big blog. I did a lot of guest posting for other blogs, which is fine. That’s a great way to get your name out there if you’re new. But be sure you are still focusing plenty of your attention on your own content and your own website. I also was an intern for other blogs which taught me a lot, but I think I did it for a little too long. My best advice on this topic is, don’t give too much of yourself to helping someone else’s business grow instead of focusing the majority of your time on your own blog. If you feel stressed out because you have too much on your to-do list, or you feel a sense of dread when it’s time to work on content for someone else, it may be time to make some changes. So listen to your gut!
2. You can’t please everyone all of the time. I guess this is a general life lesson, but when you put yourself out there on the Internet you get people’s thoughts and opinions whether you want them or not. I feel like I’m pretty lucky and the vast majority of comments are very friendly and positive, but I’ve certainly had my share of trolls and haters, too. You really have to learn to let the opinions of strangers roll off your back, which is not easy! I may come across as tough, but in reality I’m deeply sensitive. I hate to find out that I’ve offended somebody or made somebody angry, but when you put your thoughts and feelings on the Internet, there’s always a chance that something can be misinterpreted or taken the wrong way, or someone simply disagrees with you (and wants to make sure you know ALL about it). If it’s a misunderstanding, I’m totally fine with apologizing. But I’ll never apologize for simply being myself, and you shouldn’t either.
3. You really do have to spend money to make money. I was frugal with my blog for a long time. After all, I had the word BUDGET in my blog’s name! And you can get away with being cheap for a while. But once I knew I was really serious about turning my blog into a business, I knew I had to put a little bit of money into my blog. This is a hard concept to swallow, especially if you aren’t making that much money off of your blog in the first place. But if you were starting a brick and mortar business, you would need to buy supplies and pay rent and spend money on utilities, right? It shouldn’t be any different if your business is primarily online. You need to go to the conferences, you need to watch the webinars, you need to buy the pretty WordPress themes, and you need to invest in good services. Earlier this year I upgraded my hosting capacity and now I’m paying four times as much as I was before. And it’s worth every penny.
4. You will never know everything there is to know about blogging. If you think you can set up a blog or website, get it up and running, and then have it generate income for you while you walk away from it, that is probably not going to happen. Blogging is a fairly new industry still and things change every day. Blogging and social media go hand-in-hand and there’s always something new popping up in social media. Don’t even get me started on Google algorithms. You have to stay on top of the changes if you want to stay relevant. To me, the term “blogging expert” is a myth; there are only people who have been at it longer and have more experience. Always stay humble, and keep your mind open to trying something different if an opportunity comes along.
5. Bloggers are some of the best people you will ever meet. Blogging can be lonely, y’all. Most bloggers I know spend their days sitting at home, writing on a laptop while wearing their pajamas. The stereotype is real. But working from home alone will drive you crazy, and if you want to be successful and stay sane, you need to find some blogging besties. I have met some absolutely, 100% real genuine bloggers who have changed my life for the better. You may also encounter some not-so-nice bloggers during your journey. Some bloggers view other bloggers as competition and tend to keep to themselves. It’s fine if they want to do that, but I tend to stay way from their negative energy. After five years I’ve learned my success is dependent on the help of other people. So whenever I can, I offer my help to others. It’s a great big Internet and there is room for everybody.
It’s really shocking to me that I’ve been blogging for five years. It doesn’t really seem like that long, yet at the same time it seems like I’ve been doing it all my life. If you want to start a blog, don’t wait for everything to be perfect because it never will be. Get started right now. And if you’re a newbie blogger, keep up the hard work. It’s not easy and there’ll be a lot of days where you want to quit or you wonder, what’s the point. (I still have those days, too, trust me.) But if you keep it up and work hard and be kind to people, you will be a success.
A million thank yous to all the people who have been there with me since the beginning. And another million thank yous to all the people who might be reading my blog for the first time and all the people in between. None of this would be possible without you and I find myself humbled every day that all of you take the time out of your day to read my articles, or leave me a comment on Facebook, or watch my Snaps, or like my Instagram photos, or watch my broadcasts. Here’s to another amazing five years of blogging and beyond!
Photo by White Rabbit Photo Boutique