This upcoming Sunday marks my three year blogiversary. Three years! In a lot of ways it feels like I've been blogging forever and in others I still feel like a newbie. The one thing that is exciting- and at times a bit frustrating - is that there is always something new to learn. Not just in terms of nail art but the ins and outs of blogging itself. Looking back to when I first started blogging I laugh at how utterly clueless I was about it. I had been doing nail art and posting on my Facebook page for awhile and friends kept urging me to start a blog. I shrugged and thought, "Why not?" And that was that. I did no research, no planning, nada. This now makes me cringe. Why? Because my learning curve was looooong (I actually just went back and added another extra "o" on this it was that long). Super long. I still feel like I'm walking that curve sometimes. SEO. What's that?! Photography. Huh? Blog Statistics. Wha-?
Yes dear readers - I was clue-less. I can't say that I have the advantage of doing tons of research before starting Valiantly Varnished. But I can say that learning everything while actually blogging has given me a bit of extra insight. So as my blogiversary looms, I have decided to compile a little list of the biggest lessons I've learned over the last three years.
5. Planning is everything
Okay this may sound kind of funny coming from me after what I've just written. What I am speaking of is the day to day planning of blogging. Understanding the importance of this is key. It also I think will help you avoid burnout (which is something pretty much every blogger experiences). There was a time when I was doing my nails literally every single night after work, taking pictures and then editing them and writing a post. Every night! After my first year of blogging I was exhausted.
Now I have a schedule: Every month and every week I plan what I want to do. And I pick a two days out of the week to sit down and do nail art, swatch and write posts. This has given me the time to post quality content that I am proud of instead of slap dash posts that I churned out an hour before my bedtime. Now please know that this isn't written in stone. Some weeks I post three times and others four or five. But planning ahead has afforded me the having the luxury of flexibility and that has been extremely important for me.
4. Do NOT try to compete with other bloggers!
Okay peeps real talk: Have you ever looked at another blogger's nail art or swatches and thought, "Wow. She's amazing. I wish my nail art/swatches/cuticles/hands looked like hers" Yup. Of course you have . We all have. And while this can sometimes be a motivator to stretch and improve our own skills most of the time it just makes you feel like crap about yourself. So here's the truth: If you are competing with someone else you will always lose!
You will never be that person. Simple as that. So all you can do is be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. Hate your freehand nail art? Well do more freehand nail art! Practice does make better (not perfect because it doesn't exist!). If you always challenge yourself to be better than you were the previous post you will always win! You are your only real competition. So if you find yourself feeling like a shriveled up mushroom after reading blog after blog. Stop. Step away from the computer screen. Take a break from worrying about what others are doing and focus on what YOU want to do.
3. Take a Break
Because yes sometimes - I get sick of nail polish (gasp!). It's true! As much as I love nail art and nail polish and blogging sometimes it just feels like work. Plain and simple. And boring. And that's okay. If you need some time to focus on other things or to renew your creative juices then do so. Binge watch that Netflix show. Rock naked nails for a week (this one I have never done but others have told me they enjoy it - I looked at them with skepticism and suspicion). If you continue to blog while really not wanting to blog you will burn out and you will probably wind up walking away from something you love because it's become too much. This has happened to so many bloggers that I love over the last few years and it makes me sad.
2. You gotta learn the techie stuff
I know, I know it sucks! If you're not a tech savvy person learning HTML is overwhelming and mind-boggling. I'm with you on that one. But in order to run a blog on a day to day basis you have to know the basics. Anything else you can learn! Trust me. There are tutorials for everything when it comes to blogging. I am in no way an expert. I don't write or read code, but I can do the basic things that I need to to keep my blog up and running. Everyone has their preferred platform. I started on Blogger and recently switched to Squarespace which I am still learning the ins and outs of. I didn't know diddly squat about the the tech part of blogging so if I can do it you can too.
1. Don't be afraid to try something new
This has been the lesson I've learned over the last year or so. Don't be afraid to add content or a subject to your blog that is important to you. Or to try a new nail art technique or even to completely overhaul your blog - like my new layout? ;). It's your blog! And doing exciting new and different things will keep YOU engaged and excited about blogging. Having said that if you have a niche - which a nail blog most certainly is - don't expect your readers to all of a sudden want to read about your love of fly-fishing everyday. Try picking one day a week or month to post about something outside of your niche. This allows your readers to not feel like you've completely abandoned them and also allows you the freedom to express your interests. Who knows, maybe your fly-fishing post will inspire someone to give it a try and may also bring a whole new set of readers that you never would have engaged otherwise.
And that's my shortened list of things I've learned over the last three years. I could write a much longer list but I decided to narrow it down a bit for you all! Are any of you bloggers? What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned?