What would you say if I told you that this Sunday, my little blog will be 5 years old? That's so crazy, right? It doesn't seem anywhere near that long ago that as a bored student, I decided to try my hand at something I knew absolutely nothing at all about and start a blog. That was September 2011 and I didn't for a second believe that it'd stick with til the end of the same year never mind that half a decade later, I'd still be doing it and more importantly, still enjoying it.
I've always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a little girl, and I started a blog to give me a place where I could write on my own terms, write what I wanted to write and make my own rules. Blogging has definitely been a learning curve for me (as I'm sure it is for most bloggers) and it has taught me so much, both personally and professionally. I was completely clueless when I first started and I've developed a lot of skills I didn't even know I had. With an learning curve though, naturally comes regrets and lessons.
One thing that really baffles me in retrospect is that I started my blog as a fashion blog. I was a fashion student at the time and wanted to showcase my style but soon felt restricted and uninspired. Not to meant that taking photos of your own outfits is hard! Don't get me wrong, I still adore fashion and personal style is still something I love reading about and experimenting with but I've also found other topics that I enjoy writing about too, such as feminism, social issues and personal ramblings.
Blogger lesson : You change as a human being as time progresses, especially over a period as long as five years. It's perfectly natural for your blog content to change to reflect that and boxing yourself into a corner doesn't help.
Another big regret would be my original blog name. As I'm sure a lot of you will know, I've only been 'Once Upon A Sophie' since May of this year. Before that, my blog was called 'Filthy Paws & Silky Drawers', a nod to the film Grease. I'll pause while you cringe. I regretted that name within a matter of months. It was too long, it wasn't catchy or an obvious enough reference and as it didn't contain my name, I found that I struggled to establish myself on social media and at blogger events. I'm so happy with my new name though and feel it represents me and what my blog is all about perfectly, I just wish it hadn't taken me so long to change it.
Blogger lesson : if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right & it's your blog so make changes as you see fit.
Something I still struggle with is dedicating enough time to my blog. I so often have ideas that I'd love to blog about but one thing leads to another, life gets in the way (ie. I plan to write then someone suggests a night out and that takes priority!) and the moment passed and before I realise it, it's been 3 weeks since I last posted. I've always been open about the fact that my blog isn't, nor do I want it to be my career, but I still find myself using that excuse to put everything else first then feeling awful about my blog.
Blogger lesson : There's no shame in setting time aside specifically to blog rather than just trying to fit it in round your life and blogging is the very embodiment of 'you get out what you put in'. Don't be annoyed about the results you don't get from the work you didn't do.
As a young clueless little blogger out there alone in the world, I had absolutely no idea the importance of social media. None whatsoever. I didn't even get a Twitter account until March of 2013, a year and a half after I started my blog and I didn't have a blog email address til the end of 2013. I wasn't even that aware people used social media to promote their blogs or interact with other bloggers and I certainly didn't understand that your social media presence is just as, if not more, important as a blogger than the content of your blog itself. Nowadays, I break out in a cold sweet if I've not tweeted in a few hours and the very idea of trying to promote my blog without social media is quite frankly hilarious.
Blogger lesson : Investing time in your social media is so important to the success of your blog and getting your blog out there for people to see matters, because trust me, they won't just happen to stumble upon it.
Finally, I regret having no little to no consistency for the first few years. I'd post similar blog posts three days in a row, at all kinds of weird times of the day or night when nobodies online, then it'd be weeks before I posted anything again. I didn't pay any attention to creating a 'brand' for myself. Heck, I didn't even know that was a thing bloggers did. I thought any old photo of a product would do, I didn't spend any time of ensuring it was actually a good photo. I didn't plan and I didn't organise my blog at all for a very long time. I've never been someone would benefits from a strict schedule but I've gotten a lot better and try really hard to be consistent and to utilise my resources well.
Blogger lesson : Readers, followers and companies enjoy when bloggers have a consistent brand and individual posts don't matter as much as an overall impression does.
Even 5 years later, my little slice of the Internet isn't perfect and it probably never will be, but for as long as I continue to enjoy creating my blog, it'll always be a learning experience and that's kind of empowering. I can't thank everyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media enough for their support over the past half a decade but hope you enjoy what I put out and hope you're looking forward to the next 5 years as much as I am - CHEERS!