My Thoughts After 4 Years of Blogging

Yesterday marked 4 years of blogging here at Bliss at Home!

I didn’t realize it because I have been in the middle of my kids’ last week of school. You know how that goes. I actually wasn’t going to post this week because we’ve been busy with field day, kindergarten graduation, awards ceremonies, etc. I had originally took blogging off the to-do list, but seeing June 1st on the calendar, well, I just couldn’t resist celebrating this little milestone of mine!

See those cute faces below…they’ve been keeping me away from you guys…in a good way…

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I can’t believe I have a 12-year-old entering Junior High next fall who towers over me and now little man is going to be in elementary school full-time. It’s the end of an era! But, the start of some exciting new adventures. I’ll expound more on that at the end of this post.

For 4 years now, I’ve invited you into our home and I have shared my design work, our home remodel, a few personal posts, entertaining ideas, holiday ideas, and more. It’s hard to sum up what I want to say to you today if I’m being quite honest. I don’t think there is an all-encompassing way to express what these years have meant to me.

This past year has been such a mixed bag with life throwing in those health hurdles.  I think the best way to talk about these past 4 years is to share what I’ve learnt about myself and this blogging journey thus far. Maybe some or you bloggers and readers out there can relate.

When blogging becomes a career path, it comes with a whole new set of things to learn and navigate. I thought I’d break this down into topics, so it seems there is some kind of structure to this post, or maybe it’s just to help me gather my thoughts. Ha! Keeping it real, my head is clouded with so much right now.

WHAT I’M LEARNING | THE PAST 4 YEARS

1. THE SKY’S THE LIMIT

When I started this blog, I had no clue what I was doing. NO CLUE. If you were around in that first year, I’m sure you know what I mean!  I think I blogged about a scrapbook page I made in one of my first posts. I had an inkling of what it could be, but had to learn and teach myself so much.

Now blogging is a pretty well-known platform. People proudly talk about their blogs now when some of us before wouldn’t have even mentioned it as a job. You see bloggers in television commercials and on The Today Show. People starting blogs now actually have a plan! AND sometimes even a marketing strategy!  OR have worked on their branding! All of that before they have even hit publish on their first post. It’s amazing to see how far it’s come even in the 4 years I’ve been doing it.

What I have learnt from these past 4 years is that if you have a talent to share, a blog can be one of the most rewarding platforms to showcase it and be found by the right people.

I am still humbled and amazed at all the projects I’ve gotten to be a part of all because of this blog. It’s really hard work, and not very rewarding in the beginning, but it can lead to so many great things. It can really be a career starter. THE SKY REALLY IS THE LIMIT. I truly believe that you get what you put into it.

Here I am, in my small town in Illinois, away from all the design hubs of the nation and I have been able to get featured in magazines and on reputable design sites. I’ve had the chance to work with bespoke and luxury brands.  I have even taken on clients and worked on spaces for them. All of that began with a silly scrapbook page 4 years ago. This is not a brag by any means, it’s just to show that if you take on blogging to build a portfolio or feature what you love, you really can break into the scene you want to be a part of. I love styling shoots and spaces and working on interiors and I get to do that because of this blog. And just look around, so many bloggers are branching out and doing some really incredible things in the worlds of design, DIY, food, health, beauty, fashion and more!

2. LOOK AHEAD AND DREAM BIGGER

Blogging is great in itself and you can work at it full-time for your day job if you find success with it. You can also use it to branch out and grow your brand into other areas of interest. Like I said, it’s a platform. I’ve learned that when I look at my goals and what I want to explore in the future, it’s all about keeping the focus. When I lose focus and get sidelined with what everyone else is doing, it S U C K S my creativity. I like to be inspired by others, but I don’t do a daily read of every favorite blog and design site. I want to keep the focus on what I’m working on and what inspires my projects. I’d rather my inspiration come from my life and my travels.

I realized early on, that I needed to dream a bit bigger and go for things a bit outside my comfort zone. I really think that is how you learn and grow your skills and hone in on your own unique style. Every decision I make with this blog is to work towards what I want to do more of in the future. I guess that sounds pretty calculated, but I would take that approach with any job.  I’ve had a few missteps along the way and had to reassess things a few times, but it has made me realize more and more what I love to do.

It’s good to reflect from time to time and you are going to have some failures along the way, but don’t dwell.  I have taught myself not to dwell on them. Learn the lesson, make some adjustments, and keep looking ahead and working towards the bigger dreams.

3. IT’S OKAY TO SLOW DOWN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Blogging, especially the type of blogging I do (mainly design and some DIY), is fast-paced. Or, so it seems. Everyday it seems like someone is pumping out a new interior, a new tutorial, a big collaboration. It can seem highly competitive and the truth is the environment can turn that way. It’s not a bad thing, it just depends how you react to it. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers get down, myself included, when the big things weren’t happening. You get happy for your friends who are getting those great projects, those dream collaborations, or those big magazine features. Then, you start to wonder, why not me? I’ve been on both sides of it. I see a lot of bloggers burning the candle at both ends trying to get those opportunities. It’s good to be focused and work hard, but it also can be your downfall. I just basically turn off the noise. I keep up on what’s going on in my niche now, but I don’t seek it out on the daily or even weekly. I do what my day allows and don’t sacrifice my family or my health. I slow down when I need to. It doesn’t mean I’m not working hard. I take on what I’m passionate about and work hard to deliver it in a beautiful way. This past year was a challenge, but I’m happy to be coming out of it and it only helped me keep my focus.

I’ve taken some breaks due to health in the past and in the back of my mind, I was wondering if it would hurt me in the future. I think all bloggers start to worry about the numbers, the stats when they aren’t producing content.  Well, when I have had to take these breaks, I just made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t check anything until I came back. The good and surprising thing is that it really didn’t hurt me in the long run.  I think your body of work and consistency in your work is really what draws the readers to come back and the opportunities to keep coming. I guess it’s a quality over quantity point I’m making here. Even though I had to slow down the first half of this year, when I look at the content, it’s some of my best work yet. The collaborations and opportunities didn’t stop, they are just getting better and more in line with my brand and what I want to pursue. I learned that slowing down can be a good thing. If you have to do it, don’t fear the “what-ifs”!

4. GROW A THICK SKIN

Blogging is strange if you really stop to think about it. You are putting yourself out there for all to see. You are highlighting your passions, your gifts and abilities, and sometimes your heart. People love you or hate you for it. It’s a really vulnerable position for us creative types. I’ve been fortunate in this journey to have the positive far outweigh the negative when it comes to opinions. Oh, but, WOW, does the occasional negative comment sting. It will happen eventually, if you’ve been blogging for any good length of time.

My answer to all of this is I had to learn how to GROW A THICK SKIN. Just FYI-This is coming from someone who is super sensitive! Yes, even super sensitive people can grow that thick-skinned armor. It’s taken me almost the entirety of these 4 years to actually accomplish this.

My way of accomplishing this was to focus on my goals and acknowledge my successes. When I look at my path and all I have accomplished with this blog I am proud. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. I don’t give power to one rude commenter or mean-spirited person. First off, you have to consider the source of that comment.

On the occasions that this has happened, it usually is anonymous (go figure, right!). So basically, internet trolling. You can DELETE it, respond, or just let it publish and see what happens. I take the last approach usually. Early on, I would respond, but it is pointless. You are giving the commenter exactly what they want–a response. You could delete it, which I think there is nothing wrong with. I tend to just let things publish because, people totally have your back!

5. EMBRACE CHANGE

After 4 years of sharing our remodel, it’s time to say “Good-bye, Illinois!” I grew up here, as many of you know, we actually bought my childhood home. We moved back to our hometown when we got married  almost 15 years ago and now as chance would have it we are moving to another part of the country sometime this summer. There are still details to get hashed out and I don’t want to disclose too much right now, but yes, we will be moving.

Truth be told, I am so ready for this change. I think we moved back to this area because we didn’t know where else we wanted to live at the time. Our wedding was here so we just got our first place soon after and started working new jobs and we never left. It’s not a bad place to live, very family friendly and has some beautiful areas. I am not a fan of the summers though. Hot and humid are not my favorites. All in all, its been a nice place for our family and we will always cherish the memories we have made here.

We fell in love with the Upper East Coast when we were there for an entire summer a couple of years ago and that’s where we see ourselves raising our family and settling down for good.  So, just as I was planning on taking on clients again and starting to plan more projects here, I guess I’ll just have to do that in our new hometown! What a new adventure that will be!  I am definitely learning to embrace change and adapt with how it fits into my work here.

I think it will be a really positive change for my blog and other things I want to pursue more. I really think it will be fun to share this new part of our life with you all too. Hope you want to join us in this new chapter!

Now that school is over this week, I am excited to plan our first trip out to house hunt and explore the towns and schools in the area we are moving to. I am going to be really picky with this next house since I am hoping it is the one we will grow old in. Fingers-crossed!

In the meantime, I have a little wiggle room with this move and timeline so I decided to take on some collaborations again. Can’t wait to share the things I’ve been working on and will work on these next few months.

Looking ahead, I’ll be able to dedicate more time to work. YAY! The baby of the family will be in school full-time this fall. I’ve cherished being able to be home with him, but it’s definitely going to be nice to focus on growing my portfolio a bit more. I’m sure I’ll have a day or two in the beginning of the school year that I might be sad just because being home with my kids has been such a huge part of my life. Zoey and I will have to console each other. I feel very blessed that I could do that and will never regret that choice. Like I said at the beginning of this post…the end of an era.

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4 years! That flew by! The rest of this year is going to be a roller-coaster ride with the move and all. I’m excited about some collaborations coming up this year and of course sharing our new home will probably lead to more remodeling…we just are gluttons for punishment!

In the fall, I’ll have a big magazine feature to share with you and some behind the scenes of that shoot. I’m afraid it’s going to make me cry seeing it though since it was shot here, but it will be a nice memento of our family and home. Other than that, there is a lot of unknown moving to a new part of the country, but it just feels right to have a new adventure for our family.

Thanks for all your love and support! You’ve made these last 4 years a complete joy!

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