This week, Home Life Abroad celebrated a whopping 3 years of blogging. Time flew by, but we sure learned a lot from our many experiences. Through thick and thin, we stuck by our beloved blog and it has grown to become an active, enjoyable and integral part of our lives.
Of course, every path comes with its tried-and-true lessons, and these are the ones we picked up along the way:
Value your time
There isn’t a day that passes by that we don’t receive a request to promote something for absolutely free and with zero benefits to us.
We receive over 30 of those emails per day, most of them asking us to provide hours of work to promote products, services, and companies while they offer absolutely nothing in exchange for our time but empty promises.
At times, they promise that they will pay next time we work together (they won’t). Other times, they say that promoting their company will somehow bring us tons of traffic & exposure (it won’t). And then other times, they promise to share the post on their social media (yippee).
Ave and I learned early on – we value our time. Creating a good piece of content takes hours: writing, editing, creating images and promoting it on social media can easily take up a good chunk of our day.
So if a company wants us to spend those many hours promoting their products or company, well, they better be ready to cover fair payment for the amount of time and dedication we put into it.
After all, this is the time that we could spend doing anything else: watching a movie, cooking, playing with our kids, or simply relaxing on the couch. All of those are preferable to working for free for anyone.
Network with other bloggers
One of the best parts about blogging is becoming a part of a strong community of people who love the same things you do.
Whether you’re a travel, fashion or mommy blogger, along with the path you will meet other bloggers and mutually enjoy each other’s stories & content.
As a matter of fact, that’s how Ave and I met! I had a giveaway blog and she had a postcard blog and we connected throughout the years, eventually realizing that we work great together and we could create a joint blog.
Friendships with bloggers have become an integral part of our blogging life. They are the most active readers on our blog, consistently commenting on our articles, liking and sharing them with their own followers as well, which increases our exposure.
Honestly, we couldn’t have reached this point of success without their support! (And we like to think it’s mutual)
Blogging is never-ending learning
Three years ago, I thought I knew everything there was to know about blogging.
Boy was I wrong.
Being a blogger means consistently learning more and more to stay up-to-date and relevant in the blogosphere.
Whether we have to learn how to manually move web hosts or how to make our posts more SEO-friendly, the learning never ends.
There are times when a small issue can take hours to research and resolve. There are moments when we read an article and decide to adapt the tips to our site. And then there are moments when we have amazing ideas – but no idea how to integrate them.
Every path we have taken for this blog in the past 3 years has required research, learning and acting on it. It was hours upon hours of dedication, but it has taken us this far.
We are wiser than ever when it comes to blogging, but still miles behind many other bloggers!
Write for yourself, not for others
It’s so easy to forget that blogging starts off as a fun hobby and not a part-time/full-time job.
Often, we bloggers fall into a pattern of feeling obligation and responsibility toward our blog.
The more followers, the more obligation we feel to continue keeping them updated with interesting content, great graphics or recipes.
Then when monetization rolls in, we have obligations toward sponsors who expect a certain standard of writing and heavy promotion of the post.
Before we realize it, we’re in a situation where our blog has become a time-consuming job. It’s no longer a source of inspiration where we can express our innermost feelings, where we can rant or share happy stories, thoughts or personal tips.
So when it starts to feel that way, take a step back, give yourself a break from the blog for a day or two, and try to remember what it’s really there for. In most cases, it’s there for you. Not for your followers, not for your sponsors, but as something that you enjoy.
I find myself falling into this all the time, but once I take a break and go back to writing for myself, I re-gain my love for the blog.
That takes us to the next important lesson: remember to have fun!
Having a blog should be a source of enjoyment. It’s exciting to have a medium to connect with others who are on the same wavelength.
Some of my most exciting blogging experiences were from the simplest of moments: like receiving messages from people who were touched by my articles – usually, because they experienced a similar situation to my own and they felt comforted in the knowledge that they’re not alone.
Other moments were in building amazing relationships with bloggers who became great friends, regardless of where they were located around the world.
So when the blog starts feeling like an overwhelming bulk of work instead of fun, I try to remind myself that it’s actually there for my enjoyment.
When it stops being fun, that’s when it’s time to let go.