I’ve been thinking about this post for several months, but honestly only started writing it a few days ago. It’s just that I can hardly believe that Misadventures with Andi is 10 years old. Today. It’s a milestone. One whose passing should be marked, it just seems harder for me to realize I’ve been doing this a decade!
Strange, it doesn’t seem to bother me that 50 is creeping out there, but the blog turning 10? Whoa! In many ways, I feel like I just started blogging and I think that is a good thing. In other ways, I feel like I am nowhere near where I thought I would be. All this got me thinking. A lot. And I’ve come up with 10 lessons or things I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging.
1. Blogging is work but if it isn’t fun you’re not doing it right.
Misadventures with Andi is my creative outlet. It started as a result of a writing class I took where we explored different mediums, blogging being one. It opened up a whole new world for me! Because I’m an introvert I’ve always preferred communicating with the written word. When I moved to Europe I used to write missives or newsletters back home to my family and friends in an email detailing all my faux pas while living in France and working in Switzerland. I labeled them Misadventures with Andi.
Learning what a blog was and how much fun it could be was thrilling and 10 years later I still feel the same! That’s not to say it’s been all fun and games but I have relished having my own little corner of the interwebs to shape and grow.
While I know for many people, blogging is their full-time job, but I still say if you can’t have fun doing it, what’s the point? One of the reasons I walked away from being a Director at a brand and took a sabbatical was because I wasn’t having fun anymore. So trust me, I practice what I preach. After an almost 2-year break, I’m back at a new job working hard, and having a good time. My blog “completes me” and I think that’s the way it should be!
2. Online relationships can be very rewarding.
I have a wonderful group of online friends. Friendships that have lasted for years. And truth be told, I’ve eventually met a lot of them IRL, but that hasn’t always been the case. (Although I’ve got life goals to meet Kristin Luna and Jen!) Not meeting in person doesn’t matter. Once you find your tribe you can turn to them for all kinds of support.
3. Have a good support team.
And speaking of support, find good people you can count on, treat them fairly and don’t let them go! Let’s face it, we can’t all excel at everything and sometimes you have to lean on others. For the last 5 years, I’ve had an amazing VA who has helped me keep my head above water. Tami is always there when I need it and I trust her implicitly. When it comes to tech issues, I don’t have the patience, so I turn to Josh and not only is he my geek hero, but he also is extremely patient and gets me. He understands what my vision is and helps me get it over the finish line.
4. Be you.
Comparing yourself to others will be the death of you. Be the best version you can of you and your blog. There are millions of blogs out there, people are looking for distinct voices and personalities, so do you, be you and don’t worry about those who don’t stick around. That’s not to say that you can’t borrow things you really like from others, but do your own version of it.
5. Know your brand.
This is probably easier after a few years rather than when you are first starting out. In 10 years time, my core brand has stayed true. I developed my tagline my 2nd year of blogging: Merry musings of a feisty foodie, slash lit-chickie slash globe-trotting wannabe Frenchie. Over the years I dropped the slashes, those were just annoying, I removed lit-chickie because at a certain point I was no longer interested in book reviews. But the rest has stuck. My core pillars Travel-Food-France have stuck (except when we spent 18 months on the road in the RV, France was downgraded for RVing, but after the trip, France is back!). So when someone wants me to blog about something that isn’t me, I say no. With no regrets.
6. Know your worth.
On that whole saying no part. Just because someone is willing to pay you something doesn’t mean you should do it! Nothing is worth sacrificing your dignity! If someone is interested in paying you for your talent and experience, then know what your worth is. Do not accept really crappy rates because there will be a long-term relationship. I have never once seen that happen! Calculate what your time is worth, don’t underestimate the value of the community you’ve built, don’t lose sight of the fact that what you do represents a skillset or access that a brand wants. Opportunities come and go, but you’ve only got one brand and one community, don’t neglect yourself or their value.
7. Be kind.
Being mean is easy. Being kind takes much more personal strength. Strive to be a better person, your efforts will make the world just a tiny bit better. Be grateful. Once again, people make a choice to visit your brand, don’t take it for granted. Don’t disparage other people and other brands. There is an aboveboard way to complain about a brand on social media, make sure you are doing it right. Never attack a person. There are all kinds of people in the world, room for lots of opinions, listen with respect, share with respect and the world will be a better place.
8. Be professional.
God help me, I’ve worked with so many unprofessional bloggers and brand people. In fact, I’ve got a post in the works on this. Be a grown-up, be polite, do what you are going to say, and then do more. Bloggers, you represent all bloggers when you do bad work or act poorly. One bad experience with a blogger can turn a brand away from investing in bloggers in the future. Brands, we are not friends. We are involved in a business traction and while we may be friendly, you need to remember you are representing a brand, and by the way, so am I.
9. Social Media is important but not as important as your blog.
Maybe it’s because I have a background in web marketing and spent a lot of my early career working on websites, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to make your blog the hub of all your content. Social media platforms change. Algorithms change. You are only renting the track that your little train wheels are speeding along on. Facebook or Instagram or whoever can come along and change the route from Paris to Peoria (sorry if you are from Peoria) or remove the rails altogether, then where would you be? Don’t put all your eggs in any social media basket. Direct all activities to your content, on your blog.
Okay, 10 years in I should have at least one regret, right? Oh, SEO…how I wished I had appreciated you in 2008, 2009, 2010, well you get the point. I vaguely paid attention, dabbled here and there, but didn’t completely appreciate you until I was nearly 3,000 posts into my journey. Oh, how I wished I had mastered SEO when I was starting out. Oh, how I am paying the price now. If you are reading this and you are new to blogging, master SEO, or make best friends with someone who does.
Now that is not to say that I would change my writing style. I am always going to be a storyteller, a conversationalist who isn’t likely to keyword stuff or write every blog post with SEO in mind, but I honestly believe there is a way to do both.
For all my readers, family and friends, thanks for being part of the Misadventures with Andi community the last 10 years, I certainly hope you stick around for the next 10!
One little shout out on this day, you may have noticed that I have an updated header which gets me a little closer to the one I had for 7+ years while living in San Francisco. It isn’t 100% there yet, but I like it! In celebration of the blog birthday, the lovely Christie of Sweet Frost Bakery out of Mesa, Arizona, created these adorable cookies. I wish I could send a dozen to each and every one of you!
Now you! To celebrate my blogiversary, tell me a favorite post, or trip or story you read about over the last 10 years. Or something you love, like or hate about Misadventures with Andi. Or something you’d like to see? And you can ask me anything!