I published my first blog post on July 16, 2008. And while there have been many ups and downs, it is still going strong. Over the years, I have learned a lot of lessons – both about blogging and about life. In celebration of 14 years of Misadventures with Andi being on the interwebs, I want to share some of the most important lessons that I have learned.
So without further ado, here are 14 things that blogging for 14 years has taught me!
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1. Consistently is important
In blogging and life showing up is essential. After 30 years in my corporate career in marketing, I am at a place where I am respected for my experience and the knowledge which I built and collected by being consistent. Showing up day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year is what matters.
It is the same for blogging. In 14 years, there have been very few weeks when I didn't publish a post. I started my monthly “Currently” post in 2014 and have only missed 5 months!
It takes time to build up a collection of articles, life experiences, and a community of readers. Blogging takes effort, patience, and consistency to grow. The same is true for other areas of my life. I've built up healthy habits, established routines, and created a life that I love. You have to show up day after day and do the work, and eventually, you will get there.
2. Define Your Own Success
I love the saying, “you do you” and I think more people need to understand they don't need permission from anyone else to do anything. (Legally, I mean!) Don’t try to compete with every other person (or blogger) out there. Create the version of your life, or your blog, that you want.
You can decide for yourself what success looks like and you don't need anyone's validation to achieve it. Growth is never about one thing.
For me, blogging success has always been defined by the impact I make on my readers' lives – whether that is helping them plan their travels, feel less alone in their struggles, or simply providing a laugh when they need it. It's not about page views, social media followers, or sponsorships. It's about the connections I make and the people I help.
Find your niche and serve your audience. You can make a full-time income from blogging, but it takes time, focus, and dedication to build up a large enough audience to sustain that level of income.
3. I can’t do everything and I don’t want to
It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not do things. It’s okay to not be everything to everyone. You don't have to attend every event or take on every opportunity that comes your way.
In blogging and in life, you need to focus on what is important to you and what you want to achieve. If something doesn't fit into that, then it's okay to say no. Blogging has taught me to focus on what I want and to be more selective with my time.
Blogging has taught me to focus on the journey and enjoy the process. It's not about getting to some arbitrary finish line, it's about enjoying the ride. Every decision we make takes us down a different path (full of twists and turns) and there is no way to know where that path will lead to where you thought it would, so be thoughtful.
The blogging landscape has changed a lot in 14 years and there are a million different ways to “grow your blog.” You need to be strategic with your time and focus on the methods that will work best for you and your goals. There are only so many hours in the day and you need to use them wisely.
4. People build relationships with the blogs they read
Blogging is not just about writing articles, it's also about building relationships. Your readers will get to know you and your blogging style over time and they will either continue reading or they won't. You need to be authentic and true to yourself. Don't try to be someone you're not. Be vulnerable. Share your struggles and your successes. Be relatable. Be real.
People are looking for connection and relatability more than ever before. If you can provide that, you will build a loyal following.
BUT, you can’t please everyone! No matter what you do, there will always be someone who doesn't like it. And that's okay! You're not going to be everyone's cup of tea and that's perfectly fine.
Blogging has taught me to focus on my audience and the people I want to reach. Not everyone is going to like what I have to say, but that's okay.
5. Done is better than perfect
I have heard this a lot from friends over the last couple of years. And it is something that I struggle with! I sit on blog posts until I perfect them. But sometimes you have to let your children (in this case, my article) fly.
With the current blogging landscape and the focus on SEO, it is less about the post you put out that day and more about perfecting it over time. Just get it out there and add to it if you like. Update it for sure, especially in the travel space and you want to serve your readers with accurate up-to-date information.
Now on the life side, it all depends on your work environment. Sometimes what you put out has to be perfect, other times, getting something out for people to respond to will work is more important. I will say I have observed decision paralysis (or analysis paralysis) and it ain't pretty!
6. Choose to be Positive (and Happy)
I have written extensively about choosing happiness and choosing to be positive goes hand-in-hand with that approach to life. It's not always easy and some days are definitely harder than others, but I have found that by making the choice to be positive, happy, and grateful, my life is so much better.
Life is too short to focus on the negativity. By always staying positive when I blog (and sharing my experiences with others), I hope I have been able to help others do the same.
It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to change your mind. And it's okay to be yourself.
7. Work-Life / Blog-Life Balance
Working harder is not the answer. Sometimes you just need to work smarter. Or take a look back at lesson #3, it is just not possible to do everything. I have been blogging for 14 years and I have seen a lot of changes in the blogging landscape, but one thing has remained constant: my blog is a part of my life, but it is not my whole life.
I have not always maintained a healthy work-life balance, which is why Mr. Misadventures and I pulled the plug and took an 18-month sabbatical. We left the rat race, sold everything and bought an RV, and traveled where the wind (and national parks) took us.
Since then (I returned back to my corporate career in 2017), I have always made sure to keep a healthy work-life balance and I think that has been one of the keys to my success. And it is something I maintain in all areas of my life.
When I am blogging, I am focused on blogging. But when I am not blogging, I am not thinking about blogging. I make sure to unplug and disconnect from the internet. I make sure to live my life and enjoy the moment. And that is something I would encourage everyone to do, whether you are a blogger or not.
8. Taking a vacation is important
Believe it or not, when you are a travel blogger, every trip turns into work. An opportunity for “content.” What that means is that you never “turn it off.” I purposely choose trips that are for me. For my enjoyment without the underlying purpose of documenting what I do.
Do I write about someplace I went on vacation? Sure. But it is something that I was inspired to write because I felt the need. And it is after the fact. While I am on vacation, I am “present” for my vacation.
I see colleagues where I work struggle with this. They answer emails or call into meetings while on vacation. They feel obligated to. But I know from 30 years of doing this, that the work will still be there when you return from vacation. If you give in, they will always ask for more!
So take that PTO, that me day, that vacation, and enjoy!
9. Have Passion
Do what you love and opportunities will come.
When I started blogging, I was bored with my job and needed a creative outlet. The blog was a way for me to document my travels. I had no idea that it would turn into what it has today. Along the way, opportunities have come because I am passionate about what I do. I have never been “big” but I have had plenty of opportunities because of my passion.
The same goes for life. Passion is also a great motivator. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning and why I love my job. If you don't have passion for what you do, it will be difficult to find the motivation to succeed.
10. Deliver on your promises
I have seen so many bloggers half-ass it. I have seen them miss deadlines and deliverables and it makes me cringe. When a brand or location gets burnt by a blogger who wasn't professional, it is not good for the rest of us! I have been lucky in my career in brand marketing to have an understanding of what a brand wants or needs and I do everything I can to deliver above and beyond.
11. Blogging is never-ending
Blogging is a business, for me, a small business, and that means a lot of work. If it were only hitting the publish button once you have your final article! There is photography, SEO, social media, etc.! Oh, and the fun doesn't end there! You have to deal with website hosting, technical issues, and more that have nothing to do with the writing!
Continuing on this line of reason, these days it is better not to put all your eggs in one basket. Of course, that expression has existed for a very long time and historically had nothing to do with blogging! In the case of blogging, it means being nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities. Don't rely on one social media platform. Don't rely on one brand for collaborations. Don't stick to one style of posts, think about other ways readers might digest your content.
The same is true for life. Make time for several interests. Learn new skills. Mix it up from time to time so you don't get into a boring routine.
13. Find a tribe
Blogging has been a great way to connect with people. I have made some amazing friends from all over the world because of blogging. And that is something I am grateful for. When I get to meet them in real life, it is very special! Your tribe is likely a small group of similar-minded or similarly-focused people who you trust to bounce ideas off and help each other out.
My tribe has bloggers of different shapes in sizes at all levels of success as there isn't one right way to do this, but there are some best practices and experiences to learn from.
In life, it is important to find your people too. These are the people who understand you and support you. They make you feel good about yourself and help you reach your goals. You don't have to do everything alone.
14. Some people won’t understand you and what you do, and that’s ok
You will still have friends, family members, and colleagues who have no clue what you do as a blogger or how you make money. They will never understand how you can spend so much time on your blog or why you take so many photos. That's ok! You don't need to explain yourself to everyone. Just do you and the people who get it will get it!
15. Time flies
Why 15? I am an over-achiever and I wanted to over-deliver!
It feels like only yesterday that I wrote this blog post celebrating 10 years of blogging, and now it's been 14 years! The blogging world has changed a lot in that time and I have too. What hasn't changed is my passion for writing, for Mr. Misadventure's photography, and for connecting with people.
I am grateful.
When it comes to everyday life, take it one day at a time. Enjoy every moment for what it is. Time simply slips through our fingers and if we do not stop to cherish it, it is gone.
I wanted to take this moment to appreciate everything blogging has brought into my life. I could never have gotten this far in the journey without Mr. Misadventures by my side. His passion for travel and photography makes him the perfect partner for this endeavor and for life!
And of course, to you the reader who may have been here 14 years or maybe 14 days. Thank you for supporting me!
Did I miss anything? What blogging and life lessons have you learned? Let me know in the comments below!
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