Tuesday marked my first year of blogging, and it has been a crazy year.
I started out strictly as a style blog, taking pictures indoor against a wall because I was too weak to go outside.
Over the following twelve months my blog would morph into a creative lifestyle and storytelling blog. I would change my blog’s name (then The Mary Curator), shed my old site, and take my photography outside my house and into nature.
To those of you who have followed along, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t be more grateful for your support.
In honor of this crazy journey (that is still very much happening) I’m sharing ten things I’ve learned about blogging.
Everything is temporary.
Preserving artifacts and information, be it digital or physical, is something I studied to do, and with that knowledge comes the sobering realization that everything I’m working on is temporary. If it lives beyond me, that will be amazing.
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in trends, and wanting to have lots of followers, but the truth is we have no guarantee that anything will be around very long. Social media can change in an instant. Technology is being updated every day. Stuff isn’t made to last, its made to be upgraded.
This might seem like a downer, but it’s actually a relief. I can put so much time into worrying about a picture and making something perfect, but I have no control of how long it will last. Rather than making something absolutely perfect and like anyone else, seeing the temporary nature of my creation permits me to create freely and enjoy the process.
Be the best with what you are given.
I openly talk about my battle with Lyme’s disease. It has put limitations on my ability to create as freely as I’d like, and I still get discouraged from time to time when I’m too ill to make anything.
Over time I’ve learned to look more at what I already have, and embrace those gifts, no matter how small they seem. Recently I’ve been able to look back on what I did last year and see how good my work was—which doesn’t mean it doesn’t need improvement, but for the time, ability, and the health I had at the time, I am very pleased to see what I’ve done, and I take joy in it.
Make the system work for you.
I hate product placements and advertising, yet I’d love to make money with this blog in some way. This really drove me to analyze my work about six months into blogging.
Blogging is still a very new profession, and as a result it’s still easy to create your own style with your own rules. Because I’m more of an artist (I don’t like the terms influencer or content creator—even “professional writer” gives me the shudders), I am trying to find a way to create what I want and creating specific ways others could join in that creativity without me having to resort to advertising. I’m still working on this (I’ve got to build up my portfolio), but I sincerely believe it can work.
Wear what you love.
Originally I got really caught up in not having any clothes currently in store, but I don’t care anymore. In fact, I’m actually inching towards a thrifting kick. While new clothing can sell, I found it distracted me from actually enjoying my style. Call it a slow style, but I love building unique, classically based looks based on pieces of all different price points and styles.
Be the person you want to see on the Internet.
This has manifested in several ways, but one main way I’ve done this is by not photoshopping my skin in my picture. I know how, but I don’t. Why? Because growing up I didn’t see really anyone anywhere in print (or, later, the Internet) with acne that wasn’t glossed over. Practically everyone experiences blemishes, and a good number of people deal with acne, and, while I understand that a blemish can bring insecurity, I feel no obligation to hide mine. It’s normal to struggle with acne, and I have no intention to speak shame over it. I’ve had enough people in my life do that already.
Don’t rely on presents—learn your photo editor!
I don’t use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos because I don’t have the money, but I found a free photo editor that works very well. One of the benefits of using a free editor was that there were no presets available so I had to come up with everything myself.
Using Youtube I translated certain stylized Lightroom tutorials into the controls of my editor, and through that learned how to create a unique look. While it is still very much in progress I have been able to edit my photos to my own tastes and style. A preset can enhance your photos, but it is not a replacement for understanding your tools and how to use them.
Put in a little financial investment.
While my photo editor was free I’ve purchased a few things here and there for my blog. Besides my domain name and hosting I’ve purchased a few editing apps for my ipad, and controls and remotes for my camera. This was one of the best things I could have done. While I think that starting out free with some things is best, putting a little money into it can make it feel like it is more your own.
Change is inevitable.
Something will happen that will change the way you do things, whether by your choice or not. You just have to work with it and see how it goes.
On the bright side, one change you will probably see is in your own work, and it is usually an improvement—and something to celebrate!
Be proud of what you have done so far.
I can really be hard on myself that photography skills aren’t up to snuff or that I haven’t networked like I want. The truth is that I have come a tremendously long way in just a year. I am so proud of the work I have done, and I am glad for all the risks I have taken.
Recently I began a journal to help me keep my work in perspective and to ease up on comparing to others. Every night I write in my journal at least one thing I’ve accomplished and one thing I’m proud of. It has really helped to encourage me, especially when I have a crappy day where I can hardly read because my brain’s not working. It allows me to keep a more realistic perspective on things, rather than drowning in comparison.
Be personal. Be private. Be you.
I’ve found that blogging requires a balance of three things:
Personal details to connect with others,
Privacy to connect with yourself,
And the wonderful quirks that make you you.
Thank you for following me this last year.
Here’s—hopefully—to many more.
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