In honor of Just Bee’s blog anniversary this month (and actually this week!), I’ve been sharing a few additional posts on blogging lately. You can catch these posts here. It’s a fun journey to reflect on – and I hope that what I share sparks some inspiration for you, or helps you in your own blogging endeavors!
I first started taking blogging seriously during the summer of 2014 with some intensive rebranding and the purchasing of Just Bee’s domain! I knew a LOT less about blogging (and the blogging world) then, but I was filled with excitement and anticipation. And although I know a lot more now than I did before, thankfully, that excitement still surrounds blogging for me today! After all, I feel that blogging is a strong calling of mine and I’m thrilled to get to process and document life this way, in this unique atmosphere.
When I say the phrase “taking blogging seriously,” what I mean is that I wanted to bring greater focus and professionalism to my blog. Starting summer 2014, I no longer wanted my blog posts to be vaguely-titled journal musings that I wrote in the moment just when I felt like it. I wanted to hone in on how to grow my blog and how to create quality content that would be helpful and uplifting to my readers. I was also eager to connect with other bloggers and soak in the unique, positive aspects of the blogging world. Finally, I dreamed of potential collaborations with companies – the chance to promote products I liked and actually be compensated for it! This is a commitment I made to myself and to my blog back then.
Fast-forward three years: Blogging has taught me to express myself and stretch myself in terms of creativity, content creation, and even my photography and technical website knowledge! I’m still loving it just as much as the day I first bought the ‘.com’ for Just Bee. There have been times with creative droughts, discouraging interactions, or getting a ‘no’ from different companies…but in the end, I feel I’ve emerged with a greater sense of focus and direction for this online space. Not only has Just Bee been a special corner of the internet for me to document our life in, but it has allowed me to do the three things I love so much: photography, writing, and encouraging others. My utmost goal is to honor God through my site. And in the meantime, doors have opened to allow me to collaborate with some great brands – things I’d only dreamed about when I first started out!
The blogging world has changed a lot already in these past few years and I know it’ll continue to be a fluid entity to keep up with, but as long as I can continue filling my creative tank and connecting with others without compromising authenticity, I’m here for the long haul. I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve met through blogging – whether you’re a blogger yourself who I can text or who has sent me snail mail 🙂 or a reader who has reached out – thank you, thank you! The community aspect in the blogging world is amazing! It makes my day every time I get an email saying you needed to read that post today or that you found encouragement in my site. My blog is meant to be an extension of myself and just like me, it’s not perfect in the least, but it sure tries hard to be a positive presence. Blogging has been an incredible journey so far and I’m excited to see where it leads!
Blogging seriously for the past three years has taught me a lot! While there are countless things I’ve learned and I could keep listing them all day, today I’ve tried to list the main ones that come to mind.
What I’ve Learned From Blogging Seriously For 3 Years
1 // Authenticity is a trickier balance to strike than it seems! I know, it should technically be very easy to just say what you mean, explain yourself, share your feelings… But in the online world, it can get difficult. Authenticity can sometimes be seen as negativity, and sometimes sharing feelings offends others without you meaning to. So, there’s always a measure of discretion I try to take in my blogging – there is beauty in being vulnerable, and real connection happens when we’re more vulnerable, but I also want to keep my blog a positive place and never regret what I’ve put out there on the internet. I know I’ll always be working on maintaining this tricky balance!
2 // You can make real life dear friends! Oh, this has been such a truly FUN part of blogging for me! I’ve been in a couple different mastermind groups over the years and I’ve loved them so much! From group texting to Facebook groups, it is so wonderful to have fellow bloggers to chat with and bounce ideas off of – because they get it, you know? 🙂 It’s hard to explain certain blogging situations or questions to people who aren’t bloggers themselves. And mastermind group or not, there are other bloggers whom I have totally loved connecting with over the years! To those of you who have sent snail mail, texted me, or otherwise reached out, I’m so grateful for you and your friendship. It has been so special to develop true, meaningful friendships that stemmed from this blog!
3 // A lot of it is about perseverance. There are SO MANY blogs out there. And daily, there are SO MANY people starting new ones! But there are also a lot of people burning out. I’ve learned over time that while perseverance is definitely not the whole key to blogging, it certainly is a big part of it! If I had just started my blog three years ago, announced it publicly, and then failed to post consistently or do anything with it…well, that’s not really much of a blog, is it? I’ve pushed through many difficult seasons and continued to work hard on my blog and its content, and I think it has really paid off. I’m pleased with how that has strengthened my creative “endurance” and my personal drive, too!
4 // Your sphere of influence is larger than you think. I think many bloggers have discouraging days where they sit back and wonder, Does anyone really care what I have to say? Does all of this work really matter? I definitely have! But it has absolutely blown my mind at some of the ways God has used this space to encourage others. I’ve had a lot of readers email me and tell me they needed to hear a particular post right then! It is so touching and humbling to learn of ways that people have stumbled across Just Bee and how it encouraged them in a certain season.
5 // The importance of a healthy relationship with social media. Ah, social media. It’s hugely important to any blogger, but also hugely absorbing, frustrating, and discouraging at times. I’ve been all over the place with social media. If I don’t watch myself, I could spend hours on various platforms, tweaking my profile, scrolling through others’ updates, and so on. But spending too much time on social media has never proven to be helpful to me. When you look at everyone else’s highlight reel, it can make you feel inadequate. So, there’s a delicate balance to strike. I need social media in the sense that it is how I promote posts from my blog and others’ blogs, but I also need to put down the phone sometimes and go out to experience life for myself! Luckily, social media has really positive aspects, too. It’s a unique, fun way to interact with other bloggers and shop owners – and I love commenting back and forth and chatting about life that way. I mean, who knew you could exchange recipes, parenting tips, favorite products, and inside jokes with people you met on Instagram? All in all, social media is a difficult thing to manage, but if it’s approached with intention, it is really valuable and rewarding!
6 // A commitment to high quality photography. While I still use some phone pictures on the blog (especially in my personal life updates posts), I love using my DSLR to capture most photos for my blog. I do believe that high-quality photos are crucial to any blog, and I’ve been striving to improve my photography over these past three years. Actually, I think I can really thank blogging for the improvement in my photography! Wanting better photos for Just Bee has driven me to raise my standards in terms of how I shoot photos, and I’ve really LOVED that aspect of blogging!
7 // Time management and organization! Without good time management, my blog would have fizzled out a loooong time ago. It can be really hard to produce quality content (complete with nice photos or graphics, not to mention proofreading and social media scheduling) when you also work a full-time job. For me, teaching in an elementary school full-time means that I’m not doing blog updates or posts during the day. A teacher’s day is way too busy to get that kind of stuff done, not to mention when I’m at school, I choose to focus on that commitment! So, I’ve had to be super intentional about blogging, especially once I decided I wanted to take it more seriously and not just journal my musings randomly when I felt like it. This involved scheduling a lot of things in advance, and also setting aside time outside of those 40 hours a week of teaching to write and photograph for posts. It has been a LOT. But, despite some discouraging or stressful weeks, I’ve managed to stay on top of my blogging commitments! It has paid off and I’m glad I’ve worked so hard at it.
I’ve also been LOVING having a detailed blog content calendar more recently. It really helps drive my content and guide each month on the blog.
8 // Decide what to invest in. There are things that are good to invest in but there are also things that you can do without cost. I’ve got a good number of free accounts – accounts that I may decide to upgrade someday, but for now, are working just fine for me in their “free version.” I use a free account on Canva for my graphics, I use my free account on Hootsuite to schedule many of my social media posts, and right now I do use a free account for MailChimp, which is how I send out my email letters. I do love my free accounts!
However, there are some aspects of blogging that I’ve really been glad I invested money in. For instance, I have a self-hosted WordPress blog (my hosting platform is WPopt and I LOVE it). A long time ago, I paid to have my logo designed and I still really like it! I also like to schedule pins on Just Bee’s Pinterest using a paid account I have through BoardBooster. So, there are always things that can be done for free when it comes to blogging, but there are also some things I’m glad I pay for. The key is just deciding what to invest in financially, and what can be invested in time-wise instead!
9 // Community over competition. This is HUGE! Having your own blog means that you’ve committed to growing your own blog, and meeting your own goals for your blog. That’s just how it goes! But…blogging is also a whole “world” online. It’s full of others who are trying to get their message out there and also people who are eager to connect with each other. Connection and collaboration are big parts of blogging. It’s never healthy to get too caught up in our own blogs – or get so focused on ourselves that we see other bloggers negatively, as competition. I guess it goes back to the real focus of blogging for me – I want to create a place where I can not only document our life happenings, but where I can uplift and encourage others!
In the spirit of collaboration and community, I’ve teamed up with some awesome fellow bloggers to bring you a giveaway in celebration of Coffee With Summer’s 3rd Blogiversary! We’re giving away a $200 Target gift card!! Everyone can use an extra $200 to Target, right? 🙂
To enter, complete as many tasks as you can in the Rafflecopter form. Enter fairly. All entries will be verified before a winner is chosen. US only. No giveaway accounts allowed – they’re automatically disqualified. Again, enter honestly and have FUN!
This giveaway is not sponsored by Target and it runs from 7/27 – 8/3. The winner will be chosen and contacted by 8/4.
If you’re a fellow blogger, what are some things that you have learned during your own blogging journey?