Wednesday 13 August 2014

What I've Learnt from One Year of Blogging

Today marks exactly one year since I started writing here at Awake + Make. The time has just flown, and although it barely feels like I've been blogging for a year, now I cannot imagine not blogging. So, put on a party hat and help yourself to a slice of birthday cake, because today I am celebrating one year of Awake and Make!

A year ago, I knew very little about blogging, except that I liked reading a few blogs, and thought that I might enjoy blogging too. After some brief research, I dived in and created a Blogger account. I'm one of those people who prefers to learn through doing, so I just took the leap and started posting. Here's a few things I've learnt along the way. Rather than this being a "blogging advice" post, think of this as more of a few pointers to my non-blogging self a year ago. I'm definitely no blogging expert, and when it comes to blogging, everyone should just do whatever pleases themselves, rather than follow "guidelines".

1. You Don't Have To Blog Everyday
In the early days of Awake + Make, I used to blog everyday. The pressure to do so came from nowhere but myself; I felt that if I didn't post everyday, I'd soon fall out of the habit of doing so and abandon my blog. A lot of the time, this led to me posting when I had nothing to say, and therefore writing posts that were rushed, and that I wasn't proud of at all. I've got better at planning my posts now, and therefore have more time to prepare the content for my blog. Now, as long as I blog at least once a week, I'm happy. I have the utmost respect for those bloggers that do post great content everyday, because I know how much hard work they must put in.

2. You'll Learn A Lot Of New Skills
Mostly things that you never even knew you'd need to know. Coding isn't necessary, but knowing the basics definitely helps (if only for blogging emergencies). I love Codecademy, they make all kinds of coding super accessible for everyone, and even make it enjoyable. Photography is something that before blogging, I had very little interest in, however now, is one of my favourite parts of preparing a post. I am never going to be the next David Bailey, but I have noticed a slow and subtle improvement in my pictures. It's the kind of thing that I've only got better at through constantly doing, and trying out different compositions in order to work out what looks good. I'm still learning a lot, which I am glad for, because I enjoy challenging myself to new things.

3. Most Of The Blogosphere Is Super Friendly
When you're not a blogger, you hear all kinds of internet horror stories that could put you off for life. Whether it's Twitter trolls, snidey comments on posts, and even a general misunderstanding from people who don't blog, you assume that when you put yourself out there on the internet, you are going to get all kinds of hassle. Or maybe this was just me (I'm quite the worrier). However, in reality, most bloggers are really supportive, friendly people. It's a great community to be part of. Personally, I haven't experienced any of the aforementioned issues, mainly because my blog is such a small part of the internet. Maybe I will one day, who knows? But I wouldn't ever let it put me off, because as a whole, bloggers are really nice.

4. Photo Editing Tools Will Become Your Camera's Best Friend
I never used to use any editing software on my photos at all, believing that it was totally unnecessary. I was wrong. When you first start to edit photos, it can be difficult to do it right - all it takes is a little too much editing for your photos to look rather cheap and tacky. I'll admit, when I first started editing my photos, I went about it all in the wrong way, trying to make a big, dramatic change to my photos, rather than trying to subtly enhance. The game changer for me, was when I discovered Picmonkey. Guys, it is insanely easy to use, yet you still get really good results. Usually, I change the exposure on a picture so it is a little brighter, and then choose a filter (my favourites are Tranquil, Dusk and Orton). You can thank me later.

5. Be Yourself
There are millions of really great blogs out there, but the one thing that makes your blog different, is you. So go and celebrate what it is that makes you YOU (that feels like it should be a Kid President quote, non?). It takes a while to find your writing style (I always used to write a lot more formally), but it's something that develops over time, and comes with more confidence. At the same time, there are days when I don't feel quite so chatty and upbeat, and that's fine too. There's no point pretending to be something you're not.

6. Don't Limit Yourself
When I started Awake + Make, I intended it to be solely a craft blog, focusing on things I had made, and keeping a track of ideas I had. I soon found however, that I wanted to talk about more than craft. Whether it was my latest thrifting finds, or a book I'd really enjoyed, or even just what I'd been up to lately, I found there was more and more I wanted to share here. So I did, and whilst Awake + Make still focuses primarily on craft, you'll find me talking about other things too. It's quite exciting, as I never really know which direction I'll turn in next, or what I might find myself posting here.

Here's to the future! A big, big thank you to anyone who's ever followed me, commented on a post, or read some of my ramblings. The celebrations will continue later this week, when I return with a Blogiversary Giveaway.

I'd love to hear what you guys have learnt from blogging too!

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