Today we’re celebrating our two year blogiversary and sharing the lessons we’ve learned from blogging.
I cannot believe it’s been two years since we created this little piece of the Internet. Brett’s been away for almost two weeks and as I was talking to him last night, I mentioned that North Country Nest turned two this month.
Like me, he couldn’t believe it had already been that long and brought up how time goes so slowly when we’re kids – the days and weeks and months tick by at a snail’s pace. Now, it seems like just yesterday that we were brainstorming blog names on the couch in our rented townhouse.
I think it’s safe to assume that neither one of us knew what to expect from this blogging thing and we definitely could not have predicted this outcome, two years later.
Blogging has been the most humbling and rewarding, yet extremely challenging, activity I have ever done. I’ve learned more skills in the past two years than I ever thought possible.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, I thought it might be fun to take a quick (or long, depending on how much I want to ramble) look back and share a few lessons we’ve learned along the way.
Photography skills are a must.
Prior to the blog, I had a DSLR camera that never saw the light of day. I had picked it up a few times but got so overwhelmed that I ended up just stuffing it back on a shelf.
And then we started the blog and I quick picked up on how nice and pretty the pictures were from other, more experienced bloggers. I was lucky enough to grab coffee with someone who had been blogging for five years and she said that my photographs will make or break our success.
Intimidating? Absolutely. But also unbelievably true.
We’re visual creatures and a picture can help tell a story or get the point across in a much better way than only using words. It wasn’t until this last year that the photography thing started to click. I took a few courses, purchased photo editing software and began experimenting.
The pictures on the left are from the first year of blogging and the ones on the right are from this past November and December.
There still are a million things to learn, but having a better handle on photography has definitely been a turning point for us.
Make sure your significant other is on board.
These past two years could not and would not have been as amazing and fun if Brett wasn’t all in. This blog and everything that goes into it, is a team effort.
Yes, it’s not always easy and there is a constant battle between the blog and other responsibilities. But if Brett (and the rest of our family and close friends) weren’t supportive, there is no way we’d be here.
Blogging is hard, especially when a brand or partnership is involved – just like any other business, there are deadlines and specific numbers that need to be hit. When that doesn’t happen, stress levels rise and tears usually fall.
Last summer when we were in the middle of doing the laundry room, planning for the wedding and digging in our garage foundation, I remember walking down the aisles of our local home improvement store, telling Brett that I think it was time to walk away from the blog. The deadlines and responsibilities were too much and not worth the stress it was causing on our relationship.
He agreed that we probably should not have made commitments this summer with everything else we had going on, but completely dismissed the idea of stopping. I remember him saying something like, “Kelly. This is what you love. Why would you quit now? Just because it’s hard? That doesn’t make any sense.”
And that was the end of the second guessing. I knew that as long as he was on board and all in, too, it would be okay – no need to wave the white flag.
Just because you’re ‘supposed’ to do it, doesn’t mean it’s a good fit.
In the midst of my research on how to monetize a blog, brand partnerships or sponsorships was something that I heard on a consistent basis. I dove into that a little more and came to realize that brands would partner with influencers and have them promote their products or services. Since brands don’t want to waste their money, they generally tend to partner with the ‘big’ bloggers – those that are doing it full-time.
Naturally, I set my sights on securing a few partnerships with brands because then it would mean that we’ve “made it.”
After working our tails off and finally having the courage to pitch a few brands, we had the honor and the privilege of working with two amazing companies last year. I remember calling Brett and the celebrating we did – I just KNEW this was going to be our ticket to success.
Except it wasn’t.
The brands were fantastic and I truly am so thankful that we had the opportunity to work with them. But somewhere between Brett’s chaotic and unpredictable traveling schedule and a few too many hiccups in the reno process, I realized that partnerships aren’t a good fit for us. It’s not that they’re bad or we’re not enough – just that it’s not for us right now.
That doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen; it just means that it needs to happen for the right reasons so it aligns with where we’re at and what works for us.
I chased after the sponsorship goal because that’s what I thought we needed since all the “big” bloggers were doing it.
It’s like that wonderful old saying about the bridge and jumping and doing it to follow your friends. We’ve all heard it a million times. It just doesn’t always sink in until after-the-fact. Luckily, we didn’t have too far to jump.
The world will go on even if we miss a post.
This one is a continuous struggle for me. If you’ve known me longer than five minutes, it’s no secret that I like organization, planning and structure.
For the blog, I try to plan out what we’ll be posting about a month in advance. But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Like the guest bathroom that was only supposed to take a month or the laundry room we thought would be on a similar timeline.
The world kept moving even though we missed our deadline. And you know what? We adjusted the timeline; life kept moving forward. Amazing, right?!
There is a fine line between learning from others and getting sucked into the comparison trap.
The thing with blogging is that it’s public – anyone and everyone can see what you’re putting out into the world. That’s what makes it so amazing and inspiring and fun. As a blogger, you get to share your passions and joys with lots of people and (hopefully) inspire them to take on a project of their own.
The yin to that yang is that everything IS public. So if you’re a blogger, you can easily see what other bloggers are doing, which can quickly suck you into the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to them.
This is especially common when you’re new and everyone seems to know what they’re doing except for you.
There have been countless conversations with Brett about why we aren’t growing as fast as XYZ or how on earth their pictures are so crisp and beautiful or any of the other countless insecurities that can seep into your mind when you’re having a bad day.
I’ll admit that I still have to work on this one – it’s our natural instinct to feel jealousy. But then it’s time to take a step back and realize that it doesn’t matter. The only person we need to “compete” with is our own blog.
So I look back at the year prior, see how many page views we had, check out the photographs, see how many subscribers and followers we had and my stress level starts to go down. I realize that we’ve grown. We’re doing something right because we’re better now than we were 12 months ago. And that is the only comparison worth making.
Having a plan is nice but it doesn’t always turn out the way you expect.
In October, I began freelancing for other bloggers and small business owners, managing their social media and digital marketing. It unexpectedly (and thankfully) grew a little quicker than I anticipated and after being offered a part-time job at a local non-profit, I said goodbye to the nine-to-five.
We started the blog in 2016, with no real intention of turning it into a business. Two years later, we’re embarking on this new journey. The OCD in me spent the majority of this month mapping out where North Country Nest will go this next year but then it occured to me – if there’s one common thread in all of these lessons, it’s that the best things in life aren’t planned. All you can do is figure out what you want and continue to work towards it, knowing that things will most likely change.
One final thought: I don’t think we can ever say thank you enough. Without you, our amazing readers and followers, this blog wouldn’t exist. Your support means the world to us and we are so looking forward to sharing year three (and hopefully four, five, six….) with you!
All our best,
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