A Year of Blogging: 12 Lessons Learned

It’s been just over a year since I plucked up enough courage to start my very own blog. What began as my very own creative project soon turned into something bigger; I grew a sense of belonging within the community and began receiving more opportunities to work with amazing brands. It still baffles, scares and excites me in equal measure that so many people seem to be interested in little old me; the stories that I have to tell and the opinions that I share. Fear of failure and lack of confidence held me back from blogging for a long time, but after a year of Sophie Hearts, now Soph Hearts the only thing I regret is not establishing myself sooner. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in the past year so what better place to share them than right here?

Lesson 1 Blogging

Lesson 1. The First Step is the Hardest

Have I mentioned that it took A LOT of courage for me to take the leap straight into the deep-end of the blogging pool? It’s that initial little toe contact with freezing cold water that makes you realise that a cannon-ball is the only way you’re getting in. After the initial shudder and potential embarrassment the water gets warmer. The people who started staring at you either start supporting or bugger off.

Lesson 2. Know Your Worth

A lot of recent attention has fallen on bloggers getting paid. There are non-bloggers who think that payment makes recommendations less genuine. Although this is true in some cases, the trick is working out who would put their face to something they don’t believe in for a quick pay out. I certainly won’t. There are also bloggers who have the luxury of looking down at other, usually smaller bloggers for accepting low or NO fees. Knowing your current worth is very important. Beyoncé is able to charge extortionate prices for the privilege of watching her perform, other artists charge less and there are also amazingly talented individuals who do it for free in order to spread awareness. Expecting payment for your efforts when you’ve only just started out and have a reach of 3 people including your Nan is as ludicrous as a brand expecting free promotion from someone with a reach of millions. I could go on about this for ages, so let me know if you’d like a dedicated post!

Lesson 3. Dust yourself off and try again

In the words of Alliah ‘If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again’. This applies to almost everything in life. For one picture that I post on Instagram there are maybe 50 photos that didn’t make the cut. My blog posts are drafted up ahead of time and I re-read them multiple times to make improvements. It’s easy to be disheartened by one bad picture of ourselves when we see pretty girls in beautiful places all over our Instagram feeds but it takes a lot of practise to know what works best for you. I refuse to believe that big bloggers nail their shots first time around. Sometimes being your own worst critic can be useful, it enables you to see what’s wrong with something and how you can improve it, but making sure you’re not too hard on yourself is also important.

 

Lesson 4. Travel at your own pace

Another general life lesson. We’re all travelling at our own speeds and that’s okay.

Lesson 5. Plan Ahead

I had no idea how much scheduling would be involved in blogging! Planning ahead makes life so much easier and allows you an online presence even if you’re offline for a little while. When I started out I’d literally write posts a day before they were due to go live. Now I plan everything in advance and reap the rewards. With better planning comes better quality.

Lesson 6. Don’t Get Over Yourself

Tooting my own horn does not come naturally to me. It’s actually quite difficult to start promoting your own content because we’re conditioned to think that it’s big headed. ‘Get over yourself‘ is thrown around as an insult, so being proud of your work is somehow an undesirable trait? The thing is, if you don’t love your own content and think that it’s worth sharing then who will? The fact of the matter is: the more you promote your content the more it will be seen and enjoyed.

Lesson 7. The Importance of Engagement

Engagement is crucial. By taking part in twitter conversations and support threads I’ve found some amazing bloggers who not only inspire me, but who now cheerlead for me too. The more supportive and engaging you are, the more support and engagement you’ll get back, fact. Just make sure you’re genuine about it, most people can sniff fake ‘support’ a mile off and won’t take kindly.

Lesson 8. Anyone you feel comfortable in front of the camera with is invaluable

I don’t like the camera any more than it likes me, but I am lucky to have such a patient photographer. My other half wholeheartedly agreed to let me train him up in the photography department. Not only does he spend hours of his time tying to nail photos, but he also puts up with my strops when things go wrong (usually because I don’t like the way my hair looks). I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him because I feel so uncomfortable in front of a camera that anyone else is holding.

 

When I selected the images that I wanted to include in this post the above picture didn’t cut it. I’m clearly laughing with Jamie about something and not posing, but that’s exactly why I decided to include it in the end. If you can find someone (be that a friend, partner, relative etc.) who helps you relax and have a good time rather than taking it too seriously then you’ve found yourself a keeper.

Lesson 9. The more you put in the more you get out

What’s so wonderful about personal projects or running your own business (or a combination of the two) is that you are in full control. The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out and really there aren’t many limits to what you can do with it. There is a direct correlation between promotion and blog traffic, the more brands that you reach out to and the more collaborations you’ll work on. I’ve been able to physically see my hard work paying off and that’s the best motivation anyone could ask for.

Lesson 10. Success is a process

When I first started this blog I had no idea what possibilities would come from it. Fast forward a year and I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing brands. I’ve also actually earned money (albeit a few million pounds less than Zoella) from something which I really enjoy doing. Most people have to pay for their hobbies, and blogging is no different when you’re first starting out. Saying that, not many hobbies ever start repaying you, so I count myself very lucky.

Lesson 11. Love what you do

This is a cliche tip in the blogging world, but it’s one that I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s okay to blog for money or gifted items, but it’s not okay to blog JUST for those things. I genuinely think that the more love you show your blog the more successful it will be. At the end of the day you’re not going to make a penny from blogging without first paying into it with both money and time, and even then its never a guarantee.

Lesson 12. It’ll turn out all right in the end

You get 12 points if you made it this far and a bonus point if you know which movie I’m quoting, hint. There have been so many times that I’ve lost inspiration for content or images but I’ve never missed my weekly post and I’ve never published anything that I’m not proud of. Usually inspiration strikes when you least expect it. Trawl Pinterest, Instagram and your favourite blogs if you need to, but never force content that you’re not invested in.

Lesson 4 Blogging

If you’re just starting out then I hope that these lessons help you. Let me know if there’s anything else you’ve learned from blogging in the comments! I’d love to hear it and learn from you too!

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59 Comments

  1. August 9, 2018 / 9:51 pm

    This was really interesting! My blog turns one next week so a lot of these thoughts and feelings are very familiar. I feel like blogging is one of those things that’s a constant learning curve. And I love the photo that almost didn’t make it. The candid ones often shine brighter x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 9:38 am

      Aw we must have started at the same timeish! I agree about the constant learning curve and I’m so glad you liked that picture because I very nearly didn’t include it! x

  2. August 10, 2018 / 12:38 am

    Loved this post! It’s so important to know your worth, there’s nothing wrong with accepting free products as payment when you are first starting out but be careful of the brands that take advantage and offer you a small discount instead. This is a really good insight to what the first year of blogging is like!

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 9:40 am

      I’m so glad you like it and agree! Thanks for stopping by! x

  3. August 10, 2018 / 7:49 am

    Huge congratulations on one year of blogging Soph! What an awesome achievement. These are fantastic lessons and really interesting to read. Knowing your worth is so important, I’d love to read a whole post on this sometime! The more you put in, the more you get out is 100% true and engaging with others through their blogs & social media is one of the best things a blogger can do. Thank you for sharing and congrats again, keep up the great work girl 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 9:43 am

      Thank you Bexa! I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I’ll make sure to write up a post on Knowing Your Worth! x

  4. August 10, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    Ahh happy one year to you too! It’s my one year today ☺️ I can resonate with so much of this and I definitely agree about the not getting over yourself. You need to cheer for yourself because if you don’t share your work, who will? I had a conversation recently with someone who said comment threads were ‘cheating’ and ‘fake engagement’ which I think is damn right stupid as I’ve found so many incredible blogs through them. Also, what’s wrong with influencing an influencer? Love this post Soph along with all your other uploads, can’t wait to see what year two holds for you!
    Alice Xx

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      Thank you! Aw happy one year! I totally agree with you, I see a lot of your posts in that way but genuinely trust your opinion and if you recommend something I like the look of or need then I’m as likely to purchase as the next person! x

  5. August 10, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    Loved your post. As a relatively new blogger, I really enjoyed reading about the lessons you have learned.

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 10, 2018 / 11:37 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for stopping by!

  6. August 11, 2018 / 1:08 am

    Congratulations on one year blogging!! These are great tips. I am going to save them. I’m still learning and still sometimes not planning ahead and hitting publish on post day. Thank you for this post.

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 8:05 am

      Thank you! I’m so glad you found them helpful!

  7. August 11, 2018 / 1:21 am

    Major congrats on reaching one year of blogging – wishing you many more to come. I love these lessons that you’ve learned. It is SO IMPORTANT to have engagement. I’ve been through situations where people fake engagement to get the comments but in the long run, people find out and there goes your views. YES on success being a process. It takes time. Sending you LOTS of love!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 11, 2018 / 8:03 am

      Thank you so much Nancy! I completely agree! x

  8. August 11, 2018 / 7:43 am

    Couldn’t agree more with knowing your worth! Since coming back to blogging I’ve started rejecting opportunities that I don’t think are appropriate and my content is so much better for it! <3

    http://www.chloexlizabeth.com

  9. August 11, 2018 / 11:28 am

    Great to read… my blog is just 3 months old so I am still in my early days so it’s nice to read the views of those more experienced.
    I love that you say the more love you put in to your blog the more successful it will be 💕

    Your photos are so nice too, I need to find myself a good photographer buddy that I’m comfortable with too.

    All the best for your next year ahead!

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:22 am

      I’m so glad that you liked it, thank you, it definitely makes life so much easier! Thanks for stopping by x

  10. August 11, 2018 / 11:49 am

    Absolutely loved this post and I have to say you look beautiful in those photographs! Congratulations on blogging for over a year, I bet you can’t even imagine life without blogging now! You deserve every success and can’t wait to see you grow in the future too, thank you for all your support. x

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:23 am

      Aw I’m glad and thank you so much! x

  11. August 11, 2018 / 12:27 pm

    This is a really inspiring post and congratulations for how far you’ve come with your blog in a year. It’s very impressive. I agree that it’s important not just to blog for others but also for yourself. Especially where brands are concerned, it’s nice when they take an interest in you and your blog but don’t use that as an excuse to do a post that doesn’t even fit with your content. It’s so sweet that your other half helps so much with your photography. I’m sure mine would if I asked but for now, flat lays are my friend. Engagement is as important as the content you’re creating – almost – twitter chats and just chatting with other bloggers are great ways to improve and you’re right in what you say about it.

    Great post,
    Luce xo

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:26 am

      Thank you so much! I’m glad that you relate to some of these and agree, it’s always interesting to see the point of view of other bloggers too! Thanks for stopping by Luce x

  12. August 11, 2018 / 1:39 pm

    Congrats on one year! “Don’t get over yourself” is such an important one! I’ve been blogging for over a year now and I’m only just coming to terms with scheduling posts and promoting myself!

    Jas xx

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:27 am

      Thank you! It’s difficult to start off with but I soon learned how essential it is! x

  13. August 11, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    Many many congratulations on the 1 year mark, Soph! What a lovely post! You’ve highlighted some key lessons! Like knowing your worth, so important! Keep blogging and inspiring us! xx

    – Aditi
    http://www.aditispen.com

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:29 am

      Thank you lovely! Thanks for stopping by x

  14. August 12, 2018 / 10:16 am

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! Totally agree with these especially engagement and love what you do. I have been blogging for over 4 years now and Im still learning

    Melissa | http://www.moonlightmel.co.uk

  15. August 12, 2018 / 10:18 am

    Happy blogiversary! I’ve been blogging for a year next month and these all resonate with me. I must get my husband on the taking my pictures bandwagon!!

  16. August 12, 2018 / 10:18 am

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! I agree that taking the first step is definitely the hardest. I was terrified before I started my blog but it’s honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  17. August 12, 2018 / 10:29 am

    I absolutely loved reading this, you’re such an amazing blogger I always enjoy your posts. I can’t believe you’ve only been at it for a year because you definitely seem more experienced than that! You’re gorgeous and I love all the pictures you’ve included, you’re so lucky to have a boyfriend who takes all your photos for you and I love your style too! These are great tips for anyone who is just starting out in the blogging world, I want to start working with some brands so this has really helped me, thanks girl!

    Jess // foundationsandfairytales.wordpress.com
    xx

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 10:38 am

      Aw thats made my day, thank you so much! I count myself very lucky that he’s willing to give up so much of his time for me. I’m really glad you’ve found this helpful! x

  18. August 12, 2018 / 11:41 am

    Love this post! So many valuable lessons in here 🙂
    It is ok to fail and try again. We all make things that just don’t work for some reason. And that is OK.
    I love how you do stress that it IS important not to get over yourself. That it is good to promote your work for people to see.
    Something you spend so much time creating is worth seeing after all ^^
    Congrats on all your progress. It is so deserverd!

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      I’m so glad! Thank you! x

  19. Ashleigh
    August 12, 2018 / 11:48 am

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! Blogging is a constant learning curve and it isn’t as easy as some people may think it is!

    Ashleigh | ashleighwrites.co.uk

  20. August 12, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    Congrats and insightful post!

  21. August 12, 2018 / 12:52 pm

    Love this post and congratulations on your anniversary x

  22. August 12, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I’ve been blogging less than a year and your words resonate with me. The last few months have been a huge learning experience for me and I’ve got so much more to learn still. It’s very inspiring to read about others’ journey. It helps me to know I am not alone in my experiences.

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 4:16 pm

      I’m so glad that you found it helpful, thanks for stopping by! x

  23. August 12, 2018 / 1:35 pm

    Congrats on one year blogging! It’s so true that the first step is the hardest, I waffled with my decision to start a blog forever before finally going through with it and now I only wish I had started earlier!

    So many of the points you make ring so true, planning especially was a hard learned but valuable lesson!

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 4:25 pm

      Thank you! I’m so gad that you relate to these too!

  24. August 12, 2018 / 1:47 pm

    Congratulations on your year and you’re doing so well.

  25. August 12, 2018 / 2:41 pm

    Congrats on one year! I loved reading your lessons, so many great little reminders!

  26. August 12, 2018 / 2:44 pm

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! 💖

  27. August 12, 2018 / 3:02 pm

    I loved this! Happy blogging birthday girl x

  28. jamiechancetravels
    August 12, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    This is a really good post! My blog also turns one at the end of this month and I love the fact I now have a creative outlet for my photos/writing!

  29. August 12, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    Congratulations on your one year anniversary! These tips are all invaluable to me as a newbie blogger, thank you so much I’ll definitely be taking these all on board.

    Jess || http://www.secretdiaryofjess.com x

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 5:22 pm

      Thank you, I’m so glad that you found it helpful! x

  30. August 12, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    This is awesome 🙂 thanks for sharing! I’m only a few months in for my personal blog. I love reading about people’s experiences. Thanks for putting the time and effort in to putting this together!

    http://www.rachaelhope.co.uk

  31. August 12, 2018 / 8:41 pm

    Congrats on one year of blogging! it is quite milestone and so many great lessons learnt! loving your photos! these tips will be so valuable to any new – and experienced – bloggers!

  32. August 12, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    Amazing post! Congrats on one year of blogging! You should be really proud of all your’ve accomplished during that time. Thank you for sharing these lessons with us! I love your starting point on “The First Step is the Hardest”. I also found it hard to put myself out there initially but I’m so so thankful I took the leap.

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 13, 2018 / 7:35 am

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you can relate!

  33. August 13, 2018 / 1:57 am

    Happy one year blog-iversary! Tomorrow officially marks my second year finished, and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone?! Seems like you’ve learned a lot in your first year, which is great. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing during my first year, but I definitely feel a lot less confused and a lot more in control the second year around, so hopefully it’s only up from here!

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 13, 2018 / 7:39 am

      Thank you! It flies by doesn’t it?

  34. August 13, 2018 / 10:04 am

    Happy anniversary! I loved all of your points, and I agree with pretty much all of them. I’d love a dedicated post on payment in the blogging community, as there are a lot of mixed opinions, and I’d really like to read another one ^^

    • sophhearts
      Author
      August 14, 2018 / 8:30 am

      Thank you! I have one scheduled for Thursday lovely!

  35. Nina
    August 13, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    This was very interesting to read. I agree about everything __ planning ahead, knowing your worth, and knowing that success is a process.
    Nina’s Style Blog

  36. August 14, 2018 / 12:21 am

    I love this type of blog post as it helps remind me that putting as much effort will always pay off it may not be an overnight thing but just believe in yourself and seek for assistance from fellow bloggers as the blogging community especially at twitter are really encouraging and helpful. Congratulations on your anniversary. 👍

  37. August 14, 2018 / 1:02 am

    Congratulations on reaching a year of blogging! I identify with this post a lot – especially when it comes to engagement. I think in order for your blog to get well-known, it’s best to engage with other bloggers!

    cabin twenty-four

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