10 Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Blogging (+ a giveaway!)

December 29, 2016

Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy on 10 Years of blogging

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

It is cause for celebration around these parts…wit & whimsy turns 10 today!

I say this every year but when I started this blog on a whim in college, blogging was nowhere near what it is today. It was more so a version of a public journal where you could share your thoughts whenever you pleased. There was no affiliate marketing, no sponsored blog posts, no blogging networks, no Instagram, no Pinterest, no Twitter…it was a completely different world!

I never imagined that my blog would lead me to so many exciting opportunities, to new friends and even to a new business but as I look back on the past decade, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everything that wit & whimsy has given me.

Today I thought I would share some reflections and lessons I’ve learned from these past 10 years. Blogging has enriched my life in so many ways from starting as a hobby to developing into a business to working with brands I have long admired and provided me relationships I’d not have otherwise. Read on for my thoughts + also an exciting giveaway as a small token of my gratitude to all of you have followed along over the years – you guys make all of this worthwhile!

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Surround yourself with people that raise you up.

My first seven years of blogging were largely a solo adventure. (I had a period of a year where a few friends contributed posts) but as time went on I have been very lucky to work with people that help my work be better and more fun! I wouldn’t be able to do half my posts without Bekka Palmer’s beautiful photography (and after three years of tag-teaming I’m lucky to call her a good friend now!), this past year I was so lucky to meet Kate who has been helping behind the scenes for the past nearly six months and has been my operational wizard and a joy to work with and recently I brought on Chloe Digital to help me with a lot of my tech side of the business which I used to put off (big mistake!) This lesson is relative to all lines of work…find people that you love working with and be a good partner to them!

Ask for help when you need it.

In the past I let various blogging hurdles trip me up and I took much too long to rectify issues as a result. These were often tech related and I didn’t ask for help until sometimes too late. Don’t let this happen to you! Be proactive in solving problems and utilize the many resources available on the web to help you handle various roadblocks that are bound to happen. When I began my PR consulting company everyone told me to find people to help you do the things you’re not the best at which I think is great advice! Focus on what you excel in and ask for help on tasks you need help on (but also don’t be afraid to rise to a challenge and be a proactive problem solver!)

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Invest in the community.

One of the best parts of blogging is the people you’ll meet as a result if you make an effort to do so. Go to events, conferences, email others whose blogs you admire (that have a similar following as yours) and get to know them better. I’m very lucky to have made friends through blogging and often I go to these friends when I have questions because we have mutually made efforts to foster friendships that go beyond just blog talk. Be genuine in how you approach the blogging community and you’ll find it a very worthwhile resource for your growth and interest in continuing to develop content. Truly one of my favorite things to come from blogging is the friends I’ve made as a result.

Treat your blog as a business.

This wasn’t something I could have done when I began blogging but if you recently started out or are looking to start a blog…I’d recommend treating it like a business from the beginning. What do I mean by this? Think carefully about your branding and build it out to use it across all of your platforms. Get a lawyer to help establish your blog name as an LLC. Make proper investments from the get-go such as a developer and a web designer and a good camera. My blog started very much as a hobby and as the industry changed I struggled to keep up and therefore put important investments and necessary needs on the back burner. Doing so will help set you on a path that will lead to accountability and these are all things I wish I had known to do from the start. That being said, remember that you should start your blog for the right reasons. I never imagined I would have an income from this site so now it feels like a nice reward after many years of work.

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Consistency is key.

If you follow many blogs, I’m sure this lesson won’t be new to you as nearly all bloggers consider this tip their #1, but it’s one of the most important things to recognize as you set out creating content. As you develop a following, your readership will come to expect fresh content on a regular basis. Of course life happens and things get in the way, but establishing a cadence you can keep up with regularly will benefit you the most when it comes to growing. That being said, don’t beat yourself up if you need to take a break. I’ve done that on multiple occasions and sometimes you need to hit reset. And don’t feel that you need to be creating content on every platform ever! Determine your strengths and play to those on various channels.

Be great to work with.

If your blog leads to partnerships with brands (wahoo!), be someone that people love to work with. So often I hear horror stories of bloggers who have been horrible to work with when it comes to brand partnerships and collaborations. You know what’s better than working with a brand once? Working with a brand year after year. Fostering relationships is hugely important to monetizing your blog and allowing you to grow it as a business and if you’re not nice to work with (passive aggressive over email, slow to respond, missing deadlines, etc.); people will remember. And the world is so small! Someone you work with on one campaign you don’t care much about may go work at your dream brand the next month. When it comes time for them to hire bloggers, you won’t be in the consideration set! Some of my most exciting projects I’ve worked on for wit & whimsy have come from relationships I’ve fostered over the years and I’m grateful for every single one of them (and every other collaboration opportunity that comes my way!)

Be yourself.

In the end your blog can be about anything but it is a personal blog so let your voice, your point of view and your personality shine through. I used to shy away from more personal posts but in the end I always remind myself that the other blogs I love to read is because I’m learning more about that blogger. Your readers will come to you for your content and not the content they can find elsewhere. This is why originality is so important. Stay true to your brand and don’t try to be anyone else on your blog. I feel lucky to this day that you guys have followed along as wit & whimsy has gotten more and more personal over the years. Thank you for investing in my stories and life alongside me!

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Compete less.

One of the hardest parts about blogging nowadays is that everywhere you look, there’s a new blogger to follow. While I’ve been blogging for ten years, there are 22 year old bloggers who seemingly started six months ago and have ten times the followers that I do on Instagram…it can cause you to want to beat up on yourself some. (Ok, a lot.) I still struggle with how to grow my various channels and be producing content on the blog fives times (sometimes six times) a week. I don’t think I’ll ever figure out the right balance or right “key” to unlocking the secret of Instagram but the more I focus on competition the more I find myself with creative blocks. Tune out all those other bloggers who seem to be doing so much better and zero in on what you’re doing so you can do it well!

Remember life, too.

Something I struggle with nowadays with the world of online publishing is watching bloggers who seemingly produce and publish every aspect of their life. Sometimes it appears that every outing becomes a shoot and life moments become merchandised. Something I’m happy to have done is kept various parts of my private life, private. I do a lot without a camera in tow and maybe I’d have a bigger following if I didn’t do this but for me I want part of my life to not have to be editorialized. To each their own of course, but remember to enjoy moments you’re having with friends and loved ones without having to document it. Unplug every now and then and invest in the memories being made in the moment.

Blogging Lessons Learned in 10 Years - Meghan Donovan of wit & whimsy

Have fun!

Blogging is hard work – there’s no doubt about that. If you publish a lot, focus on a high production quality, providing quality content…it’s going to be a lot of work. There’s so much to it (and largely a lot of the work is behind the scenes), but never forget why you started a blog. For me I started wit & whimsy because I loved writing and so enjoyed talking about clothes and beauty. My friends were regularly coming to me asking for recommendations or advice so I decided to share my opinions and favorites in one place. wit & whimsy was born and has certainly evolved a lot but how special is it that I’ve had a decade of fun creating in a space that belongs to me and my readers? I love having chapters of my life recorded to look back on and reflect the ups and downs of life and various milestones that I’ve achieved. It’s not all been fun trying to keep up with all blogging requires but the day I’m not having fun regularly, I’ll hang up my .com; this much I know.

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Now onto the giveaway! To thank all of you who have supported me over the years and been such an amazing group of readers, I wanted to give back to you guys! I asked a few of my favorite brands to come together to offer a giveaway of products I love and use regularly. Included:

The giveaway is valued at nearly $1,000 and one lucky winner will be selected and notified by email in the New Year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please be sure to follow the participating brands on Instagram as part of your entry above!
www.instagram.com/cuyana
www.instagram.com/baublebar
www.instagram.com/phlur
www.instagram.com/mgemi
www.instagram.com/flywheelsports
www.instagram.com/kerastase_official
www.instagram.com/mariobadescu

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for allowing me to have my voice heard, for creating a community here on wit & whimsy and for every email, comment or social media interaction ever. It all means so much to me and I don’t take any of it for granted!

p.s. here are my tips for part time bloggers, 30 things I learned by 30 and my nine year anniversary post is here.

[Bekka Palmer Photography]

30 comments on “10 Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Blogging (+ a giveaway!)”

  1. Congratulations on 10 years Meghan! Great blog tips for bloggers and business of any kind really. Especially love ‘remember life, too’. Cheers to another 10 and more.

  2. CONGRATS on 10 years! So amazing. I loved reading these lessons as I prepare for a new year of blogging – I’ve been feeling the burnout! Always enjoy your content, Meghan…can’t wait to see what’s to come in 2017!

    1. Thank you so much, Annie!! Hope you can find some downtime to reboot and get re-inspired as I know all too much what you mean when you say you’re feeling the burnout! I’m so happy the world of blogging introduced us and will look forward to continuing to read your posts next year!!

  3. what a milestone! congrats! these are all great blogging tips and lessons for me to keep in mind as the new year begins. i definitely got blogger burnout last year, but i’m looking forward to hitting the refresh button. excited to see what’s in store for you in 2017! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Caitie!! We all hit those roadblocks but I’m looking forward to seeing new content from you this year – have always loved your posts!! Happy New Year!

  4. Congratulations! What beautiful advice from a true professional. I’m excited to see what’s next 🙂

  5. Only recently I had started to blog. Now I had learned a lot about what to do and what not to do when it comes to blogging. I will implement the right things from what I gained from this post… I will surely rectify few mistakes I make.

    Blogging is not an easy task to make money from it, it requires hard work, luck and study to understand people’s mind. Once you know your power and people mind, all thing will go in your way…

    It’s really wonderful to read this article, thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned. I have certainly learned a lot from this post. You are an inspiration! I hope I will be a better blogger just like you…

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