31.12.14

Reflecting Upon A Great Year: Lessons I've Learned in 2014

These last 365 days have flown by faster than I ever could have imagined. It seems like only yesterday I was sipping champagne and reflecting upon a year that threw everything I knew into the air, leaving me to pick up the pieces. In stark contrast, 2014 has been pretty incredible and has dealt me challenges and exciting projects that I could revel in. In terms of blogging, there have been many changes within an industry that's ever evolving and trying as hard as possible to find it's place - the last twelve months have definitely been positive for the bloggersphere, albeit difficult to navigate. After 581 blog posts, three new cameras, 154 coffee catch-ups and four celebrity interviews, here are the lessons I've learned during the most exciting year in blogging yet.


Don't Be Afraid To Be Yourself
With thousands of bloggers launching their own mini brand every year, it's incredibly easy to replicate a winning formula and hope for the same results. However, that only means thousands of blogs are practically identical and incredibly dull to read. Being unique and individual, staying true to your interests and remaining thoroughly yourself is definitely the way to carve a niche; readers want to feel like they know the person behind the blog, rather than a cookie cutter cut-out of someone else. The blogs that seem to have catapulted over the last twelve months are definitely those with something new to say, a differing viewpoint, thought provoking content or just not-your-mainstream style. May the bloggersphere continue to embrace the unique and celebrate our individual quirks.

Think Of The Long-Term
When you're trying to build a blog, grow a brand or even find your place in the ever expanding bloggersphere, it's sometimes easy to grasp every opportunity that comes your way. However, it's vital to pick and choose what you do and how you do it if you want to build something that sticks around for longer than last year's X Factor winner. By thinking of the long-term, rather than grabbing every freebie or paid opportunity, it's easier to carve your own way and ensure you're on the path to success. Not everything suits everybody, but there will always be brands or campaigns made for you - you just need to identify which is which. I've turned down many opportunities, collaborations or review requests because they simply don't sit within my long-term plan; the skill is in the knowing when to say no.

Speak Your Mind
I've never believed in the saying 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.' Sometimes an opinion, difference in viewpoint or critical eye can be the most interesting to read; my most popular posts are always those that critique a product, disagree with a brand or dissect the blogging world. As long as you're not being overtly nasty and unnecessary, there's no harm whatsoever in speaking your mind - because there are probably a tonne of people out there thinking the same thing. Blogs were established to allow everyone to have a voice, no matter what that voice said, so embrace the opportunity and the benefit of freedom of speech.

Respect & Integrity Are Vital
The blogging world has built it's foundations upon trust, integrity, impartiality and relatability. The reason blogs have become big news is because they're written by men and women with no obligation to anyone other than their readers; we all started just wanting to share our passions with those that would appreciate our ramblings. However, as the bloggersphere has expanded this has been somewhat forgotten by many. Staying true to your roots and ensuring you're always 100% honest with your readers is a sure way to success; in contrast, manipulating your way through will get you a serious amount of backlash (as well as in hot water with the ASA or OFT.) My experience has always been that readers don't have a problem with PR samples, sponsored posts or paid-for campaigns - as long as you're honest and upfront with them from the outset. As blogs continue to grow and have even more interest from brands, it's going to be even more vital to retain integrity and respect from readers to avoid it all going tits up. 

Blogger Friends Are Awesome
When I first started blogging it was incredibly exciting to meet those undertaking the same journey as me; writing and maintaining a blog (especially as a full time career) is like nothing you can ever explain. As time progressed I distanced myself from some elements of the community, feeling not cool enough to hang out with the big players or too old to hang out with the set of newbies coming up through the ranks. However, over the last year I've definitely leaned on other bloggers more and benefited from regular coffee catch-ups with those experiencing the same challenges and dramas as me. Unlike a regular 9-5, which involves colleagues you can bounce ideas off or moan to over a coffee in the kitchen, running a blog requires totally solo activity and only your own thoughts for company. It's amazing how much I can benefit from a quick call or catch-up between meetings with a fellow blogger; it really helps me wipe the slate clean and start afresh with a new outlook or passion. 2015 is definitely the year when I make more of an effort to meet other bloggers.

We Have The Power
Much has changed in the last twelve months, but the most important change of note for me has been the swing in power from brand to blogger. Whereas previously bloggers would play the game to ensure they were on the right press lists and invited to the right events, times have changed and brands are grasping for attention and coverage like never before. No longer can an individual brand make or break a blogger; no longer does it matter if you're not at every event going. Bloggers are now so well known and trusted that they can make a brand an overnight success, catapult a product into the mainstream or sell out a range without even trying - something magazines simply can't compete with. As a result the scales have toppled to leave the bloggers with the power and brands working harder than ever to get a piece of the pie. I don't see this change as a bad thing, but as a sign of things to come... Blogs aren't going anywhere, but brands need to work a little harder to ensure their product is in the hands of the right people at the right time, rather than sending 1000 samples out into the ether and hoping that oodles of coverage will follow.

There's Space For Everyone
The internet is infinite - that's the brilliance of it. There's space for every person on this planet to launch their own blog and share their thoughts or passions. Whether you've got a burger blog read by three people, or a lifestyle vlog watched by six million, there's space for every single one of us. I'm constantly asked if there's space for even more beauty blogs, or whether or not a reader should embark on their own blogger journey - my answer is always unequivocally yes. I love discovering new blogs, reading bright young things' thoughts or stumbling across a totally unique pile of content; everyone has a blog in them and everyone has something of value to say. Starting that little blog could evolve into something unimaginable in a few years, so embrace it and enjoy the ride. You never know what's at the end of the rollercoaster.

What have you learned in 2014? Are you looking forward to an even bigger and better 2015?


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5 comments

  1. I love this post! I have just started my own blog and this has really helped, lots of good points.

    Sarah
    Www.cupsofteaandlove.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Great post Hayley, I felt the same about blogging friends but they really are the best x

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  3. Great post, Hayley. I definitely felt the 'too old/not cool' thing and ended up drifting away from blogging, never having given myself credit for what I'd built! 2015 is the time to change that :) x

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  4. Great post. You're definitely right about the swing of power. And yes, I regularly feel as though I'm too old and not cool enough!

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  5. This was a great read. I've just started my blog and it's good to know it's ok to be yourself and write was you like :)

    Bex x

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