It’s my one year blogiversary! It has OFFICIALLY been one year since I created Macarons & Mascara and wow, just wow. I have gone through some great things (and not-so-great things) with this blog in the last 12 months, and I feel so proud to have come so far. I got thousands of pageviews, got to work with amazing brands for sponsored opportunities, recently ran an awesome giveaway in partnership with one of my favorite makeup companies, and got well on my way to building a strong social media following for my work.
To celebrate my blog’s new ~maturity~ I’m sharing 10 lessons I learned in the last 12 months, and also my goals that I have for my blog for 2017. Since 2017 is literally just a few days away, I guess we’ll call my goals my Blog Resolutions (let’s pretend for a minute that the name actually sounds cool and witty).
1. It takes a village to raise a blog.
Being part of a community of other bloggers is extremely important for growth. You need people with more experience who can give you advice — from what camera is a good investment, to how you can deal with a blogging slump. And when you get more experienced, you’ll be giving advice to newer bloggers. I think that far too often, and not even just in blogging, we make the mistake of treating our acquaintances as competition because maybe they’re doing really well for themselves and we don’t want to take away from our own success. I’m lucky enough to be part of an amazing group called the InfluenceHer Collective, and I’ve been able to interact with so many different bloggers from different places and with different experiences and perspectives, and the support we give each other is incredible and has definitely contributed to me reaching my goals.
2. Your blog is like your baby.
You created it so you need to take good care of it! I have been through some terrifying moments with my blog this past year but I managed to be a good blog mom and fix it and make sure it’s all better. Seriously, when there’s something wrong with your website, no matter how big or small, it’s all you can think about until you resolve the problem. There have been times when I sat in class while chatting online with tech support and trying to take notes because I couldn’t carry on and pretend I was okay knowing that my blog wasn’t the way it should be. It takes care and patience, which brings me to my next point…
3. It’s not just about writing.
Writing and taking photos is a small part of it. Being able to understand and write HTML code has definitely made life with a blog much easier, and having a knack for designing graphics and working with photos is definitely very helpful. There are different components to running a website that you’re responsible for when you’re self-hosted and you have to make sure that all your ducks are always in a row. ALWAYS.
4. I love photography.
When I first started this blog, I used to design titles over free stock photos and used that as my featured image for my blog posts. But then I wanted to do something more personal that would contribute to my brand, so I decided to start taking my own photos and designing titles over those. Doing this has improved my photography skills greatly, and it has trained my eye for what looks good in a photo. Not to mention, my Instagram has never looked better! Blogging showed me that photography is my secret love I never knew existed. Now, I can spend hours on photoshoots (and money gathering props) because I love it so much.
5. Social media is a pain in the ass but I love it.
Fun fact about me: prior to Fall 2015, I had absolutely no social media accounts. None. Not even a personal Facebook. When I decided I wanted a career in writing, I began creating social media accounts, and when I started my blog, I began using social media to grow a following. Oh sweet Jesus…what a JOURNEY. Social media has been the best of times and the worst of times. I used to get so pissed off when I’d spend weeks just trying to attract five new followers on Twitter only to lose 10 over-freaking-night! It was the most annoying thing! How do you even have time to keep up with it all??? But then I started creating social media strategies that fit my lifestyle and my goals and I started attracting more people to my accounts. I still have a long way to go, but I think I’m off to a good start. Social media has also connected me with other ideas and other fun blog posts. Honestly, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is probably scroll through Twitter looking for things to read.
6. Setting goals is a huge factor in success.
It pushes you to always do better than you did before. I set monthly goals and I take some time to evaluate each of them in detail at the end of every month. I figure out what works and what doesn’t and how I can make them better and attain next month’s goals. I like having a set pathway that can lead me to my goals, so this really helps. It has also been instrumental with school, too, because I set goals for things I want to accomplish in my classes, extracurriculars, etc. I love setting goals so much that I designed my very own blogging binder to keep me on track in 2017.
7. It looks really awesome on a resume.
Stating that I run and have grown a website is the cherry on top of my resume. It looks great because it shows that you are self-motivated, influential, and passionate about a career in online media (if you want a career in online media). I used to actually forget that I can put this on a resume. During one interview I had, the woman interviewing me actually told me that I should have it there! Needless to say, I never made that mistake again.
8. It’s a great confidence booster.
Not gonna lie, I feel pretty darn awesome walking around knowing that I’m a blogger on campus. While I don’t broadcast it to the entire campus, some of my professors and a lot of my classmates know and read my work regularly. I can even go to my professors’ office hours and have a conversation with them about my blogging! One of my professors even told the dean at our School of Journalism and we had a meeting all about my work and I gave him a business card. I can’t remember the last time I felt so confident in something about myself. Having people tell you that they love your work and that you’re doing an amazing thing definitely builds confidence. And while people on campus stare at me weirdly when I pose for pictures, my friends and I always have a good laugh about it later.
9. It’s better to take your time and do things properly the first time.
There have been times when I really rushed to take a blog photo just because I wanted to publish the post as quickly as possible instead of waiting for the next day, and I usually feel bittersweet about it. Sweet: I got a post with awesome information up when I wanted to. Bitter: I could’ve taken a much better picture if I had more time. It’s always the small things that get under our skin. Sometimes people tell me that no one notices the small things that are wrong, but the thing is that I notice what’s wrong with my post. I hate the feeling of knowing I could’ve done better, so taking my time is much better than wanting to redo the whole thing in the end.
10. I’ll probably be blogging for many more years to come.
Yep, I definitely love blogging so much, and I don’t want things to end after I graduate. I’ll probably rebrand and shift from being a college blog to a career and lifestyle blog or a mostly beauty and style blog. Or maybe even just a blog for adults — who knows! It doesn’t have to end when my college career ends.
This was my first ever post on this blog — do you remember it? Be sure to check out 5 TV Shows To Cozy Up To This Winter!
1. Work on growing my newsletter.
Newsletters are cool because they let you communicate with readers in a more personal way (My newsletter is pretty awesome, by the way, and you should totally subscribe!). I’m finally starting to pay more attention to it and actually send out weekly messages to my subscribers, and it’s a lot of fun. I feel that growing my list will help me reach more people, so this is definitely a goal of mine.
2. Master Pinterest (and other social media).
Pinterest has been very useful for me these last six months in terms of growing my blog and getting more eyes on my work. Pinterest has helped me get over 20,000 views and thousands of shares on ONE SINGLE POST ALONE and that’s pretty awesome. I really want to be able to do that again on more posts, so in 2017 I’m setting out to become the ultimate Pinterest master. But of course, I also want to increase my following on my other social media as well. While Pinterest is a huge driver of success for many bloggers, I think that at the end of the day all of your social media working together is what helps you become really successful and reach your goals.
3. Buy a REALLY awesome DSLR.
I have fallen in major love with cameras. I like to sometimes think that the camera is only as good as the person using it, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do with an iphone camera. I do have a Nikon Coolpix L340 and while I do get super pretty HD-looking photos from using it, I would still like a more advanced camera for taking blog photos and Instagram photos so I can keep my skills sharp. I’m currently deciding between the Nikon D5300 and the D7200 but can’t decide!
4. Give out more business cards.
Last year, I made business cards for my blog and they really came in handy. I went to conferences and events and met guest lecturers at my school, and I handed them business cards. It felt so nice saying, “can I leave my business card with you?” because they always looked slightly surprised but also excited to exchange the information. You can sit in on hundreds of lectures given by the top professionals in your field, but if you don’t make the effort to establish a connection and use them as a resource, you’re not going to learn as much as you could have. Despite this, I still have a lot of business cards that I’m itching to get rid of (mostly so I can design new ones with my ~new~ and super pretty blog logo that you’ll see in 2017!). Basically, I’m going to be on the lookout for more exclusive blogger and college girl events that I can bring my business cards to.
Related: 19 Things I Learned From My First NYC Conference
5. Get my blog logo printed on stuff.
I feel like getting your logo printed on stuff is a huge personal celebration of your progress and hard work and I really want to do this! Slapping a sticker with your logo on your laptop is like seeing your name on a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I’m assuming). I really want to get my logo printed as a sticker for my laptop and maybe even on a shirt or baseball cap or something else.
6. Monetize my blog more.
So, clearly, spending more money in 2017 is a goal of mine. I hope to be able to pay for those business cards, fancy cameras, and blog merchandise with money I make from blogging. In 2016 (mostly the later half) I made some nice pocket change through sponsored posts and advertising, but I hope to turn my pocket change into money bags, or something like that. Of course, making money wasn’t my reason for starting my blog, but it would be great to get paid for doing what I love, so I really want to find more ways to make some serious cash from my blog.
7. Keep writing two blog posts per week.
At the beginning of the year, I was basically posting whenever I could, which usually resulted in me going a week and a half in between posts. I wasn’t posting nearly as frequently as I would have liked to and my page views weren’t off to a bangin’ start because I hardly gave my blog enough attention. But then, I started setting publishing goals and took things up to one post per week and then to two posts per week. I maintained that schedule even during my busy fall semester (yay me!) so I hope to keep it up going forward. Since it’s winter break, I’m probably going to try to write three posts per week because I have so much I want to say before the semester starts up again!
8. Make more blogging buddies.
This year, I met some cool bloggers who are doing the same things that I’m doing and it was such a cool experience. Working on posts and engaging with them online has been so much fun and I hope to expand my circle of blogging gal pals. While each of our successes pushes the others to continue to do better, I don’t see them as competition — and that says a lot considering I’ve always been a really competitive person! I see them as friends and colleagues who can provide help and support. I love reading and commenting on their blog posts and I love all of our ideas. I want to see more of that, so I hope to meet more people who are doing the same thing as me.
9. Reach 100,000 monthly page views.
This is a HUGE goal of mine because it shows that you’re able to build something up so high from scratch. To be honest, reaching any page view goal shows that you’re able to make progress. I remember earlier in the year when I had finally received my first 1,000 page views, my goal for next month was to double that and reach 2,000. I ended up hitting 4,000. Reaching your goals — no matter how “big” or “small” — is HUGE. Reaching 10,000 page views may seem like a dream right now, but once you get there, you’re going to give yourself a pat on the back, eat a cupcake to celebrate, and set a goal for 15,000 or even 20,000 next time. And if you ever had any doubt that your blog wouldn’t be as big as some of the others, I really hope this tidbit gave you the motivation to keep pushing forward!
I hope you enjoyed reading tidbits of my blogging journey and my goals for 2017. Thanks so much for helping me get here!