March 29, 2017

4 Lessons I've Learnt in 4 Years of Blogging

Four years ago, after countless back and forth and should I, should I not's, I sat down, opened my laptop and created this blog.

This little space on the web started off as a way for me to keep writing and showcase my writing skills, in the event that I wanted a portfolio to work in NYC one day. I originally thought of calling it Sights on the City, but it just didn't sit right.

But in the past 1,460 days, this changed from being a place to show that I could write, to the place where I needed to write. I've opened up about love, friendship, loss, rejection and perspective. I've showed outfits I've worn and trips I've been on. I've shared all of my go-to secrets and hacks for beauty, fashion and more. I've lived through the better part of my college experience with all of your eyes on me.
In the past four years, The Caro Diaries became my baby. My first-born child - complete with all of the stress, tears and frustration that sometimes accompany real children. But like an actual child, there are always the good moments, and when they're good, they're great. Working with some of my dream brands, meeting some incredible people, learning so much more about writing, editing and digital media than I have in any classroom - I've experienced all of these things and more in the lifespan of this blog.

But perhaps the most important thing that The Caro Diaries has given me is confidence. With every word, paragraph, post, I find the confidence in myself to continue writing, to hit publish and to share a (usually hidden) part of myself with the world.

In honor of four years of blogging, I'm sharing four lessons I've learnt about blogging, the industry and all the good, bad and the ugly!


1: It's OK to put your life first // Yes, while blogging can be a full-time job, it often isn't for everyone, and it certainly isn't for me. So sometimes - in between your real full-time job, or school, or involvement, or boyfriends and girlfriends, or family, or a social life - blogging can fall behind on the priority list, and that's okay. In order to have a lifestyle blog, you have to live! So stop apologizing for putting yourself and your life before the blog - remember your content is always better when your life is content.

2: It's A LOT of hard work // I think the biggest misconception is that having a blog is soooo easy, and all you have to do is take a few pictures, write a few words and boom, you're on your way to a full-fledged income. No. Just, no. It doesn't work that way. Blogging is difficult, and it becomes even harder when you're monetizing your platform. In any given blog post, there are 2 to 3 hours of work on the back end that you don't see going into it. Taking photos, photoshop and creating graphics, writing and editing countless times, making sure every little detail is just perfect - and then the social media promotion comes: twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram, linkedin, youtube.. you name it, we're on it and we're working our asses off to make sure you see the links that brought you here. So yeah, definitely a lot of work!

3: Don't compare yourself // These days, everyone and their mother has a blog - all because of the glamorization of the industry: going to fashion weeks, getting free clothes and cool products, getting paid lucratively to post about brands you like. So it's easy, really easy, to fall into the comparison game. This blogger is working with this company, this blogger got a comped trip to a European city, this blogger made enough money in one post to file taxes next year. Stop, just stop. In order to be really and truly successful in blogging (and by that I don't mean making money, I mean enjoying blogging), you need to figure out who YOU are and what your blog is. Stick to who you are - write in your natural voice, blog about your style.. your readers are your friends, and just because 8 people on your Instagram feed have worn a choker or an off-the-shoulder top in the last 20 minutes, doesn't mean you need to suddenly post chokers and OTS tops too, especially if it's not your style.

4: It's SO much more than just a blog // I started this blog not knowing what to expect and what would come out of it. What did come out of it were some lifelong blogging friends, a ton of marketable skills that helped me land my dream job, and a redefined love for writing, in a whole new way. Yes, while The Caro Diaries is a series of pages and posts and pictures, it's way more than that. It represents my passion and all of my energy going into one huge project. It represents countless hours of brainstorming, note-taking, conferences and meetings, phone calls and emails, and jotted notes in the middle of a night just in case the idea may leave before the morning. It represents years of love and hard work and talent, shared in every single post. So yes, it's SO much more than just a blog - it's an extension of yourself, and every part of you that you want to share.

So, as I turn the page and start another chapter, I'm excited. I know that while I may not have the time to write every day as I always want, there are so many more crazy things to be expected. And while I know that nothing lasts forever, I'm ready to watch my baby grow, flourish, and take on a life of its own. And until that day comes, you can find me here - sitting behind my laptop screen, like I was on that very first day, and as I will be until the very last.


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March 24, 2017

Perspective

I cannot lie to you. I've written this blog post at least ten times since January 1st. I open the page, begin to type, and then delete every word that spills out. I don't know how to express what I want to say. That can be a scary thing, being at a loss for words. It doesn't happen to me often, and I'm an over-writer.. once I start, I cannot stop. But, the words aren't coming to me right now.

And that's part of the reason why I haven't written much over the last few months. Not the entire reason.. but definitely a big part.
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At the start of 2016, I penned a very open letter where I spoke about feeling inadequate, not good enough, like a failure. I ended positively, sure that 2016 was going to be my year. That's a joke, wasn't it? I don't think 2016 was anyone's year!

I mean, I had a good year: I finished off an amazing senior year, traveled to Puerto Rico and the Grenadines, watched my sister get married, and graduated from my dream school. But the world faced a lot of tragedy and immeasurable loss, and sometimes we can't just forget about those things in favor of the happier moments.

So on New Year's Eve, as we celebrated the end of 2016 with lots of champagne and friends, and the countdown began, I felt relieved. Unlike 2015, I wasn't feeling uneasy about the coming year. I was happy to get rid of 2016, despite all the good that I may have experienced, I was ready for a fresh start.

Now 2017 hasn't been all roses and daisies, don't get me wrong. The last few months have been a whirlwind - I lost an uncle way too young, I lost a friend even younger, I saw heartbreak and tragedy in the eyes of the people I love. To say 2017 has been kind to everyone would be a lie.

But as I surrounded myself with family and friends at a fancy restaurant on December 31st, I had hope. My cousin - yes, the same one I sobbed to in the bathroom just one year prior - looked around for me as the countdown began, nervous to see what state I was in. But I was in the middle, screaming the number louder and louder the closer we got to midnight, dancing surrounded by some of my best friends, and happy - gosh, I was happy!


And why shouldn't I be? Yes, while life wasn't perfect last year.. it'll never be. So as we prepared to go into 2017, I let it all go. I found myself embracing the moment instead of worrying about what's to come. Because life is beautiful, incredible, magical - and no matter how much we plan for it, there'll always be something that makes us take a right turn, or a left turn, or sometimes just go around a roundabout for a couple minutes.

At the end of 2015, I got my first ever job rejection. I keep bringing this up, but it was a monumental moment for me. I mean, it wasn't my dream job, and it wasn't the be all and end all. But I was gutted - a sign that I wasn't good enough, even after all of my years of hard work, internships, too-much campus involvement, and even this blog.

I graduated, however, and got an incredible job at one of the top advertising agencies in the country - I got to write ads I'd see in magazines and in the newspapers, and hear on the radio and be surrounded by my work. But, as life would have it, I wasn't content.

I struggled for a while with this. Am I just bored? Isn't this what adulting is? Jobs aren't supposed to be exciting every single day, right? And that's right... but I felt a greater sense of belonging elsewhere, and I had decided on a Tuesday evening at the end of November that I would start to look elsewhere for jobs, knowing fully it may take months for me to find one considering the state of our economy.

That same night, I got a phone call from a friend of my sister's who knew somebody who was hiring and she thought I would be perfect for the job. Without knowing my struggles, she asked if she could recommend me. Two days and an interview later, I was offered the job on the spot. And by Friday, another opportunity presented itself to me: an opportunity to spearhead a digital movement at one of the top newspapers - something I had only ever dreamed of doing.

So as I struggled to make a decision, between an incredible job, and something that was quite literally my dream job, I took a step back. I weighed my pros and cons, and then I threw out that list and went with my heart. (oh, and I went with the newspaper job!)

And then I laughed. I laughed for all the times I cried leading up to this moment, unsure of what I wanted to do, where I would go or how I would get there. I laughed for thinking that one job rejection defined me, all of my years of hard work, and all of the years to come. I laughed for all of the struggles and frustrations I'd experience in the future, wanting to remember this moment. And I laughed for my heart, because I needed it.

So with 2017 starting in 10...9...8... I still laughed. Because surrounding your life with joy is definitely more beneficial than worrying unnecessarily. And because, even when we want to, sometimes there's just nothing we can do.

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I'm a firm believer that your enjoyment of life is based entirely on how you look at your life in general. I know, as someone with crippling anxiety, that's a bold statement to make. But if there was anything that I learned from 2016, it's that sometimes things don't always turn out the way we want them, but if we look closely enough - squint, even - we can find the joy in it.

Perspective can be a hell of a thing. Sometimes, you can be in a situation and it can feel like it's the end of the world.

And guess what?
It's not.
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January 13, 2017

January Goals

I cannot believe that we're in 2017 already! I mean, seriously, it was January 2016 like three minutes ago, so I'm feeling personally victimized that we're in a new year somehow!

2017 brought with it a lot of changes! I'll definitely go more into detail in another post, but I started a new job this month and I'm so excited for what the rest of the month, and the rest of the year, have to offer! Now let's get into goals for the month!
Check out last month's goals and recap post HERE

RECAP OF MY DECEMBER GOALS

1. Create a solid content calendar // Finally, I managed to make progress on this! While I haven't made a 6-week calendar, I have finally taken things past my current strategy of jotting ideas in a notebook and never getting around to writing the posts! Hopefully with this, I'll be more consistent and present on the blog in 2017!

2. Read three books // The Christmas season was a lot busier than I expected, and I only managed to get one book down. I'm giving myself partial credit for this because kudos to me for actually picking up my Kindle again! 

3. Clean out my closet // OK, this didn't happen. I definitely need to do this ASAP, but I know I need to commit a full day to doing it, so I keep putting it off! Soon?  

4. Order a 2017 planner // I decided on the Purposeful Planner for 2017 and I can't wait to share more about it soon! 

5. Learn a new makeup trick // Thanks to my unhealthy obsession with Jaclyn Hill and YouTube makeup vloggers in general, and all of the beauty blogs I devour on the reg, I learned a few new tricks with all of the new makeup I bought myself in December! 

TOTAL: 3.5/5: Overall, not a bad month! Considering how crazy the Christmas season was, I'm impressed that I got any of these done to be honest! 

JANUARY GOALS

1. Read two books // Too many times when I have a spare minute, I'll fit it with mindlessly strolling on the internet or binge watching a series or two. I want to be more intentional with my time, and I want to spend whatever free time I have by choosing to read some more. I'm a huge reader once I start, so it's just to commit the time to doing so! 

2. Focus on Instagram // I really dropped the ball with my Instagram account. A lot of it has to do with my feeling uncomfortable and not wanting to shoot pictures of myself. A lot of it has to do with just not having much to share. A lot of it has to do with just being scared. I'm commiting to get back on track this year, and so I'm starting with this month! 

3. Go to bed earlier // I am sick. There I said it. I have a legit illness because I cannot sleep before 4 A.M. and then I have to wake up and get to work for 7:30 A.M. and I'm exhausted and so it's all a cycle, and I'm dying to break it. This month, I'm committing to being in bed by midnight so I can get six hours a night! That's a start! 

4. Exercise 4 to 5 times a week // I got on track with my exercising really hardcore coming down to the end of the year, but the closer we got to Christmas, the harder it was for me to commit the time to going. Now that it's a new year, I want to commit to exercising four to five times a week again. Whether it's an exercise class, lifting weights with my trainer, or just going for an old fashioned jog with friends, I'm getting back on track - especially with Carnival around the corner. 

5. Save money // I can't lie to you.. I'm a horrible saver! I'm looking to buy myself a car in the next month and I know I need to make smarter decisions about my money and what I'm spending it on. Fingers crossed! 

Cheers to a new month and a new year! Let's crush our goals and start 2017 with a bang! 

What are your goals for this month? 

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December 12, 2016

December Goals

And there we have it folks.. we're already in December. And because this post is coming so late in the month.. we're less than one month away from a new freakin' year. How the hell did this happen?!!

November was a HUGE month, filled with a lot of changes... changes I cannot WAIT to announce! But it was definitely a hectic and stressful month! And because of that, I wasn't as productive as I would have liked to be. Yes, this is me making an excuse, but when you finally hear my announcement, you'll understand why and let this one slide.

Check out last month's goals and recap post HERE!

RECAP OF MY NOVEMBER GOALS

1. Utilize The Genius Bloggers Toolkit // LOL, nope. I am not even gonna try and pretend I even tried to do this. I didn't. I failed! Oh well, next month! 

2. Take on another client // Done and done! I welcomed a new client this month and have been loving the collaboration so far. You know when someone just clicks with you... 

3. Start using Pinterest more // I haven't even come close to this! Once again, just haven't had the time...

4. Get started on my Christmas shopping // I spent the last week in Miami with my mom and sisters shopping for Christmas, so I got started but by no means am I done with my shopping! UGHHH! 

5. Shoot two outfit posts // LOL, if it's possible, my self-esteem has gotten even lower than usual, and the idea of shooting outfit posts seems impossible. I'm confident that in 2017 I'll get back into it!

2/5: Whoops! Okay, I'm just impressed I got any off this list. Silver linings, right?! 

DECEMBER GOALS

1. Create a solid content calendar // I do this at work. I do this with my clients. Why do I keep putting off doing this for myself? I'm ready to dive in this month! 

2. Read three books // 2017 is going to be a very stressful year, and I have the week after Christmas off from work. I want to take that time to really allow myself to relax and read a couple books. I recently downloaded a ton of books on my Kindle, so what better time to tackle them than the holidays?! Should I do a reading list? You tell me!

3. Clean out my closet // While I didn't shop for myself that much in Florida, I definitely am in desperate need of cleaning out my closet and getting rid of clothing that I no longer like or even wear. My style has definitely shifted since I graduated college, and my wardrobe should be a reflection of that. 

4. Order a 2017 planner // As you may know, I'm a major planner addict. From Lilly to Erin Condren and everything in between, I cannot for the life of me decide which I want to use for 2017! Any suggestions? I'm torn between Erin Condren, Purposeful Planner and Day Designer for my every day, and May Designs agenda for my blog planner! 

5. Learn a new makeup trick // Since last year, I've been really into makeup, and on this trip, I picked up a few items I'd been wanting for a while. Not having a Sephora in my country makes this addiction really difficult, y'all! So armed with a ton of new product, a new eyeshadow palette and brand new brushes, I'm ready to try a new look! Jaclyn Hill, here I come! 

What are your goals for the rest of the year? 

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