March 29, 2019

6 Things I Learned Through Blogging (& Celebrating 6 Years!)

Wow.. 6 years. Much like most of my personal posts, today's is a difficult one to write. Not because there's not much to say, but because I just can't find the words to say it all. On March 29th, 2013, I sat down in my bedroom at my sister's house in New Hampshire and wrote quite possibly the world's worst blog post. At the time, I thought it was just something I'd do to build a writing portfolio so I could eventually land a job at Teen Vogue a la LC in The Hills. Never in a million years did I think this was something I'd still be doing a year later or even two.. let alone SIX years.


I've said this before, but when I first opened my laptop and logged into Wordpress to create my blog, I wanted to call it Sights on the City, because that's all it was: one step in my detailed plan to eventually live and work in the city. Somehow, I decided to name it The Caro Diaries instead – and I'm so glad I did. The name just fit. Maybe it's because I meticulously kept diaries all throughout my childhood, filled with mundane entries about how my brother was being mean to me, or how I like-liked the cute boy in my primary school. But once I settled on the name The Caro Diaries, everything unfolded.

I'm very proud to say that through the last 6 years, I've shared many chapters and pages of my own personal story. There were moments I'm happy to have closed the chapter on, and there are definitely many that I go back to read when I want to reminisce, like reading your favorite childhood fairytale years later. Though this blog has seen many ups and downs, and quite a bit of "OMG I am SO sorry I went MIA!" posts, one thing has always remained true for me: the catharsis that I feel when I pen these words.

And so, now, here we are.. six years – roughly 2,191 days – later, and I am so much better for it. While I never saw The Caro Diaries being a huge part of my life on the day that I penned my first post, I cannot imagine my life without it now. And while I haven't necessarily been the best blogger over the years, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that no matter what adventure I'm on, no matter what life throws my way or what lessons I'm struggling to learn, there's one place where it'll always make sense. And for that, I'll always be thankful for every page and every chapter of The Caro Diaries. Now here's to creating many more..


In honor of six years, I thought I'd share some special 6's.

SIX LESSONS I LEARNED THROUGH THE YEARS: 

ONE // You're going to change, and so will your blog 

And guess what? That's ok! If we all stayed the same as we were the day we hit publish on our first post, well then things would be really boring, right? I personally would still be an 18-year-old college freshman who thought she'd move to New York after graduation – and my life couldn't be more different, and my blog shows it.

Through relationships and friendships, ups and downs, life lessons and laughs, new hobbies, new stages and new habits, you continue to grow day after day, and your blog is a reflection of that. And there's so much beauty in seeing the transformation over the years, even when it hurts to look back.


TWO // Don't get caught in the comparison game

It seems like everyone's a blogger or an influencer (ehh, I hate that name) these days, and it's so easy to find yourself comparing yourself to everyone else. This one has 100K followers on Instagram, while this one got a fully-comped trip to Bali and this one is wearing a brand new designer dress for free. The rat race of followers and numbers is real, and the best of us have been caught up in it. But at the end of the day, the important thing to focus on is to keep creating the kind of content that you would want to read, and the audience will follow.


THREE // (that being said) Don't put all your eggs in one basket 

When I first started blogging, Instagram (and really, even social media) wasn't the kind of animal that it is today. Now, it's a whole different ballgame. Plain and simple: there are bloggers and then there are Instagram bloggers. While there's nothing wrong with creating exclusive content for social media vs your blog, many people focus on Instagram way more than they do their actual written content. And it's easy to understand why: the visual platform is more appealing, easier to sell clothes and even easier to keep in touch with followers. But at the end of the day, we have no control over it.

Yep, we don't own Instagram (or even our content ON Instagram for that matter), so if the app was to magically disappear tomorrow, or just shut down for a day (we all know the mayhem that ensued), what will you have to show for it? There's nothing wrong with focusing on your visual content, diversifying your forms of monetization or using the social media platform, just don't forget about your actual content in lieu of it.



FOUR // Stop trying to fit in

It's only natural in blogging to take inspiration from others: maybe a big-time blogger you follow does a series you wanna start on your blog, or maybe you like the editing style of their Instagram feed. It's okay to be inspired by others in the game, but changing your brand to fit into an image you think you should be like isn't. So if it means following a trend you'd usually never wear because every fashion blogger is wearing it on Insta, or writing a certain way on the blog because this famous blogger does it, or even covering topics you'd never write about on your own, well.. it's not worth it. All it'll do is leave you feeling inauthentic, and ultimately, uninspired.


FIVE // Block out the bullshit 

Starting a blog (especially now, when everyone and their mother are 'influencers' or 'content creators') can come with some negativity or skepticism from friends and family. My biggest piece of advice? Ignore them. People always have something to say, and they always will, so you might as well do you in the process, right?

When I was still internally battling about starting my blog, only a few days before I took the plunge actually, I made the mistake of telling a friend of mine at the time that I was thinking of starting one. I remember she pointedly laughed and said "what are you gonna write about? boy troubles and college classes?" like it was the biggest joke. I looked at her and said, "yeah, if I want to". It was the edge I needed to actually open up my laptop and get it done. You know what the funniest part is? The minute she saw my blog, heard how friends and strangers alike were reacting to it, and saw that I got to do cool things, she decided to start a blog of her own. No laughing matter now, huh?

Could you imagine I heard her laughs and decided not to start my blog after all? Guess it's a good thing I learned early on that you have to block out the bullshit.


SIX // You might feel vulnerable, but that's okay

Throughout the last 6 years, I've broached many personal topics on the blog. Whether it was getting my first negative comment (and finding out it came from someone I knew IRL), discussing the end of relationships and friends, sharing my personal struggles with my body image or my future, or even just figuring it all out right here on this page, I've experienced it all on The Caro Diaries. And because of that, many people I knew in real life read these words, and in a way, got a glimpse at my innermost thoughts – and it can feel downright nauseating.

But in the scariest of these moments, through the times I hit post with my eyes closed, I came out stronger and better for it. In the most vulnerable of posts when I thought I might die if someone I knew admitted to reading it, I got countless comments of support from readers and followers. In the posts where I dug deep to find the words I didn't even know I was feeling, I got messages from readers who were feeling the same way. For every word I typed on this blog, there was someone out there who could relate to it. There's a power in releasing that vulnerability into the world, but there's magic in turning that vulnerability into something special. And that's what The Caro Diaries is – to me at least.


6 Most Personal Posts Over The Years

For some reason, my personal posts always seem to be the most popular posts around these parts, so I figured I'll share my top 6 most personal blog posts. 

ONE // After years of dreaming of living in NYC, my first few weeks there were... meh. To be honest, they were quite challenging, and so I shared that side of New York, beyond the fabulous Instagrams. 

TWO // My first 'real' post on the blog after that crappy introduction post was this: a blog post about figuring out where you can call home when you're in between two places. It was something I struggled with for a long time, and I felt compelled to share it on the blog. Has my writing style changed, or what? 

THREE // After months of experiencing a health scare, I laid it all out there. Oh, and I promised to run a half-marathon (that I ended up not even running because it clashed with sorority recruitment.. lol one day!).

FOUR // For years, my life was all laid out in front of me: work hard in high school so you can get into a good college, and then work hard in college so you can graduate with a good GPA. But no one talks about what happens when you leave college. Yeah, we get a job and become an adult.. but it felt like a "now what happens?" moment, so I wrote about it. 

FIVE // This entire post can be summed up by saying: it's crazy how much changes in a year. When you think your life is doomed and over, it's only just begun, and the journey is a hell of a ride. 

SIX // The prequel to post #5, this one chronicled my feeling like I didn't have it together, especially as I entered my final semester of college. What caused it? A job rejection on New Year's Eve (yep, they really did that). Oh, and I curse a lot in this one! 


6 Most Viewed Posts Over The Years

ONE // I guess there's a lot of sorority girls on people's Christmas list.. but really, classic gifts for any gals in a sorority, from a girl who had WAY too many Alpha Chi stuff during my time as an active member.

TWO // Decorating your college dorm can be hard when you're a broke college student, so I shared some of my favorite DIY dorm room decor, just in time for my junior year move-in.

THREE // Being in a sorority can be expensive. Between the dues, and the shirts, and all of the accessories you haveee to have, and let's not forget about taking a little. I took two littles in college, and I maintained a pretty strict budget both times around, so I shared my tricks and tips for taking a little when you're #BallinOnABudget.

FOUR // When my sister got engaged, I was in college in a totally different country, but I still wanted to show her that I was there for her, excited and ready to help with the wedding planning, so I made a little DIY engagement basket, filled with some of her favorite things and wedding planning necessities as a little gift. Also: every bride-to-be needs a shirt that says Feyoncé.

FIVE // Just one day after I opened up about how tough it was living in NYC, I decided to challenge myself by making a bucket list of items I wanted to experience before I left the city. The list was perfect for tourists and locals alike, which made it one of my most popular posts.

SIX // Post-grad sucks.. and balancing everything when you're employed full-time somehow feels so much harder than it did back in college. In this post, I partnered with Erin Condren (who, fun fact, was the first brand to ever work with my blog back in 2013!) to share my tips to finding ways to balance work, your social life and a side-hustle.


So that's it.. six years worth of memories and six years worth of posts. I'm so excited for sixty more!
Will you still be reading TCD in 60 years? ;)

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12 comments:

  1. Ahhh congrats girl! Isn't it crazy how the time flies with blogging?

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  2. Congrats!! Wow! 6 years!! that's amazing!!

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  3. These are great tips! Congrats on 6 years! I TOTALLY agree that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket!

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  4. Happy 6th...and here’s to many more. It’s an amazing journey isn’t it? Blogging helps us grow and our growth fuels our writing. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

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  5. Wow, congratulations girl! 6 years is a long time and those 6 lessons are really inspiring. Social media is such a rat race and its hard not to compare yourself to others.

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  6. Congratulations on such a long blogging career! I really love that you included the lists of most popular and list personal blog posts.

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  7. You did a really great job of summarising your 6 years experience. Congratulations on the anniversary. Most people give up after a couple of years, it's great to see others keeping it up long term. My blog is almost 11 years old and I too found those six things (you learned) to be true. Particularly about change. My blog has changed and developed so much over the last 10 years. I feel it matured only very recently - around year 9! I hope you have many more wonderful years of blogging. Lynda H of insaitama.com

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  8. Happy blogiversary! I remember following your blog not too long after I started blogging, and it's so crazy to see how much blogging has changed over the years. I love that you mentioned that it's okay if your blog changes. Mine has changed SO MUCH over the past six years (THANK GOD!). Even after all this time, I still get caught up in the comparison game. I also never thought Instagram would become anything like it is today. I still remember resenting Insta stories because I thought it was too much like Snapchat. Boy, has that changed.

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  9. Omg Happy 6 years!! That's such a milestone!

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  10. Ahh, happy blogiversary! 6 Years is amazing!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

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  11. I couldn't agree more! It's amazing how many things can change in one year. And congratulations on your six years of blogging! That's amazing!

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    ReplyDelete

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