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2 years of blogging – then&now

Posted on Posted in Updates, Writing

I remember where I was. I was sitting in my sisters room and we were talking about how I love to watch beauty gurus on YouTube and how I wish I had begun making videos years ago. While my sister tried to convince me to take the plunge and start YouTube, I knew it was unrealistic. Creating a successful YouTube channel is honestly expensive, time consuming and very difficult now-a-days with all the different people trying to make it big like Zoella, Bethany Mota etc etc. After shutting that idea down, we came up with the idea of starting a blog because I have always loved to write and use my creativity. That’s when ‘TheBrookeBook’ was born.

I began using Blogger, a blogging platform by Google, and it was nice to start with because it was extremely user friendly. I found a basic one click theme that really wasn’t me at all but I thought it looked fancy and it was simple to work with so I went with it. I still remember when I saw that my first post got 13 views because as little as it seems, there were 13 people in the world reading my writing! For the first couple of weeks I worked on it without telling anyone besides my family because honestly I was scared. Posting about it on social media the first time was terrifying because people will always have their opinions but I actually got a lot of excellent feedback and I am still very grateful for that. I even had a friend from high school message me personally and tell me how great he thought it was that I was working on something I was truly interested in. That message still sticks with me today because it meant so much to me and really got me over the nerves I had about taking it public. So, if you’re reading this… yes it’s about you hahah thank you!

I branded my blog as a Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle blog. I decided to spend the money and purchase the domain TheBrookeBook.com and I have to admit, I am still absolutely in love with my blog name. I think TheBrookeBook is nice because it gives room to change my blogging focus to whatever I please in the future.

After having far too many technical issues with blogger I decided to switch to WordPress which meant I had to transfer my domain and wait 60 days to get www.thebrookebook.com back again. I was furious. Switching platforms was a pain in the ass quite frankly. With wordpress.org you have to be self-hosted, which meant I had to find a hosting platform for my blog so I chose bluehost.com because it had the best reviews and had to once again pay to receive that. At this point, I was really struggling with the idea that my blog was not worth the money I was spending on it, the max views I was getting on my post was maybe 80 and I just felt like the money I was spending didn’t make sense. To add to it, I could not for the life of me understand WordPress but I couldn’t stand the thought of switching hosts again so I sucked it up.

After a couple months I had an epiphany and realized…. Brooke, you’re really not the fashionable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I dress terribly but I definitely don’t think I am in a place to be broadcasting my outfits to readers so I decided to drop Fashion from my brand figuring I’m not limited to anything so if one day I decide to post a fashion post, I can.

Throughout the school year (sophomore year), I struggled with keeping up with my blog and making my posts interesting…but then I went to Colorado. I had a lot of free time (because I had no friends there for the majority of the time lol… at least I can laugh about it now, right?!) so I began working harder on my blog and really began feeling proud of it. This summer in Colorado was the first brand deal I was presented with, which was a huge deal for me. I really felt like a blogger now that an established company wanted to work with a nobody in the blogging community like myself. They personally reached out to me and asked if I would like to partner with them in exchange for a spotlight on their social media accounts and I couldn’t turn it down. Unfortunately, this company failed to follow through on their deal and did nothing in return for my post I worked so hard on. I don’t regret this experience because it taught me so much but I definitely was quite bummed. Later that summer I got to work with another company called Sand Cloud, which I was really excited about. This company was a start up and they were excellent people so it made me trust working with them despite my past experience. It made me realize how important it is to work with companies I truly enjoy. To this day, I still love the company so that says a lot. Since then, I have been so lucky to have some amazing opportunities to work with really great brands that I admire. Working with brands you genuinely enjoy is not only a great learning experience but also a way to make connections with professionals in your field of interest and network.

This was the summer I also joined 2 blogger networks; Boston Bloggers (even though I was in CO at the time) and Her Campus Blogger Network. If you are reading this, I cannot stress the importance of making connections within the blogging community and that’s exactly what these have both done for me. Boston bloggers accepts everyone (within reason) and HCBN you have to apply for and there is guidelines for staying in the network.

Going into Junior year of college I had a bit of trouble getting more into my blog. I felt like my posts weren’t reaching people or effecting people positively. Not feeling like I was impacting people makes it really hard to find motivation to post because if you’re not aware, one blog post takes quite a bit of time to produce.  When I was abroad I didn’t prioritize my blog, which parts of me regret but at the same time, I was out there living my life and not huddled behind a computer so part of me doesn’t regret it either. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really find my real blogging motivation until this past summer. Something clicked and made me realize how much I actually do love writing. I also discovered that it’s my blog… I can write about whatever I please. No more me having to post a beauty post every week or having to stick to a strict posting schedule. Making a blog too much work really does take a lot of the enjoyment out of it. Do I still want to try to make my blog the best it can be and grow its presence, of course but it’s not my main priority. I like blogging because I honestly enjoy writing about my life, my thoughts and makeup but if I make it too stressful, I don’t enjoy it anymore and that is not why I created my blog.

So, where am I at now?

Lately I have found a new love of writing more personal hard-hitting posts. I want my blog to be a representation of myself and so sometimes I have to be very vulnerable and that is scary but it pays off. Writing more personal posts may seem weird to people because I am putting my personal thoughts online for anyone to see but to me, it’s therapeutic. Since I’ve begun putting more of my heart into my blog, I have gotten seriously amazing responses…. from friends, family and readers I don’t even know. I used to check my google analytics a few times a week, now I check it once a week, if that! I am proud to say that I average about 300 unique visits on each individual post but I am also proud to say that I really don’t care about that number as much as I thought I would. I’ve improved a lot because I have worked hard at it for 2 years. The number of visits I get on each post doesn’t make me like a post more; it just solely makes me happy that I have such a great platform to have my voice heard.

And yes, I finally understand how to use WordPress and now love it so much.

Thanks for sticking with me through these 2 years!

Until next time, Screen-Shot-2014-06-14-at-11.20.59-PM3

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