Two Years of Blogging: Knowledge, Mistakes, Laughter, Tears and Growth
HOW THE HECK DID CYNSPO TURN TWO?! It actually blows my mind that I’m sitting here typing this right now, both shocked and proud of my blog as if it is my child. I remember last year wanting to do a one year blogging update, but at that time my theme had crashed and I was so wrapped up in fixing it/installing a new one properly that it fell by the wayside. However, this year, I get to share with you guys how my blogging journey has gone, the challenges, triumphs and things I’ve learned (plus some intentions for next year)! Okay, let’s skip the chatting and get to the no-holds-barred Two Years of Blogging: Knowledge, Mistakes, Laughter, Tears and Growth
How Cynspo Started
Verging on the Edge of a Post-Grad Identity Crisis
It was a cold afternoon in November and I had the day off of work. Little bit of background: I had graduated from nursing school that spring and had spent the summer applying like crazy, as well as doing a little stint of camp nursing. When I stumbled upon my (now full-time) job, I felt like it was a little bit of a saving grace. I mean, what greater fear can you put into a new grad other than “you won’t have a job after graduation”.
So, here I was, little post grad me just having finished orientation and picking up shifts where I could (I was only casual and it was close to Christmas, so there weren’t an abundance of shifts by any means), kinda just sitting around, freaking out. I literally remember thinking “what am I supposed to do with all of this free time I have?”. See, I had been a student all my life up until this point. Not having school work around in the background had been nice during the summer, but it really threw me off come Fall.
I Like to Go From Zero to One Hundred
I remember sitting on the couch, aimlessly scrolling on Instagram, looking at a few accounts that I always did and wondering how they did it. I wondered how they talked so confidently on their stories, how they made you feel like a friend. I loved the idea of being creative and posting on Instagram – all the while getting paid to do it. I just didn’t know how.
So, without any prior knowledge of anything related to blogging (I mean zero, wasn’t even sure if I could name five bloggers who had a site off of Instagram), I casually Googled ‘blogging’. And then that was it. By the end of the day, I had created my free little spot on WordPress.com, all social channels, and had more tabs open than my 6 year old Macbook was prepared to handle. I had even written a little introductory blog post (that I laugh at now, and definitely did not make it onto cynspo.com), and was beaming.
It Was Kind of A Secret
I told no one. I was terrified they would think I was crazy, or just out of my mind. I was afraid they’d pick it apart and criticize the bejesus out of me. Even worse, I was afraid they would read it. And then I would have to face them.
But, I’m horrible at keeping secrets, and love sharing things with other people (hence, my desire to start a blog). And slowly told only a handful of people. They were skeptical, but more or less supportive. I was more so afraid of everyone and their dog that knew me finding out (before I had a chance to even get good at it), but more on that later.
How Did It Get Here?
If you knew me as www.cynspo.wordpress.com, I think it’s safe to say we’ve had a major glow up in content and presentation. It took a solid year of tweaking, and googling, and watching and asking the Twitterverse for help. It was me, writing my little tail off in between day and night shifts, telling my then boyfriend we couldn’t go out to run errands until I finished the post. Or just one more pin. It was me, documenting everything I did on stories on Instagram, finally learning how to create an aesthetic feed, growing my following what felt like overnight.
It was also a lot of self doubt – me often wondering what the fuck I had done and what I had gotten myself into. It was a lot of “well how can I quit now that everyone knows”. It was a lot of tears and angry Googling because I’ve never coded anything in my life, nor knew what the heck I was doing half the time.
It was also me nearly crying from happiness when a kind comment would come in. Jumping up off the couch in delight whenever I figured out something I had spent [hours/days/weeks] working on. It was seeing my posts get shared, read and reposted. It was close friends and family who would say “I saw this thing you posted and…”.
There was pride, and triumph, and grinning ear to ear. There was also frustration, anger, and confusion. Every emotion was worth it – it either made something worth-while, or pushed me to solve another problem. I think I could honestly spend forever telling you guys about all of the highs and lows, but you get the point.
Things Nobody Tells You Before You Start a Blog
Well, we don’t have all year to spend on this, but I can touch on a few things that I want to share with the new blogger out there. Or even for the non-blogger, who is reading this (thank you for being here!), and wondering how the heck it all works. These are 4 things you should know whether you’re thinking of blogging, new to blogging, or not a blogger at all – just so you can see how it all starts.
It is Not Fucking Easy
I actually want to laugh and kick my old self – and truthfully, Pinterest, for every blogger out there that made it seem like it was a cake walk. It’s not, and I should have known that, but you don’t think about that when you’re excited. You just read a blog post about the 5 things you need to do to start a blog – because who can’t do 5 things?! (I mean, when you break it down, it is only 5 things. But then each thing has another 5 things, and then those things have another 5 things… etc.)
I don’t mean to make this sound like complaining – I want this to come off as the utmost appreciation for content creators and bloggers out there. The tremendous amount of work that goes into starting and maintaining a blog, let alone managing social media, email lists and creating products? The work is endless and immense. There is no end to it. And while it isn’t fucking easy, it is absolutely admirable.
You Can’t Spend Your Whole Time Consuming Material and Learning
Of course, blogging is a never ending learning curve. LIFE is a never ending learning curve. But if you get stuck in the learning merry-go-round, you will get trapped into an endless cycle of consuming other people’s material, while neglecting to create your own. Set boundaries and limits to how much content you consume, learning or not, and dedicate more time to creating your own content.
People Are Not Going to Get You, And They Also Won’t Like You
It hurts, but it’s true. And that’s actually okay. Can you imagine how busy you would be if everyone liked you? You would have to disappear to a remote island to escape the attention! In all seriousness though, it’s nothing personal. Just like some people don’t like the colour pink, are you going to stop loving the colour/wearing it/enjoying it? Nope, you’re going to find the people who do like it. Those are your people. Those are the people who will seek you out and want to hang out with you.
People also aren’t going to get what you do. They won’t understand why you spend the time you do on things they wouldn’t even dream of doing. They don’t get what an algorithm is, or they don’t know how to create a Pinterest pin. They won’t understand why you’re pouring your time in effort into something that seems so risky. That is also okay. It’s not up to you to change their minds, nor let it affect your day. You don’t have to make everyone understand what you do – you will actually be more at peace if you don’t.
The Numbers Don’t Mean Anything If The Sense of Community Isn’t There
I thought it was about the numbers – guilty. I think we all do. We get amazed when we see someone with 10k+ followers – we think that’s a lot. And it is. But before you get caught up in the numbers, know they don’t mean anything unless you create that sense of community.
Think of it like this: if you have 35 followers and they are dedicated (read all of your blog posts, some even have your name tattooed on their asses, the whole nine yards). And they show up to talk about your latest blog post – and they all have input, and feedback, and comments, and ‘me toos’!
Now. Swap that out with 200 followers. Wow, so many more, right? We have a full blown crowd! But what if they just follow you. They don’t even know what your last blog post was. They know your name, not really about your story. The room is silent.
Focus on creating a community instead of growing a massive following. Pay attention to the people who engage with you and reach out to you. Your content is nothing without an audience, so ensure you’re attracting and keeping an audience that wants what you have to offer.
Can you imagine how busy you would be if everyone liked you? You would have to disappear to a remote island to escape the attention! Click To Tweet
How I’ve Changed Over the Last Two Years
Of course, as you probably guessed it, I’m not the same person as I was in 2018. That year in itself was a big year of change for me – I had lost touch with a close friend group, graduated university, started a new relationship, and gotten a new job (all within a 6 month period, to boot). And, of course, started a blog. It was a lot of change, overwhelming actually. But I kind of loved it. I felt like I was getting my life together (cue audience laughter). I felt like I was happy, and this was going to explode into a lifetime of opportunity and happiness.
Cut to 2019 where I really thought I had it all. I made myself so busy I didn’t have to ask myself the hard questions. I threw myself into my blog and my job and my friends. I wanted everything to be perfect, everything to be flashy. I was so busy projecting to the world radiance, light and happiness, I didn’t really stop and think. How would this be sustainable. How would I handle this strain on my mental health. No one wants to see an unhappy girl on Instagram, so just don’t go on if you’re sad.
I overwhelmed myself to the point of burnout*. I had zero motivation to create any content at all. I didn’t want to show up on my stories. I didn’t even want to go to work (the 12 hour shifts would suck the life out of me when I already felt this bad). I would go through periods of feeling better and getting back into posting, only to run out of steam and disappear. At this point I had done something to my theme and my site didn’t look right anymore – cue the tears.
Well we wouldn’t exactly say that this year was any better lifestyle wise (I mean kinda hard to be a lifestyle blogger during a pandemic but it’s fine!). The pandemic challenged a lot of people and changed the way we do a lot of things. Blogging wise, I found it hard to keep up while working full time, and did fall off the radar again (this time giving myself grace, as anyone would this year).
I finally addressed my mental health and started making changes in my life: I left my two year relationship**, started working on creating a better work/life balance, and started really looking at my friend circles and where I wanted to see myself a year from now. 2020 isn’t over yet, but it’s safe to say we ended on a better note than we started it on!
*more on this in another blog post I have planned, too much to share in a few sentences!
**again, more on this in an upcoming post. I didn’t feel comfortable processing my past relationship and going through it on social media.
Some Of My Favourite Things
Ell Duclos is the OG favourite, the one I turn to for all things blogging and such a source of inspiration
Sequins and Sales is another OG favourite, her blog is so well curated, I appreciate it so much!
Emily Lavinskas is someone I met through Instagram and we’ve been chatting for a while! I absolutely love the way she styles her blog and is always up to date on cute decor and other trendy items!
Blog Posts I’ve Written
Instagram Accounts I Adore
Celebrating a Few Wins
Leaving this post off on a positive note, I want to share a few wins. I’m a huge believer in sharing your wins, no matter how small. These here are a few of the wins I’ve had where I’ve felt the most proud:
Going Self Hosted
The biggest leap of faith I’ve taken was when I went self hosted after a month of blogging freely. I had known from the start I wanted to go self hosted, and had challenged myself to make the leap, knowing it was better to do it sooner rather than later. This has been the biggest learning curve and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m so happy Cynspo has it’s own little corner of the internet!
Taking my passion for wineries, Wine Wednesday and wine to a whole new level! This account has brought me such joy to create content for. Can’t wait to see what comes for it in 2021!
Stepped Out of My Comfort Zone
This has been an ongoing journey and continues to be. I still remember the first time I ever went and spoke on my Instagram stories, to now wanting to switch up my style even more. It’s amazing how we never stop learning and growing, this being one of the things I’m forever grateful for.
Replaced My Whole Theme
Until you’ve set up a theme on WordPress, you don’t understand how tedious and time consuming it can be. Amazed at how with a little bit of perseverance, stock photos, and a little magic, it looks way better than when it started!
Moved on After Malware
I’m not even going to lie – when my site was hit with malware I had no idea whether I would return to blogging. I was stuck in such a rut emotionally, the last thing I wanted to do was fix my blog. For all of September, I let my blog sit, and then on the very last day I decided to fix it. I’m glad I decided to come back to it, to be able to celebrate 2 years and many more on here!
Of course, it’s almost that time of year again where we set new intentions and resolutions for the year. As I’ve come this far, I don’t want to have only come this far. I feel like I have so much left to share, so much left to do and create and people to make smile!
1. To Share Content in Line With Living Intentionally, Exploring Personal Wellness and Creating a Positive Mindset
These topics in addition to lifestyle posts have really resonated with me, and are something I want to share more of. I’m excited to begin including this content in addition to my regular skin care, wine, and living your best life themed posts!
2. To Post More Real, Raw, Authentic Photos on Instagram
If there’s anything this pandemic has taught me, it’s to keep it simple. Creating elaborate, eye catching photos is fun – but doesn’t have to be the whole theme. I want to share more authentic, candid moments.
3. To Work on SEO, Photography and Email List
These topics are all things I have wanted to learn more about, and have gained enough background knowledge to finally hunker down on them. Let’s go 2021!
4. To Be Unapologetically Me, and Share That
I’ve always had a bit of fear of sharing myself, and while I’m working on letting that shine through, I want to do better. I want to commit to being my unapologetic self, and embracing that in all forms.
A Love Note to You
Thank you all, for every word you read, message you’ve sent, or moment we’ve shared on this journey. I’m so thankful for all of the beautiful souls I’ve connected with and shared with across all platforms. I wouldn’t be here without you and your continued support. I truly, deeply, from the bottom of my heart, appreciate every single one of you!