How Reading Blogs Changed My Life (And Why I Think You Should Start One Of Your Own!)

Should I Start A Blog
Should I Start A Blog

I started my first blog when I was 14 years old. Okay, it wasn’t a “real blog,” (please excuse the excessive use of the word ‘blog’ in this…blog post) but more of an online diary. Everyone in our class had a LiveJournal or a Xanga (What was the equivalent where you’re from?) and the temptation to share my every mundane thought and feeling with the world a few people in my high school was too strong. Once I started, I was hooked.

Finding A Community On The Internet

Fast forward a year later. I was consumed with the world of Broadway. I was so deep in the Broadway fandom I could probably name every musical that opened in the years 2005-2007. Through LiveJournal, I was able to connect with people who loved Broadway just as much as I did. I was just as much into writing about Broadway as I was with the art form itself. I made friends on the internet before it was socially acceptable to make friends on the internet. These days, I might grab dinner or even travel for weeks at a time with people I met off the internet. Back in 2006? Not such a “cool thing” to do.

TBEX Manila Philippines Travel Blogger Eva Explores
Making friends on the internet is super normal these days! In fact, there are whole conferences dedicated to it!

My friends on the internet understood me. They got the fact that I would have traded in my right hand for tickets to Idina Menzel’s last performance of Wicked (yes, I’ve been in the Idina fan club since WAY before Frozen & “Let It Go” #HatersBackOff). They shared my love for musical trivia and obsessing over every single Altar Boy in Altar Boyz (Yes, that is the actual name of an actual musical that I saw more than 3 times live.)

I am so glad that I came “of age” in the time of the internet. (I’m also glad that I can remember a time before the internet but that’s an entirely different blog post). I had some amazing IRL friends, but there’s nothing like sharing a super specific interest with people from all over the world.

I stopped LiveJournaling in my Senior year of high school. But my love for the journal continued analog, for many years after my first foray into online oversharing.

Reading Blogs Saved My Life

Do you remember the rise of the Fashion & Lifestyle Blog? I remember discovering my first blogs. I was immediately captivated by these women, who were trying their best to be stylish and sharing their struggles and celebrations with the internet. I was in college at the time, and I loved getting a peek into these adult women’s lives. Is this what being an adult is like? Wearing pretty clothes and taking pictures of them? Sign me up!

So, turns out that is NOT what being an adult is about, go figure.

Should I Start A Blog

Blogs saved me at a time when I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to become. I learned from women who had been there. I was inspired by women who seemed to “have it all together” (even though I know now that’s a myth). These blogs taught me the power of finding joy in the little things and being grateful for what you have. They showed me a vision of what was possible for my own life. The amazing thing about reading blogs is that you start to believe that anything is possible. Contrary to magazines, where it feels like everything is manipulated to make you feel like you NEED to buy some item before you can truly live your best life.

By focusing on small joys {a vase of fresh flowers, a poke around a vintage shop, fresh fruit, a new book} my life began to take shape.

Should I Start A Blog
#Whimsical

When I was in the midst of my Quarter Life Crisis, while living in NYC, I turned once again to blogs. This time, they were travel blogs. Far off places, bucket list adventures. Reading about the full lives solo female travelers all over the internet were living inspired me to get out there and try for myself.

Getting Over The Fear Of Starting A Blog

Is it any wonder I started a blog of my own to document my trials and tribulations? Truth be told, I had been wanting to start a blog for a LONG time before I actually did. Basically from my first poke around the world of fashion blogging. So, why didn’t I?

I was scared. Scared of what people would think. People on the internet, but mostly people in my real life. I remember taking outfit photos in secret, never to post them anywhere except my journal.

Should I Start A Blog
Proof 😂

I scripted blog posts in my head but never put fingers to keyboard. Each time I thought about publishing my own blog post, the thoughts in my head would start.

“Who are you to share your life with the world?”
“What makes you think you’re so special?”
“Why would anyone care about the miscellaneous ramblings in your head?”

Does that sound familiar to you?

They were voices bubbling up from deep inside of myself. The part that still believed every “no” or “you’re not good enough” I’d ever heard in my life. And the ego-self that just wants to protect me from rejection. Yet I attached them to people in my life. People who most likely wouldn’t CARE if I started a blog. In fact, I KNOW these people don’t care, because I started that blog and no one has come out of the woodwork to tell me to shut up. And even if they had, that is not a person I want in my life.

Should I Start A Blog

Instead, I have been surprised by the people in my life. I’ve heard from the most random people from my real life who have been inspired by this blog. Despite the deluge of blogs on every subject, we have to realize that the act of putting your life out there is still fairly radical. Especially when that life is more about doing things on your terms rather than following the status quo.

The Dark Side Of Blogging

But there’s no use denying the dark side of blogging. What started as a way for the everyday person to share their thoughts, feelings, and stylish outfits has become an advertising tool. One of the most powerful advertising tools available. After all, if you feel like you know a person, trust them, and want to be exactly like them, you will follow them to the end of the earth.

Should I Start A Blog

Advertisers have (wisely) picked up on the unique benefits this affords them. And I’m glad they have! I’ve found out about some amazing products, services, and events because fellow bloggers recommended them. I’m far more likely to enjoy a product recommended by someone whose taste I know I trust than from a magazine or TV commercial or something. The problem arises when bloggers aren’t authentic.

Blogging Authentically

Have I been authentic about every single experience I’ve written about here on this blog? Probably not. I’ve tried my best. But sometimes it’s hard to write truthfully when you like to be liked. I am definitely a people pleaser, and sometimes my rose colored glasses come on when I’m writing about an experience.

The pressure is greater when I am sponsored by an activity or accommodation (which I do only when I feel like it would be a great experience for you to read about) and want to deliver a good review. I try my best to be authentic in these situations and write honestly about the positive and negative aspects. I imagine the pressure is even greater when you are being PAID to write about these things.

Should I Start A Blog

It’s been a big subject of discussion amongst bloggers (and people who love to read blogs): can you be truly transparent and authentic when you are receiving something for free or being paid to talk about something? I know, for myself, as a blog reader I became disenchanted by blogs that started to feature only clothing that was gifted to them for free. And the comments in those early days of blog monetization showed similar discontent. “All of your posts are sponsored now!” “Does she EVER buy anything herself anymore?” “This blog has changed so much, I’m unsubscribing/unfollowing/what have you.”

Is There A Right Way To Blog?

BUT, when the content was good I just had to keep reading. You have to offer something of value besides simply presenting a product or experience like in an advertisement. Err on the side of being TOO forthcoming in your reviews. If a product or experience sucked, you better tell us that! If you got special treatment because you were being sponsored, tell us that, too!

In my opinion, it’s not our fault if the product/service/experience just isn’t up to par. If an advertiser chooses to hire a blogger for that unique form of product placement, they should know that there is no guaranteed positive review. After all, bloggers are continually adjusting our own product and making sure customers are satisfied. We write content FOR FREE most of the time, and our credibility hinges on our readers’ trust in our words. If you give that up, you have no more business. It’s just not worth it to pander to an advertiser if they have a sub-par product.

Should I Start A Blog

Now, all of this being said, I am not monetizing my blog currently. So I can’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the experience. I do read lots of blogs still, and what stands out to me are the bloggers who are doing it right. They are getting paid to be bloggers, but their readers are still the main priority. Whether they’re working with brands they believe in over a longer period of time or creating their own products and services to sell, it’s always a reader-focused endeavor.

And I absolutely believe there’s a space on the internet for purely sponsored content. I probably won’t be reading it, but, like a magazine, there are people out there who enjoy that content.

Should You Start A Blog?

I’ll admit when I hear someone say they “want to start a blog” I chuckle internally in a self-satisfyingly smug way. Do they know the hard work it takes to actually create a successful blog? But then I have to check myself. I sure as hell didn’t know how difficult it would be! Yes, I read over and over again that it was “hard work.” But did I believe it? Nope. Well, I learned that the hard way.

Eva Explores December
Dreams come true: Creating the life I love working online and traveling the world. And it all started when I started my blog!

Here’s the thing: there may be millions of blogs out there on the internet. But know what all those millions of blogs don’t have? Your voice. Your unique experiences in life. The world certainly doesn’t NEED another blog, but it does need you to show up as your authentic self. And if that authentic self wants to share with the world, you better believe it’s important to honor that desire!

The simple act of starting a blog is like saying to the world (and more importantly yourself) I MATTER. No wonder it’s such a touchy subject. We have been told our entire lives that in order to survive we need to blend in. Especially as women, it’s not socially acceptable to declare to the world that we have something to say. Seen, but not heard. We have been taught to fear the judgment of other women. What will they say? What will they think when I share my authentic self? Who am I to express myself?

Should I Start A Blog

But Really … Should I Start A Blog?

So if you are thinking about starting a blog, I say DO IT. But do it for YOU, no one else. Don’t do it to get on a “most popular” list. Do it because you have an insatiable need to share and connect. You’re not alone in that need. Blogging has become popular because we crave authenticity, sharing, and connection. Those three things are sorely needed in the world today. If you want to raise your voice to speak up about the things you are passionate about, you should do it.

What do you think? If you are a blogger, what has your journey with blogging looked like? Were you an avid reader of blogs before starting your own? And if you’re thinking of starting a blog this year, what’s holding you back? Leave it below in the comments!

Happy Exploring, Wherever You Are!

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4 comments

  1. I love this line: “Despite the deluge of blogs on every subject, we have to realize that the act of putting your life out there is still fairly radical.”

    Reminds me of something I’ve said many times about leaving “real life” to go travel: it may be common on the internet, but it’s still pretty remarkable in real life.

    1. Absolutely, Kate!! We get so used to seeing women out there traveling full time on the internet, so it can be shocking for friends and family to be like “you’re doing WHAT?!?” and you’re just like, “Don’t you know that it’s super common on the internet?” lol..Google it, judgemental friend of a friend of your mom’s cousin 😛

  2. I literally just read every word of this post nodding along. I swear it’s like I wrote it! (apart from specifics like Broadway, I don’t know a thing about Broadway!) But yes! I used to forever be on Livejournal and making and meeting online friends through blogs and forums, and people would give me that look of “ohhh that’s a bit risky.” It’s funny how times change! And it’s also crazy how powerful blogs have become for advertisers, it feels like a lot of blogs do give honest reviews but then it does sometimes take the authenticity of their voice away if it’s all sponsored posts. Anyway great post! 🙂
    Clazz – An Orcadian Abroad recently posted…Why It’s Important To Travel Now More Than EverMy Profile

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