Four years ago today I started The Urban Umbrella.
I cannot believe that it’s been four years. Back then, I had no idea what my blog was really going to be, what I was going to do with it, or how much I would love it.
Now I look back on the first months of my blog (and while I cringe at my terrible grammar & my poor quality photos) I feel so glad that I didn’t let my fear and shyness override my hope to create something for me.
I started my blogging on October 14, 2012, after spending a few months debating whether or not to create it.
The summer before, I had just discovered blogs and was absolutely addicted. I so enjoyed reading people’s style, travel, and lifestyle posts.
I loved that there was a new avenue for fashion, beauty, and travel that was more relatable and real than the magazines I had once read;
And, while scanning through my favourite blogs, I realized that I too wanted to create an online presence for myself.
Why I started my style and beauty blog:
Two things I’ve always enjoyed have been fashion and beauty.
In high-school and college, I was addicted to flipping through magazines to discover the latest makeup and fashion trends. I loved incorporating pieces into my wardrobe that were unique and figuring out how to make them wearable in my daily style.
So, when I started my blog it just made sense that it would have a focus on style and beauty. In the weeks before my first post, I mulled over blog names. I had known I wanted it to be something Urban, but figuring out the umbrella part took a bit of time.
It wasn’t until one typical rainy Raincouver day that it all clicked for me – what fits more with a Vancouver based style blogger than an umbrella?
Over the first few months of my blog the only people who knew I had created it was my family and boyfriend. I was so concerned and worried that people would poke fun of my little online space, and I hated the idea of feeling silly or foolish for it. Lets sum is up these concerns to my horrible anxiety.
After a few months, I finally caved and let my friends in on the secret: I had started a blog. The Urban Umbrella quickly became a place of inspiration for me, and it even made the long days at the office feel a bit more vibrant and light. I’d be at work, working away, but also scheming up new post ideas. I couldn’t help myself.
I had one note pad for work, and another to jot down my millions of post ideas. Really what my blog gave me was a bit of an escape from the norm, and allowed me to enjoy being creative again.
Since creating my blog in 2012 I have been able to experience such incredible things and meet such beautiful people. I’ve been lucky enough to work with incredible brands, I’ve met wonderful local bloggers and built great friendships.
I’ve been able to re-establish my long-term professional goals. While working in a job I felt so stuck in, my blog brought back the ambition to want and try for more. I don’t know if there is anything more important to feeling truly alive than having ambition and determination, and that’s what this whole blogging world and community brought back to me.
Blogging Tips and Advice: What I’ve Learned from Blogging
Tap into Your Real Experiences…
Sometimes, it can be powerful to share personal experiences.
While some things should be kept private, some experiences can become profound posts that will help people relate to you.
So often as bloggers we can get caught up in having this glossy perfect image when really what gets people to truly like you are your personal experiences.
For example, when I shared my experience with scoliosis, I was initially really nervous about sharing my story. What I’ve found though is that people really related to my life and my struggle.
Invest in Quality Tools That Will Help You:
If you’re running a blog then you’re going to make sure you invest in a few things:
– Lightroom photo editor
– A user and mobile-friendly blog layout
– A decent camera (or a phone with a good camera)
Why You Need Lightroom:
These things will help improve the quality of your blog. Lightroom is my favourite tool to lightly edit my photos. It allows you to alter the colour of your photo, level crooked images, brighten photos, and so much more.
Why You Need a User-Friendly Blog Layout:
As for your layout, it may be scary to invest in a layout when you first start blogging, but companies like 17th Avenue Design offer affordable user + mobile-friendly layouts for WordPress based blogs.
Plus, you’ll notice a huge portion of your traffic comes from readers on their phones which means your layout has to be mobile friendly to really be able to engage them.
Why You Need a Decent Camera:
Lastly, investing a quality camera is essential to having your images engage your readership. These images will be used to capture an audience on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest so you want them to really illustrate the quality of content on your blog.
Never Stop Learning:
If I’ve learned anything in the last few years it’s that blogging is always changing and therefore, I am always learning something new.
If I have a question about photography, SEO, HTML, or anything else – I google it and google it and google it again until I feel satisfied that I have the answer.
In my recent 11 Tips to Running a Successful Blog post, I shared that part of the fun of blogging for me is all the research that goes into it. Call me a geek, but I love learning (in fact, it was my favourite part of being in school, too – not the social aspect of it) and that love of learning is necessary to running a blog long-term and successfully.
Seek out information that will improve your SEO, grow your readership, and better your photography. Here are a few guides I’ve found helpful:
Helpful Beginner SEO Guides:
Create Realistic Goals…
When it comes to your blog schedule, readership growth rate, or traffic growth be realistic. When you first start blogging its easy to become over-ambitious and force yourself to write a post 7 days a week, but that could lead to a major blog burnout.
Instead, try to maintain a schedule with your blog that offers a bit more balance to your work/blog life. Especially if you’re working fulltime, try to keep your blog at a part-time ratio when you are first starting out. As for your readership and traffic growth, try not to get too caught up in the numbers right off the bat.
Focusing on the numbers can ruin your blog, and it leads to a competitive nature with fellow bloggers that really isn’t healthy. Enjoy your blog, watch it grow, and focus on your own success.