For a year, Follow Your Sunshine was not much more than a hobby – an activity undertaken purely for the sheer enjoyment of it. Posts were written sporadically in snatched moments between work and seeing friends, usually from the sofa in front of Downton Abbey, with laptop perched on knee and mug of tea in hand. Back then, writing my blog was much like writing an open diary: a therapeutic release of thoughts and feelings for me; an update on my life and world for those that cared enough to read.
It was around October last year that this started to change. Over the course of several months I developed a schedule of themed posts that I now stick to most weeks, a set of blogging goals that I’m ticking off one by one, and a new website and brand that I could be proud of being seen in the public domain. All of this took painstaking planning and hours of work to set up and maintain. So why did I do it?
Quite simply, I had started to realise the perks of being a blogger.
You feel part of a supportive community online
On the whole, the numerous people that make up the ‘blogging community’ are pretty damn lovely. Whether you write about food or make-up, fashion or life, you’ve got to be open, honest and sharing to build a successful blog – attributes that are also required to be a good friend.
I have been lucky enough to ‘virtually meet’ some awesome bloggers and all-round wonderful people through social media, weekly Twitter chats and exchanging emails, all of whom have made an impact on my blogging journey in small yet significant ways.
The best thing about the online blogging community? They understand that Insragramming your plate of food before you tuck in is absolutely necessary.
You have the opportunity to build a community offline too!
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all sit hunched over our laptops 24/7. Blogging opens up opportunities for all kinds of gatherings and events, allowing bloggers to get together to socialise, to learn from one another and to speak about the kinds of things that send everybody else to sleep. The intricacies of SEO and the pros and cons of Hootsuite? Keep talking!
Last night I was invited along to my (as well as Qatar’s) very first bloggers meet-up, along with 20 other established bloggers, and several more blogging workshop attendees, organised by the lovely ladies of Blogging ME.
We congregated in the courtyard of Il Teatro restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel for a couple of hours while the restaurant’s new Italian chef, Marco Alotti and his team showered us with delicate canapes, hors d’oeuvre and Prosecco (a.k.a. every blogger’s dream).
With contact details exchanged and dates already in diaries, I am looking forward to building on these new blogging friendships in the weeks to come.
The best thing about the local blogging community? Meeting up with them gives you a great excuse to try out new restaurants “for review purposes”.
You learn new skills
Blogging requires hard work and determination, self-belief and creativity. You have to develop conviction in your words, your beliefs and the way you tell your story. You have to become organised enough to fit your blogging around the rest of your life, and dedicated enough to maintain this. You can’t be too selfish, or insular, or nobody will ever read your writing – reaching out to others and helping them will make them want to help you in return. You need to have integrity so that people believe what you are saying; inaccurate details or embellishments will always be found out.
Blogging has encouraged me to learn new techniques like photography and web design. It has helped me to be more reflective about life, experiences and feelings. It has taught me to use my brain in a way I never have before.
The best thing about learning new life skills? The better you become in all these things, the better your blog becomes. It’s cyclical and it just keeps on buildin’!
You get much more out of life
Blogging makes you look at life with fresh eyes. You think more carefully about who you are and what you do with the time you have. You make better life decisions and your writing helps you to appreciate the little details that you would normally miss.
Photographing my daily activities as I go along for instance, helps me to notice things that I wouldn’t normally see, like when my local coffee shop’s barista has produced a particularly pretty piece of latte art, or when the sky is looking particularly blue.
I also create new opportunities for myself, as nobody wants to hear about the same old activities and places week after week. I’m constantly researching new restaurant openings, entertainment options and travel opportunities.
The best thing about getting more out of life as you blog? You can appreciate it all over again when you read back over your blog in years to come.
What are the perks of blogging for you?
I have posted this as part of Emma, Kelly and Rebecca’s February Travel Link-Up. Head over to any of the girls’ blogs (or to guest Sara’s) to add your own post on the topic of The Unexpected Benefits of Blogging.