Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What 3 Years of Blogging Has Taught Me | My Bloggiversary (and Birthday!)

What 3 Years Blogging Has Taught Me
Here we are again, another year on: Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to my blog! Not Dressed As Lamb is three years old today (aww), and I'm 42 today. Though I have been saying for months that I'm 42 - some of you may know I can't bear my age being an odd number and 41 just sounded horrid. Good riddance, odd numbered age!

I thought I'd reflect on my three years as a blogger and share with you what those years of blogging has taught me - which is quite a lot, both about myself and about others. There's some facts, there's some musings, and there's some wonders. Please do share any similar thoughts in the comments or on Twitter with me (@notlamb) - I'd love to hear from you! 


Enjoy.


Statistics up to my third bloggiversary

  • I've published over 600 posts (this is number 605), of which 429 have been outfit posts.
  • I estimate that over 50,000 photographs have been taken of me. Time for some housekeeping on the out-takes on the hard drive I think.
  • There have been three blog designs in that time, with countless tweaks along the way.
  • My Bloglovin followers after one year of blogging totalled 140. My Bloglovin followers after three years of blogging total nearly 4,000. I've learnt how to market myself.
  • I started a Google Plus account a year ago and now have 1,800 people following me there - I've had 9 million Google+ page views apparently. Google+ is popular, and makes total SEO sense.
  • Six months into the blog I asked whether I should be Tweeting or not (that post makes for amusing reading now); I now have over 3,000 Twitter followers and I use it as my number one platform to promote my blog and make friends.
  • Not Dressed As Lamb has had over 1.6million page visits. That's utterly incredible (and totally mind-blowing).

(Please don't think I've given these statistics to brag; I'm saying that with hard work and a commitment to blog, dramatic increases in followers and activity can be done organically - without resorting to buying followers or annoying others with "follow for follow" requests!)


My best advice to anyone starting a blog

Before you do anything, choose a name for your blog. Make it catchy, make it reasonably short (maximum 15 characters*), make it original, make it say something about you. Ensure the exact same name is available across all social media channels, from blog to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram - and stick with it. If someone else is using that name on any platform - choose a different one. You need to be unique and not be confused with anyone else.

This is the only thing that I'd advise you take plenty of time over, as it's a pain in the proverbial to change all of them later. My best advice to anyone starting a blog: Choose a catchy name [that's] available across all channels, from the dot.com to Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. Use www.namecheckr.com to check its availability everywhere.

MY BEST ADVICE TO ANYONE STARTING A BLOG: CHOOSE A CATCHY NAME [THAT'S] AVAILABLE ACROSS ALL CHANNELS, FROM THE DOT.COM TO TWITTER TO FACEBOOK TO INSTAGRAM.

Secondly, if you're going the simple route and using Blogger as your blog host, create a Google email address (Gmail) with your new blog name FIRST, then use that to create your blog and sign up to all your social media accounts with that email. Things would have been a whole lot easier for me had I known to do it that way.

*the maximum length of a username on Twitter



The very best thing about blogging (above all else)

I think most established bloggers would agree with me when I say it's the blogging community and the friendships you make when you blog that are the very best thing - and they're right. But just edging ahead of bloggy friends, for me, are the odd moments when you receive a wonderful, thoughtful email that a total stranger has taken the time to send you. If any bloggers reading this have ever received an email like this, you'll know exactly what I mean.

I received the following the other day... I've omitted her name with the opening line to keep her anonymous, but it sums up everything that makes this blogging lark so utterly, utterly rewarding:



"I'm in my mid-entering-late-30s, and I used to be somewhat of a fashion-challenged person. Well, not any more. From some time ago I started to take better care of my appearance, and now I love to look for inspiration in fashion blogs that give off a certain vibe I can relate to: not too eccentric, definitely not boring, but everyday flattering style that looks chic, and most important, that fits me.

"Most blogs on my list, while awesome, were targeting a younger audience - fashion tends to do that - and I felt a little out of place for liking things I knew I wouldn't pull off like a 20-something would. What was the point of seeing all these amazing choices if on the other hand I was being bombarded with the old 'age-appropriate' stigma. So I started wandering around the blogosphere. I knew it was not all mumsy clothes (I don't even have kids), because I see celebrities much older looking amazing, but I wanted to see real women with real responsibilities going that extra mile to look fabulous in their day-to-day routine. I wanted to know their secret (yes, and downright copy them).
"The important lesson I learned from you was that if it fits me in every way (my body, my confidence, my circumstances), then I'll walk out the door in it.

"THE IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNED FROM YOU WAS THAT IF IT FITS ME IN EVERY WAY (MY BODY, MY CONFIDENCE, MY CIRCUMSTANCES), THEN I'LL WALK OUT THE DOOR IN IT"

"And that's when I came across your blog, and an interesting thing happened. I saw this gorgeous red-haired woman who was embracing some of the bold choices I thought were out of my reach, and she was rocking those choices and looking her best (granted, though, you have a face and body that'd look good in anything). 
"I mean, sandals with socks? A Bowie t-shirt? Was that allowed? And it hit me: fashion doesn't elude us once we hit a certain number. It doesn't have to be gray and nude colors and the same hairstyle; fashion wants to be played with, but she - fashion is a 'she', if you ask me - needs a strong companion to put up with her. She's a woman with a huge ego saying 'You think you can handle me? Let's see how bold and confident you are'. And you nail that, you really do. 

"AND IT HIT ME: FASHION DOESN'T ELUDE US ONCE WE HIT A CERTAIN NUMBER. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE GRAY AND NUDE COLORS AND THE SAME HAIRSTYLE; FASHION WANTS TO BE PLAYED WITH, BUT SHE - FASHION IS A 'SHE', IF YOU ASK ME - NEEDS A STRONG COMPANION TO PUT UP WITH HER."

"Not all of your looks had me head-over-heels, but most did and it's a matter of preference. The important lesson I learned from you was that if it fits me in every way (my body, my confidence, my circumstances), then surely I'll walk out the door in it.

"I wanted to say thank you in a more concise way, but seeing how long this turned out to be I'm just glad I didn't do it in your comments section. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog to help us out when we're wondering if stripes and polka dots go together. I'm learning to look in the mirror for an honest answer and go with it, with a full smile and full of confidence.

Thank you".

Lump in your throat, anyone?

That's what makes it all worthwhile. To think that I've inspired someone just by the simple act of getting dressed, taking pictures of my outfits and putting them on the internet is utterly priceless. Nothing prepares you for amazing, touching words like that. I've had a few emails and messages along similar lines over the last three years, and they never, ever fail to pull at my heart strings.


From the shortest, sweetest tweets to the longest, heartfelt emails, I appreciate every single one of these kind words and will never cease to be surprised at how me going about my everyday business and sharing a little bit of it online can inspire and delight others. 

So if I can do it, anyone can - it doesn't matter about the method used or the message that's being given. Just get out there and share the things you enjoy with others. You'll be amazed whose day you might brighten.


(Oh and if you leave me a comment or Tweet me you'll make my day, because it's my birthday - just in case I didn't shout it loud enough ;)




Catherine

P.S. You might like to read a couple of early posts: 10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told When I Started a Blog, and 10 Things I Wish I'd Known Six Months Into My Blog. Funny looking back at them now...!

Linking up to: Let It ShineAll Things ThursdayFriday's Fab Favourites
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56 comments

  1. That's a gorgeous letter to receive :)

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :D and congratulations on your blogging three years! xx

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle & Fashion

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  2. Happy Birthday to you and your blog! You've come such a long way in three years. I'm looking forward to more posts in the next three years!

    Yazmin xx
    www.yazzyscorner.co.uk

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  3. Happy Birthday and bloggiversary!! What a lovely post. I totally agree with the author of the beautiful letter. Since I have been following the fashion blogs it has made shopping efficient and painless. The time I save putting together outfits and getting ready is now simple. As a fellow redhead, your blog is one of my favorites. I adore the way you explore color and patterns. It's as if you read my mind "does this really work together?" and next thing I know you are answering my question and as always looking fabulous. So I thank you for the effort you put into your blog. You are appreciated.

    P.S. Thanks for mentioning Twitter. I'm following you now :-)

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    1. That is really lovely of you, Lori - thank you so much!!

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  5. Happy 3rd Birthday/Bloggiversary Catherine
    hope you enjoyed your cake :)
    Love love love your blog along with everyone else, that was such a lovely email to receive
    keep up the fantastic work xx

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    1. The cake was AMAZING - my niece made it, she's the expert cake maker in our family! Thank you x

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  6. It seems like you have been here longer, Catherine...you do such a professional, top notch job! I am not surprised at your numbers at all. Happy Blogoversary and keep up the good work!

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    1. Pam thank you so much!! That's really nice of you to say x

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  7. Congrats to you, Catherine, and many more years to come. You've worked hard, and I hope you have a glass of champagne today to celebrate! xox

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    1. I had a beer, Patti - hope that counts!! Thank you my lovely x

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  8. Happy Birthday Catherine! You should be proud of yourself, your work is amazing!
    Kiss, Alena | meet me stylish

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  9. Happy Birthday, Catherine and Happy Blog Anniversary!
    I have told you before and I am repeating myself: You are my blogger hero! From the very beginning with all my stupid questions until now with my growing blog I am learning from you. Sorting 50.000 photos is a lot of work but I know that it is only a small part of a blogger's life. You are doing such an incredible job, your blog is so versatile and yet you always remain authentic. That is what I love most - plus all the help, the tutorials, the encouragement and the inspiration you share here.
    Thank you!!
    I look forward to the next years and do hope I'll have a chance to raise a glass with you one day when I'll come across to the UK again.

    Have a lovely evening!
    xo
    Annette | Lady of Style

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    1. The feeling's mutual, Annette - you are an inspiration as well! Thank you so much for all your support, and yes we shall have that drink one day...!

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  10. Happy birthday beautiful! I think it's safe to say you've made a splash in the blogging world and as such, you deserve an extra big piece of birthday cake xxx

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  11. Happy birthday! I always love reading your posts! Oh and my birthday is August 10th in case you were wondering:)

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  12. Aw, what a lovely message. Happy Birthday and congratulations!! x

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  13. what a wonderful letter. i received something similar last year, and that's why, along with the great friends i've met i keep chugging along! ;-) happy blogaversary and hope you have a birthday as fabulous as you are! xo

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    1. The letter was really touching Kim - I'm so glad I shared it with everyone. Thank you lovely x

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  14. Happy Birthday Catherine! You couldn't have written a better post for the occasion!
    XO
    Jeanne
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr

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  15. Happpy blog birthday and thank you for great review of blogging :)

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  16. Only three years in the blogosphere and you've achieved sooo much, dearest Catherine!! Congratulations!! I feel like I still have such a very long way to go, but I'm so glad that I found you (and my other blogger friends) for inspiration and motivation!! I'll never forget your tweets of support when I first broke my foot and was feeling sorry for myself...you took the time to make me laugh, even with what's obviously a very full schedule at your end!! Thank you with all my heart for being there!! XOXO (P.S. Happy Birthday, too, of course!!)

    www.StyleIsMyPudding.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh Monika you're a total love!! Thank YOU for all your support - you are such a loyal commenter and totally put me to shame! =mwah=

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  17. You briefly mentioned the "follow me, I'll follow you" comments. When I see that I am almost certain I won't be following. :o)

    Happy Birthday to you and your blog!!! Thank you for all the wonderful smart tips you have shared, and mostly thanks for the lovely, lovely style inspiration!!!

    JJ
    www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you JJ, and for all your lovely comments over the years x

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  18. AAawwww, it's moments like these that make blogging worthwhile. I've made so many friends on the internet, despite not having many in the real world, it's so weird :D And Happy Birthday you lovely lady! ^^

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    1. Thanks Keit! I'm glad you have similar moments... that's really the reason why so many of us keep plugging away I think! x

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  19. a very happy birthday! and that is indeed an amazing email to receive and congrats on all your achievements so far xx

    Trona @ Aye Lined 

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  20. Happy Blogaversary!! And Happy Birthday! You've made quite a splash and are a fantastic example of blogging success.

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  21. Happy Birthday and also Happy Bloggiversary! Your blog is so professional that it's hard to believe that you've only been blogging for 3 years. I love your outfit posts and find them inspiring - even though I can't copy many of them being shorter, fatter and older than you!

    As a blogger myself, I always find it rewarding when people leave comments on my posts and say how much they've enjoyed a particular post. I wish I'd discovered all these wonderful blogs when I was 20 years' younger - I shudder when I remember some of the outfits I wore! - but it's never too late to find inspiration. Keep up the good work!

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    1. I shudder when I think back just five years ago, Sue!! Thank you so much for your kind words x

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  22. Happy Birthday Catherine! You are pretty much the only blog I follow that is written by a woman the same age as me, you rock!

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    1. Thank you Sharon - though I hope you do start to follow some of the other 40+ ladies out there - there are so many brilliant blogs for women our age!!

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  23. Happy Bloggiversary dear Catherine! I´ve been blogging a year and a few months and when I visit your blog.. I know there is a lot to do for me! Thank you for this inspiring work of art! :)

    Dana
    http://danalovesfashionandmusic.blogspot.de/

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  24. Hi Catherine, I really enjoy your blog. You are certainly a beautiful woman, and your pictures are colourful and always interesting choices. I think being a woman is awesome, and your blog captures this. When you get past a certain age, the choices might be a bit different than what we had in our 20s and 30s but they open up other doors, other ways of seeing things. As I began writing for my blog Stonecrop Sister, I was glad to see that many bloggers now write for women of all ages. Thanks for great content always. - Nancy, AKA Stonecropsister.com

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    1. Nancy thank you so much - your kind words mean a lot..!

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  25. happy happy birthday Catherine and Happy Blog Anniversary. Love that letter and am sure there are lots of us that will really realte to it. Keep up the fabulous work, keep inspiring us xx

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  26. Happy Birthday! I read often and comment seldom, if ever, but I do love your blog.

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  27. Gorgeous post lady from a gorgeous blogger, inside and out-hard work certainly pays off and that letter was so touching, well done you and here's to another 42 years! P.S my birthday and blogiversary are on the same day too-they were originally a few days apart but so I never forget my blogiversary, I merged the two-a double celebration! I turn 4 this Nov x

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    1. Awww, your 4th birthday Vicki!! Hee hee ;) Thanks my lovely, I'm sure the next three years will just fly by...!

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  28. Happy Birthday and Blogiversary Catherine! And congratulations to achieving so much in such a short time...I aspire to your greatness! :)
    Debbie
    www.fashionfairydust.blogspot.com

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  29. Congrats on your continued success on your blog! And what a great email to receive from a reader.

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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  30. Happy happy birthdays!! You are an inspiration to me and I'm lucky to have met you and to class you as a friend. Here's to the next three years! Love Liz xxx www.whatlizzyloves.com xxx

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    1. Liz you're a total sweetheart - and I'm so glad to have you as my friend as well. Looking forward to the next time I see you, hope you're well x

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  31. Happy Birthday! I put my just 4 year old in stripes and dots the other day & thought I'd love to wear that, well maybe I will now! Your blog is very inspirational and aspirational, love reading x

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    1. Do it, sweetie! You'll wonder why you never tried before ;)) And thank you x

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  32. Happy Birthday, dear catherine and happy Birthday to your blog too.
    I also felt so touched by this letter.
    Tons of love and many years ahead
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

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    1. Thank you Sacramento - the letter was wonderful, wasn't it? I'm so glad I shared it with everyone!

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  33. I am sorry I didn't read this on time--- BUT--- HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May this be another fantastic year….

    Thank you so much for once again being generous with your advice and thoughts--- you have created such a lovely blog and I love reading it!

    ~Alexis Grace of North On Harper

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  34. Love this post and Congrats!! Three years is incredible!

    Love&Clothing

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  35. Congrats to you on such a great achievement!

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  36. Happy Birthday Catherine. Wow, you've achieved so much in three years, its mind blowing. That letter is so encouraging and deserving because you do a fabulous job. Keep shining!!! xoxo

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    1. Thank you thank you Elise - I've really appreciated your lovely comments over the last few (lots of?) months!

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  37. Yes, you are right. These things just make blogging worthwhile. I don't get an aweful lot of them, but sometimes there is one that makes my heart jump as well.
    Happy birthday and happy anniversary dear Catherine.
    Greetje

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