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!
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 blogBefore 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.
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 ;)
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 Shine, All Things Thursday, Friday's Fab Favourites