Blogging has opened doors that I never expected. Photo by Shell de Mar.
Last week, I shared the one thing I wish that someone would have told me when I first started blogging. This week has a slightly different twist — I’m focusing on the ways blogging has affected my life, mostly in areas I couldn’t have predicted. I really had no idea at the time just how many doors blogging would open.
As I mentioned last week, when I launched my blog on my own domain in August 2007, I was still in college. I wasn’t yet a full-time designer and I honestly didn’t know what purpose my blog would serve besides sharing snippets of my life and travels. I didn’t have a big, beautiful blogging plan and maybe that was for the best because I didn’t overanalyze what I was doing. I just posted what I loved on a daily basis, simple as that. The niche and the themed columns came later and because of that, there was a lot less pressure to live up to some preconceived standards.
Having a blog didn’t feel that revolutionary to me. Even at the time, I just made it part of my everyday routine. I’ve always heard that if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make time for it. Blogging is the same way. Even though I didn’t have a master plan mapped out, slowly, I did start to notice doors opening in part because I had a blog. The more I blogged, the more my focus sharpened and the more opportunities can my way.
If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burnt out or wondered why you keep your blog going, perhaps these stories I’m sharing today will inspire you to keep moving forward.
In 2007, I applied for an internship at Nemo Design. I had just finished my first year of community college and knew that’s where I wanted to be. I came in for an informational interview and along with sharing my portfolio, I mentioned my blog. Dave Allen was in charge of digital strategy at the time and also way ahead of the curve when it came to blogging and social media. I got the internship and the best part was that at Nemo, blogging was encouraged alongside design. Designers with blogs weren’t as common then and having that nurturing, encouraging atmosphere really helped me hone in on what I was doing — I still remember our meeting with a professional consultant who critiqued our blogs and walking away afterwards going wow, all those little details do matter.
The wave of change was slow but I remember walking into agencies for interviews over the next few years and getting recognized before I’d introduced myself. Portland’s design community is very tight-knit but it still felt surreal to get that instant recognition at studios I admired.
In 2010, I was freelancing at Nike and on my third day, I got called into a meeting with the head of the department. Of course my stomach dropped, wondering if I’d done something terribly wrong! They barely knew me, what could they possibly want? Was I getting fired?! Instead, I had an hour long conversation with the creative director, who’d recognized me from my blog — this was a guy who’d worked alongside Oprah in a past life! I got offered an interview.
Last Fall, as I was obsessing over the new Computer Arts Collection series and reviewing the issues on my blog, the magazine’s creative director caught wind of the posts and tweets. I was sitting in an airport when an email came in, offering me an 8 page feature. Once again, blogging was opening doors that I didn’t realize were there.
I am positive that these three opportunities would have never transpired without my passion for blogging.
Beyond anything that’s transpired professionally, the friendships I’ve made through blogging are the most important. I met my friend Pam one day after she read my blog and sent me an email. We went out to dinner and became fast friends. I’d known Gala from Live Journal — we finally met up during the summer of 2008 in New York and my life was never the same — we now travel the world together with Kat (who we also met through blogging) with our workshop, The Blogcademy. I met Anna through Live Journal a decade ago and though we don’t get to see each other that often, I adore her design sense from afar. Meeting Star through blogging really impacted me — she became my close friend and web developer (she’s coded all my blogs!). Bianca is another friend I made — when I first met up with her on a street corner in New York, I had no idea she’d be photographing my wedding a decade later!
Last summer, I got on a plane and flew to Palm Springs to meet 20 other female designers for a retreat called Design Life. The key bond we all shared is that we ran blogs. Though I’d been reading many of their blogs for a really long time, seeing them in person for the first time was overwhelmingly positive and we’re still in contact, tweeting, commenting on each other’s blogs and sharing insights. Thanks to blogging, I now have a network of 20 amazing women across the country that share the same passion for design that I do.
TAKING THE BAD WITH THE GOOD
Blogging isn’t all a bed of roses, though. On the flip side of all these amazing opportunities, there have been people who haven’t felt the same way about blogging as I do.
Two years ago, I was sitting next to a freelancer at a design studio and we hit it off. One thing led to another and I shared my blog with him. He quickly scrolled through, soaking in all the details and then spent the next five minutes critiquing me in a condescending tone. “Your site should just be a portfolio. Why do you post all these personal photos? That stuff belongs on Facebook…your site should be dedicated to your work.” I was being torn down for letting people know who lived beyond the work. Even after all those years of blogging, I remember wondering if he was right. And then I remembered that not everyone is supposed to get what we do as bloggers. And that’s okay. Once you accept that, it’s easier to let go and set out with what YOU feel you’re supposed to do. It’s up to you to set your own boundaries and share as little or as much of yourself as you’d like.
When people come along and wonder why we share what we do on our blogs, I always go back to the mindset that we are so much more than our work. I mentioned this in the first Blog Log, but if all I did was share my design work, it would get really dull really fast for a lot of you. Yes, it’s scary putting yourself out there and there are going to be those people that don’t get it. But I promise, the payoffs far outweigh the bad. If I could start over, I’d do it all over again. I am a firm believer that people are interested in more than what you do, they’re interested in you. And the more they feel like they know you, the more opportunities will come your way.
Blogging is not always easy but to me, it is worth it.
View more of the Blog Log series here.
Your turn: What’s been the biggest door that’s opened for you because of blogging?