Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

This week, as I wrapped up two sets of taxes, interviewed a potential intern and made my way through emails that seemed to reappear faster than I could respond and file them away, blogging felt very far away. These weeks happen where little things pile up in quick succession and it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are — carving out the free time to blog becomes nonexistent.

And while I’ve been purposely blogging less this year to focus more time towards new business ventures and client projects, as the days slipped by, it still felt weird to be parked in front of my computer but unable to post fresh content.

This unplanned break turned into a blessing in disguise; it was the perfect opportunity to think about what blogging means to me and why I do it. Just yesterday, I found myself idly staring out my office window and in a flash, I had a moment of clarity:

Blogging is important to me because it literally changed my life. And perhaps blogging has changed yours, too.

Here’s the backstory….

In 2001, I was 20 years old and living at my dad’s house in the suburbs outside of Portland. I didn’t have the money for the art school I wanted to attend so I went to a community college down the street. I hadn’t done much traveling so my social circle carried over from high school. Oh, and I had a lot of free time on my hands because I only worked during my summer breaks (damn, those were the days). When one of my friends told me about a free blogging platform called Live Journal, I figured why not?

Within the first year of blogging, I had a whole new social circle. I met people on the other side of the world — which at that time, felt very new and exciting when compared with my boring suburban existence. In quick succession, I met Star, Anna, Gala, Laurel, Bianca, Amy (and so many others who no longer have sites). Thanks to blogging, when I traveled to a new city, I already had a built-in network of friends. To this day, when I’m in New York, I sleep on Bianca’s couch. Star now develops websites for Branch. And Gala? We run a business together with our fellow blogging obsessed friend, Kat.

Besides friends, blogging opened doors to job opportunities I’d only dreamed about. During my interview for a design internship at Nemo, I told them about my blog. It just happened that Dave Allen (formerly of Gang Of Four) worked there and was just as obsessed with blogging as I was. Looking back, my design work was just okay but my blog is what helped seal the deal.

After switching from Live Journal to WordPress in 2007, I got even more consistent with sharing which included posting every good, bad and ugly design project. Within a year, companies like Forever 21 and Virgin Records were contacting me. For a 26 year old just breaking into the industry, this was completely life changing. It became immediately apparent that these huge companies only knew who I was because I blogged. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this free marketing opportunity with a low barrier of entry was landing me freelance jobs at a few thousand dollars a piece while I was still in community college (design students, get thee a blog and online portfolio ASAP!)

In 2012, my dream job became a reality when I got hired on the spot to join the Cinco Design brand team. The calling card that got me an offer? My blog.

A little over a decade into blogging, I began to feel the itch — there had to be something more. I wasn’t ready to give it up but I WAS read for an evolution. And then, it fell into my lap during a Vegas vacation (because naturally, all the best things happen in Vegas). Five days in the desert turned my blogging for fun into a business opportunity. That August, The Blogcademy launched and by October, we were teaching a sold-out class in New York City. This strategy-based blogging course soon allowed me to quit outside work, travel the world and later, release an online version.

With a crazy travel schedule that made my former life at agencies impossible, I needed to carve out a way to produce design that fit in with this new normal. Branch was born. A day after our website launched, three clients had booked in. And, you guessed it! They found us through this blog.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Okay, this post is getting long and the point isn’t to just share my personal blogging anecdotes (though I could easily talk about blogging all damn day). My goal is to demonstrate that while blogging isn’t a one-size-fits-all, linear path, if you stick with it, great things can happen.

These days, too many people look at blogging as a way to gain quick fame and fortune and it’s warped because when they don’t get what they want in fast succession, they give up. If this is the only reason you’re starting a blog, walk away now. You have to feel truly passionate about what you’re posting…and if you don’t, there are at least 35 other things you can do instead.

I know what you’re still thinking so I’ll just say it now. Yes, there are a million other things you can now do with your time online. So, why blog? My quickie response:

Blogging forges meaningful connections, builds career opportunities and gives you a place to go as deep as you’d like, whether you’re sharing new artwork or the gut-wrenching story of how you hit rock bottom. It’s all fair game.

So, what about you? Have you blogged in the past? Do you currently have one? How has it impacted you? If you have a blog, please leave a link in the comments so we can check it out!


Photos: Made U Look Photography.

35 Responses to Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

  1. Milou says:

    I can relate to this so much. Blogging helped kick my depression to the curb, and since creating my blog a year and a half ago I’ve been traveling the world, have a whole new set of friends, and just got hired to write for a dream client (I’m a freelance writer). Sometimes I think about how my life would’ve been without a blog, and I am thankful every day that I’ve started it. Working on it gives me so much joy. :)

  2. Alice says:

    I started blogging back in 2007 on Windows Live Space (Livejournal wasn’t popular in Italy at that time), but I changed so many platforms and blogs over the years until I found my own little world in my current blog (http://www.thegeekyburrow.com).

    The biggest lesson I learnt during all these years is that you can blog about whatever you want, being yourself, without having to share private stuff. A blog doesn’t necessarily have to be a personal journal, like we thought at the beginning of our adventure.

    I’m far from being known and famous, my readership is small, but blogging actually changed my life in a positive way!

    Thanks for sharing, Shauna! xo. Alice

  3. Sarah says:

    I’ve been a sporadic blogger for years. I’m currently looking for more control over my work and how I spend my days, and I know blogging can help me with that, if I can put the real work in.

    Your post just encouraged me to post something, really quick and dirty, just to put something (anything!) out there. Thanks, Shauna! xx

    • Shauna says:

      I’ll be the first to admit that blogging isn’t easy to fit into an already packed schedule but what I keep going back to is that it’s made me more accountable. And, it can provide you with a sense of structure that also carries over into your business. Good luck with everything, your work is great!

  4. Scarlett says:

    Wonderful and inspiring post Shauna!
    I love reading this because many people ask me,’Why do you blog?’ And I answer, ‘So I can create the Life I have always wanted’, which is exactly what you have done. I wish that I would have been as keenly focused in my youth and 20’s as you were, however, never say never, because the door is always open.

    • Shauna says:

      Scarlett, you’ve done SO much since class — I applaud your drive and focus. So proud of your growth! Keep it up, it’s been so much fun to watch.

  5. Tracey says:

    Technically, I have a blog…but at the present moment it only consists of one lonely post. I have tons of ideas (doesn’t everyone), but I know I need to get serious about making an editorial schedule and sticking to it. Hopefully as my blog grows I will be able to connect with other designers, dreamers, art-lovers and tea drinkers! Thanks for the inspiration & motivation, Shauna! (http://www.traceyreneehubbard.com/blog)

  6. Daffny says:

    It’s so nice to hear why people blog and how much it has changed their lives. Not everyone’s life changes as much as yours has but I do think if you blog bc it is your passion then eventually it will bring positive experiences into your life. The other day someone mentioned to me that if I don’t make money off my blog then my blog is just a hobby and therefore I basically shouldn’t put too much value into it. Say what? I told that person I blog bc it is an extension of me. I don’t want to make money off my blog at this stage as I am building it up and tweaking it and so yeah, it cuts when people assume you are doing this bc you have nothing better to do. I do it bc it makes me happy and it keep me thinking and creative. Two thumbs up to all those who blog for all the right reasons! xox Daffny

  7. Jamie says:

    I’ve technically been blogging for a long time, but finally in the last year I’ve gotten really serious about it. I have really been inspired to blog more because of you, Gala and other bloggers. I’m still not sure where I want my blog to go in the future, but I love that it’s an extension of me (http://greyskysaturday.wordpress.com)

    • Shauna says:

      Awesome! And the main thing is that the blog is an extension of who you are — it sounds like you’re blogging for all the right reasons and that’s what will keep you going.

  8. Leah says:

    I’ve been reading your blog more or less since 2007, but it’s lovely to hear the story recounted. It’s nice to witness your success, but actually, it’s even nicer to see how grateful – and dare I say, surprised – you seem about it. (If this was a text now, I’d put a the red-cheeked smiling emoji to hopefully indicate my sincerity.)

    My synopsis goes something a bit like this:
    I started blogging at about 15, and I’d say it helped shape me as a young’un. I mean, I’m still a young’un in my twenties now – but because blogging was in its infancy then, the experimentation was perfect for that time period. I kept it going until I got really disillusioned by the blogosphere in about 2011. That, plus some heavy things happened in my life, so I just stopped for about 3 years and did other stuff instead.

    Stepping away was good, and sometimes I’m still in two minds about “the blog world” honestly – the thing I missed most, and what drew me back last year, was writing. I enjoy writing, put simply. I like making generally, but I guess writing is the method I find easiest to air my thoughts out. It’s what I seem to do, even before more typical design/art projects! I’ve not figured out much beyond that yet, but it’s a start.

    Anyway, the brilliant thing about blogs is that they can be personal, or often begin like that, so the stories are always quite interesting. I hope people keep finding ways to share their perspectives, whether through blogs or not, because my suspicion is that’s what changes worlds.

    • Shauna says:

      Hi Leah! Wow, we go waaaay back. Nice to (digitally) meet you! I am a little surprised about how everything turned out because for me, blogging was always more for fun and I didn’t really have a solid plan. It’s always nice when things somehow come together. And blogging has changed SO much from when we started that I can understand why you took a break — sometimes it’s good to step away and reevaluate how you spend your time and if it’s something you still want to put effort into. Good luck with everything — you’ve obviously got a good head on your shoulders when it comes to blogging and it will be interesting to see how this next chapter unfolds for you.

    • Shauna says:

      It’s all about consistency, which is easier said than done — I still struggle with it. Would love to see you in our in-person class or online sometime!

  9. lau says:

    it’s been so many years! glad we’re friends all this time later, and look how far we’ve come. here’s to many more (and hopefully actually seeing each other soon!) <3

  10. laura says:

    Hi Shauna! My name is Laura and I love love love Gala and Kat’s work–and now yours too. I found you through the blogacademy website, naturally. Anyway, I just started a blog called The Sobriety Collective, a community for sober citizens worldwide. It’s just in the beginning stages and I don’t have a lot of design experience, but I have a lot of passion (celebrating 8 years of continuous sobriety in July, if all goes as planned!). I didn’t start this to make money–feels almost wrong to capitalize on something this personal. But I did start this to make connections with others–sober bloggers, bloggers with awareness and compassion in areas like addiction/recovery, and to just expand my world. I had no idea there were so many positive voices on the RecoveryFriendlyWeb, as my friend Chris from Klen + Sobr (www.sincerightnow.com).

    Anyway–I’m thrilled to start this journey–albeit a bit delayed. I mean, hello! We’re in 2015 and I’m only now beginning, at almost 32. But live and learn.

    Sober hugs,
    Laura

  11. Jonelle says:

    Shauna, I absolutely loved this post!

    I started blogging in October last year when I had just left my job which was making me miserable. After way too long of hating my life I finally decided to take a few months off and discover what makes me happy.

    I had been putting off a road trip with my husband for ages as we both just never had the time but suddenly I was able to go on adventures and I decided I’d blog our journey along the way. After getting a really positive response from people who stumbled across my writing, I decided to just go big or go home. So when I got home, I did just that and tyrannyofpink.com was born.

    It wasn’t the plan to blog full time but people kept emailing me telling me how much they loved my blog and I discovered that accidentally I had found what makes me really happy!

    Blogging saved my life because it showed me just how happy I could be.

    Thanks for a great blog post!

    Jonelle

    xx

  12. Diane says:

    Love this! I’m an old school LJ reader of yours and Gala’s blogs! I am (on and off) a pretty lazy blogger and I’m amazed at people who find time for daily posts on top of full time jobs. I met some great friends through LJ who live far and wide who I speak with regularly.

    I transitioned to using a more public space after college while I looked for my first full time gig, then posting fell by the wayside. Oftentimes I struggle with how to share professional and personal content while maintaining authenticity and privacy. I also got so burned out from working full time on a computer at the office, only to come home and open up my laptop.

    HOWEVER, your advice and links you share have been invaluable and so SO encouraging, particularly the past 6 months. After 3.5 years at a (first) job I loved I’ve taken the leap & left my comfort zone. Last week I started a new gig at an ad agency I admired for a long time.Thank you for the inspiration and your transparency/sincere posts, they continue to make me excited about pursuing a creative and energizing path :)

    Diane

    • Shauna says:

      Diane, I love following you on Instagram! And congrats on the new gig — sounds like such a great opportunity. Good luck with everything!

  13. Courtney says:

    I loved reading this, and I love the work that you do Shauna! I had big aspirations of getting into the event industry and starting my own boutique party business, but my hometown’s penchant for only needing corporate conferences meant that I wasn’t able to break into an event world filled with the need for decorations and themes that I desired.

    Unfortunately, money never stretched too far for my husband and I (who is also a Graphic Designer) to move to a more creative city with more opportunities for us, so we had to stick to what we had. I’ve jumped from retail job to desk job to get enough money to live by, always sad that I was never able to fulfil my creative desires to be an Event Planner. Because of this, I started my blog, The Party Connection, as a way of still being in touch with my favourite industry and growing my experience and skills.

    My blog has had over 113,000 views in the 3 years I have been writing for it and I couldn’t be happier! Its allowed me to stay connected and to grow in my passion and my skills, and has even led me to develop my own eBook and start writing my own novels. It’s made me come to realise all of the potential I have and that not breaking into the event industry could lead me to something else that is just as exciting!

    Like what you have posted here Shauna, blogging has changed my life and it kept me going when the skies were grey and the days were dark. Thank you for sharing your own experiences with us!

    Courtney

  14. Pingback: Thursday Treats: Guess What Arrived This Week?! · Rock n Roll Bride

  15. Elle says:

    I started blogging because I connected more with the girls I encountered online than the ones living in my small, mountain town. I found a new concept of beauty, style and self confidence that probably saved my life in a lot of ways, it certainly reshaped my definition of beauty and self-love in a way that has made me a much healthier, saner person. I’m by no means a “blogger” in the way you are, it doesn’t pay my bills and it isn’t my full time job, but it is a sort of therapy, a constantly evolving art and design project that chronicles the majority of my twenties and a great deal of my personal growth. It’s fascinating and fun to be able to look back on my life in this way and see the incredible work other women are doing with this medium is hugely inspiring and makes me push myself in ways I don’t really do in other areas of my life. I’m always striving to do better, be better and make this strange little side project a bigger part of my life. Here’s to the Hustle, to the Passion and the Inspiration blogging brings us. Cheers, honey!

  16. Pingback: Delightful Directory - Mid-Century Decor, Create Every Day and Aliens - Peace and Chaos

  17. Pingback: Cheers to 8 Years | Nubby Twiglet

  18. Katrine says:

    I’m totally going through your archives and feeling so motivated, as I am trying to get my own blog and freelance projects off the ground! Your work is so inspirational and your story makes me feel like there’s hope and that I won’t have to be stuck at a soul-sucking office just to make ends meet.
    THANK YOU

    • Shauna says:

      Katrine, your comment made my day! I worked plenty of soul-sucking office jobs and would look at blogs of designers I admired, hoping there was a way out. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s definitely possible. Good luck!

Leave a Reply to Scarlett Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note: Any comments deemed inappropriate (spam, off-topic, rude language) will be removed.