9 Things I Learned Blogging for 9 Years

(I have a few months to go but 8 2/3 years isn’t quite as catchy)

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’re enjoying the morning. It’s been a while since I’ve done a blogging-related post, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned in blogging for the past almost-9 years. (<— I had to change that because I originally wrote this post about 8 years of blogging and I realized we’ll be hitting 9 this summer). While I certainly still have so much to learn, I love reading these types of posts from fellow bloggers. I hope that my blogger friends will relate to this one, and hope my reader friends will enjoy this little inside look at blogging. An old post I did with blogging tips is here!

What I've Learned About Blogging - 9 Things I've Learned From 9 Years of Blogging

9 things I learned in 9 years of blogging:

1) You can’t please everyone. When I first started writing this blog, I was just looking for a way to share healthy living tips and workouts + our family adventures since we moved so often. My audience was so small, so I did whatever the heck I wanted. I bounced all over the place, sometimes blogging up to 3x a day, with many posts that didn’t have a purpose. After I realized my audience was growing, I started to try to think of the things they may want to read, and I felt myself pulled in a lot of different directions and doubting my posts. It took a while, but I finally realized that if I stayed true to the mission of my blog (quick workouts and healthy recipes with some adventures/personal life sprinkled in there), it would all *work out* (pun?). 

Liv and minnie

(Disney vacay recaps are some of my favorite to go back and re-read)

MY OTHER VIDEOS

2) Spend your energy on what you’re good at and what you enjoy. This was a HUGE one for me, because I’ve tried to do everything blog-related, from graphic design (an epic fail haha) to web design (i’ve broken a lot of things) and SEO. Content and interaction are my bread and butter (or my Paleo bread and ghee, if you will). If it were up to me, I’d spend all of my blog energy writing posts, developing workouts and recipes, and writing back to comments and emails. There is still a ton of behind-the-blog stuff that I have to do (brand emails back and forth, invoicing, editorial calendar, editing, creating images, shipping giveaway goodies, etc), and hiring some help with the blog was one of the best things I’ve been able to do. I have an amaaaaazing part-time blog assistant, and she helps me out a ton with designing graphics, SEO, and brainstorming post ideas. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the nitty gritty *hard* things, but to really find ways to maximize your time on the things you enjoy and where you true talent lies.

Greek soup

3) If you wait, it will never happen. Just do it. As a Type A personality, it’s easy to want to wait until something is absolutely perfect before launching it to the world. Just do it! My first ebook wasn’t perfect, but I put a ton of work into it, and it continues to sell. Soli Beat was a huge leap of faith -it was costly to produce- and we were so pumped with the final product. 

Group hug from Soli Beat shoot

This blog was pretty rickety in the beginning, but over time with practice and learning, I was able to find my voice and hit my stride. 

4) There are so many ways to meet awesome friends. Thanks to the blog world, I have met so many incredible friends from all over the world. Some of my closest friends are fellow bloggers, and it’s crazy to think that I never would have met them if this site didn’t exist. I’m thankful for this little blog every day, for many different reasons, and especially for the connections and true friendships that it’s brought to me.

Blogging friends

Blog friends

Barre friends

Halloween w bets

5) Things will change, so you need to change, too. The blog world has changed so much in 8+ years. First, I didn’t have any ads or monetization on the site. Then after I added ads, they became 100% of my income. Ad structure eventually changed, the payments went down, and sponsored posts and partnerships came in. Now my blog income is about 70% sponsored posts/blog partnerships, 20% affiliate payments, and 10% ad revenue. Everything moves and shifts over time, and if you fight the wave, you’ll sink. 

6) Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There are so many social media platforms out there, and it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. While it can be tempting to fall in love with one platform and spend all of your energy there, it could disappear tomorrow. Experiment with the different platforms! Spend time on the ones you enjoy the most (I love Instagram and Snapcat), and try to have a presence on as many platforms as possible.

7) Find out what inspires you. It can be easy to feel burned out or overwhelmed when you’re constantly trying to think of compelling content and writing. For me, just stepping away from the online world for a few hours to spend time outside and with the fam recharges me and gets my brain to start working again.

walking with the Bugaboo

I also found that listening to podcasts during drives/walks helps immensely, and so does reading books. I feel like when I’m reading something, it gets my mind to work in different ways and I feel more inspired. 

8) Ditch the comparison games. I’m guilty of occasionally getting sucked into “perfect blogs” (I still don’t understand how some bloggers with 4+ kids manage to snap photos where everyone is smiling! Teach me your wayyyyyys) and Instagram accounts with 100,000+ followers. While I do spend some time thinking to myself, “HOW?” I also use it as inspiration. Instead of looking at these sites and accounts and telling myself I suck and all of the ways I could do better, I look for ideas of strategies that may be working for them. These success stories are motivation, instead of a reason to feel bad about myself. (And if I start to feel bad about myself I know it’s time to shut the computer or put my phone down and walk away for a little while.) Fellow bloggers are not competition; they’re colleagues. When someone does well, that’s amazing for the entire industry, so it makes me extremely happy.

9) Just keep going. Just like anything else (working to achieve a goal, healthy living, practicing a skill), I think consistency is the key to great results. If you are consistent, and constantly working to improve, the odds are that things will start to click into place. I look back at old posts, and they make me cringe (my photos were so brown, blurry and small haha).

old photo - Hamstring curl

I still have a long way to go, but at least my photos are a little better than the old days. 😉

Stability ball workout

Fellow bloggers: what’s something you’ve learned or changed since you started your blog?

Blog reader friends: what are some things you’ve noticed as readers? What are some of the things your favorite blogs have in common? I personally love to read blogs that teach me something, but also inject pieces of the writers’ life and personality so it feels more like we’re hanging out.

Which social media platform is your favorite?

xoxo

Gina

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53 Comments

  1. Christina @ montessoriishmom.com on February 28, 2017 at 2:35 am

    This is so helpful / encouraging, thank you! As a new blogger, I have a TON to learn and it is amazing to get a glimpse of how you’ve built your blog up over the years. Thanks!!

  2. Julie on February 28, 2017 at 5:15 am

    LOVE this post, Gina! Instagram is definitely my favorite, since that’s my biggest business builder with the personal training/group fitness space.

  3. Jodie on February 28, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Really like this post. I have a lot to learn still. I really like instagram, it’s my fav.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      loooove insta!

  4. Crystal on February 28, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Long time blog reader here! Your blog is definitely much more polished than it used to be, but still has personality. It’s my favorite “healthy” blog, plus I love your military related posts. I do kind of miss your snippets of Spanish you used to throw in more often, that was always fun haha. Anyway, it’s awesome to see bloggers turn their hobby into a career!

    Instagram all the way.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      thank you, friend- i appreciate it <3

  5. Mary Carter on February 28, 2017 at 7:07 am

    I actually miss the sheer volume you used to put out. Which is a compliment! I used to have to put your site on a Chrome Nanny timer or else I could spend too much time there! Can you even imagine? Now it’s a 2-minute per day habit, I think.

    I actually don’t like most social media platforms, either. I read a few blogs and that’s about it. Between the time suck aspect and FOMO and people oversharing, I just don’t want it in my life.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      thank you- i really appreciate it! i still have so many ideas for posts (and could probably easily do content for 2 posts a day), but my time is not what it used to be haha. thank you so much for being here for so long and for still being here <3

  6. Brooke Murphy on February 28, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Thank you so much for this post! It is coming at the perfect time for me; I have started a blog, but I am so afraid to share it with the world. Your words have inspired me to keep going and keep trying. Thank you!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      yes, keep going! just remember that everyone started at the exact same spot you’re in 🙂

  7. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on February 28, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Gina! So happy that you continue to blog and share your life and what you’re learning. I LOVE reading your blog, and I probably love it even more now that I know you in person. 🙂 As far as the comparison game, it’s pretty tough not to play that when it comes to the rise of the Instagram star, you know? But when it comes down to it, I think having a loyal audience that’s been reading your blog for years is way more valuable that a fast-growing quick social following, who may not really know you as well. My blogging career has ebbed and flowed as I’ve had time for it with my other full-time jobs, but I sure do love blogging and hope to continue doing it for a LONG time. Sharing your life and helping others is so rewarding. And although we can’t please everyone, we can still reach and connect with a LOT of people. Cheers to blogging and friends!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      thank you so much friend, and i’m so happy the blog world introduced me to you!
      <3 <3

  8. Jessica @ Semi-Sweet Tooth on February 28, 2017 at 8:03 am

    Love it! In the past 6 years, I’ve learned a ton. Though I think the #1 lesson might be that it’s okay to change.

    I was so scared to open advertising on my site, that I didn’t until just recently. And because of that, I missed out on a ton! Something doesn’t need to be a trend to be right for us. We just need to follow our gut.

    Thanks for sharing. Awesome reminders (especially that I’m a launch phase that’s somewhere between scary and DO IT! Eek! 🙂 )

    XO, Jessica
    http://www.semisweettooth.com

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      i hope your launch goes extremely well! i’ll be sending you lots of good vibes

  9. Elizabeth on February 28, 2017 at 10:40 am

    I have been reading your blog since I was a senior in college (8 years ago!), bored at an internship. Sarah Gio featured your breakfast cookie on her health blog she did for Glamour and I was hooked by your personality and style. You’ve honestly been a huge influence on my life! My friends, family, and coworkers have all come to know “the Fitnessista” b/c of all the little tidbits I pass along from you.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      that is so amazing! thank you so much for being here for so long <3 <3 and for the kind words- they mean so much to me
      xoxo

  10. Juliana on February 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I don’t have a blog, I’ve tried a few times over the years, and it’s just not my thing– BUT I met one of my now very good friends via the blog world, which was awesome! She had a blog and I reached out to her at one point and we became email pals and then met in real life and now we are friends! Instagram is still my fave social media, though 🙂

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      that is so amazing! love instagram too <3

  11. Sarah @ The Blonde Giraffe on February 28, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    You are the reason I finally decided to start a blog!! I love following along your life adventures! My favorite platform is Instagram for sure!!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      ahhh thank you friend! i can’t wait to hear what your exciting news is, too

  12. Katrina TaTaé @ katrinatataefit on February 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    9 years Gina! That is AWESOME! A true testament to your dedication and passion for helping others 🙂 I am a new blogger (and fellow military spouse!) and I would love to guest blog for you if you are ever in need of additional content. I share workouts, recipes, tips and tricks at katrinatatae.com. Keep letting your light shine Gina!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      thank you so much, lovely! thank you to you and your husband for serving, too <3

  13. Bethany on February 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Love this! You should do a post about your top blogging tools.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      i can definitely do that 🙂

  14. Liz on February 28, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    LOVE your blog! I started reading right after you had Liv. You’re honestly one of the best. No idea how you do it, every day is fresh and you never ramble on like I do when I sit down to write. Youre also super knowledgeable when it comes to fitness stuff. Keep writing!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      thank you so much, and thank you for reading for so long, too! 🙂

  15. Sara on February 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Unrelated, but still…. I made the pumpkin muffins from your HIIT IT book yesterday. They are divine!! My 9 year old requested we make them again this week. YES YES! I think next time around, I’ll add some quinoa to up the nutritional power. GREAT, fun recipe! Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      yay i’m so happy to hear!!

  16. Nathaly Abrahan on February 28, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    Amazing post!

    I started my blog about libertarianism 4 years ago. Last year I decided to turn it in into a Running blog, just because I love running so much. I realized that I was more happy writing about running than sinking into the same political conversation all over again.

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      that’s awesome you adapted according to your passion 🙂
      xoxo

  17. Kristin on February 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    I just started my blog so I’m excited to see what’s to come. I debated starting one for so long and finally decided to do it. You never know if you don’t try, right?

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      amen to that! getting started is the hardest part

  18. Sana on February 28, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    So much love, respect and admiration for the blogging community. Also the nicest people ever!!

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      i totally agree!

  19. Leah on February 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I’m not a blogger but a loyal reader. You are one of my favorites. Love the combo of fitness, food and everyday life. I don’t care if it is polished or not. It’s fun to read and helpful. Don’t ever stop, k?!! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on February 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      thank you so much, leah. that means so much to me! so very happy you enjoy it, and thank you for being here

  20. Amanda on March 1, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Another longtime loyal reader here who remembers your original “Valdizzy” days and sporadic posts! I can echo the sentiments of what’s already been said. It’s fun to hear about your life filled with family and adventures, and I’ve tried numerous recipes and products because of you. I value our one-sided friendship. If we were ever to meet, it would be two-sided. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      i totally agree!

  21. Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona on March 1, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and have really enjoyed it.

    I’m a fellow blogger and it’s kind of fun to look back and see how things in the blogosphere have changed. Instagram and Snapchat didn’t even exist when I started. SEO wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. I had no idea how to create my own graphics. I’ve learned a lot since I started blogging.

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      thank you for reading for so long!
      and yes, it’s crazy how much things can change in the social media realm

  22. Jamie @ madrediem on March 1, 2017 at 11:17 am

    I just started blogging after thinking about doing it for years, so thanks for the inspiration! I’m a long-time reader (Val-dizzy days) and I try to check your blog on the daily. I like that you keep it real, but also inspiring and appreciate your honesty. Keep the food/workouts/daily recaps coming!

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      thank you so much for being here for so long and for such a kind comment <3

  23. Annie on March 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

    9 years! Wow! I started reading your blog when you first started it and I still love it!
    I just began blogging this year and I love it but oh my gosh is it a lot more work then I expected! Creating content is tricky, I have millions of ideas but sometimes can’t get them out on paper until midnight when I’m laying in bed haha!

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      thank you so much for reading for so long!!
      and yes, putting content into a post can definitely take a while <3

  24. gina on March 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Gina – long time reader – your blog is the only one i read faithfully everyday. I love your approach. You have a great balance and I appreciate your subtle sense of humor. Just keep doing what your doing! OX Gina (from Mass)

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      thank you so much for being here for so long, name twin 🙂 you know how much i appreciate you! xoxo

  25. Vanessa | THE REAL LIFE on March 2, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I needed this post today, Gina, so thank you! I’m currently struggling with photo quality, like you mentioned you used to. What kind of camera do you use? I have a nice Canon DSLR but I don’t lug that thing around all the time. My iPhone is old and photos are blurry. Boo.

    Social media? For my blog, Pinterest and Facebook bring in the most traffic. But my personal favorite? Instagram. I feel like that’s where most bloggers stop trying to get traffic and just get real. I love seeing people as their true selves–flawed, silly, in the moment. I try to keep that in all of my content… but it’s hard! Like you said, comparison and trying to be perfect can sneak its way into your head.

    Thanks again for the rawness of this post and the insight into someone who’s been doing this for a while (and well)! <3

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      i use a canon T5i, but still post a ton of iPhone pics. i want to get a small mirrorless camera but feel like the new iPhone quality is pretty good

      <3 <3

  26. Alissa on March 2, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I just figured out that I have been following you since 2009, back when Google Reader was a thing. I still check in with you twice a week or so and after all these years you continue to inspire me and be someone worth following. I regularly recommend your blog, especially the SSU and WSU, and I bought your book – one copy for me and one for my sister. How amazing it must feel to have built this! XOXO

    • Fitnessista on March 2, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      thank you so much for all of your support and for reading for so long!

  27. Safa on March 3, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    I love the What you eat in a day, What you do in a day type posts. It gives me realistic meal ideas and helps me to schedule my day better.
    I love Instagram. But it is such a rabbit hole! :s

  28. Laura on March 6, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I’ve followed you for years and years and years, and have always loved your commitment to your readers, transparency, growing and learning (both personally and as a blogger) and being yourself. Thanks for always putting so much of yourself into your blog – it truly shows, and makes it a pleasure to come back to, year after year! It’s been fun “growing up” with you 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 6, 2017 at 7:30 pm

      that means so much to me. thank you so much for reading for so long- i genuinely appreciate you being here <3

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