Lessons Learned From My First Year Of Blogging (That Apply to Everyday Life)

It’s my one year blogiversary! Every year, during special occasions like my birthday and the new year, I take time to reflect on my growth and lessons learned over the past year. travelJewels was born from my frustration of graduating from a top public health graduate school program, going through 9 months of applying to over 50 jobs, having numerous informational interviews and a lot of close calls, and still not getting an offer! 

In this disheartening process, I needed something to affirm myself. If no one was going to give me an opportunity, I would create one for myself!

I started to think about my interests beyond public health. What makes Jewels Jewels? Travel immediately came to mind. It’s been a huge part of my identity over the past 7 years. I’d informally helped friends plan trips over the years but didn’t really think anything of it; it was just something I was naturally good at. A lot of people suggested that I start a blog, but I never really considered it until this wilderness period of my life. So, I gathered my tribe and hosted monthly brunch and brainstorm sessions where we would help each other flush out our “side hustle” ideas and, a few months later, travelJewels went live! Also, during that period, I accepted a job offer that I was really excited about! While at the time it sucked going through that kind of struggle, in retrospect I’m appreciative of it because it pushed me towards a path that I probably wouldn’t have explored if I’d gotten a job immediately after graduate school.

Here are a few lessons learned from my first year of blogging that also apply to everyday life:

1) Your side hustle should be something you are extremely passionate about.

There’s personal blogging and then there is blogging for business. I chose to run travelJewels like a business and let me tell you… it’s A LOT OF WORK. I work full-time hours on it but I also have a job where I work 40 hours a week. I work on my blog before work, after work, and on the weekends. My passion for it is what keeps me engaged during the moments when doubt occasionally creeps in. This passion is important because you may not see the tangible results of your work immediately, but with consistency, it will only be a matter of time. For example, I could let myself mull over not having XX amount of social media followers by a certain point but instead I choose to focus on the many things I have gained. Through travelJewels, I’ve developed basic web developing skills, become a content creator and social media manager, and so much more. I know the followers will come because I’m becoming better and better at this each day. My favorite gain this year is the people who tell me how my site helped them plan a trip! I love being able to help people FULLY live their lives.

3) People recognize and appreciate authenticity.

Throughout the year, I struggled with finding my “blogging voice” but it quickly dawned on me that the best voice is an authentic one. In a world of social media high-reels, people surprisingly gravitate towards rawness. This was seen by one of my most most popular articles about surviving a travel disaster. It’s easy to write about the glamorous side of travel but the reality is that it isn’t always as glamorous as a filtered IG photo, and people appreciate that kind of authenticity.

4) Produce quality over quantity.

As someone who works full-time, I can’t fathom producing more than one article a week regularly. I’m not the fastest writer (although I’ve gotten a bit faster this past year) and it’s not sustainable for me. I prefer to produce one quality article per week over five sub-par articles. Quality always wins and will keep my readers engaged.

5) Breaks are good and necessary.

The key to a successful blog is producing and promoting quality content regularly. But there’s also this thing called mental health that is equally important. For me, life is about balance (I’m a Libra so it’s in my DNA :D) and it’s vital to recognize when you are at your max and need some downtime. In the beginning of the year, life threw me a big plot twist, where it was important for me to slow down and take care of myself. At first, I resisted the idea of taking any kind of break – in my mind, that meant I would fall behind and not be able to accomplish my milestones. But it turned out to be the best thing I could have done for myself and my blog. I came back refreshed and with a great gift for my readers. 

6)  Slow & steady wins the race.

The deeper I got into my blogging journey, the longer my list of things I wanted to focus on in my blog became. In the beginning, I was trying to do a lot of things at once (which wasn’t effective). As a result, I created a year plan broken down into quarterly goals. This helped me create realistic and achievable goals.

7)  Stop the comparison game while you’re ahead.

While I do recognize the importance of scoping out the competition in your field and identifying what makes people effective at their work, it’s important for it to stop there. There’s sometimes a tendency for unhealthy comparisons and self-defeating thoughts that aren’t productive for anyone. I have to constantly remind myself that although there are thousands of travel bloggers out there, there’s only one Jewels. Recognize your uniqueness.

8) You don’t have to do this alone.

I’m so thankful for my tribe! I have a few lovely friends that help with editing my articles. I also have a fabulous business bestie, Jessie Jade, Artisan and Founder of Sun Kiss Organics! We started our business/blogging journeys around the same time and we constantly bounce ideas off each other and encourage each other. Also, I’m so grateful for FB groups. There is literally a FB group for everything! I’m a part of a few travel and blogging groups that constantly provide me with a wealth of information and support. Be sure to search for FB groups in your niche!

9) There’s never gonna be a perfect time… just do it!

When I officially launched travelJewels, there was so much more that I wanted to do with it, but I realized if I waited for this or that to happen, I would never launch it. There’s never going to be the absolute perfect time, so just do it now! Launch that blog, start that YouTube channel, create that business. You got this!

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Do you have a side hustle you are working on? I would love to hear about it in my comment section below!


Jewels Rhode

Frequent Flyer. Chief Enjoyment Officer. Helping you make your travel dreams a reality!