Motivation Behind Blogging

I was so honored when Hilary from Dean Street Society asked me to be a part of the Happy Hour Blog Tour to start the conversation about her new book The 4-Part Entrepreneur Cocktail. Throughout the month of November a bunch of bloggers are starting conversations about blogging… from motivation to monetization. I get asked questions all the time about blogging, particularly why to start and how to stick to it, so I knew this was something that I wanted to participate in.
When I started blogging, the environment online wasn’t what it is now. Social media simply wasn’t #SocialMedia. I’m actually so so so glad it wasn’t. I never felt like I had to do something to “get followers” or write a certain way to “stand out” or feature something to “make it.” I was just navigating the waters and doing what felt right to me.
I think that is the key to successful blogging: doing what feels right for you.
A successful blog isn’t about the page views, the readership, or revenue. A successful blog is about the blogger creating her own space on the internet and sharing what she loves. I think there’s an enormous amount of pressure on bloggers right now to be “successful,” but often the definition of success is incorrect or misdirected.
To me, blogging really and truly (as dramatic as it sounds) saved my life. Or at the very least, directed my life in a much, much better direction. I’m coming up on my fifth anniversary and I really can’t imagine my life without “The College Prepster.”
The idea for the blog came about because I was seriously miserable at school. Classes weren’t going as well as I had imagined it would go. I wasn’t making friends like I thought I would. And I definitely wasn’t having the kind of fun that everyone told me I was going to have. My grades were abysmal, I felt terribly lonely, and I didn’t think getting drunk was all that fun. I wanted out… but I took an “out” in the form of a distraction.
Blogging turned into something fun, something to do that wasn’t graded, and something that allowed me to learn and grow and share… and no one read it. I didn’t care, mostly because I didn’t expect anything or have anything to compare it to. I just loved sitting down a couple times a week and quickly writing something. No schedule, no pressure, no worries. 
As social media started growing, I was continuing to develop my blog and turning it into more than a distraction. But what I like to remind people is that I fell in love with blogging for two years before it ever really started sticking with an audience. An audience wasn’t the goal, enjoying the process and owning a little space on the internet was the goal (whether or not anyone was on the other side).
I did start taking it a little bit more seriously when a friend told me I wasn’t a “real blogger” until I had a 1,000 followers. So basically, I started blogging because I was failing school and grew my blog because I wanted to prove my friends wrong. Maybe not the best strategy, but that’s the truth!
Blogging has brought me so much: Happiness, friends, opportunities. I’ve learned a lot about myself: What I’m good at, what I’m not good at, what I love. I’ve taught myself many things: How to communicate better, more about technology, and the importance of growing a thick skin.
The idea of quitting has never really occurred to me. I love it way too much. A handful of times in the past I’ve considered making it private. For every ninety-nine people who say they love my blog, there’s one who doesn’t. And they’re vocal about it. I used to get really upset by it. Now I honestly don’t care. My dad thinks it’s funny and I just ignore it. (Over time, I’ve actually learned to embrace it and see how it’s really helped me feel more comfortable and secure with who I am.)
The biggest tip that I can give a new blogger or a discouraged blogger is to blog for you. The first two years of blogging when no one read it were critical for both me and my blog. I grew so much as a person and my blog grew organically because I was putting in genuine love into it. Embrace the time when no one is reading because it’s sort of an incubation period. Carve out your space and you can grow and learn and make mistakes. Focus on the growth of you as a blogger before focusing on the growth of the blog itself.
Find out what you love. Discover new ways to share your passions. Embrace the new experience.
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Nena Farrell

Thanks so much for sharing! Succeeding at blogging feels like so much pressure sometimes, and I'm really glad to be reminded it's really about writing about what you love and doing something that makes you happy! Love this post and will definitely be checking out the Happy Hour Blog Tour!


Chloe Logan

Thanks for the wonderful story and motivation, Carly! I'm trying to get into blogging, but it's been difficult sharing my thoughts when there's no one to share with (aka when no one reads it). This was just the encouragement I needed. Thank you!!!!


Marta O.

great post, I kept my blog private for more than a year and I've just opened it to the public, so thanks for sharing your experience 😉

Argyle Girl

This was exactly what I needed to hear this morning! It gets really discouraging sometimes when I feel like I am talking to a wall, but you are so right. I am going to focus more on me and my blog and not worry about being successful. Thanks Carly!

Argyle Girl |

Madylin Bates

I love this post, since I started blogging I've learned so much about my self – I've developed a sense of style and I've fell in love with amazing people who have no clue who I am – but that's ok! I'm of the mindset that if I can share one thing with one person via my blog I've succeeded. I would be more interested in hearing how eventually you did get the attention – I'm starting to get some but I'm trying not to 'push it.'

3 Peanuts

I completely agree. I started blogging almost 8 years ago to journal about Kate's adoption and homecoming. I never thought other people would read. And while I do not have the following you do (I do get 1000 hits most day though;)—I feel like I am doing something for myself, my family and others now. I love blogging as well. GREAT advice.

Lauren Brumfield

This is wonderful. Loved the bit about the incubation period. And sometimes its nice to hear that you aren't alone in having a case of the so-called "blogger discouragement" every now and again. Thanks for sharing, Carly!


This post is amazing! I feel exactly the same way about blogging, mostly because of all the inspiration you have given me since I started. Blogging really is a getaway for me where I can just be who I am and write what I want without judgement (well some, but not tons). Now I know what I want to do with my life and where I want to be just because of my blog! Thank you for this wonderful post Carly 🙂

Prep on a Budget

Ashley B

I really enjoyed this post. I started blogging because I needed a creative outlet in my life (doctorate programs don't really offer that lol). Sometimes I feel myself getting caught up in the numbers – wanting more readers and followers. But then I remind myself why I started blogging (and it wasn't for the numbers). I think what you said about enjoying the time when no one is reading and staying focused on why you started is so important! Thanks!

Ashley | History in High Heels

Rachel Braman

Carly, great post. It shows honestly and nothing can beat that. I really like how you said "The idea of quitting has never really occurred to me." I started a blog, then got busy with school, but I missed it so much. I realized that it is something I want, need, to do for myself so I continued and I am so glad that I did!

xx, Rachel


Love this post Carly! I originally started bloggin in 2004 as a way to keep my writing skills up while in school and I just ended up loving it. Sadly, I've deleted and restarted different blogs at least 5 times. 🙁 I definitely do find that in todays #socialmedia world there is added stress to blog a certain way in order to be appealing and get readers. With my new blog (that I'm promising myself I won't delete) I'm hoping to find my voice again and learn about myself in this new phase of my life that I call "almost 30" haha


Your blogging story is really inspirational….it's crazy how much the online environment has changed since 2008!

Cristina Marie

Love love love this post!! Thank you for the motivation and the inspirational words. I started my blog a little over a year ago and recently have been wanting to get more serious with it but get hesitant and scared because of all the pressure to do it "right" or "perfect." Even considering renaming my blog is a nightmare. I will certainly take your advice and try to focus on doing it for ME.

Thank you for being such an inspiration for me!

Cristina Marie



This is an excellent post. I've loved a few of your more personal posts lately where you've shared that you don't necessarily "have it all together" (excuse the cliché). It's very easy to only see the artificial side of people on the internet and see you living your dreams in NYC, dressed beautifully and having brunches with MacKenzie and imaging that everything in your life must just falls into place. These posts show me that as fabulous as you are, you aren't perfect. Nobody is. It definitely makes me feel less alone.

My question is that I believe you majored in either marketing or business (or both?) at Georgetown, if I'm not mistaken. It would seem to me that having a successful blog is writing about what you love and then marketing yourself to your audience and to potential sponsors. How would you suggest those without marketing/business experience gain the skills necessary to "monetize" a blog (I hesitate to use the word "monetize", more like get the money back that you're putting into it). To give you an example, I had a sponsor contact me but the legal jargon in the contract was so complicated that I was fearful of entering into a contract with them and the amount they were offering was certainly not enough to seek legal council.

Kate xxx


Thank you for sharing this!! I blogged privately since 2001 and last year worked on a blog as an anonymous contributor, but last month I started my first PUBLIC blog…sometimes I feel so pressured to write, but it's nice to be reminded that I'm only writing for myself!

Katie Miller

This was exactly what I needed to read! Its so easy to get frustrated when no one is reading your blog. But this is a nice reminder that I started blogging to talk about things that I like and have a good creative outlet. Its also nice to know that you didn't just start a blog and get readers right away, it takes time and effort like everything else.


Nicole Cors

You have no idea how much I love this post. I was inspired to start my blog by you, and have been struggling with balancing my love for blogging vs the fact that I have few readers. Regardless of readers, I enjoy the outlet, and it is refreshing to see that even a successful blogger like you started out small and have kept the same passion over time. Blogging has quickly become a passion of mine, and I look forward to seeing my blog (and self) evolve :).

Thank you SO much for this inspirational post!


I love your blog. As someone who works in a very high pressure job devoid of any fun (yup, I'm a lawyer…) – your blogs provides me with a distraction that I sorely need. I love reading about people doing well and following their passions, it inspires me to continue following mine. It also shows me that no matter how 'fun' someone else's job is, it still requires commitment, motivation, blood, sweat and tears to be great at it. Your blog is beautiful, intelligently written with a lot of insight, and most importantly – a reflection of your hard work, passion and effort. Well done! I wish you nothing but success in everything you do moving forward! xx


This is a fantastic post! I started my blog in my first year of university for fun, and it's always been just that – fun. Even though I've thought about doing a little more with my blog, I always get overwhelmed at the thought of it and worried that it would change my blog and the awesome place it has in my life. It's nice to realize that I can move forward with it if I want to and still have it maintain it's importance to me. Thanks!


Hannah Yu

Reading this is such an inspiration. I started my blog way back 2011 and it seems that it was just a sort of activity and then I suddenly realized to buy a domain for it. Blogging is a way of expressing yourself, the thoughts that you want and it really feels good that there are those also wants to read it. This is a great motivational of way of improving our blogs. Thanks Carly. :*

love, love


Thank you so much for posting this, Carly! This is definitely something that I still struggle with and that leads me to contemplate throwing in the towel from time to time, but this post was so encouraging and reminded me to write for myself and no one else!

Stephanie Buckley

Wonderful post from an old gal in the blog world. I also urge you all to find other women who blog, be it in your niche or in your area. Community is so very important and such an encouragement when you are having a bad bloggy day, or week. @theparkwife

Briana Rivas

Carly, I just wanted to tell you personally that you truly inspired me to start my own blog in a big way. I came upon your blog one day and I absolutely adore it. I thought, I wish I could do that. So a little ways later, when I found that I had a lot to talk about I started mine! And I absolutely love it. I'm still new and figuring things out but I have faith that I'll get there, eventually! So thank you for being and inspiration & keep doing what you're doing!!

XO, Briana

Hilary Rushford

Carly I love hearing your story lady! I've been such a fan of you on Instagram for awhile and it never would have occurred to me that this confident, chic, adorable girl + her blog would have sprung out of a season of not feeling the most confident, happy or successful. Oh the irony. 🙂

I'm also loving hearing the perspective of some of the Happy Hour Blog Tour girls who started as bloggers before this industry truly "took off". My experience is so different than yours as a I started a blog as a marketing component of starting a business. The intention was always about my reader, my girl, what she wanted, wanted to know, was struggling with. It's never been about me.

And I love the ah-hah moment I had reading your post that coming from two totally different perspectives are what has allowed us both to remain authentic + not get too swept up in trying to conform to what everyone else is doing. Remembering you're doing it for you, remembering I'm doing it for my reader — I think it's the murkiness in the middle where you're doing it for numbers, popularity, clicks, cool factor that takes away the joy + the authenticity.

So hope we can cross paths in person one day soon!

with grace & gumption,
Hilary & Dean Street Society


You are such an inspiration, Carly! I didn't like college as much as I thought I would either. Everyone said it would be fun to go out every weekend and get drunk, but I'm not into that lifestyle. Thank you for being a role model for women who care about things other than partying and drinking. Stay classy!


I’m old (ancient) in blogging years, but I still agree with your advice: blog for yourself. It’s the the best way! 💕