What I Didn’t Expect From Blogging

Later this week, I’m speaking on panels for both the Smart Girls Group conference (Thursday) and a HerCampus conference (Saturday). If you’re attending, let me know– I’d love to meet you! Both are, of course, related to blogging and personal branding online. I don’t get nervous public speaking, but I do like to spend a little time preparing for panels… because you have to think on your feet. Especially for the Q&A sections at the end.
I’ve been thinking about how much blogging and social media has changed since I wrote my first post– and how much I absolutely did not expect. In no particular order:
ONE // The community
It was a pretty small group of bloggers back in the day. It’s been amazing to see how much the community has grown over the years. And I absolutely count readers as part of the blogging community. I don’t think you need to have a .com to be a part of it! I love getting to meet new people, whether it’s from a tweet and only online or finally meeting a longtime internet friend “IRL.”
TWO // The platforms
Not going to lie, if I were to start a blog today… I think I would be too overwhelmed by the number of platforms out there. I count my lucky stars every day that I could adopt new platforms along with the times (i.e. spaced out over the years) instead of having to jump into everything all at once. It’s incredible to see how social media has grown to include so many new channels. I love them all (Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram… etc.), but I definitely think there are so many that it can be hard to manage them all. And even more challenging because the audiences on each might not even read the actual blog.
THREE // Mean girls
It kind of sucks, but I guess it’s life. Mean girls are everywhere and blogging is no exception. In fact, I’d argue that the internet makes it worse. In high school, before TCP, I would get the most hateful messages on Facebook and it was terrible that I knew that the person was someone I went to school with. It happened again in college, with a nasty anonymous blog on our campus who said horrible things about me. But I have to say… it’s kind of a good thing. As much as it used to bother me (more so when it was legitimately people who I knew), now I’m so used to it that I don’t even bat an eye. My skin is so much thicker and it’s been a good thing overall. Also, it makes me value my friendships with the good girls a whole lot more. Not everyone out there is a mean girl!!!
FOUR // An industry
How weird that an entire industry has evolved around blogging, social media, and digital media. Pretty awesome. To be on the blogging side of things, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the whole thing has evolved. Bloggers and blogs are treated completely differently now than they were when I started out. There’s legitimacy where there wasn’t before… and companies see the value. Again, it’s pretty awesome. The best part is that it’s not just limited to “the bloggers.” I’ve seen friends from college build out new divisions within their companies, lead serious digital campaigns for major brands, and start their own consulting companies helping small businesses utilize social media. 
FIVE // Competition
Of course, as the industry started developing, the competition around blogging grew. (This also contributes a bit to the mean girl mentality.) Sometimes the NYC blogging scene can be… a lot. Frankly, I keep a toe in the water but pretty much keep my blinders on and stay out of it. It can get ruthless out there. It’s different here than other cities too because there are just a LOT of fish in the pond. (To quote this elderly woman who sat next to me at the ballet: “Doesn’t everyone blog now?” Yes, yes they do.)
I firmly firmly firmly stand behind the idea of “what’s good for one blogger is good for all bloggers.” As an example: if I see that a major retailer is using a blogger in a print campaign… I think of how amazing that is for the blogging community. It means that there will be even more opportunities in the future for more bloggers. Next season, I promise you’ll see handfuls of bloggers being used in print campaigns. 
Side note: this works for just about any kind of industry… and it’s great to keep in mind!
SIX // Open doors
I never imagined how many doors blogging would open for me. Besides it turning into a very visual and public resume, I’ve learned about a ton of different industries. It’s allowed me to sample doing different elements of various industries. Sometimes I discover that I’d really not enjoy doing it longterm and other times, I’m fascinated by it and want to know more! There’s also a weird shift in a bunch of industries where your digital influence gives you an edge. I’m working on three separate projects (one in LA and two here in NYC) and every single time that it gets down to a project proposal or pitch, my “follower” numbers and page views are at the top of the page. At first it irritated me, like I was only “worth” what my “influence” (which is such a ridiculously annoying term to begin with) is online…. but if it opens more doors, I say, go with it.
SEVEN // Finding a voice
I think ultimately, I didn’t expect blogging to help me find my voice. Whether or not anyone was listening (err… reading), it was important for me to figure out who exactly I was. A lot of events lead up to this– going to college out of state, learning that failing wasn’t the end of the world, putting myself “out there,” and simply getting into the practice of writing. But it was really blogging that tipped the scale for me. (I even wrote a post for the Georgetown Voice about this back in 2011.)  I’ve always been a numbers person, but it was writing that let me come out of my shell. I kind of feel like I’m a different person (not just an older person, but a different person) than I was five and a half years ago. There are a LOT of numbers involved with blogging (understanding strategy and statistics and analytics make a huge difference for successful blogging), but blogging without writing would be fruitless! 

Have you experienced something from blogging that you didn’t expect?


PS Don’t forget to let me know if you’re attending one of the conferences.

PPS Here are my public speaking tips!

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Zoe Diaz-McLeese

You're going to do great at the conferences, and I wish I could go (But Denver's kind of far away). Thanks for sharing your experiences about blogging itself – I just started doing it more seriously as a creative outlet after working and interning a lot, and I am really enjoying it. 🙂


Audrey Lin

I started blogging Sept. 30 last year, and I'm not really sure what I expected–not much I guess. I hoped to improve my photography (which I did!), get my life a bit more organized (which I've kinda done), and be more committed to "documenting" my life (I've lost count of how many diaries I've started and never finished). What I didn't expect was a change in how I started to go about my everyday life. There's not much to blog about if you just sit at home and watch TV shows, so I've found myself saying "yes" to many more things, and I'm REALLY grateful for that. The most "out of my comfort zone" thing I tried out was busking on the streets with my friends, and it was SO MUCH FUN! I started hanging out with a new group of people (along with all the people I'd always been hanging out with) who are so passionate about everything, and who are very brave. Without them, I would never ever everrrr in a million years imagine myself performing in such a public environment (we go to art districts and sometimes infiltrate the galleries haha), because I'm quite the introvert. Blogging has motivated me to do more with my life, so I'm very thankful, and so are my parents, even though they don't like me being on the Internet so much 😛 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's (PS: your blog has really been an incredible source of inspiration for me, although my blog is not very similar–it was the first blog I followed when I joined the blogging community!)

Fiona Heath

I recently did a post on failing my Masters and being okay with it. Had some amazing comments from readers telling me it was okay. Was nice to get support in being open in my personal life as so often bloggers only took about the good in their lives!
Fie x Coffee & Confetti

Julia | Pawleys Island Posh

I've been reading you from the beginning but I rarely comment, if ever. I just wanted to say than you so much for forging ahead and making waves in this industry that you've helped create for so many of us. I'm a good ten years older than you but I really never feel that age gap when I'm reading your blog or following your instagram. Except maybe the brunch or park pictures where you are clearly not chasing toddlers around in the background 🙂 So THANK YOU again for being one of the good ones 🙂 xo


This is such a great post! Being new to blogging I didn't really have many expectations going into it. I had just recovered from having a thyroidectomy and knew that I wanted to share my story. I figured the blog would be a great creative outlet and would also help me find my voice. Overall, I have found it to be a positive and rewarding experience and look forward to creating new content.

Vett Vandiver

this is all so true! There are positives and negatives to blogging, especially when lots of people start reading. But it's sooo worth it!

Lanie W.

I'll be at the Smart Girls Conference tomorrow. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on blogging & branding! 🙂

– Lanie //

Alyssa J Freitas

One thing I didn't expect from blogging was how readily other bloggers copy each other; wether it's content or design I've noticed that my work and others have clearly been used as more than inspiration. This doesn't dampen my enjoyment of blogging however!

Alyssa | Keep It Simple

Lauren Rose

This is so great to read, especially as a new blogger. I just do it because it's fun for me and I love the experience I've had so far, as well as the people I talk to (through comments and guest posts). It's amazing!

Lindsay Goldstein

Hi, Carly! Absolutely love this post- as a fellow blogger, all of it is so, so true! Blogging has become a part of my life I could have never imagined- I'm a cancer survivor, and my blog originally started out as a way for me to communicate my ongoing health struggle to my family. Now, it's evolved into my major (magazine journalism), multiple internships, freelancing for the Huffington Post and USA Today, and a sense of self-confidence post-cancer that I couldn't have gotten anywhere else! You're an inspiration to me and to girls everywhere who want to write for a living! XO


Love this post, Carly! I'm very excited to hear you speak tomorrow at the Smart Girls Conference and I hope to also attend the Her Campus conference as well. I know you will do amazingly well and it's going to be a blast 🙂


I'll see you at the Her Campus conference on Saturday! I can't wait to meet you, Carly! Thank you for all of these tips and I'm looking forward to hearing more of your advice this weekend!


Brooke Safferman

Hi, Carly!!

I'll be at the Smart Girls conference tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get to meet you (but you know how crowded these things can get… eek!!). In case we don't get to talk, I just wanted to let you know that my mornings would not be complete without reading your blog — your posts are always so incredibly relatable and thought-provoking!!

Good luck tomorrow; you'll be fab! *handflip*

My Life in Black and White

Hey Carly! I just want to start off by saying that I enjoy reading your blog and admire your style. I really like how your include your experiences as a coxswain in your blog being that I am a coxswain too. I was wondering if you could ever post a coxswain recording of you from highschool or college. I love to listen to other coxswains' styles and recordings.

Mana Smith

I think I just accidentally collected all the platforms as they came out and since my mother has always taught me never to say anything on the internet that I wouldn't say to my grandparents, they were pretty clean so I eventually just connected them all to my blog.
I think that there are mean girls everywhere in life and that learning to have a thick skin is really important. I've had a pretty thick skin my whole life so as I run into mean girls in the blogging world it hasn't bothered me as much.
And I fully agree, I always get so excited when I see another blogger get to do something amazing.

Fashion and Happy Things


You are so right about the social media thing. It's crazy now how many different forms of communicating with your audience you have or in general bloggers have. I am always amazed at how successful bloggers like you are so 'solid' on all of your platforms!
Love you and loved this post! It truly is great to see all the adventures you get to take through your blog!