My creative journey over the last decade – and ten lessons after ten years of blogging

Growing up I always thought about being a writer. I wasn’t good in English class and I couldn’t write but I enjoyed it. I loved creating things and my mother, being the crafter she is, always encouraged it. I had pretty much every toy from the arts, crafts and hobbies isle. When I was about seven years old, I decided that I’d like to be an Architect. I interned at a great firm during secondary school, and loved my time there, so wanted to follow that path and signed up to a college course. One year into my course is where my creative journey really starts…

2009 I actually remember this evening quite vividly. I was sat at my corner desk one evening in October, trying to study but distracted by Halloween coming up. I typed “Halloween outfit and makeup” into Google and I came across a YouTube video by a “beauty guru”. All I knew about YouTube at the time was funny videos and cats. I watched one video, then another, and another. From there I found blogs, and quickly became obsessed!

I set up my own blog on Blogger in November and published my very first blog post on December 27th. I got through my final year of Architectural Technology and CAD, which I hated. And broke up with a terrible ex (think Joe Goldberg-esque). I was spending all of my free time on my blog, it was an escape for me as I know it is for many of you. Blogging had introduced me to web design, now I had two hobbies that I really enjoyed. And I finally found something that I was good at.

2010 After the worst summer of my life, I was ready to move forward. In September I started studying Creative Digital Media at the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown. I’d tried keep my blog a secret from people in real life up until this point. A few people found out and I had a mix of supportive and unsupportive opinions. But I made the decision to be very open about it from my first day at my new course.

2012 I created a second blog in April, called missedesign, altogether publishing over 100 how-to posts starting with Free Alternatives to Photoshop. 

2013 I started interning at a digital marketing and web design agency in January. One day, my boss sent me SEO training videos by David Jenyns. In October, just a couple of months later, David Jenyns shared a post from my blog on Twitter*.

* He probably has never actually read my work and has likely just searched on Google for a topic and shared the first thing to come up BUT STILL!

When I finished, my boss gave me some words of encouragement, which was greatly appreciated. I launched XOmisse on the 1st of May 2013 and loved what I was creating. In August, I was contacted by Blogosphere about a freelance writer position.

2014 For my final year project, I wanted to do something around blogging. Two of my lecturers, knowing my involvement in the blogging world and how I was writing for Blogosphere magazine, encouraged me to create an interactive magazine. InDesign wasn’t a major part of our course at that time so it was something I learned on the side. They gave me access to some training videos and were available to answer questions. I didn’t know it at the time, but that guidance was setting me up perfectly for the future and I’m so grateful to them for that.

I started getting contacted from recruitment firms who were looking for tech graduates to fill roles at well-known companies, all because of my blog. XOmisse turned one and reached over one million pageviews!

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree and spending a summer in Brussels, I decided to jump straight into running my own business as a freelance web designer/front-end developer and within a couple of weeks I’d booked out six months in advance!

2015 I flew to London and taught DIY Blog Design at Blogtacular in June. I remember every detail about the evening I got that email, I was so delighted and proud, and terrified. The day didn’t go exactly as planned but I learned so much from the experience and received some amazing feedback.

By September I’d become overwhelmed, stressed and needed a break. I had major burnout, was pricing everything too low, overworking, suffering with imposter syndrome and struggling with a life/work balance. I took my site offline for four months, something that I greatly regret to this day.

2016 I relaunched XOmisse in January. I was going through a hard time in my personal life and felt a bit lost with what I was doing and where I was in my life. A quarter life crisis if you will. Then an email popped up from Blogosphere. Next thing I knew I was signing a contract for a job and booking a one-way flight to London.

At the end of March, I moved from Dublin to London to join the Blogosphere team three days a week as their web developer, tech writer and editorial assistant. I took part on the Creative Genius Bar at Blogtacular in June, giving one-on-one advice to some seriously lovely attendees. I didn’t quite manage to capture a whole year of one second clips but enjoyed what I did get and had a pretty amazing year.

2017 was a year I will never forget. I got a job promotion and became Creative Director at Blogosphere. I was invited back to the Blogtacular Creative Genius Bar and a friend moved to London for a couple of months. During the summer my 7 year relationship ended with a friend of 14 years, which as you can imagine was incredibly difficult. I met a girl who has become one of my best friends, we bonded over blogging, bad relationships and feeling alone in a massive city. I don’t think I would have survived 2017 in London without her.

I started my #FuckItYear – giving myself permission to go out as much as possible, stay up as late as I wanted, laugh as much as I needed and enjoy every single second of it. Plus, this time I managed to capture a whole year of one second clips so I can relive it all.

2018 I moved from Wembley to London Bridge, and found a group of people who I am so happy to call my best friends. They really have made a massive difference to my London life. We had another incredible year at Blogosphere. I challenged myself again and taught SEO at Blogtacular, which I really enjoyed! I’m so grateful to Kat and the team for inviting me back year after year.

2019 I’ve been online for 10 years, 10 years! I can’t believe it. And XOmisse is 6 years old. It’s safe to say that blogging allowed me to find a passion I didn’t know I had, which led me down a career path I didn’t know I wanted, which allowed me to meet like-minded people and become a better person. I may not be exactly where I want to be but that’s okay. I have a few goals for 2020, career and blog wise. My main personal one is around finances. I’ll be 30 in 2021 and I’d like to feel more financially stable by then.

Moving into 2020, I want to say a massive thank you to all of you. The readers, sharers, clients and customers who have supported me and this website over the last 10 years. Without you, this place wouldn’t mean as much to me and I appreciate your support more than you will ever know.

10 lessons after 10 years online

  1. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t let others put you off something you really want to do. Trust me! I’ve come across a lot of people who didn’t understand blogging, thought it was shallow and fake, thought I was being silly for being a freelancer, made feel like an imposter and so on. You can’t please everyone, neither should you try. KEEP DOING YOU!
  2. Don’t expect others to support you, just be happy when anyone does. Make friends, get out of your comfort zone and network.
  3. Don’t quit because it gets hard
  4. Do the thing you want to do, stop putting it off
  5. Manifesting works, when you work. Even if you don’t realise it at the time.
  6. Save! Your taxes are going to be more than you think
  7. Document everything, especially the little things that make you happy, make you feel accomplished or give you the “this is why I do this” feeling.
  8. Always be learning, let go of the overwhelm and remember your why
  9. There is always more to do and other people may not understand that
  10. There is nothing more satisfying than finding your purpose, but when you turn your hobby into a job it’s okay to need a break and to take one without feeling guilty

Over to you, what was your main lesson this decade? How long have you been blogging and how did you get started? Here’s to the next ten years online…

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6 responses to “My creative journey over the last decade – and ten lessons after ten years of blogging”

  1. Just hit 6 years of blogging January 1st… In 2019 I almost quit due to major burn out in every aspect. But then something changed between November and December I wanted to let it go but couldn’t… I realized my time online wasn’t over. Knowing when to take a break and step back is probably something I should have done at about year 4… With all that being said finding your site one crazed afternoon helped tremendously because you have this great way of explaining how to do things that isn’t overwhelming. It’s been fun to watch you grow, you remind me alot of myself when I was much younger. I guess my lesson over the decade is to plan better…. I started the blog as something to do after the nest emptied and when I decided to write about gardening didn’t I should have planned out my journey better instead of letting it happen. All in all no regrets because I did hit all my goals and now feeling like it’s time for something new… We shall see… Thanks for all you do Elaine – you are a blessing to so many…

    1. Happy 6 years Carole! I’m so glad you realised that, I think we all suffer from burnout and imposter syndrome at times, but taking a break away really shows us if we’re ready to let it go or jump back in. Thank you for the lovely compliments, it’s been a joy to work with you over the years and hopefully for many more to come!

  2. Thanks for sharing your lessons. I needed to hear it. Just beginning and feeling overwhelmed.

    1. I’m ten years in and still feel overwhelmed at times. I try to write a list of the things I want to do and then slowly tackle them, an hour a day really adds up!

  3. So thankful for xomisse bringing you into my life! Don’t know what I’d do without you x

    1. So thankful for that too ❤️❤️❤️

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