I've been wanting to write a post like this for a while now. This post is for friends, teachers, other bloggers, and for myself. When I talk about blogging I usually wave it off as not a lot of work or effort or anything. But really, blogging is probably the most work-heavy project I've ever invested myself in. I never really think about just how much time I put into this site, or my social accounts so I'm breaking this down for me as well, so I can see just how important blogging is in my life.
There's no other place to start than the beginning..
I started blogging January of 2014. I was in the eighth grade and all of 13 years old. Some people call 13 still a "tween" others who read my blog at the time (there were not many but definitely some) believed me to be a college student which was most flattering. At the time I was VERY secretive. No one at school knew about this at the time little endeavor. Months into it, my friend, Kate found out.. But still no one else really did.
Why was I so secretive about it, you ask? I don't really know. Maybe I was scared. Maybe I was worried about how others would accept or not accept this. Mainly I think it was because I didn't think it would last. My Instagram barely had 200 followers, my Pinterest barely had 50, a Twitter wasn't even a possibility in my mind. I thought I wasn't good enough. I couldn't make it. Who would listen to the ramblings of a little 13 year old. I'm convinced that those beliefs and thought process is part of why it took me as long as it did to get my blog and I "out there".
It doesn't happen over night. I can promise you that. Establishing yourself in the online world is tough as heck. You have to have the drive to press on and work as hard as you can. I was still off to a rocky start by July 2014 when I turned 14. Sure I had been blogging consistently for 6 months but the readers and followers I had dreamed of were nonexistent. There were some, and some of them are still following and keeping up with me on the reg today. And for you all I am forever grateful that whatever kept you following me, didn't go anywhere and that you're still coming along for the ride now.
When I started my freshman year August of 2014, my eyes opened. There were no other kids in my grade that had even attempted to do what I was doing. Sure there were One Direction fan accounts on Instagram and one senior who had somewhat of a fashion blog.. But no one my age was as committed to anything like this as I was. I wanted my blog to be the best that I and it could be. Then I buckled my seatbelt and took off like Lightning McQueen trying to win that piston cup (I still here Tow-Mater's voice in my head saying "you did what in a cup?!" Anyone catch my reference there?)
Then came January 5th. My blog-a-versary. Basically just the celebration that exactly one year had passed since I created this blog. I was proud of myself for not quitting. For not giving up. I had made it to the one year point and I couldn't have been any happier. By now, probably 3 or 4 close friends had knowledge of what I actually did when I went home. I was so ready to blaze through another year.. My social media accounts were growing, my page views were growing, and i actually saw potential in myself and in my blog. I started to think, "dude, I could actually do this" and so I continued to press on and work as hard as 14 year old Cathleen could.
As April and May rolled around, and my Instagram was doing pretty well as well as my Twitter (which I created a few months prior because I was convinced you had to have a Twitter to be successful) and Pinterest, I realized a lot of my friends were still left in the dark about my passions. I decided to go for it. What's the worst that can happen, I thought. Maybe I'll just have to find some more friends... Which turns out I didn't need to do at all. They were all super insanely supportive of me and my passions and shoutout to Brianna and Jordan who are still following me on Instagram and I'm almost positive that they like every photo I post. What was I scared of?
At this point, and a while before that too, I had my blogging friends. I had a group of friends before them.. But let's just say I'm way better off with my girls now. You need friends like the ones I have. Girls that are in all different stages of life and blogging. People that are smarter than you, and come from all different backgrounds, and live in all sorts of places. People like Ashlee, Michaela, Sarah, Julia, and Caitlin. Blogging friends quickly become your blogging family. You love them and respect them and constantly are asking them for advice.
One important thing to remember about blogging is that it's not about being in a clique. It's not about having your own personal girl gang from around the country. It's about building relationships that will not only help you and your blog but help you learn in life as well. In our group, I'm definitely the youngest. I learn so much from these girls it's insane. I learn never sleep with a guy in a foreign country (Thanks Michaela) as well as how far amazing pictures, a quality Instagram and investment can really take your blog from Sarah. These are connections and relationships that I wouldn't change for the world.
These friends inspired me and filled me with motivation to keep pressing on. I'm convinced that I wouldn't have made it as far as I am now without them.
When Summer 2015 came about, I knew exactly how I was going to spend my summer. Blogging to the max. Continuing to push myself farther and farther until all I could think and breathe about was my blog. Classycathleen.blogspot.com became www.classycathleen.com and my site design took a dramatic change for the better. I pushed myself to be the best I could be. To have a website that I would be proud to tell my teachers and friends about all sophomore year.
I wouldn't have come even close to where my blog is now without amazing friends like Nicole and Jamie. These girls have challenged me and pushed me to be a better me past the point I couldn't believe was possible. I'm a better blogger and person because of these incredible girls and to them I am forever grateful. Together we have put together the #bloggerblab Twitter chat and together we have hosted and supported #BloggersBTS the MONTH long back to school linkup. I've "met" Nicole's sister and Jamie's brother, and they've met my mom and my older brother, Isaac who has pretty severe autism. I've ranted to the point there were tears, and we've laughed about countless things together and supported each other the whole way. To say I'm blessed is an understatement. We have been able to accomplish so much with each others help and we have bigger and better ideas to come in the future I promise.
There's my snail mail gals. Faith and Sydney, Dani and Kayla, Sofia and Sarah Beth... They all encourage me to be a better me or to look at life in a different way. And just the classic handwriting correspondence is so much fun!
There's Rachel who has taught me that I actually do have potential. The fact that she values my opinion and that we have something huge in the works is just so exciting and rewarding and yet another thing that I love about blogging. And Olivia who will forever motivate me to be my best self.. She's quite the inspiration. These relationships are worth more to me than the world.
So I've been over the beginning, and everyone important to me that I've met through blogging, and now what it's really like to be 15 and running my own blog.
What started as a hobby, a pastime, a fun creative outlet has turned into a business. A business all about me and my life and my opinions.. Which I love. Most 15 year olds don't have the social media outlets with the followers that I do or even a blog that people even give a tiny look at. In those ways I am blessed. Blessed to have the readership, followers, and friends that I do.
It can be tough though.. Don't get me wrong. Blogging is one of my very favorite things to do, but it is challenging at times and can take a lot of time. Pouring out all my energy into writing a blog post, or sharing on social media, hosting a Twitter chat, planning the next week's posts.. Just keeping up with fresh and new content can be a struggle. But because I love blogging, even the struggles are exciting and fun.
Being a 15 year old blogger, I can't be as financially invested as others. I can't shop every sale I blog or tweet about, I can't participate in all those loop giveaways, I can't do quite all those brand sponsorships that others can. I just don't have the money because well.. I'm 15. But even though I'm not financially invested, almost every ounce of who I am goes into my blog and social accounts. Well, every ounce and then a few get set aside for things like I don't know... My GPA and schoolwork. But every ounce other than those goes straight into you guys, my reader friends, and follower friends, and taking photos and coming up with fresh content.
Even though I only really get around to blogging once or twice a week nowadays, I'm still always thinking and making lists and taking pictures for future blog posts. All my thoughts are basically dedicated to blogging and creativity. Sure I'm thinking about pizza and football like other 15 year olds, but moment of truth: I'm way more interested in what all my Instagram buddies are up to and what they're blogging about.
I have countless scraps of paper in my bookbag and literally 80% of them have a post idea or something that inspired me on it. Maybe an account to follow or something to mention in my next FriYAY links. The lists are everywhere. Every notebook, every homework assignment, my agenda... Everywhere. I'm always thinking of ideas even at lunch and in the shower to make my blog the best it can be.
I'm totally open to talking about my blog with anyone. Is it awkward? Yes. Explaining something that I'm completely devoted to and interested in to someone who doesn't know the difference between blogger and Wordpress and j.crew and old navy is insane. But it's so much fun at the same time! It's my true passion so to anyone at school reading this: ASK ME. WE'LL TALK.
Now that I'm coming to the end of this post.. I don't even know why I wrote it. Maybe because I haven't done a post about blogging in a while? I'm not sure.. But what I do know is that I'm gonna grow up. I'm going to change and grow and mature and develop and move on with my life. But blogging will never leave. I don't know what the future has in store for me, but I do know that I'll be blogging every step of the way.
I'm thankful for the experience I have received from blogging. I'm thankful in advance for all the other doors in the future that will open because of this little blog. I'm thankful for my Instagram followers, I'm thankful for my Pinterest followers, and I'm thankful for all my readers. You all are the ones that have truly made and will continue to make this experience the best it can be.
So again, what is it like to be a 15 year old blogger? Nonstop seeking new information, living life to the fullest, and snapping pictures each and every step of the way. Not being scared to be honest, wearing whatever I throw on, watching Hallmark movies at 3 AM and crying because of how perfect the unrealistic situation is, and eating/instagramming way too many s'mores. Staying up at all ungodly hours just to finish the next day's blog post, making your siblings wait before they can eat their frozen yogurt because taking a picture is top priority, running to and from the tripod just for a couple outfit posts, and making ice cream and cookies so you can post them on Instagram. Going to school but never really having your mind on your school work, having to ask your teacher for your test back because you wrote in the margins a couple ideas for a post, skipping out on a whole year's worth of football games to establish yourself as a blogger, and always being in search of a white background and good lighting. That's really what it's like.