25 September 2018

Happy 4th Birthday hiyaitsashley!

I cannot believe that hiyaitsashley is 4 today! Exactly 4 years ago today I uploaded my first ever post on here, which was a simple little getting to know me post. The past 4 years have flown by for my blog, so in this post I wanted to celebrate by looking back over how my blog, and myself as a blogger, have grown and changed over the past 4 years, and how much I have achieved with it!

My blog has come a long way in 4 years. I've learned a lot, about blogging, photography, what I like and don't like, and I've worked hard to get my little blog to where it is now, and I'm proud of it.

When I first started blogging in 2014, I didn't really know what I was doing. I was learning as I went, on my own trying to figure out blogger, figuring out how to add photos and make a read more appear, how to schedule posts and check out what my stats were doing. I was winging it, trying things out and trying out something different if that didn't work. I don't mind that though, because it caught me skills that I can now use to help any fellow bloggers who might need it, or that I can utilise in the workplace down the line.

Fast forward to now, and blogging has become second nature to me. It's become a practises art, setting up a blog posts with photos and labels, different styles of layout and headings, it's all just something that I don't even need to pay attention to, I just do it. I've learned what looks good for my style of content and writing style, and what looks good for me.

I remember the first time I tried to change my blog's layout, and how I would sit at my laptop for hours on end trying to frustrate figure out how to change text sizes or fonts, change the colours or ad in links to my sidebar. I had no header, no display photo, not social media icons or pages about my blog, it was a mess.

Now, I've taught myself how to change the layouts in a matter of minutes. I can jump in and edit the HTML or CSS without batting an eyelid. I've done my research to create a collaboration page, a disclaimer, a privacy policy. Granted most of the major updates have come in the past 2 years, but like I said. it's a learning curve.

Now I'm proud to say that I'm pretty proud of the way my blog is presented, and that it's been all me. Of course, my base template was not me, I'm not quite at the website programming stage yet! But the look, the aesthetic and the functionality, that was all something I as a blogger have learned in 4 long years!

If you look back at my posts from 2014 up to maybe 2016, you'll see just how much of a journey my blog has taken. In the beginning I had no schedule, sometimes posts would go up weekly, others it would be 3 days, or 10 days. Some posts went up at 1pm, others at 7 or 8pm, some at 1am.

Then there was the inconsistency of actual posts, While I really did, and still kind of do, enjoy the content I made, I could have been better with it. Some posts were 2 paragraphs long with a badly taken photo as a cover. Others were 8 or 9 paragraphs with no nice photographs to take a page break. Even then, any photographs I did use were badly taken, unedited, the wrong size and usually had badly edited text over them. I'll admit, it was all over the place, and not good for building a consistent 'brand'.

This is one of the things I'm most proud of that has grown with my blog. Taking a look at hiyaitsashley circa 2014-15 compared to hiyaitsashley 2016-18, it's a huge, huge growth and I am so beyond proud of how far it's come content wise.

Nowadays I have a consistent schedule, and a theme in my posts. I sit down every now and then and plan out the next 2-3 weeks posts in advance, so that I can schedule a time and date to have them posted that works around my life. I post every 2-3 times a week, usually Monday/Tuesday, Thursday and once at the weekend.

I have set days for taking and editing my photographs so that I can ensure good lighting and enough time to dedicate to setting up the perfect shots. I've invested a good amount of money into getting backgrounds and props to suit the themes of the posts, and I take the them time to edit the photos all the same way so that the imagery is aesthetically pleasing for anyone browsing my site, or reading my posts. I make sure I have enough photos to compliment the post, and that posts are a decent length and detailed enough. I keep track of what my readers enjoying seeing, and and strive to only post the content I am proud of and happy about writing and sharing.

When I look at where my blog is now and how far it has come since 2014, it gives me a sense of pride, knowing that I've stuck at this and I've done this because it is something I'm passionate about.

hiyaitsashley hasn't done more than just grow itself though, through my blog's growth, I have grown as a blogger. My blog has done so much for me in 4 years, for a start it has grown my confidence in huge levels both just as me, and as 'hiyaitsashley' the blogger. I'm not exactly a shy person by nature, but even though I'm an outgoing person and always have been, there was always a little part of me that we reserved, what if people laugh at me, what if I mention I'm a blogger and the scoff and roll their eyes, what if they say I'm wasting my time, or I just want freebies, or I'm bragging?

Now that I've shown that bit of confidence in myself and my blog, and I've seen the positive responses that come with it, I hold my head high. I talk to other bloggers at events, I have the confidence to contacts brands and other bloggers first, to speak out in classes or situations where someone is curious about blogging.

I have also always been someone who adores writing, when I was younger and to this day I am huge reader and for me that and my love for writing have always gone hand in hand, but I never had anywhere to let out that passion, and then when I started my blog, I felt like I had an outlet to talk about things that interest me and to write where people would actually get to see it, and now that I have, it's like I want to always be writing new content and sharing it. It's grown my confidence in my abilities as a writer.

I have always been a creative person, with a lot of varying interests. So having a place that is mine, where I can write the content I want, play around with photography, try new brands and create new post concepts, it's sparked a drive and work ethic in my over the years that I've been able to apply to my everyday life.

It has also been a huge help in my academic and professional career too. For a start, it was a driving factor in discovering my passion for PR and Marketing, and what led my into getting my degree in Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, and now move on to do my masters in Marketing. It has provided me with a whole portfolio of creative work to show off to potential employers, that will show my writing skills, photography skills, creativity, consistency, dedication, digital knowledge... the benefits go on and on!

Over the last 4 years, hiyaitsashley has had the opportunity to do some amazing things. I had my first ever collaboration post in January 2015, 4 months after starting out. I was so excited, the idea that a brand wanted to work with me, that I had mail delivered for 'hiyaitsashley'. I was so excited. Then in April of the same year, I was invited to my first ever blogger/press event and I was so proud of myself. To this day, the pride I feel when I brand wants to collaborate or I get a invite to an event never goes away.

Skip on until now and I have had the chance to work with so many incredible brands, so many companies I loved and experience so many cool things all through the hard work I have put into my blog.

I've attended multiple events with The Body Shop, which was mind blowing to me as they are such a well known brand, and I'm just me. They were one of the first ever 'brand names' that I got to work with! I got to preview their Pinita Colada Range before it launched in summer 2016, then again this year I got to be part of a group of bloggers who got the first glance of their new summer launches for 2018.

I remember the first ever time I was invited to review a restaurant, it was Gusto in Glasgow City Centre and I was so blown away by that invite, it was one of the first big things I had gotten to do with my blog, and I couldn't believe they wanted me to come down to review them. After that, I was getting more and more opportunities to review restaurants that I adore. I was asked along to places like to Frankie & Benny'sChiquitoWagamama's. even my all time favourite Italian, Tony Macaroni! As a huge foodie I really have been blessed with the oppurtunities I've had through hiyaitsashley, if you're interested in seeing more about the other restaurants I've tried and loved, you can find them under the food tag here.

Beauty is another huge passion of mine and I've been fortunate enough to work with some of my my favourite beauty brands. I've tried and tested the famous Spectrum brushes, seen the launch of and tested out KIKO Milano, even expanded my love for NYX Cosmetics.

My blog has even let me have some once in a lifetime opportunities thanks to the relationships I'e built with brands, such as taking on the Go Ape adventure courses in Aberfoyle and Peebles, or fulfilling a dream of taking on an escape room and playing laser quest.

On top of that, I've been able to build lasting relationships with some amazing companies such as St Enoch CentreGlasgow Fort, Vue and Odeon Cinemas, and meet some amazing PR companies and make connectons that won't only benefit my blog in the futre, but that can have benfits for my career! Last month I even secured my forst ever sponsered post, allowing me to make money from my blog for the first time since I started hiyaitsashley 4 years ago! It just goes to show, hard work pays off!

So, happy 4th birthday hiyaitsashley. You have well and truly changed my life.
The past four years have flown by, and have been a crazy journey, filled with amazing experiences. I cannot wait to see what's next for this blog. Here's to the next four years, and the next four, and the four after that!

How long have you been blogging for? Have you celebrated any milestones with your blog recently? Let me know in the comments below!

Where else to find hiyaitsashley!
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest

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