Six years of blogging

19 September 2014

Six years ago this month I wrote my first ever blog post (you can still view it here!). Over the years I’ve gotten lots of questions about how my blog got started and how it has grown. I’d love to chat about both today because I think stories like this are fascinating, and I hope you do, too! :)

The summer between my junior and senior year of college (2008) I interned with The Knot. My editor took me to lunch on the last day, and when she asked about my dream job, I answered “Abby of Style Me Pretty.” Her next question was, “Why don’t you start your own wedding blog?” I mulled it over for a bit, and by the time I returned to school in the fall, I was ready to give it a go. I knew I wanted a job in the wedding industry after graduation, and I figured if I could show a future employer months of posts that displayed my aesthetic, my writing, and my love for weddings, that would be pretty convincing.

I chose Blogger because it was free and seemed simpler than WordPress! I knew Peach & Pearl was not the perfect name, and I sat on it for a while because of that, hoping to come up with something better. I finally just dove in; after all, it did sound like a good blog name – there were lots of “Blank & Blanks” out there :) I tried to post interesting content five days a week. Most of my posts were short and about things I loved, like J. Crew fall fashion, home tours, and lovely weddings. I also occasionally posted semi-personal reports on our adventures, and lots of inspiration boards. I told a few friends, my family, and of course John about what I was doing. Still, most of the time I felt as though I was writing for myself, and that was okay – writing kept my creative juices flowing, and my long-term goal kept me motivated.

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In November 2008, a curious chain of events began to unfold that ultimately lead to my dream job. You can read the whole story (it’s a good one!) here, but to summarize, my following up on a blog comment lead to a gift exchange, which lead to me sending my resume, which lead to lots of phone and email conversations, which lead to us moving to North Carolina post-graduation.

Hooray! I had shown my stuff, and I had gotten a job! As I transitioned to full time employment, I knew there would be a shift in my night-time blogging. And there was – for starters, my posting frequency gradually decreased, from four times a week in 2009 to three times a week in 2012. Now I post about two times a week.

In December 2011, I renamed this here blog, debuted a new design, and made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. After three years my mission was so clear, and I was convinced that Em for Marvelous was THE perfect name (even though John was not, initially – ha!), that rebranding was very simple. I’m glad I started writing when I did, but I’m also glad I didn’t spend money on branding before I had clarity. (Because of that, three years in I’m still as in love with this site as ever!)

As a practical aside on the topic of rebranding, knowing that I did not want to spend a lot of money, I tried to do as much on my own as I could. I did lots of research, taking screenshots of sites I loved and overlaying them with explanatory arrows and notes. I also brought a finished logo to my web designer, which helped cut down majorly on costs. (I commissioned Melissa Esplin to make me a digital calligraphy file of “em for.” She charged me $90 which I still think is a bit high for five letters but on the other hand I think it’s worth every penny :) I combined it with the “marvelous” myself.)

Why pay money at all? I think a beautiful design for the place where I spend so much time and invest so much love is a gift that keeps on giving to myself and to y’all, who I adore!

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Our wedding marked the other significant shift in my blogging “career.” My posts grew increasingly personal throughout our engagement (not surprising!) as we discussed things like my portrait dreams coming true, our engagement photos, and our budget. My relationships with online friends grew deeper as many of us walked through our engagements together and so many of you were so sweet to give opinions and encouragement at every step of the way.

Over the last few years my posts have become even more personal (and often lengthier!) as we’ve talked about things that are really important to me, like personal finance, being a blessing, buying a home, everyday adventures, homesickness, and our love story. Good golly, I’m so thankful! It is really the best thing to feel like I come here every week to chat with smart, kind friends.

The question I get most frequently from readers is how my blog has grown over the years, and the answer, I think, is simple. I certainly don’t have the biggest blog, but people seem to care about it, and I think it’s perhaps because you all can sense (hopefully!) that I care about you. I try to read and leave a comment on anyone’s blog who leaves a comment on mine, because I know exactly how much that can mean to someone just starting out.

Of course, there are other means by which it has grown. I’ve been lucky over the years to have a few prominent friends link to me. I have some interesting SEO things going on (I must rank pretty high with people searching for southeastern Connecticut weddings!), but the other reason I think my blog has grown is because I strive for consistency — I try to write only about what I find truly marvelous, because nothing else is worth my time or your time.

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A photo mostly unrelated to this post, but I did check off a 60 Before 30 goal this week! Craigslist road bike!!

The most popular question offline pals like to ask me is whether I have any plans to make Em for Marvelous my full-time job. The answer is an emphatic no, as having EFM remain a hobby has afforded me a great amount of freedom. With a full-time job, I don’t want to be beholden to a certain posting schedule, which would certainly come at the expense of other things in my life. Because I’m not worried about growing the site for someone else (i.e. an advertiser), I have the freedom to write when and on what I want.

I know lots of people think Instagram and Pinterest have combined to sink blogs. I agree that social media has changed the way a lot of people blog, including myself. But those two platforms on their own would never make me stop blogging, because to me, blogging is an incredibly lovely – and powerful – form of storytelling. Erin Loechner worded it much more eloquently than I:

Storytelling doesn’t die… And blogging is storytelling, but with a megaphone. We’re just here, on our soapboxes, sharing what we know – the good and the bad and the mundane and the pointless and, sometimes, a few words string together in the right way and spark a life change in someone we’ve never met.

It’s good. It’s necessary. We’re cavemen, carving our stories on the walls of this Internet mountain – words and pictures and documentation that we were here. We existed.

I think about this all the time, about the kind of picture I’m carving. Is it worth it? Is it profound enough to exist in my mountain for future generations to view and question and fill in the blanks about the kind of people we were? The answer, of course, is yes. Absolutely, yes, one thousand times over… we’re telling a story that history will use to piece together the puzzles of this age. And that’s a story I want to be a part of.

Blogging won’t die, because it was never truly alive. The stories, the voices – that’s where the heart beats. And storytelling, friends, is forever.

It has been such a great joy to share our story with you over the last six years. I can’t wait to see what marvelous adventures the next six years will hold, and I can’t wait to share them!

P.S. If you blog, why do you blog? Why do you like reading blogs?

18 Responses to “Six years of blogging”

  1. Melanie

    Congratulations on six years of blogging! I am a faithful reader, and I find myself continually inspired by your posts. Thank you for being marvelous!

  2. Hales

    I love your stories and this blog very much! It’s one of my most favorites. I can’t wait to see what the future holds :)

  3. Happy, happy six years of blogging! Yours is one of my very favorite blogs. It’s inspiring in many different ways (visual, financial, travel, etc.) and is also a happy, cheerful spot on the internet. Plus, as a friend, I love keeping up with you and John, and can perfectly hear your voice through your writing.

    And! I’m thrilled to see that you have a road bike now. There’s actually really great riding in the horse country area of Southern Pines if you’re looking for a day trip, and I spent many hours on the roads of Hillsborough near the Maple View Farm country store in college – a stunning area not to be missed!

  4. I love this Emily! What I enjoy most about your blog is the variety of topics, and how truly real you are. Rather than always talking about “pretty things” or your “perfect life,” I truly feel like I can relate to you. From finances, and wedding planning, to home-living and job stresses, I appreciate your wide variety of topics and transparency.

    I blog not to prove something or make me look a certain way, but to get my thoughts out there, to process, and if someone can learn something or be encouraged, then great! I could never blog on a schedule, as much as I wish I could!

  5. Happy six years of blogging!! As others have said, your blog has long been one of my very favorites, for a variety of reasons! Thank you for sharing all things marvelous with us & being continually inspiring!!

  6. Happy blogiversary, Emily! Six years, wow! I just got sucked into reading all your back posts — and then I read about how you landed your SW job. What a wonderful, awesome story!!

  7. Thanks so much for sharing – I loved reading your story! Happy blogging anniversary, Em!

  8. Wow, six years is a long time! Congrats! This is a great post and I love what you shared about blogs. I do blog (and you’ve commented before – which I greatly appreciate), but definitely not consistently. It is mostly about my travel pictures or just a way to share my photos. I love reading blogs because I don’t make friends easily or have very many friends in general. It makes me feel like I’m not alone and can connect with people I wouldn’t normally have a chance to connect with. Thank you for all of your sharing!

  9. This post was deeply encouraging for me to read today. Thank you for sharing insight on your journey with blogging :)

  10. I remember when I decided to go full-time blogging, your blogs was one of the very first ones I started following. I loved how you were in the wedding blogging industry but also kept up so well with a more personal blog. Till today, you are still an inspiration to me! Congrats on your anniversary!

  11. Ashley

    I’ve been a dedicated P&P/EFM reader since 2010 (it all started from wedding research…I fell in love with SW Mag and found your site from there!) I read blogs now because I love getting a peek into the writers’ lives. I recently started my own blog, and while it’s still new and growing, I’m having a blast! It was your 101 list that really inspired me to start my own blog as a way to chronicle progress of my own list.

  12. Hooray for six wonderful years! So grateful to have been a reader for many of them! We wouldn’t share an office space together if you didn’t have this marvelous blog : ) I truly look forward to your posts each week.

  13. Yay! Congratulations on 6 years! I always look forward to your posts in my reader. And you’ve inspired me to take the plunge and I started my own blog!

  14. Happy Blogiversary Emily! I have been reading for about 4 of those 6 years and I still come back weekly to see what you are up to! I adore how you have a full time job but also blog -something I struggle with! Why do I blog? For the same reason you do! To share my thoughts and because I have something to say. I find it a wonderful way to get things out of my head and I find it very therapeutic to write…even if I don’t publish it! Here’s to another six years!

  15. Ashley

    Congrats on 6 years!! I’ve read your blog for about a year now, and your posts are inspiring. Your money management and travel posts are both topics that I can relate too. Thank you for doing what you do! I have thought about starting a blog. I enjoy photography as a hobby and have tons of photos I would love to share. I just haven’t made the plunge… yet! It always good to see posts like this that can give comfort to those who need hope and a little push in the right direction.

  16. Congrats on six years EM! I love how inspiring, uplifting and honest your posts have always been. You don’t try to be overly wordy and you also get right to the heart of why you think something is marvelous!

    I originally started my blog to share photos and quotes I liked. Not to share my personal life. And then I tried to emulate everything else I saw (with awful results) and now I’m gradually shifting it to include my writings, my inspiration and what I find encouraging and interesting from around the web. I read a quote from Will Taylor of “Bright Bazaar” that said your blog should be a place where you “create not curate” and that’s what I’m focusing on now. I want to create a place of inspiration where people leave encouraged to DO something not just say “that was nice.” It’s still in the process…but I find myself returning to blogging because I do truly enjoy it and engaging with people via blogs! Cheers to Six years!!:)

  17. Hey Emily! I just caught up on a few weeks of your posts and this one is especially wonderful. Or marvelous, I should say. :) I love your simple approach to something that can often be so stressful, complicated, and high-pressure. Ironically, I just wrote a post a couple weeks ago about why I blog. It’s a little different reason than yours, but it has to do with my deepest passion just like your blog does. :) http://creatingrealjoy.com/2014/09/fire-behind-this-movement/ Blessings on many more years of sharing your sweet life through your sweet blog!

  18. I love the evolution you so accurately capture. And I think the best thing about your blog is that it IS personal. It’s real.

    Also, I had ‘buy a bike on craigslist on my 101 in 1001 list. :)