On turtles and blogging

Lately, for some insane but very flattering reason, people have been asking me advice about setting up their own blogs. This is amusing as I feel like I am still getting the hang of it myself and have not yet answered my own questions about what I want this blog to become. But I have learned a lesson or two over the past year, so here is a humble stab at some advice.

Blogging for fun is just fine
Ask most bloggers why they blog and many will tell you it all started as a kind of personal fulfillment – like a journal, a place to keep track of things they like or just for fun. This was certainly the case with me. Being one of schizophrenic mind, there were not enough hours in the day for me to learn about travel, fashion, food, style and design and I needed a creative outlet to get me out of the stress of a day job in public affairs. I wanted to create my own personal magazine, if you will. This blog gave me a focused outlet to play to my creative side. And to share it with family and friends.

Be comfortable in your own shell
It is so easy to get caught up in a million different opinions about what blogs should and should not do, but for the ease of your mind, try not to let them dictate your project for you.

Be comfortable with yourself – much like a turtle in its shell. The quote above from Bill Copeland is one I have taped on my desk to inspire me when I get stuck {and believe me, there are days when you will feel like you should delete the entire thing and abandon ship.}

Learning is inherent
Slowly, blogging is turning into “something more” for me. I’m surprised how fascinated I have become with graphic design, branding, image sourcing and typography. I have learned that behind each blog post are hours of reading and finding the little tips and tricks that makes a blog’s design cleaner and integrated with other social media channels. I have signed up for Skillshare classes and cannot get enough of the stunning layouts of magazines like Wayfare and Cereal. I’m not sure where I am going with all of this creativity I’m surrounding myself with at the moment, and that is ok.

Many of us do not have as much time to dedicate to blogging as we would like – this is certainly the case for me. And many of us might not have all the tools we would like to make our blogs better {I asked for Photoshop for my birthday.} But that does not mean your blogging has to be any less meaningful. Any activity that makes you learn and create is worth the time in my book.

So, what is your point, Jessica? {Rambling has always been a particular strength…}
My point is, if you want to create a blog, go for it. Have fun with it. Put some soul into it and be proud of it. Give credit where credit is due. And above all, learn with it. It won’t be perfect from the beginning – or likely even farther down the line – and that is fine.

The inspiration
The beyond-any-doubt best trend in blogging at the moment is the openness and willingness of those who are AMAZING at it to share.  Those of us who are still starting out are lucky to have them. I only wish I had discovered the stories and advice of these talented women earlier on in the process:

  • Sarah from Note to Self has started an advice column which I feel may send business and marketing schools running to redesign their curriculum. Refreshingly honest and brimming with infographics and insights, it is essential advice for the blog world and beyond.
  • Pugly Pixel should be given an OBE for the knowledge she shares with the blogging world. Overflowing with tutorials on coding, resources and downloads to spice up your blog, she makes the design-half of blogging much less intimidating. (In a “best-of-both-worlds” moment, Pugly Pixel recommended Note to Self’s column in this post where she uses Tim Holman’s Texter drawing app – used to make cool text graphics like the one at the top of this page.)
  • Not only do I adore Blog Milk because she is the design talent behind my own blog’s current look {I loved it from the moment I set eyes on it – and wasn’t even planning on a new look!}, but she also regularly shares honest, well-written insights on the blogging experience with stunning visuals I secretly want to steal.
  • Breanna Rose‘s “For bloggers” series. Breanna’s mad-keen eye for color always keeps me going back. Luckily for us, she shares her design skills with frequent trade tips and tricks. Her recent advice on finding a niche inspired me to think “beyond the blog” in finding its forward direction. {She is also from my homestate of Minnesota which makes her extra special.}
  • Confirming that being self-taught can get you far, read this BoF article on Garace Dore – a constantly changing fashion blogger in the very best of ways.

There are so many more, but I thought I would start with a few select favorites in the hopes that they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the above. Now if only I could find a few more hours in the day to work on my shell…

Quote from Bill Copeland, made with the Texter app.


  • Jess! thanks for this. i have no idea what i’m doing with our blog, so its very helpful. plus, that Texter app is way fun!

    • So glad you enjoyed it Annie! And I love where you are headed with your blog so far :)


Twelve years ago, Jess moved to Europe for what was supposed to be a one-year stint. Fourteen years later, life abroad is just as entertaining. She blogs about it here.