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Today is my ten year blogging anniversary! This post includes some highlights from a decade of blogging, plus some thoughts on what’s next.
Wowie, today is a big day! I can’t believe that I’ve been writing this blog for ten years, and how much has changed. I hope you’ll join me on this little walk down memory lane, with a preview of things to come.
A Decade of Blogging
2009 was a year of transitions. I had recently started an online program to do my masters degree in public health nutrition, but the biggest reason I started blogging was because I wanted to find connection with other people. If I’m being really honest, I was feeling discombobulated. The financial crisis was still in full effect and I felt a lot of guilt about not working full-time. I also was feeling isolated without a steady social group outside of my husband.
I was also in the early days of learning about health and cooking, and I wanted to document my experience. The only blogs I remember reading prior to 2009 were Orangette, Hungry Girl, and Kath Eats Real Food. I remember taking the first steps of setting up a blog in late 2008, but I didn’t actually write my first blog post until June 12, 2009.
The Early Days: Love Healthy Living
Back then, Google had a platform called Blogger where you could easily start a blog. My blog was originally called Love Healthy Living.
What I remember the most about starting a blog was the intense pride and joy in having something of my own. I also just remember feeling like I wanted to spend every waking minute on it to make it better. Believe it or not, I still have these feelings, even ten years in.
Blogging quickly made me feel like part of a community, and I really loved that part of it. There was no social media back then and it was very easy to keep track of all the food blogs, there couldn’t have been more than several hundred back then. In some ways, I think of it as the “good old days” because it was kind of a special time as the experience of online journaling was developing.
During those first couple of years of blogging, I wrote about what I was learning in school and the changes I made to my diet. With absolutely no background or experience in cooking, I blogged about the smallest little things.
The Carrie on Vegan Days
Fast forward to late 2010 when I was first exposed to veganism. The plant-based movement did not exist yet, but Alicia Silverstone had released her book, The Kind Diet, and I was intrigued. I had not yet been formally diagnosed with PCOS and thyroid disease, but I did know that it was very hard to manage my weight and I often felt bloated, fatigued, and plagued by anxiety and panic attacks. I was hopeful that a vegan diet would be the answers to all of those problems, and it sounded like the right thing to do.
So, one day in September of 2010, I decided to go vegan. I changed my blog’s name from Love Healthy Living to Carrie on Vegan, and made my announcement to the world.
2012 was when my blog started to pick up speed. This was a great time for blogging and it was when I first experienced what it was like to grow and be part of a community. I was asked to do interviews and write guest posts for some big vegan sites. I launched a vegan recipe app on iTunes that started providing me with some nice income. Who remembers Vegan Delish? I loved the logo.
Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis
Then, in September of 2012, my life fell apart. I went for my annual routine check-up with my endocrinologist including an ultrasound of my thyroid. There was a “new spot” that had developed since the previous year that required a biopsy.
Within a few short weeks, I had the biopsy and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I literally felt like my world had come crashing down. The whole experience of being treated for cancer certainly will end up being one of the most difficult periods of my entire life. I blogged throughout the process and relied heavily on the support of my readers and Twitter followers to help manage my anxiety and fears.
My recovery from thyroid cancer was difficult and I had a lot of fatigue. I also had a recurrence of my eating disorder behavior that I had experienced during my adolescence. This time, I got it in my head that everything I ate would either stop or grow cancer in my body. I became obsessive about everything I ate. I also was over-exercising.
So, while I pretended that I was healthy and recovering from my cancer ordeal, I was actually starving and suffering greatly. In June, 2014, I stopped being vegan. There was no way that I could continue on such a restricted diet that was no longer sustaining me. I knew that I had to be honest about my decision, so two weeks later I wrote about my big diet change on the blog.
That ended up being one of the busiest days on my blog. There were so many people who offered words of support and encouragement, but there were also plenty of cruel comments made. My email service company even halted my service for the day because so many people unsubscribed from my list that they thought my blog had been hacked. The negativity was hard to handle, but I was proud of myself for living authentically.
The Carrie on Living Days
Once I stopped being vegan, I shut down my recipe app and decided to re-brand my blog to Carrie on Living while I tried to figure out how to recover my health for the long-term. I’m grateful that I had the support of experts to help guide me back to a more balanced mindset with my diet and health.
During all of this transition, I still loved blogging, but I felt less comfortable sharing my personal journey for fear of criticism and also because I didn’t feel like I could vouch for one diet or another anymore. I learned the lesson that one diet doesn’t work for everyone, and that even as individuals we likely have different needs during our lifespan.
When I Almost Quit Blogging
The years from 2014-2017 were interesting as Instagram became more popular and the blogging world changed. So many new faces came onto the scene and it felt very different to be a blogger.
Without my vegan audience and the community feeling we had created, it just seemed like I was blogging into a dark, empty space. I didn’t even know if I was connecting with anyone anymore. These were hard days and, in late 2016, I even drafted a blog post saying that I was going to shut down the blog. But, I held off, mostly because I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t have any idea of what I would do if I wasn’t blogging.
My blogging traffic hit an all-time low in 2017 and I realized that some of the reasons why were because I wasn’t keeping up with the changes. My photography and recipe writing skills had not developed as quickly as other bloggers. So, in early 2017 I re-branded once again and decided to put in the work to turn my blog around.
I hired consultants to help me, including web designers, technical experts, and a photography/content coach. I also had a major change of attitude where I realized my blog should no longer be about me, but more about inspiring and sharing with others. Clean Eating Kitchen seemed like a name that had lots of growth opportunity, and I’m really happy with my decision to re-brand for the fourth and last time.
Clean Eating Kitchen: 2017 – present
Once I started viewing my blog as less of a personal journal and more of a way to help inspire others, everything changed. My traffic started increasing steadily in 2018 and has continued to grow.
Now, in 2019, I’m happy to report that my blog is growing and doing well, with the mission to help women transform their health. I truly feel like I’m doing what I was meant to do. At the same time, I’m also getting opportunities to branch out and do projects like writing cookbooks, speaking at events, working with corporate brands, and getting in front of the camera.
I love the timing of my 10-year blogging anniversary coinciding nicely with the release of my first book. It feels prophetic and hopeful. In fact, I recently signed a contract to write my 2nd cookbook, so the future is bright.
What’s Next for Me?
I’m 100% still a blogger. Clean Eating Kitchen is my home base and the heart of what I do. I’m lucky to have loyal corporate sponsors, a great ad company, and an agency that helps connect me with amazing brands. Between the blog, social media, video, and cookbooks, it feels like I have wonderful, multi-faceted ways to connect with people and spread a message of healthy, balanced living.
I’ve come to look at social media as extensions of my brand and a great way to connect on a more frequent and sometimes more intimate basis. I feel like video is going to be a big part of the way we connect in the future. So, I’ve been slowly working on my skills both in front of the camera. Video feels like the biggest challenge, but also the biggest opportunity.
As part of this, I’ve relaunched my YouTube channel in a new studio space. Sometime earlier this year it became obvious that my fairly small home was getting over-crowded with equipment. My husband and I both work from home and we both decided to look for a separate work space. We found a studio with a great kitchen, plenty of room for equipment, and separate spaces for both of us to work. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post with a studio tour.
In the meantime, here’s a little preview.
Thank You for Your Readership!
Phew, if you’ve made it to the end of my blogging autobiography, then I appreciate you for taking the time to reminisce. Whether you’re a new reader or one of 10 years, then I hope you feel like this is a place where you belong. All diets and opinions continue to be welcome here, and I’m always trying to learn and stay on top of all the trends and changes.
At the same time, I have my personal opinions, especially when it comes to topics around women’s health. I like to think that I’m informed from both a scientific and anecdotal perspective, plus I’m always experimenting with things within my own personal health.
So, dear readers, on this 10th anniversary/blogversary, I offer special thanks to you, along with a promise to keep being real and balanced and wishes for your continued good health and happiness.
Here’s to the next 10 years! The best is yet to come – let’s see what we can do.
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