Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

September 6, 2018

It's My 6th Blogivesary // 24th Birthday!!

    Not sure what I'm more shocked by today- the fact that I'm 24, or the fact that I've managed to keep this blog up and running (and thriving?) for SIX years!! Thank you so much for reading today and celebrating with me. 😊I always do some sort of a different type of post to celebrate my birthday and blogiversary. This year I did six lists of six things that all relate to my blogging journey over the years. 

Blogiversary Photos

Shein Jumpsuit

Blogiversary photos

Pretty Balloons Photoshoot

Hot Pink Jumpsuit

Photography by Kate Greer

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       6 Things I Wish I Could Tell Myself When I First Started My Blog:

  •      Made two Instagrams (blog and personal) when I started blogging: This is my biggest regret! I didn't make a separate personal private IG until I'd been blogging for almost three years! I love to post personal pictures and memories with friends and family on Instagram, but for the first couple years that I blogged my feed was mostly that. I think that's part of the reason that to this day I still have a lower Instagram following, and in the early days it took me forever to gain followers. People were probably confused if my account was blog related or personal!  
  •      Invest in photography earlier: For the first two years of SBIT, my photography "strategy" was to have miscellaneous friends at college snap my pictures on my old Kodak digital camera... somewhere random on campus. I have photos from so many weird locations, and I also didn't know a lot about posing in the early days! Not to mention that I knew nothing about natural light (in my first year I literally would shoot blog photos in a dark hallway inside my dorm... *shakes head*). You don't necessarily need a DSLR or professional photographer to launch a blog, but I wish I had taken the photography side of things more seriously in the beginning, even when it was just an iPhone and little digital camera!
  •      Don't take random sponsored posts just to make a quick dollar: In the past couple years, I've gotten really good about only saying yes to sponsored work for brands or products that I myself would personally endorse, or have a lot of experience using. With some of my very first sponsored posts... eh. Way back in the day, I did sponsored posts for everything from a documentary that I'd never watched, a breakfast food that I had never eaten, and even.... toilet paper. (Twice for that, lol!!) Granted I was a young college student at the time I started SBIT, and any extra income was helpful. But still... if only I could go back in time and tell myself to be more selective, haha! 
  •      You WILL eventually get into rewardStyle: I was literally obsessed with getting into rS/LTK for a couple years. All of my friends at school knew it too because I talked about it 24/7! It finally happened about a year after I thought it would- I wish I had more faith at the time that it would happen someday and that I wouldn't have obsessed! 
  •      Started travel blogging earlier: In the last year and a half, it's been SO fun to get into travel blogging and start working with hotels and tourism boards. Travel blogging really wasn't as big of a thing six years ago when I started all this. I feel like I could have stood out more in the blog world had I started doing that much earlier. 
  •      Make a separate email address for blogging: When I started this blog, I decided to use my childhood email address for it- Yes- in 2018, this is still the blog email that I use! I have meant to switch it over the years, but at this point I'm on so many PR lists and so many brands already have this email as my contact, that it just seems annoying to switch it to something else. In 2012, as far as email addresses go I wasn't thinking this far ahead though! 

     6 Ways Blogging Has Changed My Life: 

  •     Confidence that I never knew I had: My high school years were rough. I didn't really make any close friends until my senior year. During part of junior year, I suffered from crippling anxiety and depression. For most of those years, I always felt less-than and like a reject. Blogging helped me to find confidence and inner beauty that I never knew that I had! By sharing not only my outfits, but also bits and pieces of my personal life on the internet, it felt that I finally had a voice. 
  •     A steady side income: I don't blog full time and don't intend to, but for a few years my blog has been more than just a hobby; it's become a second business opportunity! I am so thankful for this. I've never done a full post on blogging income before, so you might be wondering how I use most of the money I get from blogging. Some of it goes back into the blog (Photography is the biggest expense, as well as website upkeep and things like media kits), Sometimes I will treat myself to a special shopping purchase or meal with blog earnings, and for awhile last year I was using my blog bank account for monthly student loan payments. But the majority of my earnings? I actually keep in savings! Anyways- I'm very thankful for the financial blessings this blog has brought! Anytime that you purchase off an affiliate link on this blog, you're helping to support by side hustle.
  •      Wonderful new friends: I've met so many amazing women (and a couple men!) through the blogging world. I never knew that the internet could help me find such dear friends! When I lived in Charlotte, so much of my social life was comprised of blogging meet-ups, and I loved it. I am especially thankful for blogging friends as this blog and my Instagram helped me meet and connect with two great bloggers when I lived in Vermont last year for work. It was so hard for me to make friends there for the first few months, so if I hadn't met these two ladies through blogging, I'm not sure what I would have done! I've also become close friends with some of my photographers I've worked with! 
  •      More technology knowledge: I've been using social media for business reasons for years now, thanks to blogging! I'm definitely not an expert by any means, but it has been fun to help friends and coworkers over the years with things they didn't know about Instagram, blogging, or other social media. My blog also got me a paid internship as Social Media Coordinator for six months when I was in broadcasting school!  
  •     Managing my time better: I didn't truly learn time management until I started taking blogging seriously. Whether I was busy with college commitments (now work commitments) or not, blog posts still had to be written! Creating an editorial calendar a few years ago for the first time really helped me with planning ahead, and now I think I'm pretty good at time management, mostly due to balancing blogging with everything else in my life for so many years! 
  •      Experience writing business emails: For years now, I've been writing business emails, follow-ups, and pitches to brands and businesses. Emails for all of these collaborations have helped me become pretty good and composing and sending a business related email. I also feel like I have a good grasp on how to respond to a brand that isn't professional in their emails! 

     6 Favorite Blogging Memories From The Past Years: 

  •      Attending my first blogging conference: I went to The Blog Societies Conference in 2016! It was held in Charleston, South Carolina. I met so many new friends there, and learned so much. It was a turning point for me to really take my blog even more seriously. 
  •      Getting into rewardStyle: I CRIED happiest tears on the day it finally happened!
  •      Reaching 10k on Instagram (without buying followers / using bots): I've never had the biggest Instagram following and over time I've come to accept that. In the early years, a long time went by when reaching 10k felt impossible! On the day that it finally happened, I was ecstatic. The best part was I already had hit 10k before Instagram released the Swipe Up feature! 
  •      Writing my Senior Capstone Paper for undergrad about blogging: I've never spoken too much about this on my blog, but I actually wrote my 40+ page Capstone paper (a requirement for my major to graduate college!) all about the blogging industry, and how blogging had impacted my life up until that point. This was such a special topic, and it made working on the project really fun.
  •      Being the Regional Chair for Charlotte area bloggers for the InfluenceHer Collective (formerly Her Campus Blogging Network): For about two years, I was the Regional Chair for the Charlotte area, and I got to plan really fun meet-ups with other bloggers every few months! There were so many awesome girls in the area that I got to meet in person through this. Plus, I really love planning events! 
  •      Every time a brand or business sends me a follow-up email saying they enjoyed working with me: The BEST feeling!! I am so happy after each time that I have a successful collaboration. 

     6 Biggest Lessons I've Learned As A Blogger:

  •      Be authentic: I wouldn't be interested in following someone who just copies what other people have already done- whether that's specific outfits, Lightroom presets and editing, writing style, etc. Some of my favorite bloggers that I follow are girls who are unique and proud of it! That's what I strive to be every day on my blog and social media.
  •      Be happy for others' successes: #CommunityOverCompetition! Since I don't blog full time, use sketchy Instagram practices to gain followers, or stick to one niche specifically, I've grown slower than others over the years in terms of page views and followers. I'm finally at a place where I'm okay with that. There will always be someone else who gets an opportunity that I don't. The best thing I can do is support that blogger and be happy for them! Then go back to focusing on my own lane. There's no point to be jealous of someone - you'll never know their full backstory. Supportive and kindhearted girls go far in the long run! 
  •      Don't be afraid to share a bit of your heart: A lot of my blog posts with the highest page views are my personal ones! My blog has made me feel more comfortable and able to open up about different things- both in the online world with writing posts, and also in person with friends! 
  •      Instagram is filtered and staged reality: I don't trust many of the things that I see on IG or blogs these days- so much of this type of lifestyle is filtered and staged! (To a certain degree) I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but blogging has definitely made me view others' lives differently, and be less jealous too, as you'll never know someone's full story from a staged photo! 
  •      I can stick with something long term: This might be the most personal part of this whole really long post! If I had to give one of my weaknesses as a person, I'd say that sometimes I don't stick with things longterm, and it becomes a problem. I grew up as a competitive figure, but quit after an injury in middle school. In high school, I dabbled with different types of dance and school team sports, but didn't keep any of those going into college. Talking about college... I transferred schools! I stayed in Vermont at my first job just under a year before wanting to move South again. I don't necessarily regret any of those things that I just listed, but I've always had an insecurity based on some of my past life decisions that I have trouble sticking with something. Clearly- blogging proved that really wrong!! Happy SIX years!
  •      You can meet the BEST friends through the internet: Safety online is always important, but with that said, amazing friends are in abundance online! I'm a lot more open to meeting friends through blogging now than I was when I started. 

     6 Of My Favorite Fashion Posts (one from each year):

     6 Of My Favorite Lifestyle / Personal Posts (one from each year):

     Thank YOU for being apart of my blogging journey over the past six years!! Here's to the next six... and hopefully more. Now I'm off to work, and to enjoy my 24th birthday too!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese



  1. Happy Birthday and many many congratulations on your 6th Blogversary. You are an inspiration, truly, for having accomplished 6 years. Will definitely follow your 6 lessons learnt. After reading this blog, I have understood that 'Positivity is the key'

  2. Congrats on such an incredible milestone omg! So glad and happy for you! Loved reading this whole post just because it was authentic and you’re sharing real straight facts! Love it

  3. Ahhh what a special day!! Happy Birthday!! I have loved reading your blog!!! Can't wait to see what you have in store for the future!

  4. Congratulations on six years of blogging, Annaliese! So glad that blogging has brought us together as friends!


  5. I've learned some of the same lessons. I said yes to unpaid posts, but at least I learned about the process and my worth.

  6. Happy birthday and congrats on year 6! I find it so interesting when people have two IGs; I don't think I could keep up. When I launched my original blog I had a personal and blog and it was hard for me to decide where to post things. When I launched WNW, I deleted my personal although sometimes I wish I hadn't.

    PS. the new blog layout looks GREAT! This is my first time seeing it on my desktop instead of my phone :)

  7. Congatulations! 6 years is such a long way. Thinking what I was doing 6 years ago. I didn't even know there is such thing as fashion blogging. And only started Brunette from Wall Street 2 years ago.
    Ha I totally know that feeling when you get rewardStyle approval. I got it after 7 months of blogging and I was so thrilled.
    Anyway, happy birthday and happy bloglaunchday!


  8. wow, congrats girl! Such a bid milestone! And happy birthday as well!


  9. Congratulations! You have learnt a lot in past years, but some mistakes make a person smarter and more careful. Best of luck :)

  10. Congrats on 6 years!!! That's a huge accomplishment and you should be SO proud of what you've built here. I don't think slow growth is a bad thing at all - it's important to do things on your terms and as you've proven, you can still be so successful!!! I also have to say that I'm obsessed with that jumpsuit - you do bright colors so well.

  11. Happy birthday, sweet girl! You've come such a long way since the beginning & I'm so proud to say that I've been reading your blog for such a long time & you've been a real inspiration to me :) Also, this outfit is seriously the happiest-love, love, love the jumpsuit look on you & that color is stunning!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern and Style

  12. Happy birthday and blogiversary!! That's amazing that you've been blogging six years now, whoohoo!!!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  13. I love all of these tips and memories from your blogging experience so far! And.. Congratulations - you're doing great!

  14. Congrats on the Blogivesary!!! 6 years - wow!!!! You go girl! Blogging is so much fun. Like you, I wish I'd started travel blogging sooner. It's so much fun + you get to meet so many great people!!! Thanks for sharing your journey with us :) I love your posts!!!!

  15. Love this post girlfriend!!! I happy birthday and blog anniversary, that is so exciting!!!

  16. Congrats! I'm so impressed that you started your blog when you were 18. I love reading your content. Keep up the good work!

  17. Wow, this is a great way to celebrate your blog birthday! I love the bit about your email because it just goes to show you don’t need everything to be “perfect” in order to start and be successful. As a business coach, I see people get hung up on the little stuff way too often! I’m definitely ready to invest in some photography myself—I’m glad to hear you think it’s an important factor!

  18. I totally enjoyed reading this! Happy birthday and happy blog anniversary! Six years is wonderful.

    More color, please!


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