The tiny notification came to my inbox rather unexpected. If I’d been in a hurry as I normally am while browsing through my WordPress Inbox perhaps it would have gone unnoticed. Yet, there it was an indistinguishable little note that said “Happy Anniversary from WordPress” next to a tiny little cake with the number 5 inside. I stopped for a moment and just stared at the screen a bit in disbelief that I’d forgotten this fact. That five years ago, as a stay-at-home mom of a four and six-year-old, I decided to take a chance. I started a blog.

I remember the feeling of utter shyness and apprehension when I wrote that first post. Would anyone even read it or my blog? Was I making a big mistake by opening myself up to the world, to strangers? Would it even be any good? Lots of self-doubt swirled around inside my head but I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. What did I have to loose? 

Above: A gallery of some of the first photos introduced in my blog.

Fast forward five years and 1,000 posts later, I am still blogging as passionately as ever and consider my blog to be my part-time job. I may not make a dime off my blog however what I get in return with satisfaction, fulfillment, opportunity and friendship has made it one of the best decisions of my life (of course, behind getting married and having children). I love blogging and I believe that because I love what I do so much that my blog will be here to stay for a very long time.

So what is the key to longevity? Why do I continue to spend countless hours on my blog every single day, week after week, month after month and year after year? Simple. Because I am passionate about what I’m doing and believe in it. If I didn’t love blogging, I would have quit long ago.

I’ve sadly seen many of my fellow bloggers come and go. I’ve also learned many tips along the way that have worked for me and have kept me going with my blog. Here are a few of the best things I’ve learned along the way.

If I’m doing it “right”, I won’t make a dime.

This is a very important lesson for me and one that perhaps some people won’t agree with. I have plenty of friends who earn a full-time living as a blogger yet they do not only blog; they do a handful of other things related to their blogging brand. Of course you can advertise, write sponsored posts, freelance, write a book or consult. But let’s face it. You need an enormous readership to earn anything noteworthy and my blog will never be one of those highly read, million plus subscriber blogs. If I want to be true to the way I want to write, it will never be a best-seller and for me, that’s ok.

Doors will open if you look for them.

I love the saying “opportunity knocks”. Yet I also believe you have to be ready to open the door. A lot about the blogging world I’ve experienced so far truly has to do with luck. Being in the right place at the right time and meeting that one person who magically opens up doors that you never thought you’d enter. However, if you never leave your house then the doors will not open. I have attended several blogging conferences where I’ve met that one person who changed everything. Just like anything else in life, blogging is all about networking and creating long-lasting relationships and friendships.

Only write what you believe in and love.

This could not be any more true! I have been offered paid jobs to write about topics I have absolutely no interest in and have turned them down. If I don’t love what I’m writing about, how could it be meaningful for me to write or for my readers to read? When I write, I put my heart and soul into it knowing that it is a labor of love. If I have nothing to say, I don’t write. If I have a lot of amazing things on my mind, I share.

Honor the amazing friendships and connections you make. 

There are plenty of blogs out there that get a ton of views yet have no dialogue or conversation with their readers. Comments are left unanswered leaving the reader feeling like they don’t matter. A blog is not only about the writer. It is about engaging and creating connections with readers and building an audience and friendships. I have been so fortunate to have developed some wonderful friendships with fellow bloggers, many whom I have met in person and continue to be friends with to this day. Of course in an ideal world, I would try to regularly read every post written by a blogger who reads my blog but unfortunately it isn’t possible. So I try my best and always answer comments and thank my readers for taking the time out of their busy day to stop by.

Never give up.

Life is busy and sometimes you want to just throw in the towel. You may feel overwhelmed or that no one is reading your blog or liking your posts. You spend countless, unpaid hours on your blog, and you may wonder why you’re doing it. Sometimes I admit to feeling this way. But then I realize that my blog is in someway an extension of myself. It is a testament of my life, my voice, and my soul. It may be the only written memory I leave behind someday for my grandkids. I realize that as with anything in life, I can never give up. I will write this blog until I can no longer type. As long as I stay true to my voice and love what I’m doing, it will continue. And it is my hope that my writing only gets better.

In Manang, Nepal being blessed by a 95-year-old monk. Circa 2010.

In Manang, Nepal being blessed by a 95-year-old monk. Circa 2010.

Thanks to all my readers who have supported me along the way. Your comments, support and friendship have meant the world. Here’s to hitting the next big WordPress blogging milestone…10 years.





  1. Nicole! So wonderful.

    I was actually thinking about your blog, when years ago you migrated to a new platform and allowed it to grow. You’ve always been a generous writer & photographer, a genuine reflection of the work you do in the world. Thanks for sharing the stories for Five Years!

  2. Congrats on your milestone! Everything you say is absolutely true! So many bloggers get stars in their eyes thinking they will get millions of views and make $$. Very few get to that point. This for me, is serious leisure!

  3. This is a wonderful post Nicole. I could have written it myself. It is exactly how I am with my own blog, and funnily enough I have a draft post waiting to be published about why I blog that is very similar.
    Can you please tell me where I find my WP Inbox. I too have been blogging for 5 years although I’ve only been with WP three (or maybe it’s four) but I’ve never had an anniversary notification. Well not one that I’ve seen anyway.
    Blessings and hugs,

    1. Thanks Allison! I love that you have a draft in your blog as well! Great minds think alike, huh?! The WP Inbox is really the “notifications button” on the top right hand side of the screen once inside WP Admin or the blog (when you are logged into WP). I didn’t know how to call it without getting to technical so I just called it the WP Inbox. It is where you get all the notifications on comments, likes, etc. You also get those random WP notifications like “your stats are booming” or the one I got reminding me of the 5 year anniversary. I use it to read all my comments, answer them, etc. I don’t get everything emailed since it would be too much so I love this little tool.

      1. Ah, thank you. You know I think it’s been less than a year since I found out about, and started using that button. Perhaps this September I’ll get a 4 year congratulations notice that I’ll actually see 🙂

      2. What did you use before Alison? I have used Blogger for another site I blog on but thought it was not good. I love how easy WordPress is and I LOVE the community of people here! It is wonderful. 🙂

      3. Yes, I also started with Blogger. Then I discovered WP – what a difference! I love it for the same reasons you do – user friendly (though I’ll NEVER use the new editor) and wonderful community.

      4. I never use the new editor either Alison! I dislike it strongly and prefer the old one. Hope you are well. Just got back from my trip to Nicaragua and playing catch up!

  4. Five years? Happy Blogaversary!
    You take me to places I will never go, Nicole.
    Thanks for sharing your tips. Especially love the last photo of your blessing. Your blog is stellar.

  5. Congratulations Nicole, that is a massive deal, 5 years and still going strong. Good for you. As a newbie blogger of less than a year I’m already feeling the same passion and love of blogging as you and only hope that I can keep going for as long and don’t give up, not that I can see that happening. I so resonate with everything you said, about writing about what you love, the connections, the time invested with mostly little payback except for the enormous friendships made on line, which are the best form of pay.

    Congrats again Nicole, I think you’re an amazing writer and just as importantly a lovely woman who I’m so pleased to have connected with.

    1. Oh thanks Miriam! The feeling is mutual! What I love about blogging is the connections. I feel like so many of my blogging friends understand me. Not all my friends here do, I suppose because most aren’t writers and don’t like to travel like I do. I am so fortunate to have connected with you and your blog. It inspires me greatly so keep up the good work!

      1. Thanks Nicole, I’ve just returned from my latest overnight camping trip. I agree entirely, most of my friends aren’t writers as well and many don’t travel so I find the connections through my blog are so much more like-minded. Here’s to many more travels for both of us, sharing our passion and a growing friendship!

  6. Congratulations on this landmark & thanks for sharing your insights into what has made it work for you. It is inspiring that you are sticking to what you believe in. If you’re ever in Australia, it would be great to meet up with you – consider this an invitation.

    1. Thank you so much!!!! I really appreciate the kind words. And yes, if I make it to Australia (I’ve been but years ago and LOVED it!!!), I will be sure to let you know. That is what the blogging world is all about! 🙂

  7. Congratulation for opening this door, and still believing in your blog. In this nice little article you’re not beating around the bush, your words point it, for me. 🙂 Please excuse my terrible english, it’s 30 years ago, since I’ve learned it a little bit. Kind regards from Germany, an keep on writing… 🙂

  8. great, congratulations for your blogggging UNIVERSErary 🙂 from another one who even slept on top of thorung-la in that little stone hut. It was minus 20 degres celsius that night.
    But I always wondered why people start so early from base camp. We used to wait till the sun came up and then we had a nice breakfast in hi camp. All alone of course. It’s like 11:30 when we hit the trail towards the top. And I never had problems finding a bed in Muktinat about five hours later…
    sorry but I had to comment your first post… don’t know why. I love Nepal is one reason I guess.
    Excuse me for my bad English. long time, no practice … 🙂

    1. Wow, that is one cold night! It was VERY cold up there for us too. I don’t think I have actually ever been so cold in my life. I remember taking every single thing out of my backpack, all my dirty clothes, and using them as a blanket it was so incredibly cold. Thanks so much for the comment! I love Nepal too and would love to go back someday. Your english is excellent, by the way!

      1. lol about the exellence…
        I love Nepal. But now… two little kids are …(don’t wanna say stoping)… two little reasons for many other beautiful things
        I’ve been in Nepal a couple of times and am always taking another route to towards the Muktinath. There are plenty of villages on the slopes above the valey and ususaly villages that never saw a turist before. wonderful people. I also painted couple of portraits of them. they are sooo… speachless I am… Love them.
        About sleeping up there. You should see the morning and the evening sunrise and set. breathtaking. And also the faces of first early morning trekkers when they came up. and we were there relaxed drinking chai. at around 8 AM. how? where from? not possible! 😀

      2. Yes, I would love to go back too! I love all the remote mountain villages. They are so spectacular. I remember seeing the sun rise in Manang after a fresh snow fall and it was spectacular.

  9. Yikes! Five years? Congratulations, lady. I just passed one year…but hey, where did you see the note from WP. I didn’t see one for my anniversary! And 1000 posts in five years…amazing. That’s wait…200 posts a year. And 16 posts a month. I’m lucky to get three a month! Your lessons are spot on!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it is quite remarkable. I look at how much my life has changed. At that first post my kids were only 4 and 6. Now they are 9 and 11 and my life is so different as they are growing up! I actually have more posts than 1000 but deleted some of the ones in the first two years that in my opinion weren’t that great. It is fun for me to read those very first posts I wrote and look at the photos. I’ve improved so much as both a writer and photographer in those five years. As for you, keep it up! I enjoy your blog a lot! 🙂

  10. wonderful – happy anniversary and here’s to many more. i agree with everything you’ve said here and feel quite the same – it’s all about the connections made with the many talented bloggers out there, and the support and friendship you get from this, nothing to do with money. best, beth

  11. Congratulations!!
    I can relate to what you have written. Though my blog is just eleven month old. I too have stayed away from post which are paid or don’t relate to my blog or it doesn’t make sense. I write what I want to and when I can. I blog out of my passion and to share things with people to whom it makes difference. True, it is interactions with fellow bloggers that makes difference. happy blogging!

    1. Thank you so much! 11 months is close to a year so that is excellent! I am glad that you agree with me. Thanks for all your support and to introducing me to your world too!

  12. Happy birthday! I love your blog and always read your posts. I don’t get notices from WordPress about mine. Like you I don’t make money from my blog and don’t really want to. The best part has been getting to know people from all over the world.

    1. Thanks Debra! I think I’ve been following you since the beginning! You know I love your posts very much. 🙂 As for the notice, I saw it in the top righthand orange box of my WP Admin account. I use that to read all my comments on my blog and responses to comments from other blogs. Sometimes WP puts notices in there like “your stats are booming” or the one about the 5-year anniversary. If you don’t scroll through all the “unread” ones you wouldn’t see it. Anyway, thanks for all the support over the years. I agree it is wonderful getting to know people from all over the world, get a glimpse into their lives, and sometimes even meet them in person!

  13. Nicole, this post is absolutely right on the mark…at least for me. I will also celebrate five years of blogging this year. “Only write what you believe in and love.” So true! I am particularly drawn to bloggers who write from their hearts, with compassion and understanding of the confusing, wild, and wonderful world in which we live. You, my friend, are one of those bloggers. In my travels, I try to make a point of visiting with the bloggers I follow, and I can’t wait to see you next Saturday. Great post! Safe travels, and welcome to my blogging world in a few days. 😜

  14. CONGRATULATIONS, Nicole! What a great post to celebrate your 5th year of blogging. Oh my goodness, over 1,000!

    Great tips, and your words for this post resonates with me…

    ” But then I realize that my blog is in someway an extension of myself. It is a testament of my life, my voice, and my soul. It may be the only written memory I leave behind someday for my grandkids. I realize that as with anything in life, I can never give up.”

    Thank you for giving us a bigger window to see and better understand our world — through your eyes and your splendid, amazing photographs, and through your words.

    From my heart, I wish you all the best, and continued passion for your blog. There is so much more to explore and share, and it seems I will continue to visit your blog well after my own grandchildren are grown, too!

    Cheers, and here’s to the next 5 <3 !


    1. Wow Lola Jane! Thank you so much for the beautiful comment. I thought about it while I was typing this up last night. That how cool will it be for my kids and my grandkids someday to read this? I always try to tell my kids about my travels or about the social good issues I write about, but they quickly lose interest as they are still only 9 and 11. Here I will have my own story, how cool is that!

  15. Congratulations for reaching such an impressive milestone! We couldn’t agree more with your post, it needs to be about an honest passion otherwise it is meaningless.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment. Yes so true! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by too. I always tell myself as long as I love it, I will continue it. It has really changed my life and has been so rewarding! 🙂

  16. Wow – 5 years! I just stumbled across your blog a short while ago and very much enjoy reading your posts. I just received my 1 year notification from WordPress myself, and it is amazing how fast the time goes by. Thanks again for the great writing and pictures! Looking forward to reading more.

  17. Nicole – I absolutely LOVE this post – it is so warming and personal. I thank you for being such an inspiration to me in my first 6 months of blogging. I hope to continue following you along your epic journeys for years to come… P.s. Would you mind if I shared this?

    1. Thanks so much! I’m really glad you enjoyed the post and it has been great meeting you and following your blog too! Yes I would love it if you shared this post or any of my posts! 😌

  18. Congratulations to you!! What a wonderful way to celebrate the anniversary – to give back to the blogging community. This list is so helpful, and a great reminder about what we are all doing and why. I agree whole-heartedly with everything you say, and it really is so helpful to hear it from you. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! I am so glad you like the post! 🙂 It just kind of came out over a glass of wine on an evening night. 🙂 Sometimes those are the best ones.

  19. A quick note to say congrats on your longevity and success as a blogger! My life has recently taken a sharp swerve, so I may be less active here for a while, but I do find my blogging interactions to be so enjoyable that I know I’ll be around for a while too!

    1. Thanks Lexi! I read your post and wow, that is crazy. You do have a tremendous amount going on. Will your kids be moving to DC with you? I hope your mom is ok. I know how stressful that can be. I’m excited for you though to try out a new city. It will be really fun! DC is pretty darn cool but then again I love Chicago too. Hard to believe we moved away 16 years ago!

  20. This is a post worth celebrating ~ great photographs, and writing that inspires and takes us on adventures along with you. Wishing you another great run and look forward to more (I love the opening series of shots!). Cheers!

    1. Thanks so much Randall. Your latest post is amazing. I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner (as I get your posts via email). The photography and words of wisdom inside that piece blow me away. SO your kind words here are much appreciated! 🙂

  21. Wonderful! 5 years, Nicole! I’m not too far behind you, I don’t think, and I love what you do on here. You’re so right about the opening doors and having to recognise them. You have a great mix of the personal and family, and your sensitive attitude to the world and what you can do to help. Long may you continue to rock! 🙂

    1. Oh thanks Jo! I think I’ve been following you for probably almost the full time I’ve been on here. It has been so fun! I love your work. I’d love to hear your thoughts too about what blogging has meant to you. You have such a great readership and community going on your blog. Thanks for all your support and you too keep up the great work! 🙂 You’ve inspired me!

      1. They don’t vary greatly from your own, Nicole. I just wish that I’d made myself more useful along the way, as you have done. Thanks for your very kind words. 🙂

  22. Congrats on your five year anniversary! I always love reading your blog, as it opens up new parts of the world to me and you always find a way to share people’s stories – which is what I love most about travelling. I’m so pleased to hear you will keep going for many years to come!

  23. I love your first point, that if you’re doing it right, you won’t make money from it. I’ve found this so incredibly true, as well – there are not many people out there who can earn a living from being 100% true to themselves, and I think that’s always more important that making money from it. That’s why so many of us love your blog 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the comment Jess! This has been a fun post as I’ve gotten so much feedback. As bloggers we are all in it together and the amazing supportive community is what inspires us to do more! Thanks again. 🙂 I’m smiling now!

  24. Congrats on 5 years! I agree with you on all points! As for engaging with readers, to me it is the best part! I can’t understand why some never answer their comments – well I don’t follow those types of blogs anyway. And as for making money, I wouldn’t want to sell my authenticity, either

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yes, if people don’t answer than I usually don’t keep reading as I think that is half the fun of blogging! Where did you come up with your blog name by the way? I live in Minnesota and we often call it “Minne – SNOW-ta. I like your blog name! 🙂

      1. Thanks 🙂 I live in Finland, north of Europe, and it’s winter 10 months a year here… I don’t like winter/being cold and stuck indoors, so I travel a lot… The weather is always better somewhere else. Anywhere else. So that’s the origin of the name… Kinda like the saying “it’s cocktail hour somewhere!” – except mine is “it’s summer somewhere!”

  25. Nicole Congratulations on your five year anniversary. I love your list of things you have learnt on your blog journey, especially the comment that your grandchildren can read your blog. I have thought that too, if no-one reads my posts and I am have grandchildren, they will know their grandparents and their adventures and lives through my voice.
    The other things that resonated with me was that your blog started with Nepal like mine. The photo with the monk in Manang is lovely. May you continue to blog and inspire others for many years to come.

    1. Thanks Louise for the wonderful comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and it resonated with you. How cool that you started your blog in Nepal too! 🙂 It is such a special place. It truly changed me.

  26. Many congratulations Nicole on a wonderful milestone. You know how much admire you and your inspiring humanitarian commitment and spirit. Your blog is one of the shining stars in our blogosphere universe. Look forward to the next 5 years. With warmest wishes and heartfelt thanks for sharing your life’s journey with us all 🙂

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