As part of my blogging resolutions for the new year, I have decided to join the monthly travel link up of Rebecca, Emma and Kelly – a great initiative bringing bloggers together. This month’s subject was also a great opportunity to introduce a new series of posts, whereby I’ll be sharing blogging tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way. So which are the unexpected benefits that blogging brought me?

∴  New experiences  

Cooking classes from a top-notch chef, putting to the test Brussels’ best brunch spots, discovering a cocktail bar in a secret garden – these are just a few of the things that I’ve done thanks to blogging. Work, obligations and adult life in general mean that sometimes there’s no free time or energy to do new things or explore new places. My desire to see the city I live in with fresh eyes made me create a blog and share my discoveries and ever since S Marks The Spots was born, I’ve been feeling much more motivated to get out there and open up to new experiences. That’s priceless!

∴  New friendships  ∴

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The blogsphere is a miniature of the real world, a true community of like-minded people who are creative, keen on trying new things and connect with each other. Making friends is not always easy, especially as we grow up, but blogging has brought to my life some lovely friendships. I won’t lie – although it’s always nice to put a face to a name and meet in person people you chat on Twitter or follow on Instagram, there are always bloggers who get competitive but you can easily spot them and stir away, just like in real life. Meeting some wonderful people with whom I can share my passion for food, photography and travel was a rather unexpected but much welcome benefit of blogging. I mean, who else would understand that you’re not supposed to touch your dish at a restaurant until the right shot has been taken?! 

∴  New Skills  

Never in a million years did I imagine when I started blogging that I would be able to develop new skills, such as coding, web design, understanding SEO or Google Analytics. Did I mention that this is not an exhaustive list? Blogging is a hobby that requires hard work and real determination but it’s also incredibly rewarding. So, what are the new skills I’ve developed?

Time management: All the work that goes into each blog post from researching and writing your story to editing pictures and promoting it on social media, can be time consuming. There are times when I find it difficult to juggle my full-time job as a lawyer and blogging but luckily, I’m organized enough (read: control freak) to actually manage it all in the end but it did take me a while to find the right balance.

Writing: My daytime job as a lawyer requires a lot of drafting but in a much stiffer tone. After several months and quite a few blog posts, I have finally found my voice and feel comfortable enough to write as I think. Blogging has really helped me to let go of all the rules that were holding me back and express myself the way I want to. Talking about a creative outlet, eh?

IT: This is probably the bit I’m most proud of! Learning web design and coding was not an easy task – it’s actually still work in progress – but I can certainly say that I’m much more IT literate than I used to be. 

Photography: I was already a keen shutterbug before starting my blog but practice makes perfect! I love photography and appreciate the visual aspect of a blog, so I was encouraged to learn new techniques, use new photo editing tools and am no longer embarassed to bring my camera wherever I go. Sure, my non-blogger friends think I’m a little bit awkward but hey, it’s my passion.

 ∴  New ideas  ∴

I was reading food and travel blogs long before I created my own space on the internet. Blogs are to me a great source of inspiration together with Pinterest and Instagram. That’s why a couple of years ago I decided to start my Weened Reads post series whereby I’m sharing my favourite reads from the blogsphere on a monthly basis. Thanks to fellow bloggers my travel bucket list has been growing (no complaints there!), I’ve tried new recipes, have discovered great foodie spots in cities I visit, got inspiration for my home and last but definitely not least, discovered lots of tips and tricks about blogging. 

Sandy (@smarksthespots)