I’ve decided to try out blogging and am really excited to announce this blog Preppy Ballerina!
The first, and only words of my very first blog post, exactly 10 years ago today. Typed on the desktop computer in my parents’ basement on my 14th birthday, facing my mom’s signature seafoam green accent wall, and promptly followed by a second post with what I bought at the mall that day with my then-bestie.
I used way too many exclamation marks back then, got embarrassingly excited about any purchase I made, couldn’t resist an ellipses, and spent at least at least year using strictly low quality stock images. It wish I could say that it got better quickly, but it took me over 3 years to shoot with an actual photographer (and another 2 to finally rebrand from “The Preppy Ballerina).
Little did I know how far I’d go with it.
I got lucky.
Is what I tell anyone who asks how I got into blogging. Back then, bloggers focused on just one or two brands and built a community around them—niche marketing at its finest. Mine became Lilly Pulitzer. By chance, this choice got my blog ranking on Google for a few popular Lilly Pulitzer-related topics at the time, which led to my images going micro-viral on Pinterest, and pulled me into an eventual rabbit hole of research and digging on social media marketing, blogging, and of course, algorithms.
I’m an accidental blogger.
I thought I’d be lucky if 100 people read my website in a year, maybe two. I never started this blog for the followers and money associated with being an “influencer” now (don’t get me started). At the time, the idea of making money off a blog was reserved for the tiny handful of blogger superstars sitting front row at NYFW. I started for the same reason a lot of bloggers did back then—community.
Middle school is rough, you guys. High school wasn’t that much better, but 14-year-old me didn’t know that yet.
I needed somewhere where I could feel like I had a voice, and it felt like writing in this corner of the internet where no one I knew could find me, could do that (obviously my critical thinking skills were not yet honed, because they eventually would, thanks to something called Google).
This blog gave me a voice and so much more. It gave me a community, internet friends that became IRL friends, opportunities I only dreamed of, and opportunities I didn’t even know could exist—and that was all before my high school graduation.
Then I moved from Minnesota to New York, attended the school of my dreams, started traveling, and let this little corner of the internet take me on one of the wildest rides I’ve truly ever been on—and the scariest thing is that it’s not even near over.
Over the years, I have been so truly touched by the support this community has provided. To this day, I’m always shocked by it. My college graduation in 2021 was well, only fitting for the catastrophe that the two years 2020 and 2021 were. When I announced it, I was shocked to see my DMs flooded with longtime community members who had watched me graduate from high school, who have followed me for the better part of this decade, and who felt like they watched me grow up. I couldn’t believe my eyes—it didn’t just make my day, it made many months.
It’s cheesy (as if this whole post hasn’t been one big ball of sap), but today, on my 10 year “blogiversary,” I couldn’t feel more humbled or grateful. My corner of the internet is still a pretty small one, but it’s had such large impact on me.
What still amazes me, is when this blog is able to impact someone else. I couldn’t believe my eyes earlier this year, when someone DM’d me letting me know that my blog post on Cascada de Tamul helped them in the moment, as they were confused and driving down the exact same rocky road I described in my post, after reading the same guide I did. I’m still in shock and awe.
Like all of my anniversary posts over the years, I’m sure I’ll look back on this one with a hand covering my face and a major cringe. At some point, I’ve got to accept that it’s inevitable, and embrace it.
Thank you for taking the time for me over the years, whether you’ve read one post or all of them. Thanks for following along from Lilly Pulitzer to Ljubljana and back again. This ride has been a true rollercoaster, and I don’t plan on getting off anytime soon.
And an extra special thank you to Bella, my sister, who would never let me live this post down if I didn’t mention the countless backyard/community college/woods/sidewalk photoshoots I asked her to do for me when I was starting out. Thanks for playing along all these years.
Eva Phan is the founder of Eva Darling, a travel and style website aiming to empower women to see the world solo while sharing on-trend, luxury feminine style inspiration. Featured in publications including Forbes, Thrillist, and Yahoo News, Eva has combined her education from Parsons School of Design with her incurable case of the travel bug to create a global destination that encourages others to romanticize their everyday.