It was 3 years ago today that I started Swatch And Learn. Back then, I had no idea how much joy it would bring me or how much I would grow as a blogger and as a person.
Although I initially began blogging because I enjoyed trying new beauty products and because I’m passionate about writing, looking back now, I started this project to give myself some direction and hope.
You see, a few months before this blog was born, my father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. It shattered my world.
Blogging was a productive distraction. It kept my mind busy, away from negative, depressing thoughts. And it also forced me to create goals for myself that essentially put me in the mindset of thinking about the future.
(When my dad passed away, I got into a funk where I didn’t care if tomorrow never came. And I was always surprised when I’d wake up the next morning. I felt as though life shouldn’t go on without my father. But it did.)
Back in 2010, I alternated blogging days with my friend, Fiona. Then, after a year, she quit because she no longer enjoyed blogging. (It’s not for everyone. In fact, some people think it’s all fun and games. It’s not.)
Although it was challenging to go from having a blogging partner to sailing the ship solo, I did it, and I loved every minute of it!
I stretched my creative legs, experimented, and made tons of changes to the layout, the focus, the social media, etc. It was really fun and exciting, but it definitely was a lot of work.
I believe that the best things in life are the ones you have to work hard for and that aren’t just handed to you with a silver spoon. Putting in the effort makes the potential reward that much sweeter. And even if you fail, there’s something to be said about trying. (I’d rather try and fail than to never try. After all, if you never try, you fail 100% of the time. At least if you do try, your odds of succeeding are higher.)
When I look back at my early reviews on here, I smile. I’m not ashamed of my past. If anything, I feel very proud when I remember being a wet-behind-the-ears blogger. (Click here to see my very first review, and click here to see the very first blog post on Swatch And Learn!)
Those old posts are like breadcrumbs – my trail. You can see my progression over the years, and it gives me hope that I’ll continue to improve in the coming years as well. The day we stop learning is our creative death.
Where I Am Today
Here are some quick stats on Swatch And Learn (July 25, 2010 to July 24, 2013):
- Visits: 1,444,360
- Pageviews: 2,770,981
- Unique Visitors: 966,193
- These are some of the posts with the most pageviews:
I have a lot to be thankful for. Blogging gave me the incredible opportunity to meet Suzi Weiss-Fischmann (the Co-Founder, Executive Vice President, and Artistic Director of OPI) on October 14, 2012.
Then, I was invited to attend an exclusive OPI launch party and meet Suzi Weiss-Fischmann a second time on March 18, 2013!
Letting Things Roll Off This Turtle’s Back
Since blogging, I’ve received e-mails from people telling me that my nails aren’t shaped evenly and that my painting skills suck.
Regardless of what negativity is directed at me, I am truly happy with where I am today as a blogger – imperfections and all. Why? I developed a strong mantra that reminds me that being human is okay: Happiness is more important than perfection.
I read somewhere that “Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Being happy means that you’ve decided to overlook the imperfections.”
Although I blog to interact with readers, to share my love for beauty products (especially nail polish), and to challenge myself to stay creative, I also blog to drive home that important message that I feel a lot of people forget because there’s just so much pressure to be ‘perfect’.
There are days when I struggle to stay positive and to find my own happiness. That’s also why I blog. I want Swatch And Learn to feel like a place you go where you can just be happy, even if it’s just for the 2 minutes you read a post. It’s still something.
I love encouraging my readers to try new shades, nail art, and techniques. And if you follow me on any social-media platform, you’ll no doubt see that I don’t just like the nail looks that are ‘perfectly’ executed. I also like the ones where the person painted all over their cuticles. To me, the latter actually shows more courage, and I admire courageous people. It says, “Yeah, so I painted my cuticles. I still loved this manicure. It made me happy, and I’m proud to show it to the world!” I am attracted to people with a strong sense of self. But I’m even more attracted to people who strive to be happy.
Listen, there will always be people who try to knock us down. There’s never any shortage of those types. But, as you get older, you learn to let certain things roll off your back as though you’re a turtle who just got your shell waxed.
Swatch And Learn has been my vehicle to reach out to people to let them know that their voice is heard, that their creativity is appreciated, and that no matter what your socio-economic status is, we will always have some common ground.
Although standing out is fun, the most meaningful changes are done as a collective. And I feel like the nail-polish community is roaring – we are strong and proud!
I feel very happy to have ‘met’ my amazing readers. You come from all different walks of life, with different educational backgrounds, different religious affiliations, different political philosophies, and different upbringing.
Through our differences, we have learned a lot. Through our similarities, we have also learned a lot.
Thank you for visiting my blog! Your support, your love, and your comments motivate me, inspire me, and bring me immense happiness!
To some, this might be ‘just another beauty blog’, but to me, it’s much more than that. It literally lifted me up from the depression I felt when my father passed away. It reminded me that there are good people in the world, and that even if we have to part with those we love, we should still look for love and kindness in others.
This is a lesson that money can’t buy. So that’s why I think blogging is truly a blessing for me, and it’s one I never want to take for granted.
Success can be defined by many different things, depending on who you ask. Happiness is the mark of success for me! And I try to remember that success is not about how you got to the top, but who you brought with you.
I appreciate your participation in my blogging journey. And I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us in the future!
P.S. To celebrate my 3-year blogiversary, I will be having some nail-polish giveaways! Check back tomorrow for the first one. 😉
This is the first nail polish blog I ever started reading, starting following and commented on… and it’s still the very first page I visit in the morning 🙂
Yup, I think you’re doing something VERY right!
Thanks for sharing your love of nail polish, your fun way of writing, your beautiful swatches and occasionally your views on things not beauty related… even though my wallet doesn’t always agree 😉
You definitely brighten up my mornings and I’m defintely here to see what lies ahead.
Mary’s blog was the first I started reading and following as well!! Still love it and it will remain one of my all-time favourites to read, but sadly don’t have a lot of time to pop in as often as I’d like to 🙁
Erica recently posted: Enchanted Polish Freeze Machine
Wow – thanks for saying that this blog is one of your all-time favourites! What a HUGE compliment! *Blushes*
Wow, that’s a huge honour! It makes me feel like a million, trillion, bazillion bucks to read what you wrote! THANK YOU! The fact that you’ve incorporated Swatch And Learn into your morning routine is amazing!
Thank you for brightening up MY day.
You. Are. Awesome. :]
You. Are. Awesome. Too! 😉
Congratulations on three years!
I’ve mentioned this before, but you are my favorite beauty blogger by leaps and bounds. Part of it is your in-depth reviews, your multiple photos, and your format, but mainly it’s how much you clearly love doing this. It’s very clear that this is something you view as enjoyable, not a chore. Also, you feel much more personal than any other large-scale blogger I’ve encountered. You have hundreds (if not thousands) of regular readers, but you still make an effort to interact with each and every one of us, and you make us feel welcome on your blog like no other. I don’t hold any grudge against bloggers who don’t reply to their comments, but it adds a definite extra dimension to the whole experience.
I have nothing but admiration for your dedication to your craft, and I will remain a loyal reader for as long as you are on the internet.
fedoraharp recently posted: NOTD: Water spotting
Thank you so much! *Hug* Your comment made my eyes water. The fact that you think so highly of me and my work means so much to me, and it pushes me to keep trying hard to make this blog even better as time goes on.
Your continued support is appreciated, and it’s just what I need to read on the days when I feel unhappy to uplift my soul.
Congratulations on your blogiversary!
Thanks! 🙂 I know that there’ll be plenty of great things in store for the blog when I have amazing readers like you who are so supportive.
Congratulations!!! Keep up the good work 🙂 You are so inspirational!
Citygirl907 recently posted: Rimmel London Purple Reign – purple / red duochrome
I appreciate the encouragement and kind words! In turn, I also find my readers very inspirational, and I have fun interacting with all of you!
Congrats on year 3 with many more to come! I haven’t followed you for long and actually just stumbled onto you website. I saw this cartoony picture and clever title and was curious to find out what you had to say.
I’ve been coming back daily to your blog because your straight forward, creative and insightful. Things happen in our lives for many unknown reasons. Your fathers passing,although heart breaking created this platform for you to share your gift of writing.
Keep doing what you love and everything else will fall into place! Luv Ya!
I’m glad that you came across my blog, and I can’t wait to read comments you leave on future posts! 🙂
Thank you so much for visiting daily – that really puts a smile on my face!
Congratulations on celebrating 3 years of blogging Mary!! 😀 Don’t let hateful negative emails, comments get you down, I just love reading your funny and upbeat reviews/posts, they always make me smile, thank you!! And here’s to many more years, posts and having fun! 😀
Thankfully, the positivity from my readers far outweighs negative or snide remarks, so it’s easy for me to let those mean-spirited e-mails roll off my back. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by readers who are rooting for me. It makes a world of difference, and it just goes to show you that the nail community, overall, is very strong and supportive! 🙂 I love being a part of it!
I love this 🙂 happy bloggy bday! Im just starting out and I enjoy reading yours 🙂
Congratulations on starting a blog! Starting is the hardest part because it takes the most effort. I hope that you’ll find it to be as rewarding and as challenging as I do. I wish you much success (i.e. happiness)! 🙂
Wow Mary, your post made me a little misty 🙂 Congratulations on such an amazing milestone. Today’s post was very inspirational and I really needed that this morning. Thank you for sharing what blogging means to you, it’s hard for people to understand that it goes way beyond just liking nail polish. You are such a positive person and I really admire that about you.
Erin-Paint Those Piggies! recently posted: My Take on Sugar Spun
You know what? Reading responses from readers today made my eyes water. It’s an incredible feeling to know that people are rooting for you, even if they only know you online! 🙂
I am really blessed that readers are positive toward me. It’s like we feed off each other to be the best we can be!
congrats girl happy 3 anniversary,
Thank you! 🙂 I hope to continue blogging for as long as possible. I really enjoy the challenge, and I’m constantly learning new things, so it keeps it fresh.
Yes keep doing it 🙂 love visiting your blog
Awesome – I needed that encouragement! 🙂
Congratulations! You have such a great attitude and I always love coming to your blog.
You’re sweet and encouraging and I admire you so much for all the feedback and attention you have for each of your readers. Here’s to many more years! \o/
Thank you so much! 🙂 I get a rush when I read all the sweet comments left on the blog, and it propels me to continue improving this blog and myself as a blogger and person!
Congrats on 3 years!!
10NiceNails recently posted: Strapless Naughty Nautical Gradient
A blog is nothing without an awesome readership, so a huge thank you! 🙂 You’ve made my experience rewarding!
Congratulations! I’m so happy for you, 3 years is quite the milestone. You’ve overcome so much and stayed positive even when people took time out of their day to be rude (I don’t understand such people) but you weren’t discouraged since your blog is amazing and you know it! Thank you for sharing so many swatches with us and amazing in-depth reviews.
It’s definitely hard sometimes to stay positive, and I still have my down days, but I try to focus on the good things and what I’m thankful for. Also, re-reading comments left for me on the blog has the power to perk up my mood. It makes my day to know that people care and support me, even if they’ve never met me in person. 🙂
Congratulations Mary! 3 years is a LONG time! I have been blogging for just over a year myself and didn’t realize that I had passed the 1 year mark until a couple days after it passed lol!
I love coming here to check out swatches of polishes I am considering, or ones I never thought to consider until I see it in my e-mail. Unfortunately, I am a new first-time home buyer, so I don’t have much time to read the blogs I follow.
Keep up the AWESOME work!!
Erica recently posted: Enchanted Polish Freeze Machine
Congratulations on hitting the 1-year milestone! 🙂 I’m proud of you for sticking to it. I hope that you’ve found it as rewarding as I do!
No worries – I’m just glad that you visit at all. And I hope that you’re loving your new home!
Happy blog birthday! What a wonderful heartfelt post. It really saddens me to hear you’ve had such petty negativity thrown your way. Who cares if someone paints over their cuticles? It’s not hurting anyone so why comment? I am absolutely NOT a perfect nail polish painter. And my nails are not perfectly shaped. *shrug* so what? There are more important things in life and at the end of the day it’s the colour on my nails that I enjoy and that makes me happy…not whether or not they are painted ‘perfectly’. And to be honest, most of the ‘non nail polish’ world (meaning 99.9% of the people in my daily life!) simply don’t care about nail polish. And checking to see if my nails are done ‘perfectly’ isn’t even on their radar. Nor should it be.
You are so brave for having this blog! I know in the nail community there is a suffocating amount of emphasis on perfection and bullying occurs based on nail shape…how the nails are painted…what brand of polish you use. On and on. Ridiculous.
Just know that WE love you!!! And FWIW I’m often in awe at how precisely I think your nails are painted. I often see your pics and think ‘Wow Mary has mad polish painting skillz’ 😀
You know, when I first started Swatch And Learn, I was too shy to post my nails. But, as I slowly put them in front of the camera, I became more self-assured and I began reminding myself that perfection isn’t the goal. I hope to keep spreading that message so that more people will focus more on loving the nail polish rather than stressing over ‘perfectly’ painting their nails.
Thank you so much! 🙂 I love my readers, too! SO MUCH!
I don’t always reply to all of your post since I started following you but I do always enjoy reading them, I love the way you set up your post. And I think it’s great how you always reply to people who left you a comment. Keep up the good work!
Thank you for taking the time to comment today! 🙂 I appreciate the encouragement – it means so much to me!
Congratulation Marie! Blogging your way out of the blues (i’m a fellow green freak) !
I’ve been reading for a while and will continue to do o as long has you’re holding your end of the line.
Thank you for giving me that pause moment in today’s hectic life!
Lots of love! VIVA SWATCH&LEARN !!!
YAY for a fellow greeeeeeeeen fieeeeeend! 😉
Hehe, I could almost hear you yelling “VIVA SWATCH AND LEARN!” with much gusto, and it made me crack a wide alligator smile. THANK YOU! 😀
That was a beautiful read. 🙂 So glad to be here with you celebrating your 3rd Blogiversary. And I’m so glad that this has become something lovely and uplifting for you (as well as others).
I LOVE your view on perfectionism. It is so refreshing. Overlooking imperfections is so freeing! I remember when I was doing my nails with some friends and one friend was freaking out every time she smudged her nails. She thought that my nails were always perfect and wanted the same perfection. I told her that no one typically looks that close (except pictures!!), and who cares if there is a bump or two! I have to remind myself of this often. 🙂 I love having painted nails and sometimes I don’t have a lot of time so that means that they won’t be perfect. And that’s okay. 🙂 Because simply having my nails painted with a fun colour is what I enjoy. And it reminds me that there is more to life than stress, busy-ness, or perfection.
Thank you for all you do! I appreciate all your reviews and recommendations. 😀
I’m so glad you stopped by and are celebrating with me. Come back again soon, as I have giveaways planned as a thank you to my incredible readers! 🙂
Yes, definitely overlooking imperfections is liberating. When I adopted that philosophy, I was a much-happier person, and I think it’s the key to life. Things that are perfect aren’t always real, and I’d rather take something that’s flawed but genuine over something that’s fake or not accessible.
Congratulations! I discovered your blog this January when I was looking for swatches of OPI’s Mariah Carey collection and you quickly became one of my favorite bloggers. I really love how in-depth your reviews are and that you take the time to reply to comments :).
I’m so happy to hear that you found me while looking up swatches! 🙂 (The Mariah Carey collection was really awesome – Get Your Number, the blue liquid sand is still my all-time favourite textured polish!)
Thank you for saying that! 🙂 There are soooo many bloggers, so the fact that you consider me to be one of your favourites is high praise!
Congratulations, 3 years is a long time for a blog!
Unique Visitors: 966,193
^ You should have a serious celebration at a million! Imagine that, a million people have read what you have to say, so cool 🙂
POW Nails recently posted: Video Review: Claire’s Nail Art Stamping Kit
Hey POW Nails!
Aww, thank you so much! 🙂
You know what? I don’t look at my statistics too much. It’s not that I’m afraid of numbers, but I don’t want the numbers to drive my blogging much – passion should come first. (It’s different if I blogged for a living and it was a matter of being able to put food on the table.) But, since this is my hobby, I’m happy at just writing my thoughts, interacting with amazing readers like you, and every once-and-a-while out of curiosity, checking the stats for fun.
People really felt the need to email you about your nails? Hahaa, they have lives (sarcasm). I personally love that you just polish and emphasize that it doesn’t have to be perfect to bring you joy! Obviously by your stats, you are well-loved. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself in your blog 🙂
Haha, yeah! They really found my nails to be gross and offensive – or at least that’s the impression I got when I read their e-mails. But that’s their opinion. It hasn’t made me think badly of my nails or my nail-painting skills. I’m genuinely happy with my manicures, even if they’re not perfect, and nobody can ever steal my happiness.
Thank you so much for giving me what I feel was a ‘digital hug’! 🙂
Congrats on your 3 year blogiversary! Swatch and Learn was one of the first blogs I started reading daily (and I still do, even though I can’t comment most of the time). You have been a great inspiration and I want to try making my own nail blog. No matter what the haters say, you have great nails and take awesome pictures! 🙂
Thank you! 🙂 I’m happy to hear that you still follow my blog – that means a lot! 🙂 I know that life can get really hectic, so you can’t comment all the time. But when you do, boy does it ever make my day! THANKS!
Congrats on your 3 year blogiversary!
Like many of the other readers, Swatch and Learn is the only beauty blog I read everyday. It’s a way for me to unwind after my long days and so I am ever so happy that I came upon this blog a few months ago. Believe it or not, I become a nailaholic during the long weeks I went without power due to Hurricane Sandy. It wasn’t until I was able to attend school again that I had access to the internet. Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was read about new polish collections and the latest nail trends. Little did I know that I would end up on your fabulous blog! And I haven’t stopped reading since 🙂
I will always be a fan and continue to visit this blog for as long as you are on the internet <3
Hey Mandy Gomez!
Wow – you much be a very strong person, having gone through Hurricane Sandy! I admire your courage to continue despite adversity. *Hug* You are an inspiration to many, I’m sure.
I’m really happy to hear that nail polish and the nail community had the power to help you out a little during that difficult period. 🙂
Thank you for your continued support. Without incredible readers, a blog is like a one-sided megaphone.
Congratulations on your 3 year anniversary!!
I love your posts, and I’ve been reading your blog for maybe over a year after I found the OPI Holland Collection Swatches. I think it’s great that you share your love for nail polish and sometimes other things because it makes it more fun. Also, I can’t believe some people actually emailed you about your nails. In the end of the day, nail polish is for fun! Sometimes I paint all over my cuticles or it smudges but I still like looking at the colour, and that’s all that matters.
Oh and I also love that you’re from Toronto. I feel like it’s easier for me to relate to your posts since I could probably find it in the drug store easier. Thanks for everything and thanks for making this post. Take care!
Thank you very much!
I’m glad that you found me while looking for swatches on the OPI Holland Collection. Did you end up getting any shades? I remember there were a lot of great ones!
Yay! Happy Bloggiversary! I’ve only been following you for over a year and I’m very grateful I did! I love reading your blog you always write so well hehe! Funny anyone would send such awful message to you. Well, too bad for them they don’t know what they are missing! Besides, each time they take their time to belittle other people, they are actually portraying themselves as the ‘worser’ ones. hahahah!
Anyway, to more good times and happy journey in blogging! I have been enjoying blogging just as much! Best decision I’ve ever made for myself. And you said it right, it’s not about the numbers, but the passion we get to share and the people we get to interact with and meet from all over the world through this little social media form.
Happy, Blessed, & Merry Bloggiversary! 😀
Wow, that’s very flattering that you’ve been following me for over a year – thank you so much for your loyalty! 🙂
That’s awesome you started blogging! But more importantly, it’s great to hear that it’s a labour of love for you. You’ll no doubt grow numbers when you’re passionate anyway, so it’s best to focus on delivering quality content that you’re proud of.
That makes me so sad to hear that you’ve had negative comments!!
This has been my favourite blog for a long time as was the major inspiration behind me starting my own blog! You inspired me to share my own love of nail and beauty products and I too love to go through my old posts as see how I’ve grown in the last year – how my skills have developed, how my tastes have changed etc.
My blog isn’t massive, it isn’t amazing, but it’s mine. I’m glad you see things the same way – it’s one of the reasons why I love your blog so much!
Keep on blogging Mary! x
Bathelen recently posted: Hoot hoot – bit of fun nail art
Wow, I’m honoured to hear that Swatch And Learn was the partial inspiration for you to start your own blog – awesome! 🙂 I was also inspired by other bloggers (Scrangie is the first that comes to mind). Love how we get to inspire each other. It’s a beautiful circle!
Happy 3rd Blogiversary Mary!
One of the main reasons I love your blog is that you don’t let perfectionism get in the way of sharing beauty products with us! Plus, your personality comes through in every in-depth and funny review. I hope you continue blogging for a long time, and here’s to many blogiveraries to come!
Yes, it took me a while to develop my new mantra, but I’m glad I finally realized that imperfections shouldn’t stand in the way of happiness. It’s very liberating to blog with this new mentality.
I also hope to blog for as long as I can. Thank you so much for your kindness and support!
I’m so happy for you and be sure you deserve the success you got! You’re a source af inspiration for me.
Congratulations, and keep going!
Thank you so much for your kind words! 🙂
My readers and their creativity and humour inspire me and propel me to continue blogging. Couldn’t do it without their support! 🙂
My dear Mary,
I realized my earlier comment hadn’t gone through from my wonky phone, so I am trying again…
Yours is one of the blogs I continue to read in a time when the Internet has started to lose its hold on me.
Your blog always makes me smile, and each and every post is a reflection of your joy of spirit and everything good about you. Keep up the wonderful work, ignore the negative nellies, and continue to find happiness in the little things.
Thank you for saying all those lovely things. It makes me feel great! 🙂 Whenever I’m down, I’ll need to remember to read the comments on this post.
I appreciate your encouragement and your friendship. It’s pretty amazing how we got to know each other through blogging. 🙂
Lady! Happy 3year bloggaversary! I’m happy you stuck around for 3years and I hope you stick around for another 3 and many many more! Your blog is honest, to the point but never mean. You can give criticism but it feels more like it’s is just good advise! Thank you for being you!
Hey Thea Madness!
Thank you! 🙂 That’s a lot of high praise, and as a blogger, I can say that reading such supportive comments like this put the wind in my sails to continue doing this for as long as I can. It’s rewarding, and the fact that readers like you appreciate it means so much!
I’m a few days late but I just wanted to say happy blogiversary and I really enjoy reading your reviews! The way you write is so personal it feels like you’re talking to me and I think that is a nice touch for a blog like this. 🙂
Better late than never! 🙂 I realllly appreciate you taking the time to wish me the best.
I’m so glad that you’ve been enjoying the blog. And I’m flattered that you especially like the way I write – big compliment! 🙂