This blogging journey — I’ve officially been on path for a year now. I silently celebrated last week how far I’ve come, the ups (and downs) and all I can and should be proud of. I knew I wanted to write on my milestone experience, and if you know anything about me, its taken much thought and reflection getting to the keyboard tonight — so bare with me on the length and possible wordy write. It’s typical 2am here anyway.
I’ll start by saying the reminisce has shed light on the good that’s come from this blogging endeavor. It’s brought a lot of confidence in who I am as a writer. My love for writing has been gradual over the years, and there have been times where I force myself to write, wether I want to or not. I’ve learned it necessary to keep myself sane. You may think it silly, but it’s my therapy source. Some talk it out, work it out, … I write it out. Yes, the majority of the topics here center around my passion for style, but within it I try to incorporate a bit of who I am under surface. I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of completion and tho some posts have been easier to write than others, 112 blog posts in a years time is something to be said for. Of course, I’d love my subscriber count up, and there’s dream of a flooded comment inbox, but numbers aren’t the goal. If I can inspire one person to see beauty in themselves – If I can open one mind to styling their closet – Heck, if I can help save a few bucks on those shoes you’ve been eyeing, the consistent write is worth it.
As stated in my very first post – this blogging space has allowed an escape — a place to explore creativity and indulge in all that makes me giddy. Finding deals and researching the latest fashion trend lies in my definition of fun. At times I feel like a kid at a candy store, bright eyed at all the possibility. I’ve established a place to call my own and you’re all invited to the party! Perks to the gig are a highlight — every time that door bell rings with another package left for me, it’s like Christmas. I cannot wait to open it up and share. I’d say the style edit begins therafter, but we all know I envision looks long before it’s out for delivery. The fact I get to shop, plan and style everyday is a pretty cool gig if ya ask me.
Tho exciting as it is, I cannot lie and say the start was easy. I cannot lie and say there haven’t been times I feel guilty for pursuing this passion. I’ve always been one to give it my all, wether it be past jobs, Keep Collective, or blogging – I am on sacrificial go mode. Tho it may be a positive attribute in some circumstances, it can wear on me and those around me. It pains me to say, but Patrick has reeled me back in more times that I like to admit. I’ve heard, “she’s always in the office” and “how much longer, Mom?” far too often. I’ve declined family time and “Will you play with me’s” a handful of times. All said, I am still learning. I constantly working on balance, when to give myself a little leeway and realigning my priorities.
My reflection naturally brings forth action. So today I want to share a few things I’ve learned this past year as a blogger and influencer. The points are emotionally focused because Lord knows if I went into detailed specifics with how-tos on meta descriptions, engagement rates, brand reach outs, time management, and photo editing this would turn into a series I am not qualified to write. Investing in your brand, however, is one I highly recommend and can refer (upon request) a few who’ve undeniably paved my blogging road. From the time I felt a fraction of foot in the door, I vowed I’d be a resource and open book to any blogging/influencer newbie. And tho I feel it was necessary to start my own journey as I did — my confidence was built from it — it would have been nice to gain a bit of inside perspective.
If you’re just starting out, thinking about, or ever wondered a little inside blogging perspective this next section is for you.
Five things I’ve learned in one year of blogging
Ask for help
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Period. I recently read ‘Girl, Stop Apologizing‘ and this chapter hit home. Rachel Hollis explains it far better than I could, but she puts into perspective that even the biggest of successors have help. I’ll relive my weight off shoulder moment with you – I follow many influencers in my niche. I watch their stories, read their blogs and have gotten to know them as much as one can in the social media spotlight. Many have well over 100k followers. Those that do, I’ve noticed, are almost always ‘present’ in stories; flooding you with 15 second clips day after day. Try ons, ads, her everyday – she’s always on. Followed and favorited, I learned she has several collaborations on schedule, manages to shell out a new lengthy blog post 5 days out of the week, is in fabulous shape, has a family, children, and meal preps! Really. How the heck does she do it all? Then one day, she mentions her ‘assistant’ is on vacation. Yep. Her assistant. (insert my jaw drop) She doesn’t do do it alone! All those tasks. Her to-do list, schedule, photo editing .. it’s divided! Now I am far, I mean far from getting an assistant. But learning it’s an attainable option is such a relief! Her success is not solely dependent. And yours doesn’t have to be either.
For all those starting out – it’s a lot to take in. And its very easy to get overwhelmed with doubt, feeling as if you’ve failed even before you’ve started. You look at all those before you doing it so well. And wonder if you’ll ever get there. You may be going in likewise blind. (Ya’ll, I googled “how to start a blog” and “what’s affiliate marketing”. I had no clue.) But rest assure, seeking help gets you closer to whatever it is you’re working towards. If it’s sharing recipes, your travel adventures, passion for fashion, faith, mom life, beauty tutorials – 1. someone has been in your shoes before, and 2. I am sure they aren’t driving solo.
Aside from the trusty www, I sought out help from the influencers who I admired. A few whom I now know seek help themselves. I sent multiple dms with questions (some read, some dismissed), and several returned willing to answer! I asked opinion on marketing companies and collaborations. I took referrals and invested in several blogging courses. Asking for help, wether it’s reaching out via DM, enrolling in an Instagram course, or hiring an assistant does not degrade your ability to do this. If anything it proves you are capable and your dream is valuable.
Don’t be afraid of saying no
I had a personal account on Instagram prior to becoming an influencer. As mentioned, I followed many and was essentially ‘influenced’ by them. I love their style, have purchased thru their links and trust their opinion. Having watched other influencers and bloggers way of run, you slowly come to terms with perception. It becomes very clear when a blogger shares a product outside her norm. And even more clear when the only reason she’s decided to promote it is for the compensation alone. It’s not genuine, nor authentic. And it’s not her. If anything, it decreases my interest in the product and any further content she shares. From the get go, I vowed to never promote a product that I wouldn’t use myself. I promised to always research, try out, and promote honestly.
In the beginning you may feel the need to accept each gift in exchange for a promotion. I know I did. Send some free shampoo? Jewelry? Clothing? Perhaps women’s lingerie? Hmmm..tempting, but no thanks. Sadly, there were moments of question. I felt, if I said no I’d lose the opportunity to receive another. But I’ve learned it’s okay to walk away. It’s even okay to say yes, then no if for any reason you don’t like or stand behind it. Have I passed up opportunities? Yes. Has saying no slowed exposure? Possibly. But it’s also given me opportunity to set standards I am proud of. And I like to believe they are a reason ya’ll are still here.
The numbers don’t matter
You may be thinking, um – yes they do, Sarah. Okay.. in some respect, they do. The higher the count, the more exposure. I get it. But I am going to let you in on a little secret – your following, as little as it may be, can be as profitable, if not more profitable than someone who has 100 times the count. It’s all about a manual connection. It’s about building relationships; sharing relatable content to then establish trust. If those connections aren’t authentic, they’ll be no gain. Numbers are then just .. numbers.
Starting out, I was naive and took a short cut. A short cut that cost me time and money. Ultimately putting me two steps back to square one. I paid a third party service to act on my behalf and generically engage. I essentially paid a computer (bot) to act as me. I wound up following people outside my niche, liking explicit photos, and irrelevantly commenting on images. It was awful. It wasn’t authentic. It conflicted with my own brand’s mission. Here I was blogging about authenticity while a bot disguised itself as me on Instagram.
For all you know, those 100k followers you’re comparing your IG numbers to – some of them could have been bought. I’ll add they probably aren’t, the influencer has most likely established herself well, knows her way of run, and has several years under her belt. But you get my point.
You do not wake up and become the butterfly. Growth is a process and it’s going to take time. Heck..it’s been 12 months, and I just hit the 9k mark. So stop worrying about the numbers. They don’t matter, relationships and connections do.
There are thousands of bloggers out there. Hundreds in your niche, in your position, or in your field. Speaking particularly to those in the fashion niche – we all have access to the sales. We all can see the newest inventory. We all share, blog, post, talk – repeat. But what makes each of us different and reason why the saturation is dismissed is because of character. No one is YOU. No one looks like you, talks, or writes like you. No one has the exact ideas, the same life, same circumstances, or experiences as you. Each of us have something different to bring to the table. So why be someone you’re not? Don’t buy something, share something, or worse – copy – because everyone else is. You’re never going to influence the world by being just like it.
Find your road
I saw this tee a few months back, saved it to wishlist and didn’t think much of it. Grabbed it in my last Amazon haul for reasons similar to those Ellie would say—Because it’s pink and has fancy lettering. Even taking these photos, I had in mind I’d caption it with something witty or praise its affordability. But now, it means a bit more – a whole lot more – it’s one of most valuable lessons I’ve learned this past year.
I’ve talked about it time and time again. The comparison game – it’s a strong one, and the amount I play it, you’d think I’d have it mastered. But it doesn’t work that way. You never win. So really, if you get anything from this post (you’re the real VIP if you’re still reading) take this – steer clear of it. Don’t let comparison win. I’ve found each time I go down it’s spiral, it takes twice as much effort to get back up. It’s a roadblock.
This year of blogging hasn’t been easy and there have been so many times I’ve compared my beginning to someone else’s middle. I have to remind myself, I am a newbie. I just started. I am not going to have as many collabs, followers, likes, DMs, subscribers because I haven’t walked that road yet. Maybe you’re reading this, and you’ve been here for a while – could even be at a standstill – despite your position, we are all on our own road. We are all truckin at different speeds. Find your road, stay in your lane and own it.
I could continue, but then this post would be deemed a novel. I’ll close stating I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing half the time. I have moments I want to give up. I have days I question the why, even. But then I remind myself this endeavor and road wasn’t paved by accident. I’ve learned despite all that’s behind, or before me, I can call this road my own. My journey and story is valuable and worth the share.