Man oh man! Time sure does fly. I seriously can’t believe an entire year has already gone since I started this little venture of mine. A venture which initially was mostly intended to serve as my creative outlet where I could share what I knew. I always had a feeling that some of my followers from my social media outlets would stop by StylishLee every now and then but I had no idea the support would have been so massive. If someone told me a year ago that I would be featured on Essence.com, FashionBombDaily, Marie Claire Magazine among others, and have the opportunity to work with a few awesome brands and companies, I seriously would have ‘laughed my ass off’ and call you delusional. But here we are today, one year later and I’m still pinching myself because it all seems so surreal to me.
As some of you may know, running a blog isn’t easy—heck I’m still struggling to balance, sleep, work, play, family and blogging. So today on StylishLee’s one-year blogiversary, I am sharing with you a few things I’ve learned along the way in my first year of blogging. If you happen to be curious about blogging, hope to one day venture into blogging yourself or perhaps you’ve just started your own blog, I hope these blogging tips will help prepare you for what’s ahead…
1. Just START! There is no such thing as the ‘perfect moment’
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. So stop doubting yourself and stop focusing on whether you will be successful or not. Instead work towards making a positive impact and on being significant and the success will naturally follow. I wish I started blogging years ago but instead I kept convincing myself reasons not to start. If you’ve been with me from the start then you would know that I launched StylishLee in September last year. Well, crazily enough my very first blog post was written the year before but somehow I just couldn’t hit publish. For a long time I wanted to start a blog but doubt and constantly questioning everything stood in my way (What if my photos aren’t good enough? What if my writing is no good?).
If you were to ask me if I have any regrets, my answer is I just wished I started this earlier. At the time it just seemed so scary to dive into something I knew nothing to little about so I kept finding excuses by telling myself I didn’t have the time to dedicate to blogging and when I did have the time I would find another excuse. Eventually I told myself that we are all different and we all grow at a different pace! In truth it doesn’t matter how slow you go so long as you start and then you don’t stop. Here I am today, celebrating my birthday on a beach in Jamaica, drinking Champagne and toasting to another adventure filled year for myself and StylishLee.
2. Find your PASSION
Look, if you’re want to start blogging, then you gotta figure out what truly sparks your interest. Don’t focus on things that you “think” will make you get “BIG” instead focus on things you are passionate about. I truly think blogging must come from the heart and not a desire for internet fame or money. Just discover your passion and blog about the things you love. If or when you start your blog, you will quickly realize that your readers can quickly sniff out authenticity as fast as they can see the fakeness. If you are genuinely passionate about something your readers will notice this and they will keep coming back for more. You gotta stay true to yourself and to what you are truly passionate about; I often tell people that when I write a blog post I do so as if I were taking to my friends (at least I think thats how I come across haha!)
3. You can’t expect EVERYONE to LIKE YOU
Condition yourself ahead of time for this one, because this is something you need to realize if you plan on being serious about blogging. Not everyone will understand why you blog, and that’s perfectly okay. Once you start you will quickly realize that people you never would have expected will turn out to be your biggest supporters; unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Putting yourself out there makes you vulnerable because you are willingly sharing your thoughts and opinions to the world and although it has its bright side it also has a very dark side too. Don’t let peoples criticism get to your heart and you also should not let their compliments get to your head either. Never take what internet trolls say to you too seriously, people who are mean and hurtful are only reflecting how they feel about themselves. It’s not you, it’s them! Just remember haters gonna hate and potatoes gonna…potate haha, I crack myself up lol.
“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I’m not perfect
-and I don’t live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers…
make sure you hands are clean!”
4. Surprising Support
This one really hit me pretty hard in the beginning because I expected to receive the most support from my friends and family, & I did. But the support that I received from outsiders was perhaps the most surprising part of this past year. Some of my biggest supporters are from acquaintances or total strangers. Another surprising thing…some of the people who you expect to be your biggest fans may be the least supportive or very disinterested (puzzling right?). What I’m trying to say is your support may come from unlikely places. You really never know who you’re going to attract or I suppose who you may turn off.
5. Learn! Grow! Expand!
NEVER EVER STOP LEARNING! Every time I learn something new I realize that there is still a lot more ahead to find out about. Soak up as much information as you can. This will help you become more informed, become a better writer, marketer, designer and a better human being. Value the people you meet and the connections and don’t underestimate the power of your own personal network. As long as you take care of those around you, your network will continue to grow and expand.
In terms of blog content, always put out your personal best. If you are consistently creating quality content you have a greater chance of getting attention from brands.
6. The Internet & Social Media is your FRIEND
Believe it or not, there once was a time where I didn’t want an Instagram, then when I finally joined it I barely used it—Oh, how the times have changed. Don’t look at Instagram as just a tool where people post pictures of their cute dog or countless number of selfies. Instead look at it as a blogging empire, because if you happen to be a blogger your Instagram profile is basically a blog within itself—it’s a scaled down version of your blog so don’t neglect it nor any of your other social media channels. So despite the long hours I spend behind my laptop typing away, my largest audiences by far are via my social media. Look lets be realistic here people don’t read like they used to and attention spans are dwindling by the second, instead we prefer scrolling, swiping and double tapping. I write quite a bit and that’s only because I simply enjoy writing but in truth more effort should go into having good photos to help up your Instagram game.
As a blogger you need to embrace the endless possibilities from the internet and also social media. Both are very powerful and both help greatly in allowing you to reach out to people around the globe and even better the internet . Social media provides easy access to your favorite brands. Always remember that there are people just like me and you behind every social media account, so there are no borders between us and them, between regular people and top companies. Think about it, we now live in a time where you can like Rihannas pictures, send Adam Levine a Snapchat and direct message Forever21 on Instagram. People are discovered every single day via these outlets, so stay engaged with your Instagram followers, get snapping, make a few tweets and share some Facebook posts.
7. Collaborate: No Blog is an Island
Don’t be a snob! You have to collaborate if you plan on growing and expanding. If you want to grow your numbers then you need to network. This past year I didn’t collaborate too much and that’s because I was trying to work with other bloggers outside of my reach. As of now I plan on working with people who are also starting out, so we can grow together and cross promote each other. I think this is pretty important when just starting out and I wish I focused on this more rather than focusing on myself.
It really makes all the difference to work alongside people in your field who are in the same pool as you who want to achieve the same things that you want. This will allow you to create a solid network who you can brainstorm ideas together with, create awesome content together and most importantly you will stay inspired together. I’ve already started making steps towards collaborating more because I think having people around me to help encourage me will keep me stay more motivated not to give up on something I’m passionate about. If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to collaborate with others and never think that what you are offering makes you better than anyone else because having people who believe in your dream can make all the difference.
8. Write when you’re INSPIRED
We all know the famous phrase, ‘Strike While the Iron is Hot.’ Well when it comes onto blogging keep this phrase in mind because you never know when inspiration will hit. So whenever you feel inspired take advantage of it immediately. Even if you have enough blog content prepared in advance, still write something if you feel inspired because a day may come when you lose inspiration or feel like you don’t have much to say. & on those days it’s perfectly fine not to post if you have nothing prepared. But if you happen to write when you feel inspired then you’ll always have a back-up post ready to go on a day when your ‘not in the mood’.
Okay, okay. So I’m still working on this one, but I hope to get it all into place over the next year. It really has been difficult for me to blog because I’m not a full-time blogger. I think as long as we all are realistic about our schedules we will be able to stick to it. If you’re anything like me and also have a full-time job, or even part-time then you need to look at what you can do and don’t over commit. It’s very important to be consistent when blogging.
Don’t pressure yourself to post everyday, or every other day. If you are able to do such, GREAT! But if you can’t…don’t over commit. There is nothing wrong with posting once a week, just try your best to stay consistent. Initially I started by always posting at least every Friday but somewhere along the line, life got in the way and I began posting whenever I had the time. Currently I’m trying to be more consistent by planning my post content more and trying my best to create a monthly calendar & STICK TO IT! I’m still trying to figure this part out but I hope to get a system in place soon so I am able to have consistent blog posts to my readers, so they (or YOU) will always know when to expect something new.
10. It won’t always be Fun
You will have days when you will feel discouraged and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, & when you do feel like this my best advice would be to acknowledge those feelings. Don’t bottle them up! You need to sit yourself down and determine whether the feelings are temporary and will pass or if the feelings are something you need to pay attention to. If you are able to do this then you will be better able to tell whether you just need a break from blogging or whether it’s time to move on to something else.
Always remind yourself why you started in the first place. I know it can be disheartening when you pour your heart out into your blog and you promote yourself well, take great pics, write pretty well and yet somehow you aren’t getting the same opportunities as other bloggers. Don’t let this deter you and just stop all that negative talk immediately. As long as you remember why you started (hoping you started for the right reasons), you will get there…we will get there. Just because we aren’t there yet doesn’t mean we never will.
Have Fun & Be yourself!
I’m sorry if I’m rambling too much but I had to add one last thing. I know that this may seem pretty cliche but I think this is one of the most important lessons for all bloggers to realize. When it comes to blogging nothing is more important than having fun and being true to yourself. You really can’t take yourself too seriously. Blogging should be fun, at least this is what I think, and if it’s no longer fun for you, then it may be time to stop. Now, I for one know that blogging really isn’t all fun and games but the overall experience should be enjoyable—you shouldn’t have to force yourself to do something that you don’t enjoy. So stay true to yourself, WHOEVER you are and HOWEVER you are and enjoy every bit of your journey.
And there you have it, 10 (well 11) things I learned in my first year of blogging. If you too are a blogger, share with me your tips and things you’ve learned from blogging in the comments below! Talk soon, Nuff Love, Natasha ♥