Last Friday was my 10th blogging anniversary, and man — time certainly does fly when you’re having fun!
10 years ago, I was in college and had just moved back home after finishing up a couple of fashion internships. Truth be told, my experience working in the fashion industry in New York was pretty terrible. If you’ve ever watched the Devil Wears Prada…let’s say that I felt Andy’s pain with being a glorified coffee runner.
I was disappointed that my experience in New York wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I wanted to stay connected to the fashion world once I transferred to my new college. I ended up switching my major from Fashion Merchandising to Mass Communications after my New York fashion internships — I knew that I still loved fashion. Still, I didn’t necessarily want to work at a major fashion brand like I did in NYC. That’s why, on a whim, I decided to start a blog.
This isn’t the first website I’ve ever had — I’m a huge nerd and taught myself how to code my first website when I was 10 years old and had my own web pages off and on throughout high school. I even enrolled in a graphic design program at my neighboring high school back in the day. It’s weird to think that I’ve had some sort of blog or website for most of my life, but I guess that makes me a true millennial?
Most of you know this, but I’ve been blogging full-time for 4.5 years at this point, and I would have never thought that this hobby I started back in college after a horrible internship experience would end up becoming my career. I’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years, had some wins, some fails, and made valuable connections. Here are the 10 most important blogging lessons I’ve learned over the years!
or some giggles: here’s the very first blog photo I ever took!
Just Start It
I have many people ask me when I knew it was the right time to start a blog, and the answer is now. Did I have a clue what I was doing 10 years ago? Absolutely not. But over time, I knew I loved it. And if you’re passionate about something, you’ll be eager to learn everything about it. Don’t wait to start that blog, YouTube, podcast, etc. — just launch it!
Other Bloggers Are Your Friends — Not Your "Competition"
Listen: blogging hasn’t always been great for my mental health. It’s easy to fall into the comparison game, and it’s 100% normal to be a little jealous of someone who’s getting cool opportunities.
The blogging industry is huge, and I believe that there’s a piece of the pie for all of us. Instead of being jealous of the blogger who got pick for an opportunity/event/etc. over you, celebrate their success, and tell yourself that you’re next. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve commented on a sponsored post that my influencer friends did with a brand that I love, only for that brand to find me through that comment and initiate a partnership.
Consistency is Key — but Hiatuses Are Okay Too
Want to grow your platform? Consistency is key. I’m not saying it’s necessary to blog or post to social media every single day, but have some sort of schedule in place so that followers can have an idea of when new content will drop on your channels. If you can only get one blog post and 3 social media posts up each week, that’s totally fine!
Life also happens too, so it’s fine to take a hiatus or two each year to get back on track. This cross-country move and writing the book threw me for a loop, and my workload was pretty unmanageable, so I decided to take a break, focus on those two pieces, and now I’m happy to be back in my normal blogging groove!
Setting Boundaries is a Must
I’m very blessed to have thousands of people who follow me on my platforms. I can’t tell you how much that means to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.
However, sometimes getting hundreds of messages a day is just plain overwhelming. I went to conferences that told me I would lose followers if I didn’t respond to every message and every comment I received, and honestly? As a person who struggles with depression and anxiety, sometimes I’m not always in the right mental state to answer 200+ DMs a day on social.
Over the past year, I’ve been a fan of setting boundaries with my audience. Letting people know that I might not be able to get back to them. Giving folks a heads up of questions that I won’t answer and are beyond my comfort zone. Logging off social media on the weekends and turning off IG notifications. I think it’s important to remind your audience that you’re an actual person with valid feelings and full lives and not someone who can be at their beck and call 24/7.
Invest in Blog & Social Media Education Every Year
The blogging world has changed so much in the 10 years I’ve been blogging. Instagram wasn’t a thing 10 years ago. Who would have imagined that Tik Tok would dominate in 2020? The landscape shifts so quickly, and it’s hard to keep up at times.
I like to set aside some budget to attend at least one blogging conference a year to hear from industry experts and keep on top of social media trends. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at least 1-2 conferences a year for the past five years. When I get those opportunities, I’ll set aside time to attend all the workshops and events that the conference has to offer to further my education.
Figure Out How You Can Be Helpful to Your Audience
Let’s face it: the influencer industry is saturated. However, there are so many opportunities and ways that you can stand out.
I feel like I’m able to look put together, but I know I’m definitely not the trendiest person on the planet. I started as strictly a fashion blogger, but I branched out into lifestyle and travel, two verticals I think I personally shine in. Last summer, I got my WSET certification and provided attainable wine tips and break down wine in layman’s terms for my audience. After Black Lives Matter, I published roundups to encourage my audience to check out Black-owned businesses across the U.S.
The more helpful and sharable your content is, the better it will perform. Sometimes I’ll still share a cute dress on social media, but I also try to mix in helpful guides and sharable resources for my audience as well.
If You’re Burned Out, Take A Step Back
I know I’ll always love blogging at the end of the day, but there have been so many times in my career that I’ve felt discouraged. You’re going to have ups and downs in the industry. Good days and bad days.
On those bad days, I allow myself to take a step back. I’ve hired a virtual assistant who helps me with posting content and creating collages regularly, and I let them do their thing on those days when I need to log off. Getting offline can be refreshing and put things in perspective. If you’re burned out, just listen to your body and take care of yourself!
Explore Different Streams of Income
It’s said that millionaires have seven streams of income. By all means, don’t blog just for the money, but if you enjoy the industry and want to make extra cash, it might be time to diversify your income streams.
Yes, most bloggers get paid with affiliate income and through sponsored posts. However, in the past couple of years, I’ve focused on content creation for brands and have partnered with Tom to create a mini studio of sorts. Lately, we’ve been tapped by brands to create content just for their channels. This content that I create for brands doesn’t end up on my own channels, so it doesn’t matter how many social media followers I have. Honestly, I love doing this work, and it’s refreshing to be judged strictly on the quality of your content and not on your follower count!
Additionally, I’m in the process of writing a book, so I’m very excited to have that as a new income stream. I’ve also been paid for some speaking engagements in the past, and I hope to expand upon that a bit more now that COVID restrictions are lifting.
Don’t Be Afraid to Outsource Things You Aren’t Good At
I have to wear many hats as a blogger, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t ask for help.
I started blogging full-time in December 2016, and I thought I’d have time to do it all. The accounting. The negotiating, The content creation. I didn’t have 9-5 and a commute to worry about, so I was under the impression that I could handle everything. Well, I was wrong.
The more time I had to create content, the better my content got, and more brands were looking to partner with me. More brands wanting to partner = more negotiating, more discovery calls, and more accounting to deal with. I realized I needed help when I was in Hawaii on vacation with my mom in early 2019, and I was waking up at the crack of dawn to review a 26-page contract a brand had sent me.
I signed on to a management group in the spring of 2019, and it’s improved my life for the better. Now I don’t have to deal with negotiations, invoicing, or collecting payment — they take care of all of that for me! I also get far fewer 1099s during tax season since they accept payment on my behalf, which makes my life so much easier.
I also have an accountant who works with me year-round to stay on top of my estimated quarterly taxes. Accounting is not my strong suit, so it’s nice to outsource that to an expert. Lastly, I work with a virtual assistant who helps me create some social media content and helps me stay on top of communication. All in all, I still have pretty full workdays even with all of the extra help, but I can actually get a good night of sleep cause all of these fine folks are taking a load off my plate.
Make Sure You’re Having Fun
I’ve talked a lot about the cons of blogging, but there are so many pros. I love that I’ve gotten the opportunity to connect with thousands of people across the globe, been able to partner with my dream brands, and have made solid IRL friends along the way.
It can be easy to feel burnt out and discouraged by this industry, but man — it’s still a magical dream job at the end of the day. Yes, you’ll have to work hard. Yes, you might face rejection. Yes, you might get a bit of imposter syndrome. Yes, you might get frustrated when your Instagram follower count drops for no reason. But at the end of the day, if you love the benefits of the job, keep going, my friend. Your voice is welcome and needed!
Anyway, cheers to 10 years. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so long, and I’m thankful to each and every one of you who reads this blog or follows me on social to help make this possible!