It is so wild to think that a year ago I took the leap of buying my domain name and really going for this whole blogging and influencing thing! I had been blogging on and off for years, but it was only after I took the leap of leaving my full time job of over a decade to stay home with my two littlest ones (and being super available to my teenager) and just existed for full year after that, did I really feel like I had the energy and focus to pour into it. Admittedly when I was working full time and being a mom and a wife and just a PERSON I wasn't able to create content the way I wanted.
I got started on December 30th; that day is so important to me because it is the birthday of my aunt who raised me. She died unexpectedly in 2012 and I truly felt it was like on that particular day last year that her spirit was telling me to go for it and just do the dang thing.
I wrote a little bit about my experience once I was 75 days in (you can read it here), and even going back to look at that makes me realize how much more I really had to learn about everything. This post is going to be an update with a few things that I have learned a year in; I still feel like I have SO much to learn, but that is the fun of growing and evolving.
- Community really is key
One of the best things that I have learned over the last year is that while the influencer/blogger market feels saturated and feels like there are so many other people doing the same thing you are, there really is NO need for competition. What is meant for you will be meant for you and no one else can take that away from you. I have a group of super sweet friends that I have connected with in various communities and the support is like no other. It really helps when you have people who are involved in the same hustle as you and they totally get what it is like. We all cheer each other on, boost each other up, and have become true friends. I didn't start all of this thinking that I would find a new little village of folks but it has been such a great bonus.
- Don't get caught up in the numbers...but you can't pretend they don't mean something either
I'm going to be super honest with you all; things really started to kick into gear with me once I hit 10K followers on Instagram in May. Once I got to that number and I was able to utilize that swipe up that brands love? I started getting to work with large brands. I started getting well-paid offers from brands like Hello Fresh, Band-Aid, Walgreens, and PayPal. It was shocking and a little sobering to me, though. I still firmly believe that content is key and the numbers game can only take you so far; but if you are looking to seriously work with larger brands they are looking at that. There are still brands that I want to work with that I am too 'small' for. I try to not take that personally and just focus on where I am at and where I am hoping to go. I always have promised y'all honesty, so that is why I am keeping it all the way real with this.
- Figure out who YOU are and YOUR brand
I really was sort of all over the place when I started all of this; I wanted to do it ALL. To certain degree I still do, but I have really honed in more on the things that I genuinely love posting about and what brings me the most joy. I have found that is mostly fashion, beauty, and a little bit of motherhood sprinkled in here and there. This is never going to just be a fashion blog, or just a beauty blog, or just a mommy blog; it is going to be a culmination of the things I love and sharing those things with folks. I think it is super key to really figure out where you want to take yourself and your brand; may that be just posting about one thing or several. No matter what, it HAS to make you happy and be something that you are passionate about.
- Comparison is the thief of joy
I feel like this is a HUGE one. I have said it before, but there truly is only one you; it doesn't serve you to try and be like someone else. I often see these gorgeous super curated feeds with professional looking photography and while it is all lovely, I know that it isn't ME. I can admire those folks and root them on, but also be proud of my lane even though it is different. There is no one way to go about all of this. Don't waste your time lamenting what you aren't and start thinking about what you ARE and what you have to offer.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions of brands and know your worth
Not every offer is a good one, friends. It might seem awesome at first when you are offered an opportunity to be a 'brand rep' but look between the lines; are you having to pay money for exposure, i.e. you are having to buy the products? How often does the brand in question promote their brand reps? What exactly will you be gaining from the experience? Now if you truly are 100% okay with getting a discount on products (which isn't a bad thing at ALL) and that being pretty much it, go for it! I am not even telling you that you shouldn't accept free product for promotion (I know I still do!). What I am saying is that you do not have to accept everything that comes your way. If it seems sketchy...chances are it is. Ask around to some of your other influencer friends; I know that I more than welcome DMs and e-mails with questions! Don't be afraid to ask questions and if you don't like the terms, to negotiate. That is NOT rude or uppity or out of line; if you're trying to run a business, love, you have to be businesslike. The worst that can happen is that you are told no, and the best that can happen is that you work with a brand you love and you negotiate terms that are in your best interests.
- Keep at it and don't get discouraged!
When I was first starting all of this, I read something online that really stuck with me; it said that if you lasted a year at blogging that meant you had a better chance of sticking with it. I would think about that in the moments when I would feel stuck, when I would beat myself up about not blogging enough, about not feeling confident in my content, when I would worry about my follower count on IG (I'm not perfect, y'all; I have fallen into those traps too). I knew if I just could stick with it and stay the course, that I would be able to make it work and stick with it. And look at where we are now!
Those are really the main things; I know I have learned much more and I am still learning and growing. Mostly of all, I want to thank anyone who has stuck with me through out this journey and is still along for the ride. It means more to me than I can say.
2020 is going to have so much more; more blogs, more working with brands, more cultivating my voice and personal brand, and other fun things coming down the pipe (be on the lookout for a podcast with the husband and I hopefully in the first quarter of the year). I truly love what I do and I love who I am doing it for!