I can’t believe my blog is already a year old! Just last week, I celebrated my one year blogiversary so I wanted to share some things with you guys that I’ve learned in my first year of blogging and why I started in the first place. Whether you’re a blogger too and can relate or you’re pursuing something you’re passionate about, I feel that many of these tips would apply to anyone thinking about starting or already running their own business.
I started blogging in the first place as a creative outlet. I have always loved to write. English was my really my only strong suit in school and I took several years of creative writing classes growing up. I always felt like writing was somewhere in the cards for me, but I was just never really sure what role it would play in my life.
I also began pursuing modeling back in 2015 and really enjoyed it. But let’s be honest, after a while, I realized that wasn’t really going to go anywhere with me living in Central Illinois. Moving away wasn’t an option and I wasn’t interested in being just an “Instagram model”. While I still loved doing photoshoots, I began to think what was the point if the pictures were just going to sit unused on my phone or computer? If I was going to continue taking pictures, I wanted them to have a purpose. I wanted to have a place where I could connect people with brands, to represent the average size woman in a time where we are beginning to accept body diversity more freely and to inspire people in general.
After a lot of contemplation, I decided what better way to combine all of the things I enjoy than by starting a blog? Now that I’m a year in, I realized it was the perfect storm of creativity for me. It has given me the opportunity to create content to share with the world that I think (*hope*) my readers find value in. It has helped me find what I’m passionate about (I’ve even found a love for photography!). I’ve had the chance to work with some really great brands and experience some wonderful things. I truly can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with my business and that’s what makes doing this every day worth it to me.
HELPFUL TIPS I’VE LEARNED IN MY FIRST YEAR:
I may only be a year in to this, but I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. These tips are based from a blogger perspective, but most if not all are relevant in some way to anyone running their own business. Here are my top tips:
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to invest in yourself and in your business. Blogging is expensive. I have invested hundreds (maybe thousands?) of dollars just in the last year in building my business. I started with virtually nothing more than a notebook and my ideas. Over time, I’ve invested in a laptop, a desktop computer, a camera, lenses, website hosting, a domain name and most importantly, a whole lot of time. I have treated this as a business from day one because ultimately, that’s what I want it to be.
You don’t have to spend top dollar on these things, especially when you’re just getting started. Facebook Marketplace and Ebay are excellent places to find many items at a fraction of the cost. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to present yourself that way. Creating quality content with the right tools from the start is a must. Having an actual domain name rather than a Blogspot or WordPress domain is a must. Why should anyone else invest in you if you don’t invest in you?
Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. There are definitely a lot of perks that come along with blogging, but know that if you’re only in it for the free stuff, you won’t go far and your lack of passion is going to be obvious to your audience. Blogging is nothing short of a full time job. I spend countless hours working on posts, creating content, educating myself about this industry and so on. I stay up late. I give up time with my friends and family. I work on it in some way in practically every ounce of my free time. Why? Because I am truly passionate about what I’m doing and the business I’m building. It’s a “job” I look forward to doing daily. If blogging (or really anything you’re pursuing) isn’t something you’re truly passionate about, you will burn out quickly. I am so grateful to have stumbled across creating something that I really enjoy putting all of my energy into and watching it grow.
Be genuine. When I originally sat down to plan out starting my blog, one of my goals was to always remain authentic to my audience. If I sincerely do not like a product or a brand, I’m not going to promote it to my readers, even if it means turning down money. My Instagram feed will not be perfectly curated at all times because I’m a real person and life isn’t perfect. I want whoever stumbles across any of my pages to know I’m being real and honest with them and if I share things with you, it’s because I truly like it and I want to share it with you. I can’t encourage being genuine with your audience enough. It’s easy to see through and you will go so much farther by just being real with people.
Let go of the idea of perfection. First of all, there is no such thing as perfect in any situation so why stress about it? The same concept applies to blogging. I am guilty of this myself – spending far more time than necessary overanalyzing my content, wanting to get it “just right”, whatever that even means. Don’t get so caught up in the idea of “perfect” that you find yourself just treading water and going nowhere. What really matters is creating consistent quality content. Your posts, writing style, photos, etc. will naturally improve over time. Just be patient and do your best.
Find your niche. Blogging is incredibly saturated. Everyone has a blog. Everyone has a social media presence. You have to find what you makes you stand out from everyone else. What makes you and your content special? People consume social media at a rapid rate. What are you putting out there that would make someone want to stop and read your post rather than keep scrolling? I feel that finding my niche is something I’m still working on just because there are so many things that I want to write about (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) that I just haven’t quite narrowed it down all the way yet. I do know there are certainly some topics that I enjoy creating content around more than others and I am slowly finding my way. Find what makes you happy and where you can contribute value in the world and chase that.
Consistency and organization are key. Aside from putting out quality content, it’s so so important to be consistent. The internet and social media are ever-changing and if you’re not consistently putting out content, you’re bound to get lost in the shuffle and potentially forgotten about. This is something I’ve struggled with for many months up until recently. I set up myself up for failure from the start, thinking that I could manage posting 3-4 times a week. As much as I would love to, that unfortunately doesn’t work for me right now with my schedule. I was getting overwhelmed setting a goal for myself that I couldn’t maintain. I felt pulled in so many different directions to accomplish so much in so little time that I was accomplishing nothing at all. I’m finally getting into a routine of consistently posting and following a schedule that does work for me and I have noticed a significantly positive change as a result.
Also, being organized is EVERYTHING. I can’t stress that enough. I keep a planner and a notebook with me at all times. I plan out my posting calendar weeks in advance to keep me on track. I jot down ideas anytime anything comes to mind. I have a master to do list of all things blog related that I break down into daily tasks. Overwhelm is a very real thing here and there are so many things to be doing at all times with a blog that staying organized is crucial.
Create a workspace that inspires you. One of my biggest struggles right now is not having a place that’s just “mine” where I can really focus and get things done. I’m (slowly) working on remodeling our spare bedroom into my home office (which I am soo excited about and can’t wait to share with you guys when it’s done). I’m planning and organizing every last detail exactly as I envision it so that I feel inspired as soon as I walk in the room. However, for now, that room is a disaster so I find myself in the living room constantly distracted by the sounds of video games, tv, etc. and it’s just really hard for me to concentrate on writing and creating content. I highly suggest finding a spot that’s conducive to your productivity and inspires you. Whether that’s a coffee shop, a corner of your bedroom.. whatever works for you. I guarantee you will get much more done and feel far less distracted.
Don’t compare your success to someone else’s. It would be really easy to give up on my blog most days if I were to sit back and compare my success to other bloggers and influencers. Do I think that I’m doing okay for being a year in? Absolutely. Am I where I want to be? Far from it. I know some bloggers that started around the same time as me and have already somehow made this their full time career. Of course this is frustrating to me, but I’m still appreciative of my journey and it motivates me to keep going because I know what’s possible if I continue on this path. What I’m getting at here is that success doesn’t happen overnight (well, for most people anyway) and your journey is not going to be the same as someone else’s. And quite frankly, you shouldn’t want it to be or it wouldn’t be yours. Stay committed and you’ll find success.
Just start. One of the biggest pieces of advice I would give is to just get started. If there is something you’re passionate about (or think you would be passionate about), go for it! I found notes on my phone dating back to 2014 talking about wanting to start a blog. That means it took me 3 YEARS to just do it! 3 years of putting off something that I love. 3 years I could have spent working on something that’s fulfilling to me. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t get started sooner. And honestly, whatever excuse I could come up with really isn’t good enough to justify overlooking my passion for so long. If you want something, you do whatever it takes to make it happen. Life is too short not to.