6 things I learned from my 1st year of blogging
So it's been just over one year since I've hit publish on my website. Although it appears that I may have everything figured out, let me just tell you that running a blog alongside a full-time job is no walk in the park. But it IS absolutely possible.
So for those who are thinking of starting a blog, already own a blog or just want to know what it's like to run a blog, here are some things that are worth considering.
Thank you to photographer Charles Parris for these beautiful photos, taken in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
1. IMPOSTER SYNDROME WILL BE YOUR DOWNFALL
So this a term that I've heard time and time again; especially being in this industry amongst other bloggers and influencers. It's that feeling of persistent self doubt and inadequacy, despite obvious successes or competence. This was my position for as long as I could remember. I doubted my capability of being able to produce a blog and furthermore a website.
Blogging was something I used as a creative outlet and means of self expression, so the thought of not going through with it would've been truly disappointing. So you know what I did, I just went for it. I held myself accountable by letting my Instagram followers know beforehand that I was releasing a website. This made it almost impossible for me to not follow through with it. And you know what? When my website was published, I felt so relieved, proud, a bit anxious but excited about accomplishing that task and for what the future of my blog held.
Whenever those feelings of fraudulence would pop into my mind, I would take a look at my comment section under my Facebook and Instagram posts, my DMs from persons cheering me on about how my blog is an inspiration to them and I realize that I AM doing a pretty awesome job. A year later I can safely say that I made the best choice and I feel so accomplished for all that I've achieved on my blog in such a short space of time. Remember, your mind is a powerful tool and you are your only limit.
2. FIND YOUR NICHE
This will be the persons that your content is expected to reach and that you have the most engagement with; and will ultimately help your blog grow. As you know, I run a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog which are broad categories within themselves. But over time, as I created content, I noticed certain trends that helped me to bring focus to certain areas within my blog.
I've noticed that my fashion and travel blog posts sometimes get a lot more engagement than some of my beauty posts. This isn't to say that I would produce less content related to beauty, but with this information, I know that my blog has a stronger focus on fashion. Hence I would try to reproduce more fashion/style-related posts.
Also, depending on the social media platform(s) used, there are algorithms that must be considered to help with improving your reach and engagement. So do the necessary research!
3. NETWORKING IS EVERYTHING
I can't stress this enough because it is a key element. In this industry, it's almost impossible to be successful whilst attempting to be a solo act. Now I know you may be thinking "umm Chantelle, you run your own blog" but this is not what I mean. Let me elaborate.
When I started blogging I must admit that I didn't fully comprehend all that takes place behind-the-scenes . I was new to what networking meant and didn't exactly know how to approach companies and brands to collaborate with them. I felt clueless about all of the logistics behind running a website and tracking activity on it.
Apart from personal research, I eventually mustered the courage to start online conversations with local bloggers and influencers; some with more experience than myself and others who were considering starting their own blogs or had recently started blogs. It was an opportunity to educate myself on their knowledge and expertise, whilst being able to share some of my own advice.
Getting the opportunity to attend events and meeting bloggers in person allowed us to have real conversations that weren't possible through email or even Instagram DMs. It allowed us to connect on a brand new level; discussing a variety of topics related to our blogs and life outside of blogging - those honest and raw conversations.
I'm a generally introverted person but through networking, it has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and use my voice as a tool to inspire others. This came in the form of a Summit for Women in August 2019 held by Caribbean Sistren Ltd; where I had the opportunity to be a speaker and share my story of the balancing act of being a doctor and blogger. Networking creates endless opportunities so don't sleep on it!
4. IT'S OKAY TO SAY NO
It will be tempting to want to accept every offer to promote a product or represent a brand that approaches you. Some of these are genuine but remember, not each one will be suited to your brand. It's important to know what you want your brand to be recognized for so that you ultimately become the "go to" for that one thing. Hence, it's important to ensure that the brands you want to promote have core values that align with yours and in that way, a collaboration is more genuine and actually makes sense.
Also, there are many fake companies that spam comments on Instagram asking to "DM to collab", or email offering spurious opportunities. Do your research on the brand by Googling their name to see if they are legitimate and have been accused of fraud etc. You'd then have a clearer outlook on who is worth your time and who you should respond to.
5. MAKE TIME FOR CREATING CONTENT BUT TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
Burnout is real and it's one hell of a thing. On a personal note, I've dealt with my fair share of absolute exhaustion; balancing a blog and life as a medical doctor along with trying to maintain an active social life. Both are demanding in their own right and when I started my blog, I struggled with time management and consistency. These are some of THE most important aspects of a blog because the less consistent you are, the more disjointed your posts will be. As a result your audience will lack interest and you potentially lose engagement, which is never good.
Having a planner or even simply a notebook to track activities in my daily life and then scheduling time to create content around that is absolutely necessary for a successful blog. However, in the same breath, it's tempting to try to keep abreast with other bloggers and influencers that seemingly post very regularly. I had to learn to slow things down, evaluate my situation and realize that we're different people with different schedules and it would be futile to attempt to replicate what they were doing.
I've always been an advocate for self care and taking time for your mental health. Knowing when it's time to take a break; simply putting your mind and body at ease and being grateful for what you've achieved are sometimes the driving forces to spark new ideas. So refuel and recharge your body and mind as often as you need to.
6. BE YOURSELF
With so many fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogs around the world, and in Trinidad where I'm from, I was hesitant to launch something of a similar scope. But then I thought about it: there's no one in this world that is the same as me. While I may share similar likes with other bloggers and influencers, I knew that I brought a whole new approach to the fashion blogging world.
My style as most of you would know, is very classy, sophisticated and effortless and I stress on the importance of incorporating wardrobe basics into your closet. My fashion posts exude just that and I've received so much positivity on my style. I've had women messaging to let me know that my style has inspired them and they want to know where I shop so that they can refine their wardrobes #aspiretoinspire. This would have not been possible if I felt the need to alter my style or personality in an attempt to be "accepted" on social media.
My blog has essentially created an online community that values my opinions and suggestions. They genuinely seem interested in ME as a person and that has been so refreshing. Anyone that has met me in person can see the joy that being a blogger has brought to my life and it's an experience I won't ever trade.
So, one year down and many more to go! I am so thrilled to continue sharing my blog and life experiences with all of you. I hope that my blog has sparked an interest in you to go after that dream you've been holding off on making a reality because of Imposter syndrome. Live your life on your terms and truly live life to its fullest. You'd be surprised at how amazing things turn out to be. The world of opportunity is yours.
Leave a comment below and share one goal that you hope to achieve for 2020. Don't forget to like and share this post if you've been inspired xo