Back in the summer of 2017, I decided to set up my little blog. If you’ve read my posts ‘Is the blogging market over saturated’ or ‘Get your priorities in check’ then you’ll know that in my final year of university, I based my dissertation around blogging- well more specifically around blogging as a sustainable career. I decided that it would be a good idea to set up my own blog to learn along the way and get a better insight into the industry. I even completed a 3-month experiment on my blog, as a direct part of my dissertation’s primary research. But one year on, and I am so grateful and happy that I made the decision to 1. choose a dissertation topic on blogging and 2. set out on this little adventure of starting my own blog and building my ‘brand’. Because I’ll tell you now, I seriously didn’t expect just how well it was going to go!
So I just thought I’d write a post about what I’ve learnt in the past year of blogging, some of my highlights, and also my plan for my blog over the next year. Sit back, with a cuppa and enjoy the read… I promise I’ll try and not to ramble on too much.
Things I have learnt since blogging
It’s seriously hard work
Although the blogging industry has been building over the last 15 years, it’s still a pretty new industry. With that, I think there’s a lot of people who simply don’t understand or appreciate the amount of the work that goes into blogging, whether you do it as a hobby or an aspiring career. You have to plan the photos, take and then edit the pictures, plan the post, write the post and then promote the post. Let alone running your supporting social media accounts alongside your blog, posting and then engaging with your audience. Plus, you’re also constantly networking and building new relationships with brands, answering direct messages, emails etc. Oh and creating and chasing invoices to top it off. You get the picture. It’s hard work, and it’s even harder work to make sure you are doing it well- which is key to gaining any success in a market which a lot of people want a piece of.
You have to believe in yourself
Just over a year ago, I had my Instagram account on private and I was used to trying to be one of those ‘cool’ people who didn’t really use captions and would never dream of using hashtags. I quickly had to get over that and step out of my comfort zone. It’s so important to engage with your audience and show them your personality, but at the time I was really worried about what people would think. Would people I used to go to school with be thinking ‘who does she think she is? She only has 1000 followers on Instagram’. It was silly, but it was always at the back of my mind in the beginning. But then I had a little turning point when I wrote the post ‘Note to self- Don’t apologise’ and decided I didn’t care what anyone thought, and I was determined to make a go of it…which has seriously paid off. But at the beginning especially, it is so important to believe in yourself and take a leap of faith, regardless of what anyone else might think.
As I set up my blog essentially as research for my dissertation, I probably didn’t start off like many other bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love fashion and always wanted to start a blog, but right from the get-go I was seeing my blog as a business opportunity and a challenge to see how well I could do, based on everything I was learning. But one bit of advice that I would give myself then, and still now, is to have fun with it! Blogging is an amazing creative outlet and I love how much it has brought out a creative side in me that I hadn’t really explored before. Plus now that my dissertation is over, whenever I write a blog post, it’s because I want to and although I’m posting less now, I’m enjoying it more as it’s less pressurised! But anyways, have fun with it, life’s too short to be doing it for the wrong reasons!
Position yourself as a ‘brand’ from the get- go
If you want to blog just as a hobby, that is 100% fine, but if you are wanting to potentially make a career out of blogging or use it as a form of subsidising your income, you need to position yourself as a brand. I think the fact I did this from pretty early on, has really helped me appeal to brands. The basics are- get a logo, define your niche, build a good website and build your social media presence.
Strive to be at the top of the game
You may be starting at 0, but have high goals and strive for them. For instance, I knew from the get-go that I wanted to be a blogger who used street-style and lifestyle images and that’s what I did. In relation to brands, write down a list of people you want to work with, and try and make it happen. Ultimately you’re the only one in control of your future, so work for it!
Know your worth
When you’re just starting out and brands start to approach you, you think its amazing! And don’t get me wrong it is, but some brands will happily take advantage of the fact you’re just starting out. It’s a fine line, as brands need a ROI (return on investment) and if you have a smaller audience, the likelihood is you’ll reach less people. But at the same time they’ll often want a lot from you when you’re not getting much in return. It’s good to build a portfolio of brands which you’ve worked with, but if they’re not actually likely to give you much ‘exposure’ and the products they’re sending you are worth next to nothing, or something you wouldn’t usually use, then definitely think twice. You have to weigh up if it’s worth it? In my post ‘Being selective with brand collaborations’ I talk about this a lot more, as over the last few months I’ve had to learn to say no to quite a lot of opportunities that have come my way, frankly because I know my worth.
My proudest blogging moments this year
Working with brands
I have had the absolute pleasure this year of working with some amazing brands, which I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d have the chance to be working with! I’ve done paid campaigns with New Look, Ray Ban, Warehouse and Nicce London. As well as gifted campaigns with Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, JD sports and Lipsy, to name a few! I didn’t think that this would’ve happened so quickly and I’m always so grateful for the opportunities that come my way! Hard work pays off…
Earning money from blogging
As briefly discussed above, I’ve started to earn some money from my blog and social channels and as a result have set up as self-employed this year. It’s not at the point where I could comfortably go full time yet, but I’m seriously excited for what the next year might bring and opportunities that may come my way!
Bestival with JD x Vans
In August I got the chance to attend Bestival courtesy of the team at JD x Vans. This was a crazy surreal weekend and one of the best highlights of my first year blogging! I wrote a post all about it here, so you can have a read to see what I got up to whilst I was there!
Beating the Algorithm
This last one is more related to Instagram, but I’m actually so proud that I’ve managed to grow on that platform over the last year. When I first started a year ago I think I had around 1000 followers and it has since grown to just under 10k. When I hit 10k I’ll be writing a post all about it, so make sure to keep an eye out! But what I’m proud about is when I started everyone was complaining about the Instagram algorithm, which kicked in around September 2017, just as I’d started out. I didn’t know any difference but I noticed lots of bloggers were having issues with followers and likes dropping. I’ve seen accounts struggle to grow in the last year, but I’ve slowly been able to grow mine, and I’m pretty proud about that. Are the algorithm issues a myth? Who knows…
The plan going forward
The plan going forward is pretty simple. I want to try and post more regularly and strive to bring you the best content I can. Over the last year I’ve found that my favourite posts to write are the relatable topical/lifestyle type posts, and these are always the ones that do the best for me. I think in an era where everyone is busy, and people want to consume information as quickly as they can, I want to create gripping enough content to make people stop for 10 minutes and have a read. If you have any idea of posts you want to see from me, I would love to know! I also want to brush up on my SEO skills to ensure that my posts are reaching as big an audience as possible!
I’ll also be continuing to put a large amount of my efforts into Instagram, as this is an area which is really growing for me- which I wrote about in my post ‘Instagram vs Blogging’.
And who knows…I MAY even start a YouTube channel (we’ll see)
Until next time,
(* Disclaimer- All items marked with a (*) were kindly gifted to me by the brands mentioned, but again I was not required to feature them in this post)
If you’re not yet following me on my social pages I would love to connect so I’ve linked them below, come say hi!-