5 Lessons from The First Year Of Blogging
By: Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

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By Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society

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Thirteen months ago I launched my business and blog, Dean Street Society. It’s been overwhelming & stress-filled. Plus amazing and joy-filled. Here’s the cheat-sheet I’d pass any new blogger hitting publish for the first time.

1. You will have more ideas {& awesome outfits} than there are hours to blog them. It’s the curse of being a creative genius {cue back of hand draped dramatically across brow}. Focus is hard because to say “yes” to one thing, means saying “no” to another. And most of those “no’s” are to something awesome. Keep a Google Doc or iPhone album of your ideas. You’ll have a 2nd year of blogging to get them out.

2. It is humanly impossible to do everything you’re “supposed to do.” Blogging 5x a week, photo shoots, outfit boards, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, every new style site, blog commenting, networking events, fashion research — they’re all brilliant ideas to build your brand. It’s just not possible to do all of them at 100% in your first year. I finally realized that I wasn’t failing at my to-do list for lack of hustle and hard work, but because the list was more than even Oprah could do all alone!

3. Your blog is the outfit you put on every day. They say it takes 10 seconds to decide a first impression. What does 10 seconds on your blog lead us to think about your style, professionalism, brand? Your header is the dress, with everything from your font to your about photo as the accessories. The #1 thing that allowed me to succeed in my 1st year was my branding. If design isn’t your thing, look to bloggers like Atlantic-Pacific for inspiration that simple is chic. Have a Photoshop friend show you just 2 tools to mess with so your photos can have a consistent vibrant, glowy or over-exposed look that’s “you”.

4. Be a businesswoman. If want to be. If blogging is just a hobby for you, awesome! Politics is just a hobby for me. But if you have aspirations of monetizing, then study business. You don’t have to start reading the Economist, but pay attention to how your favorite graphic designer or baker is growing their business. Understand marketing, PR, customer service, ROI. Take yourself seriously as a blogger and others will take you seriously too.

5. The internet is big. There are lots of talented people. There will be other bloggers who get big sponsors, features, followings. But there’s enough love & respect to go around. If you truly believe in your brand, your vision, that you have something unique to say that will bless people — trust that inner voice and do your best to sing really loudly every time the gremlins of doubt, jealousy or dismay get you down. Everyone has a first year. If you make it past the first year, then throw yourself a party! I threw myself two.

Where are you in your blogging journey? What do you wish someone had told you at the start?

Comments

  1. Avatar of A Key to the Armoire

    Totally agree! At the end of the day, your blog should reflect who you are; don’t “do” stuff just for the sake of blogging! Also, you should do it only if you love to do it. If it stops being fun, you must stop.

    Great advice, Hilary!

    xo,
    Susana
    http://www.akeytothearmoire.com

    • “Only do it if you love to do it” is such a good point, Susana. I think everyone goes through lulls where blogging can become a chore, rather than a delight. If it’s just for fun, I think you can definitely take a step back during that time! If it’s your full or part-time job, then I think we have to remember that work is not necessarily a party every day. Then I think it becomes about gratitude & remembering why you choose this job in the first place so you can get back to a place of joy.

      with grace & gumption,
      Hilary

  2. Avatar of Rena A Thompson {The Style Gospel}

    #2 is so true. It really is hard to keep up with not only having good content and an attractive blog, but also having to maintain Facebook pages, twitter, et al – It is exhausting!! Especially when I first started out I didn’t even know how to use wordpress, twitter, or create a fan page, lol!! I love how all my stuff is consistent (and pretty *wink*) for branding, but there’s still so much to learn, especially in order to drive traffic.

    And I wish more people got #5. There’s room for all of us and I’m always so excited to meet other bloggers, but some think they are just holier than thou.

    Rena @ the Style Gospel
    http://theStyleGospel.com
    http://www.facebook.com/theStyleGospel
    http://www.twitter.com/theStyleGospel

    • Rena, yes! I truly believe the more we talk about it the less everyone will feel like it’s a personal failure & see that it’s just the nature of a fast-paced big-goals world. Though I also try as often as possible not to answer, “How are you?” with “busy”. I try to remember that everyone’s busy, while also beating myself up less with that overwhelm. Still learning that balance …

      with grace & gumption,
      Hilary

  3. Avatar of Runaway {Style}

    This is great advice. The first year (which I am in) is difficult, but you have to remember why you are doing it and find happiness in every single post. Love this & thank you!

    Hannah
    http://myrunawaystyle.blogspot.com/

  4. Avatar of Devon - InformedStyle.com

    I like the advice of thinking of your blog as an outfit – that it needs to properly ‘fit’ you – and convey the messages you’re trying to send out to readers.

    Also – thanks for the reassurance that it isn’t a lack of hard work that results in not checking off everything on the to-do list…as a new blogger, the thoughts of what you should be doing can be overwhelming.

    Dev
    http://www.informedstyle.com

    • Devon, you are not alone! Hustle doesn’t mean the list stops growing. As long as you’re being honest with yourself about whether you’re really working hard — an accountability partner can be a great way to do this — then we have to give ourselves grace that we’re only one little {though mighty!} person.

      with grace & gumption,
      Hilary

  5. This is an amazing article!!! I am just in my first 6 months and it is so helpful. Thank you.

  6. Thank you for this article!
    I am brand-new (still in the first month) and I already feel like I’m not doing enough although I’m constantly working on my blog or thinking up ideas to improve it! The work definitely feels incredible because I enjoy it 100%, and this article gives me hope, it IS enough to do the best I can! :)
    Thank you so much!!
    PS. This site is great and I love all the information i’m gathering!

  7. Avatar of Nasreen
    Nasreen says:

    I love blogging and I definitely hope I make it through my first year…who doesnt wanna throw a party for themself? hahah

    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

  8. Jacqueline says:

    I am making note of this advice as I am in my first year of blogging and am trying to learn as much as possible while still enjoying the journey and having fun! Thanks!

  9. Avatar of Catherine Summers

    Thank you for these, yet again you’ve listed points I hadn’t thought about!

    Funnily enough I covered exactly the same sort of subject in a post I did in July (when my blog turned one) entitled “10 Things I Wish I Wish I’d Been Told When I Started A Blog”. My main tip is to leave interesting, thoughtful and personal comments on other people’s blogs (why was I so afraid to do this in the first few weeks?) and nurturing relationships with other bloggers.

    Once I got the hang of these two I was away… and never looked back! Here’s a link to the post if anyone wants a read:

    http://notdressedaslamb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/10-things-i-wish-id-been-told-when-i.html

    Catherine x

  10. Avatar of
    Neil Balmbra says:

    Excellent article! It’s a great reminder that we’re only human and we can only do so much. Blogging should be fun.. why stress ourselves out? I’ll have to come back to this one at times when I’m feeling overwhelmed. :)

    Neil B.
    http://www.neilbalmbra.com

  11. Avatar of anna
    anna says:

    thank you so much for this post…it gets so lonesome in blogging world…I am new and I never know how to measure progress my blog is making or not…all i know is that i am having the best time working on it.

    • Oh Anna don’t feel lonely! I’ll talk in upcoming columns about how to track your “progress” & “success” but the short answer is that different numbers matter to everyone. It might be in page views, blog comments, Instagram followers, or genuine friendships you’re building with your readers & fellow bloggers. It all depends on what your goals are. But if you’re pursuing it as a hobby for now then, quaint as it sounds, having fun is the #1 goal, which you said you’re reaching. :)

      with grace & gumption,
      Hilary

  12. Avatar of Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Love this! I am in my first couple of months and I have really noticed all of this, every spare second is “what outfit will I wear tomorrow?” haha, it’s getting to be a problem!

    Xo, Rachel
    Glitzy Blues

  13. Avatar of Lauren - Slowburn Fastburn

    Great tips! I am still in my first year of blogging and will definitely be taking these to heart!

    x lauren
    http://slowburnfastburn.com

  14. Michelle says:

    This is good advice even if you are nearing the end of your second year of blogging! As time moves on your goals and priorities change and the shift from “just for fun” might also happen. Reminds me that I need to take some time out to focus on my goals for the next year. Thanks

  15. Avatar of Alina
    Alina says:

    Great post, thank you Hilary! I sometimes struggle with keeping up with all the social media sites and just generally finding time to do all the things that ‘I’m supposed to do’ as a blogger. The other thing I noticed is that at the beginning we compare ourselves to other (often more advanced) bloggers – we wish we had so many followers, brands asking us to collaborate and advertise on our blog etc. It’s hard to avoid thinking about this business part of blog and just blog for fun!

    Alina
    http://www.alinaloves.com

    • Alina, such a wise point about comparing yourself to bloggers who are further down the road. It’s the topic of an upcoming column I’m working on, as the industry changes so fast & there are so many variables in everyone’s journey, that you just really can’t set yourself on the path of someone who’s five years ahead of you. I think finding newer bloggers, people near or just a step or two ahead of you is the surest way to find examples that truly inform & empower you in the next 6 months.

      with grace & gumption,
      Hilary

  16. Avatar of Bree
    Bree says:

    Gosh this is all SO true! I have just been blogging for over a year now and I definitely have come to realize many of the points on this list. It takes time but you figure out eventually!
    http://www.theurbanumbrella.com

  17. Avatar of tany
    tany says:

    Thank you for such an insightful and interesting article, such a great advance especially since this will be my second month since I started but so far I am very happy with the response, which motivates me to do even better:)

    http://www.fashiondelights.net

  18. Avatar of nothing but a pigeon

    It is hard to get readers and followers…. I post and no one comments. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this at all. I really want to be a succesful blogger and this motivates me to keep on keeping on.

    http://nothingbutapigeon.blogspot.com/

    • If you’re passionate about it, then keep at it! Make sure you have Google Analytics installed so you can see how many page views you’re getting & not just focus on one barometer like comments. Personally, only a teeny tiny fraction of the unique views I get actually comment. Or. Take the pressure off yourself for a few months & blog with the vision that there’s just one awesome girl on the other side of the world reading. Don’t strive too much for numbers & check back in a few months. Constantly refreshing the page to see if you got new views that day can bum any new blogger out!

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

  19. Great advice! I’ve only just started blogging, so I’m excited to see what my first blogging year will teach me! The first point is the most relevant to me: There just seem to be so many great things to post about, they I sometimes feel overwhelmed. I’m still looking for my niche and what I really want to do, but I guess I will figure this out soon enough.

    xoxo
    Melanie Fontaine

  20. Emily Jayne says:

    I’m a good 2 years into blogging and still learning these lessons, so thanks for this post!

  21. Kris says:

    Hi Hilary! Absolutely love this post as I, among many others, fall into this first-year category. It’s kinda like freshman year of high school.. you’re like fumbling around looking for that crowd you can be in with whilst impressing the slew of senior years AND having to maintain a high GPA?! PLUS hoping to get asked to homecoming which isn’t like…. EONS later but you’re scheming away months early.

    Anyway, just stopped in at your blog and I must say WOW! Love your directness and way of integrating your mission plus services you provide without seemingly sale-sy. I’m about to watch the Skype video of you and Monica – am excited!

    Most humbly,
    Kris from loveyouduh.com

    • Kris, your freshman year analogy is perfection! Spot on! Will definitely have to remember that. And thank you oh so much for your sweet words of encouragement on my blog. I adore what I do but it’s knowing that it resonates with people that makes all the hard work worth it. :)

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

  22. Avatar of Jalie Chichi
    Jalie Chichi says:

    awesome!
    I’m now heading back to your blog for the others advices :)

    my beauty/fashion blog:
    http://www.jaliechichi.com

    xoxo,
    jalie,

  23. Avatar of Onianwah
    Barbara says:

    nos 1,2 and 3? I really need to keep them in mind. I always have so many things written down on paper and in my head and after work, makeup gigs, events etc. when I look at the blog and feel I haven’t done anything, I begin to slap myself mentally.
    I also need to learn to take myself seriously as a blogger and also take my blog seriously.
    Thank you Hilary

    Barbara
    http://barbsiesmusings.blogspot.com/
    Lagos, Nigeria

  24. Addison says:

    I needed to hear this so badly! I always get discouraged that I won’t be able to be found or build my own brand.

    I love the line you said “take yourself seriously as a blogger, and others will, too.”

    These kinds of posts are the reason I come to IFB. Thank you so much.

    Addie
    http://willcodeforclothes.com

  25. Avatar of Tamz
    Tamara says:

    January 30, 2013 and my Fashion Blog {Aubergine Dreamz} (http://tamzlavender.blogspot.com/) will officially be one years old!

    -I’m fining my Pinterest Page [https://pinterest.com/tamzlavender/] to give me insight as to how to improve my blog and what I should post! I base this on what is most popularly being pinned! -Great networking too!!!

  26. Hilary, thank you! By far one of my favorite, motivating posts on here. I do worry about running out of ideas.. or using all my good ideas too soon. I also get so overwhelmed trying to do everything I am “supposed to do.” Just not enough time and I don’t even have kids yet! I don’t know how some bloggers do it. But what I do know is my love and passion for my blog will continue to push me and help me grow!

    Thanks again for a wonderful post!
    xx,
    Bevcky

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