I've contributed for IFB for the past four years and have written a LOT of posts. I've also received thousands of comments over the years, so I feel like I have an idea of “what the IFB community wants.” Success varies from blogger to blogger, but the members of the IFB community emphasize their desire to grow active, engaged communities; to make money off their sites; and to develop relationships with brands and other bloggers that may lead to larger opportunities.
Fashion blogging is a bit like acting, and IFB is a bit like Hollywood– thousands of bright young things begin blogging every day and want to make a dream come true. A dream that seems glamorous and fun, but that's really hard work. Behind the glitter, IFB is here to help you make your dreams a reality. But like all dreams, there's always a fear that crushes us… that we won't “make it.”
In my experience, of running my own site and being part of this vast community, here are the 12 attitudes and qualities that hinder bloggers from “making it.”
1. You don't have your own distinct voice… or style.
Readers complain about this all of the time– that personal style bloggers all look the same. They wear the same shoes, buy the same statement, luxury pieces. The bloggers that float to the top? They all bring a distinct vision and style– THEIR distinct vision and style to their site. What do you have that no one else has? What makes it attainable– or aspirational?
2. Your posts offer little-to-no value for your readers.
Why are your readers coming to your site? As much as we love ya… it's not just YOU they're coming for. If your posts consist of a bunch of poor images and no text… well, what are they coming for? What are you offering or what can they apply to their life? You can get away with bad images if your content is also offering something else AMAZING.
Ultimately, it's what you can offer THEM. I feel like the best equation for creating content is “You + What You Can Offer = An Engaged Audience.”
3. You think you're producing new and unique content… but you're just regurgitating what everyone else is doing on the web.
I don't believe there is new, original content, but I do believe how we present it is what makes it unique. That being said– if you're doing the same roundup of 5 Summer Essentials on a white background with no text, what is distinguishing you from 100 other bloggers? Or 1000? How can you present that amazing Miu Miu editorial with a new idea, instead of just posting the photos?
4. You're so focused on being the next big thing and being on the cutting edge– of fashion, technology– that you haven't mastered the simple basics that will help your site.
Fashion bloggers have a bad habit of brushing off the technical side of building their sites in favor of the social side. (I'm sure this is actually prevalent across many types of blog niches!) The fact is, if you don't learn about SEO, you're losing a lot of organic traffic. If you ignore simple elements of design, people will get turned off when visiting your site. You ARE expected to “know it all” to run your site– or outsource it to someone who does.
5. You ask, “My site is great, why aren't people coming?” OR you compare yourself to others: “Why isn't this happening to me? How come I'm not getting those opportunities?”
As someone who worked in marketing and events, this is a common problem. Everyone wants to believe, whether in business or blogging, that their product is good and that is enough to make people come– and stay. But the reality is, that's simply not the case.
Comparing yourself to other bloggers is a quick way to hinder your site, your progress, and lose your vision. Over the years I've been plagued by this one myself, trying too hard to be the next “Insert Blogger's Name,” so that I could get the same opportunities they did. All of these great things WILL happen to you… on your time and with a whole helluva lot of hustle!
6. You lack patience.
For every bright eyed babe that starts a blog, another blog dies. I've seen so many come and go, and one of the biggest hurdles a blogger faces is patience. Very few sites reach 100,000 pageviews in 3 months or 6 months. Few are able to build amazing, interactive communities overnight. It's okay lil' grasshopper… just be patient, work hard, and recognize that you're doing far better and more than you believe!
7. You're focused on your own end game; you worry about competition and growth instead of building community and quality content.
I think competition is only healthy when it motivates us to push ourselves forward: outside of our comfort boxes and to try new things. If you let competition take control of you, it'll cripple you as a blogger.
Growing your site is a combination of working hard and working smart. Thousands of “Great outfit! Come see my site!” links may temporarily bring you traffic, but they won't sustain your traffic in the long run. Developing genuine, real relationships with other bloggers (much like your friends in real life) will make you happier, will develop your site, and foster your community in ways you can't imagine.
8. You say, “This doesn't apply to me,” instead of thinking creatively about how it CAN apply to you.
I see this a lot at IFB– bloggers want the information to be targeted directly to them, their specific site, and niche. But the fact is the information is presented for the largest denominator of bloggers. It's up to YOU to figure out how to apply that information to your site and make it relevant for you. Success comes from creative thinking, and creative thinking comes from learning, creating, and applying it to your site.
9. You're too damned lazy to do the work.
This points back to “mastering the basics” and “this doesn't apply to me,” and I say this as the laziest blogger ever. Really. The fact is, to “make it” as a blogger, you have to have more that dedication and passion. Like success in any field, it's a combination of obsession, hard work, drive, ambition, a thirst for knowledge, and a good dose of luck. You can't control whether or not you get lucky, but you can control how hard you're willing to work. And if you're lazy (like I am), it may be time for a reality check: how much can you honestly accomplish with the work you're willing to do?
10. You get caught up in acquiring new things, instead of creating new content.
This is another complaint I hear from bloggers and readers– that X blogger is always buying new things for new content. This is a vicious cycle, as old as fashion blogging. While it may help to attract new readers and keep people coming back for more, it's not a sustainable blog practice in the long run. It just leads to too much consumption, too much debt, and a loss of your own style and identity. And ultimately, your audience will feel alienated if they can't relate to you.
11. You hold yourself back…
Whether it's “I don't have enough time” or “things get in the way,” to meeting other bloggers, reaching out to brands, making yourself vulnerable, or genuinely putting yourself out there. You're holding yourself back.
This is another one I've been guilty of, and it's why I've become honest with myself about why I “won't make it” as a blogger. I have only so much time to give, and that time won't always grow me or my site beyond its current level. Blogging isn't the most important thing in my life…and so I've stopped holding myself back, and blaming other factors in my life for that.
12. Your definition of success is limited or too big.
Crazy, right? The idea of a “successful blog” is kind of vast and overwhelming and undefined. That's why should be clear and HONEST with yourself about what it will take for you to feel successful in your site. Is it a certain number of page views each month? Is it a certain number of comments? Is it having readers email you with requests and questions?
Only you can answer what makes YOU successful, and it's likely a different answer than mine. Write down what will make you successful. Make a road map with what you can do to get there. And if it doesn't happen… not everyone is successful their first time around, or their second. But it WILL happen, one day.
So what do you think? What stands in the way between you and success? What do you think stands in the way of bloggers and “making it” overall?