What Did You Learn In Your First Year of Blogging? 3 Pros Chime In


After moderating our jam-packed-with-information panel for IFB Con on “Business in the 1st Year of Blogging”, I sat down with two of the panelists (we were also joined by lovelies Pippa of Sous Style & Zanita of Zanita) to continue to the conversation about where we started and what our path has been.

1.  What is one thing you've stopped doing since your 1st year?


Tina from Bag Snob: Kelly & I used to write purely to entertain each other. Now we get to write to entertain hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.

Amy from College Fashionista:  Second guessing myself. When I first launched CollegeFashionista I was 22 & constantly unsure of business decisions because I was so young to be developing my own company. I have now become way more confident in my decisions & stand firmly behind each business move I make.

Hilary: Aiming for perfection. I’m now proud of myself every time I do something at 90%, because I know my 90% is everyone else’s 99%, & the two hours that last little bit will take me, can get me to 50% on the next thing.

2. What was your biggest disappointment or lowest moment in the 1st year?


Tina: When a PR person (who shall remain nameless) wrote us threatening e-mails because we didn't like the bags she had sent for a giveaway & we wanted to return them.

Amy: My site crashed countless times. Each time I would think, “My business is over, readers will never understand, I’ve lost everything”. I now realize every website crashes & I can quickly troubleshoot those problems as they come.

Hilary: Walking away from a $10K contract when they wanted me to sign a 3-year non-compete & wouldn’t offer royalties. It was disappointing because I knew my offer was very fair, but at the same time I was so proud of myself for not compromising my future for what felt like a lot of money, that it was also one of my highest moments.

3. What’s been your best pinch-me-moment that made all the hard work worth it?


Tina: Landing on the front page of Women’s Wear Daily when the news of our collaboration with DKNY broke. No other bloggers at the time had teamed up with a major brand on that scale. We designed an entire bag line & had a hand in every step of the process from design to production to marketing.

Amy: I have pinch-me-moments on a regular basis. Speaking at IFB is one of those or even something like receiving an email from a contributor saying how much the site has impacted them. I always want more for my company, we have a lot of room for growth & are nowhere near our full potential. But they’re been great successes along the way & I believe in staying grounded, focused & always wanting more.

Hilary: The first day of filming my show for Hello Style Channel. I knew I wanted to use my musical theatre background to do style hosting, but I had no idea it’d happen within 6 months of launching my company. I’d never done a thing on camera, but that day it felt like what I’d be meant to do. Is there any better feeling than that?

4. When did you first hire help or freelancers? Who’s on your team now?


Tina: We hired a great writer to help with Beauty Snob when we first launched, then two years ago a full-time assistant & copy editor to help manage the workload of all six blogs. Now we have two freelance writers, a copy editor, a graphics manager, two part-time interns, ourselves, & Kelly's husband – a.k.a. Tech Snob.

Amy: Our core team is made up of my four siblings! We started together in the beginning & are still the inner workings of this business. At this time my sister & I are the only full-time employees we have. She’s Editorial Director & I’m Creative Director, while my two brothers remain business advisors & investors.

Hilary: Seven months in I hired my first part-time assistant. It sounds crazy but with hosting Hello Style Channel at the time & running Dean Street Society, I was just losing my mind with the work load. She’s still with me plus three monthly freelancers (photographer, videographer/editor, bookkeeper) & two interns who work remotely. (I’m taking on another couple interns if anyone’s interested!)

5. Do you identify yourself as an entrepreneur or blogger & why?


Tina: I think we are both entrepreneurs & bloggers. The job of a blogger is always evolving, so you need to be flexible & make adjustments as opportunities come your way. When we started almost eight years ago, there were no business models for how to go about this. We built our own business model to generate revenue from the very first year. Kelly was an Entrepreneur major & I studied International Finance, & the minute we realized blogging could be lucrative, our business backgrounds kicked into gear.

Amy: Entrepreneur. CollegeFashionista is a community of college students all over the world who share similar interests in fashion, photography, journalism & are eager to break into this industry. It's their voices that make up the content on CollegeFashionista. I help spread their message & created the platform in which they contribute to, so therefore I consider myself an entrepreneur.

Hilary: I started my blog as a marketing component of my styling business, so I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur first. My blog indirectly makes me income as a marketing tool & resume, but almost no money directly (i.e. affiliates, ads, sponsored posts). My income is as a stylist, teacher, on-camera host, writer, curator & now coaching for budding bloggers & entrepreneurs!


Let’s keep the conversation going! Answer one or all of the Qs for yourself below. Or ask another Q you’re dying to know the answer to & I’ll try to answer it in a future Business of Blogging column!


[Image credit: Dustin Fenstermacher]

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7 Responses

  1. Eva Tornado

    “Hilary: …. I’m now proud of myself every time I do something at 90%, because I know my 90% is everyone else’s 99%…” – sounds a bit disrespectful to other bloggers, huh Hilary?

    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Eva, thanks so much for that question! Totally not what I meant.

      I didn’t mean “everyone” as in compared to other bloggers, but compared to what someone sees when they come to my site. No one knows the remaining 10% that was in my head. And because I’m a perfectionist, 90% is still a very high quality post/photo/etc. No one else looks at it & thinks, “Eh, she could have tried hard there”. That voice, is only coming from inside my head & I have to sush it so I can go on to create more. 🙂

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

      • FoxyOxieSupernova

        Hilary, I know what you mean! I have that same problem: I will not stop fidgeting with the post/layout/photos/etc.! I realize that because I’m just starting out {less than a month!} I need to focus more on building a following and spreading the word. I am also fully aware that the process of perfecting my content is just that: a process. But I am just the type of person that if I decide to do something {i.e. blogging} then I will give 110% all the time, every time! I’ve come to the point where there are not enough hours in the day for everything I set out to do – and my perfectionist nature is the reason! Hopefully I will learn the lesson sooner or later. 😉


  2. Nadya Helena

    It’s relly a great post. I have a Q myself actually. IFB has always underlined the importance of staying true to ourselves and being unique. How do you communicate your uniqueness for the whole world to savor? How do you gain readership by being unique? Thanks so much Hilary!


    • Hilary Rushford | Dean Street Society

      Hi Nadya, are you asking specifically what I feel makes my blog unique? Or are you asking in general terms? Because generally speaking I don’t think you can give 5 steps to being unique. It kind of is inherent in uniqueness, that you can’t necessarily define how to recreate it. What makes Gwen Stefani different than Katy Perry who’s different than Carly Rae Jepsen? It’s a bunch of little things from what they sing about to how they dress to how they come across in interviews to the kinds of shows they first played to how they got their first big break. If there was a 5-step answer, & we all did it … then we’d all end up the same, not unique, & no one would be any further down the path. 🙂 So my best advice would just be to keep your eyes on your own paper, follow your gut instincts & not be swayed by anyone. At least that’s what I’ve done & it’s worked for me.

      with grace & gumption, Hilary

  3. Megan Doyle

    I found this article really interesting! I’m about to celebrate my blog’s 1st birthday and I’m constantly learning off other bloggers. Even in the 11 months I’ve been blogging I’ve learnt an insane amount about the crazy world of Fashion Blogs, and I know in another year my blog will again evolve – here’s hoping it’ll be for the better!! As I don’t know anyone personally who also blogs, it’s reassuring to see that many other bloggers have experienced the same troubles and triumphs as myself.