I don't want to sound like a total sap, but every now and then I have to take stock of my life. I like to reflect back on what's happened, things I've learned, where I've been. I recently surpassed the year-and-a-half mark with Independent Fashion Bloggers, so I thought I'd share some little nuggets of experience and perspective (food for thought) that I've collected along the way.
1. Pitching yourself really works.
After a year and a half at IFB and almost four years writing my own blog, I have seen both sides of these deals and transactions (many times). I've talked with brands big and small, bloggers on at all levels of success – and I can say with confidence that pitching a good idea to the right brand or partner can really work. (Read more about pitching yourself here and here.)
2. Success and celebrity are not the same thing.
I hate to admit that when I first got into blogging, I thought that “making it” was having people (on the Internet) know who you were. I've come to see that treating your blog like a business can bring another kind of success, too: income through advertising and affiliate programs, amazing personal connections with peers and clients, and something you've built that makes you proud.
3. Photography really matters.
Better photos, better blog. Invest in your equipment, practice your craft and you will see your content flourish. I promise. (Find the best of IFB's photography tips here.)
4. You will get out of this exactly what you put in.
I hear a lot from bloggers that they've been working and working at their blog, trying to make it grow – but to no avail. I'm not saying it will happen fast. Hard work is hard, and the fast track isn't always the right one. Even if it feels like no one else can see all the good that you are doing — be patient, stay inspired and stay positive. Focus on and aim for what you want, not what you think you deserve.
5. Mistakes, however disastrous, will teach you everything.
I've learned exactly zero from all the good things that have happened to me. Sure, successes and happiness make me feel blessed, but it's the mistakes that have actually produced growth. If you slip up, let yourself feel that jilt of failure – because like they say – it's only failure if you don't get back up again. Accept that you made a choice and it's outcome wasn't what you wanted. Don't push off the blame. Dust off that keyboard, that ego, that Twitter account, whatever it is – and soldier on.
6. “Don't dumb down for your readers, raise them up with you.”
This was something that Leandra Medine said at the most recent IFB conference. On this team, we've spent a lot of time going back and forth about finding a balance between what we want and what our readers want. If you want to write more than you want to post pictures – do it. If you want to talk about how the price of cotton is impacting the fashion industry – do it. Make a point, share something unique, contribute something new. Ultimately, if you're not proud of what you're doing and if it's not the best you can do – why do it at all?
7. You can do it alone.
I have gained such an intense admiration for independent bloggers. Do you even realize all that we do? We are the creative directors, the photographers, the digital editors, the staff writers and editors, graphic designers, community managers, social media coordinators and brand ambassadors for our blogs. And we do it all stylishly. That's pretty amazing if you ask me.
8. You can't do it alone.
From working as part of an amazing team at IFB to ingraining myself in this fashion blogging community personally, I've realized that the most important thing I've gained is friends: real people who can really relate to what it is to be a part of this big little niche. If/when the blogging ends, these relationships will remain.
9. Editing is everything.
Your audience, however big or small, is expecting great things from you. Don't ever tell yourself that what you're doing doesn't really matter, and so the little things like grammar, spelling and sentence structure aren't important, because they are important. Producing hundreds of posts for IFB has shown me that I need to learn the difference between it's and its, and if I don't, you guys will call me on it and demand better. Thank you for that!
10. Humility, humor and happiness.
These are the things that matter most to me in blogging (and in life, it seems). For myself, for others, for the content I read – I want these three qualities of humility, humor and happiness. Everything else is superfluous. Stay humble. Relax. Laugh a lot. (This is fashion blogging, after all.) Enjoy yourself and enjoy what you're creating everyday. If it doesn't make you happy? Do something to change it or do something else.