When's the last time you took a step back and just reflected on life as a blogger?
I've been in the blogging game for six years, and I can't say I've spent much time just reflecting on blogger life. Sure, I update my media kit, look at my analytics and tweak accordingly, but what about the lessons that can't necessarily be measured? Though I mentor bloggers who are a bit newer to the game, I've never really put much thought and reflection into my own journey. I carved some time recently to do just that, and here's what I came away with. Hopefully some of this is sound advice for you!
The fashion blogging community seemed so much smaller and connected a few years ago, especially when Twitter was just starting to emerge. Twitter is how I met all of the other IFB contributors as well as Jennine herself – not to mention the countless other bloggers across the world. It just felt so much easier to talk to other bloggers on social media back then. No matter how long one had been blogging, we were all new to Twitter, and so there was a sense of openness there that was lost along the way to Twitter (and fashion blogging)'s mainstream adoption. I still keep that same, open-minded attitude in my approach to Twitter today. I try to respond to everyone, reach out to new bloggers whose posts or style I'm jazzed by, and give kudos to bloggers I already know for their latest post or recent accomplishment. No matter how big the fashion blogosphere or Twitterverse has gotten, it's been crucial to me to keep the camaraderie. Stay approachable! You never know who you might end up working with one day.
I've found it serves me best when I listen to my heart and blog only about the things I'm excited to write about. When I stay true to writing about things I believe in, my readers respond so well to it. Brands know when they come to my blog that there are certain topics and things I like to talk about – which helps them make a more informed decision when choosing to work with me. When the stuff you're putting out there is authentic and real, the more you let your writing speak for itself (and for you.)
Focus is something that's somewhat related to writing authentically. I don't mean focus in the sense of time (although that's a very important lesson too), but more in the sense of what you're writing about. It can be really easy in fashion blogging to get caught up in posting about a trend, an event or a celebrity because we've seen others do it – not because we're genuinely interested in it. Just because other bloggers are writing about it, doesn't mean you have to! Only writing about the things that interest you is a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Learning how to say no is by far the hardest lesson I've learned in blogging, and it's one I'm still working towards every day. I can't remember when I started to get pitches and request emails from PR firms and brands, but I do remember being really excited that someone other than my mom was reading my blog! I'd say yes to whatever they asked of me just because I was so floored they'd even found my blog. Over time, discipline has become a necessity, and I find myself saying no often. While it can be awkward and sometimes painful, saying no gives you the space to stay focused on the things you want to write about.
One last piece of reflection/advice: Persistence and dedication will get you far. I've met tons of fashion bloggers who had all the style, photography, writing, charisma and momentum in the world. What they lacked was the dedication to see their blog through the low points. Maybe they go on vacation and readership takes a hit, or they take on a new job and can't devote much time to it anymore. A truly fabulous blog ends up abandoned, and that's one less blogging friend in the community. Life happens, but if you really want to make a name for yourself as a blogger, you have to keep at it. Write down your goals, then do your very best to bring them to life!
[Image credit: Fresh Jess]