Mentorship: Are We Supporting Ourselves & Each Other Enough?


“It’s great to have people who believe in you around you. You have to earn that respect.” – Dawn Lepore, CEO, Lepore

Tonight I attended a networking event that featured some of Seattle’s women tech executives (we’ve got a lot of ‘em here!) The topic of mentorship was one of many these successful business women discussed tonight, and it’s resonated deeply with me. Mentorship is one thing I know I’m lacking in – both in mentoring others, and especially in having one or more of my own. Mentors are extremely helpful – in many cases, essential – for ‘getting ahead’ and bringing our dreams to life in business. Some mentorships are formal, but most are casual connections that build over time. They’ve been where you want to be, and can help you get to where you want to go.

I got to thinking as I sat there listening to the panel speak. As professional bloggers, how much are we devoting to mentorship? (And if you’re in any way making money or working with brands on your blog – yes, you’re a professional blogger.) Informal, widescale mentorship is happening every day here on IFB, but what about the specific connections you’re making one-on-one?

I am loyal to IFB because I’ve learned worlds about blogging from the experiences of my fellow contributors as well as the bloggers I’ve met at IFBcon and through its online community. In turn, I can share what I’ve learned and am learning with you. But I can say that I’ve never had a mentor specifically devoted to my blog. When I read about or draw from others for inspiration from afar, it’s usually around my consulting business or life in general. When I’ve talked to others one-on-one in either the mentor or mentee capacity, it’s again around life or my career. Why haven’t I found the space to talk to mentors around my blog’s goals or vision? My photography style, what skills I should brush up on, why certain things are working and others aren’t? To help me work through some of the grandiose ideas I have for my blog so that some of them can come to life?

As bloggers, we do so much on our own – especially those of us who started out over five years ago when there wasn’t much precedence or resources to pull from! Nowadays, we can not only learn from the mega-bloggers, but those who are in our own city and beyond. Why not reach out to a blogger you admire and ask to meet for coffee one day to talk shop? You might already think of doing that in a collaborative or community sense, but try it from a mentorship perspective. A mutual mentorship can help both of you work through struggles, and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

For me, I’m pondering who I can ask to be a business mentor to work with me through that side of blogging. Maybe you’ve got a business coach or mentor in mind to help you navigate through contract negotiations, brand outreach or approaching them, and proper disclosure of compensation. Whatever your reason(s) might be, I’m encouraging you to think about possible mentors and fold them into your blogging life. We are our own biggest critics and doubters; find those who can challenge and support you in breaking through your self-imposed fears and barriers to really take your blogging to new heights.

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5 Responses

  1. Eva Pal

    Thank you so much for the great article! I have been a fashion professional for over a decade but only recently started blogging. I am reading a lot to learn but it would be great if I could actually talk to a real person with experience about blogging. I consider your advise to approach a blogger I admire (there are many of them!), but it is so intimidating, (who would want to spend their time on a rookie?).

  2. Kori Donahue

    I love this article! First of all I’ve never thought if myself as a professional blogger but I guess I am just that! This is where I need help as well. We all try to learn on out own but need some extra training. I’m always looking for helpful blog conferences for exactly this reason but often don’t find many that meet the mentoring approach. Have a great day!! Kori

  3. Zuma

    Jess, you are absolutely correct! We don’t reach out, thinking no one will bother to answer or has no time… But when someone comes to us, we have no problem helping out. We are fellow humans after all! So the problem is in our heads! If we want to grow, then got to do it. Someone will help me, and I will help someone else…

  4. Janice @ kitchenhealssoul

    As a blogger, I completely agree that mentorship/coaching are so valuable but sometimes I find it hard to approach others because I’ve listened in on conversations where bloggers in my city are complaining about the emails they get from people asking for a sit-down meeting for advice in exchange for a coffee. These bloggers feel that it isn’t right as their time is money and they worked so hard to gain insight in the 1st place that they don’t want to share it for free. That scares me. I understand as self employed people, that their time is valuable. I really do. But that’s so cold. Sometimes I want to ask for help, but I’m afraid that people will interpret it as me abusing of them, their time, their kindness. It’s tough.

  5. Osy Osehie

    Thanks so much Jess for this contribution. I am a new fashion blogger and while I am still yet to have a one on one mentor, I consider most of the contributors on here my mentors. My blog is just 3 weeks old but I feel like it has grown a lot even in that short time because of what I have learnt from all my readings.