A new follower recently asked me how long I’ve been blogging and you know what? I feel like I can’t seem to answer people when this question comes up. If we’re being technical, I first started blogging 12 years ago. Professionally and passionately? I took my writing seriously 1 1/2 years ago.
I say this because the delay of my consistent, heart-driven blogging came from my fear of success and caring too much about other people’s opinions. So, is my answer 1 1/2 or 12 years? Oy!
Today, one of the main driving forces behind this blog is seeing how successful others have been when they started at the same time as I did. It seriously kills me to wonder where I’d be if I kept going along side them before algorithms, soul-shilling and buying followers, likes and bots existed.
Along the way, I learned so many lessons and things I wish I would’ve known before I began my journey in the blogging world so I wanted to share things I think every new blogger should know. After all, I wouldn’t be a friend or fellow entrepreneur if I didn’t share with you my experiences. Seriously though, it always brings me such joy to see my readers/followers take the leap and succeed while being in love with what they do too!
If you’re an aspiring blogger or are thinking about becoming one, this list is in no particular order so just keep reading.
Do what you can with what you have.
Do you need the latest DSLR camera for photos? No. Do you have an iPhone? Great! Do what you can with what you have. But why do you say that, Huong? Because I’m doing it. Did you know that every photo I post here on the blog that belongs to me and my Instagram is taken solely with my iPhone 7? Pretty awesome, right? Until I hit my camera’s goal budget, I’m okay working with what I have. If I can do it, you can too! No need to break the bank buying everything right away.
Network with bloggers.
Even if you don’t have time to go to events because of a full-time job, network online. Comment and like on blogs, YouTube videos and Instagram images. Take it a step further and DM your favorite bloggers in response to their stories on Instagram. Personally, I LOVE hearing from my followers. Whether it’s questions or just a comment, I love building relationships this way! Even if the blogger doesn’t respond, other people may respond and new friendships may form. My friendship with Mayling is a great example because we met through one of Lydia’s Instagram posts!
Stand your ground. Don’t sell your soul for a paycheck.
Seriously. Your integrity to staying true to your brand comes at a price. I can’t tell you how many bloggers I’ve lost respect for after seeing them shill a product/service I know they are promoting just for a paycheck. How do I know that? If a blogger builds their brand all around expensive skincare and then all of the sudden talks about a drugstore brand, it makes me question their honesty and every partnership they promote after that. If your goal is to be genuine, be honest and real in all that you do, including your actions behind closed doors.
Stay true to yourself.
I mean this. I know it sounds very cliché, but stay true to yourself. Are my outfits different than that of a lot of bloggers out there? Yes. Are my topics solely about fashion and beauty? Nope. The thing is, years ago, I tried to blog only about fashion and it nearly killed me. My creative outlet was no longer fun and it was the reason why I stopped the first time when my blog was known as NoBoundaries. I was so limited and felt stuck all the time. Ironic right? When you are you, blogging is much easier. Topic ideas and creating content seems never-ending and you’re constantly inspired so always blog what interests YOU or you’ll burn out.
Try new things. It’s the only way you’ll know if it’ll work for you.
The only way to know what works for your brand or blogging style is to try new things. I’ve had several companies and individuals offer to write for my blog. I was nervous, but I gave it a shot to see if it could work. The results? Personally, it did NOT work for me at all. I was stressed out with all the back and forth with so many different people and didn’t feel like the company knew me well because the articles they proposed were not on point with my brand.
When they asked me why I turned down so many of their proposed articles, I felt uneasy about the partnership because they didn’t understand my reasons. Maybe they thought that since money was involved that I’d be okay with it. At the end of the day, I was not okay for someone else to stand in for me.
As a result of my experience, I don’t foresee anyone writing for me because staying true to myself includes my written voice. If you’re ever thinking of having a company of ghost writers publish posts on your behalf, take time to think about it first. Would it lessen your workload? Absolutely. Can it change you voice? Maybe. Then make your decision.
Believe and know your worth.
Who you are and how much you value yourself really pays. I’ve heard from many bloggers with small followings get paid the same amount on a campaign that a bigger blogger gets. For me, it’s all about being confident and believing in yourself. When you stay rooted in this mentality, you’ll be paid what you’re worth and sometimes right off the bat!
Don’t copy other bloggers.
Just because a certain style works for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Stay true to yourself. Just because every blogger loves lemon prints doesn’t mean you have to. If you love luxury items, don’t go and post outfits from Walmart. I promise you that you’ll be miserable if you do! Your sense of style, whether it be fashion or writing makes you unique and trust me, brands do actually read your blog and you will be discovered!
Watch what you say and how you come off saying it.
Written communication is very often misunderstood. Take this from a comm major and watch what you write in response to someone. If someone is proposing a partnership with no pay, it’s okay to stand your ground and say no. However, don’t lecture the person about what it takes to be an influencer, demanding pay or telling them “I don’t work for free.” I mean it. Don’t burn bridges with how you say things. Leave a lasting impression by being kind and don’t make the industry look bad as a whole either. Trust me, there are nicer ways to request payment for your work or say no thank you. You can get the same message across without leaving a bad taste in the other party’s mouth.
Don’t get caught up in the comparison game.
Even if you’re just starting out, please don’t play this game. Don’t even think about it and you better not put yourself in debt to keep up with the Joneses. Focus on what you are doing versus what other people are doing. It’s okay to watch others live the life you want, just stay grounded by being realistic. The only difference between you and successful bloggers is that they started before you. You’ll get there someday too. Just be patient, stay in your lane and keep going because you got game too! You may not know your potential until you do the work and challenge yourself to see how far you can go! Here’s a little extra push from Jon Acuff, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
Don’t wait to get started.
Speaking of, please hear me out on this. Live a life of no regrets. If you’ve been feeling a sense of gnawing or tugging for you to blog, do it. Shift your focus and remember that someone out there needs you and your gifts. Someone out there needs the content you will create, to be inspired and given permission to do what they love too.
That was my problem. I focused too much on what others thought about me, my outfits and what I posted that I lost sight of the needs of who I wanted to help. When you make it about others, it’s not hard to get started and stay the course! A lot of learning is involved with blogging, but if you love it, know that you’ll figure it all out! Take it one day at a time and if you ever need anything, ask your favorite influencers/bloggers/vloggers. Chances are, they’ve already created some content to help you!