I can't believe that in just a few short weeks it will mark six years that I have been blogging. SIX. That's longer than I have stuck with almost anything in my life [it's actually a miracle my marriage is still in tact]. Back on February 1, 2011, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew is that people were posting cute photos of pillows, talking about what type of shampoo they used and occasionally shared a story about how they accidentally pooped their pants at work and I wanted to be a part of it. Maybe that last talking point was just me. Regardless, when I hit publish on my first blog post, I never knew what it would bring in the six years following that decision. From complete career changes to tons of relationships and friendships created, to newborn passions, lessons learned both hard and fun, to once in a lifetime experiences [that time at The Kentucky Derby still ranks #1] and more, it has been a ride to say the least.
When I think back over the past several years and some key contributing factors that have played a part in my small success [small being the keyword], I rounded up 5 things that I thought were worth mentioning. Whether you have a blog of your own, are contemplating starting a blog or would just like an inside look at what's worked for me [it could translate easily to other things] here you have it!
1. When choosing what to take seriously, choose work over yourself. I learned very early on that in the online world if you aren't making fun of yourself, others will. And if you aren't laughing at yourself, others absolutely will. I have found the best way to ease the blow is to laugh with them. Make fun of yourself before others can. However, while I am all for keeping things lighthearted from a personal approach, take your work very seriously. A blog is a fun job, yes, but it is a job none the less. A lot of people won't understand what you do and that's okay, but you should. Be intentional with your space and willing to put forth the effort, time, money, and energy that it will take. Have fun and do the work.
2. Hire a photographer, but not for everything. Hands down one of my best decisions for this blog was to hire my photographer and friend, Tina Herschberger Photography, to shoot photos for my blog every couple of weeks. This was probably the first repetitive investment I made for my blog and I remember being nervous if it was the right decision or not. Investing in a professional photographer has paid for itself time and time again. By having higher quality photos on my blog I am able to work with brands that I wouldn't have caught their attention otherwise. Additionally, it gives you some room to negotiate for higher prices. Because you will be making an investment in your partnership, it shows that you value the client experience and in turn, can lead to higher paid campaigns along with additional opportunities to partner. Another added benefit? If you have somebody else taking the photos, it means YOU are able to be in them more. It also can save your marriage if your husband was prior said photographer, so there's that too.
However, I have also learned that people still like to see real life photos just as much, if not more, on a regular basis. While I hire a photographer for sponsored content, I shoot all of my other photos personally. This means my Instagram and Facebook feeds may not look flawless and perfectly curated at all times [ie: never]. When everything starts to look too pretty, you can start to lose your audience. Leave room for real. For me, that means a heck of a lot of mirror selfies propped up awkwardly in our kitchen. I would like to believe that people care more about seeing what's going on in your everyday life rather than five hundred pictures of you playing joyfully in the snow. But in case you prefer the whole snow thing, here you go.
4. Experiment often. When you are a blogger, there are a thousand things you can be doing. Social media channels are constantly changing, content is going more visual than textual, different ways to earn an income come and go and every second there is the newest, best thing. While it can be completely overwhelming and make you want to shut down and do absolutely nothing [or maybe that's just me], decide to challenge yourself with something new every year. Last year I decided I was going to try out affiliate marketing and focus on posting consistently to my Facebook page [in one short year we grew from 5,000 fans to 100,000! Crazy, yes, but proves that focus can bring success]. This also somehow turned me into an accidental fashion blogger [although I still don't admit to being fashionable so it's quite the conundrum]. This year? I've decided to give an email newsletter a try and have plans to play around with all things Pinterest. Look at new challenges from a yearly or monthly perspective rather than "I MUST DO ALL OF THE THINGS RIGHT NOW!" By doing so, you allow yourself to focus and really get comfortable with what you're setting out to accomplish rather than throwing yourself at everything and succeeding at nothing.
5. Stay true to yourself. Sometimes this means saying things that I probably shouldn't, or at least the things that my husband wished I wouldn't. Sometimes this means opening up about struggles that make me a little nervous to open up about on such a public platform. And sometimes, it means maybe, just maybe, not using the teeth whitening feature or wrinkle remover to take away the cellulite on your legs [yes, that works wonders, you're welcome]. I've strived to remain same ole me, no matter the audience size, no matter who I know may be on the other side of the screen [this can get incredibly awkward when thinking about certain relatives reading some of the things that I say] and ultimately, let my freak flag fly. My hope is that when you read my blog you feel like you are talking to a friend. Sometimes an immature, disgusting, sarcastic friend, but a friend none the less. The kind who's just sitting on a door stoop waiting for you to join her ;)
Last year was the year where I felt like I truly graduated from hobby level to full-time career when it comes to all things Living In Yellow. I couldn't be more excited about what the next six years will bring and hope that whatever it consists of, it's made up of mostly laughs with a heck of a lot of new friends. Thanks for joining me on this journey, without you this space would be nonexistent and pretty freaking boring. Cheer's to existing in a fun way!
ps. Curious to know what I wrote a year ago when discussing what I've learned from blogging after five years? Peep it here.