Advice for new bloggers and bloggers to be.
I launched my blog in early 2014 after design, content ideas and preparations with my web designer in 2013. I started when the word “blog” was a foreign concept to locals, with a few exceptions who were already establishing themselves in various domains. I created it along with my revamped Instagram page (it was previously solely for personal content and motherhood) to reflect the life of a new mother who cares for her family and herself. I meant for it to break the image of perfection, to reflect truth, vulnerability and real life. Along the years my content evolved and spanned wide, and included personal style, travel, beauty and skincare, culture and thoughts. With time I learned a lot and they were all tough lessons, I didn’t have a mentor to guide me so I tripped, fell and stood back up. At the end of the day I owe every successful step, every failure, every media appearance, every rejection, every branded campaign, every stab in the back and every brand ambassadorship to myself, and solely to myself through my hard work, persistence and dedication. And this makes me proud.
1. (Blogger // Followers)
Some people will love you and others will hate you.
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s a popularity contest. You will find that when you are yourself, authentically and unapologetically, it will resonate with like minded people. This will snowball until you become well surrounded with “followers” who become your online family, showering you with love and referring to you when they have a question or need advice. It is much more satisfying than searching for high numbers, but being put on a pedestal isn’t easy at all because you will be a target for scrutiny. When you are an influencer, everything you do or say is magnified and you get attacked for many reason, so be ready for backlash for every minor outburst or unpopular opinion. The choice is yours, you either choose to listen and comply, which is very unfortunate, or continue doing your own thing, which is the way to go. You can’t please everybody and it isn’t your job to do so. Some criticism if valid and constructive, will lead to self improvement and is welcome especially from the people who support you. Bullying however is not acceptable. As an influencer you will be a target for trolls, bullies, harassers, haters, stalkers, call them by the name of your choice but they have one thing in common, they hate themselves and not you. Even if you promote women empowerment, self love and body inclusivity, they will attack the things you stand for. Even if you are a mother they will choose to focus on the most random things that you don’t even care about because you are too busy raising a family. If you shoot makeup tutorials they will tell you that you’re shallow. If you read books they will accuse you of being too high browed. You can’t win with someone who insists on pointing out your shortcomings. A person who would deliberately and obsessively spend every waking hour focusing on someone else is projecting their insecurities on you when they see you working to better yourself, and they try to put you down by shaming whatever you do. Once you accept that concept, it becomes easy to deal with this group of people, by simply ignoring. Or you may choose to respond to certain comments publicly because it is your platform you have the right to answer. You may restrict or block the accounts that cause your inner peace to be shifted, banning any unwanted communication from them, not because you can’t handle it or that you’ll believe what they say, but because life is too short and our worries in life are far too much to be concerned with banalities. There is no need for negativity, and you are not anyone’s punching bag or therapist.
2. (Blogger // Work)
What’s yours will find you. There are no shortcuts.
Accept that some bloggers will be good friends with agencies and they will get all the work while you will only be led with a dangling carrot. You will attend all the events they organize, promote the heck out of every PR package they send out because like an idiot you believed there was potential. You must go through this to be able to distinguish later on in your career, who is worth the trouble and who is simply using your influence for free to profit their client. There is absolutely no use in pining over what you wish you had because the market is filled with endless opportunities for every influencer depending on their niche. Sometimes you will fit a brand’s image perfectly but they still choose someone else to represent them, other times you will feel totally irrelevant for a campaign yet a brand will insist you are their perfect ambassador. Moral of the story is, you get what is meant for you, and you will be surprised by how easily work will land in your lap when it’s meant to be yours. Divine providence doesn’t undermine the work we do in connecting with brands, pitching, meeting, back and forth calls and emails to reach common grounds for a new project, because without this, there is no deal, especially when you represent yourself. Contrary to what the public believe, blogging is hard work and needs consistency, innovation and investment. We can’t stay at home and wish things our way, it isn’t magic. We need to always be on top of our game, research, connect, think outside the box, live and breathe our blog 24/7. Don’t shy away from rejecting clients if they don’t fit your persona, and remember that you shouldn’t work for free, especially at an advanced stage, because if you leave your job to make blogging your career, how are you supposed to pay bills?
3. (Blogger // PR)
You catch more bees with honey but don’t be afraid to say no and burn bridges.
I have always been a firm believer in speaking my mind and not being the so called teacher’s pet. But I also believe that sometimes my big mouth got me into positions I could have avoided. When I’m offended and angry I lose all tact and say things as they are, a trait that PR aren’t used to in influencers. I wouldn’t change anything I did or take back anything I said, but in retrospect I could have been less informative at times and just say “no” when I refuse a campaign or decline an event as opposed to opening up a can of worms with the issues I have with a certain brand or PR. Other times I should have cut companies out but kept giving chances until I was sure that there was no way their (lack of) ethics would be a good match for me. There’s no shame in admitting you were on the wrong end of the stick as long as you move on and don’t look back.
4. (Blogger // Blogger Friends)
You will make amazing friends but discover who doesn’t support you at the first turn.
Incredible mental and emotional connections can be made through your blog and it won’t just be a casual acquaintance where you would see each other at events, say hi and that’s it. It will be deep, filled with shared secrets and late night talks. A blogger friend means you have someone to share your ideas with, aspirations for your page and your next big move, someone who will support you but also will tell you when you are thinking the wrong way. Bloggers understand each other like no other, we understand the importance of our Instagram grids, our color palettes, the “how many stories should I share for this brand”, the “did you get the invitation to this event”, the “they offered me this much should I accept” the engagement rates, the peak times for posting, the cliques, the social media withdrawal and mood swings. I have made beautiful friendships through online channels that I am sure will last me a lifetime. On the flip side, there will be some who can’t wait to speak about you behind your back, badmouth you to agencies, and spread your insecurities or what you said in confidence. They will post passive aggressive tweets and stories about you as often as they can. They will also suddenly disappear when you need their support for a campaign that is launched and their jealousy will be the fuel, even if at every step you push them forward. Eventually you will learn to distinguish between the two categories of blogger friends and will cut the toxic ones out of your life, while maintaining basic niceties, because who needs drama anyway?
5. (Blogger // Blog)
It’s a means to an end, so have fun.
Blogs are permanent, you have a web address and your articles are there for anyone to read, which gives it a more serious notion. However, being a social media influencer on selected platforms might be temporary, and unless you’re doing it for the sake of being insta-famous or to go viral, then don’t take yourself too seriously. If not, then go about your online presence intelligently and consider what your endgame is. Do you want to eventually set up an NGO, do you want to design a fashion label, do you want to create a makeup brand, a perfume, a casual snack restaurant? Perhaps you want to write book or become a life coach and motivational speaker. Or maybe you would like to become an actor or musician? What about going behind the scenes to be a brand manager or a PR yourself? My point is when you think about how you can channel your influence in terms of a 5 year plan, you are one step closer to reaping the fruit of your efforts and being the next entrepreneur or creative. Trust me when I tell you, the advantages we have as bloggers, including being on the list to review products that haven’t even dropped in the global market yet, while super fun, isn’t the real “reward”. Shift your mentality to what could happen and focus your energy there. Money and gifts aren’t everything.
6. (Blogger // Blogger)
Don’t compare. Stay true to yourself. Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it will work for you.
It’s tempting to follow in someone’s footsteps especially if you’re on the outside looking in, you might think that a woman who is a fashionista has it easy so why not become one yourself. Think again. It’s not a button you press that transforms you into one. Many recent influencers are copies of an original, and while yes they might enter the world of online fame, it doesn’t guarantee longevity. Plus, being a copy doesn’t work, they are only fooling themselves. The key to having your own voice is for it being exactly that, your own. Work on developing content, content has always been king and it will be long after the emoji captions and edited selfies fade. Content means adding a piece of information that brings value to the person on the other end of the screen. Whether it is a skincare routine video, a how-to on developing your online presence, a parenting guide, and so on so forth, being consistent with the material you share is what will have a lasting effect. Therefore don’t copy, be yourself.
Allow your content to evolve with you. Don’t get stuck in the mindset that you have to serve the same types of posts and entries just because you think that’s what your audience expects. You are entitled to share parts of you even if they weren’t introduced before, a major part of this is that you are growing with your blog. I started my blog as fashion and lifestyle but when I became a mother of 2 and my life was/is super hectic, the fashion I portrayed was everyday casual style. Tailoring content to fit your life makes no sense, on the contrary, allow your content to follow your lifestyle.
With these final words, I wish you a wonderful journey if you choose to become a blogger!