One Year On: 10 Things I’ve Learnt About Blogging

 

1 – You will have down days

Just like most creative jobs, some days you’ll feel uninspired and lack motivation. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others and often their successes can somehow feel like your failure. Remember, everyone is at different stages of their own journey. It’s very easy to look at someone who has 100k followers and 5k likes per post and feel low about it. If I ever start to feel like that, I will logout of social media for a little while, watch a film and have a cup of tea with a biscuit (or three). If it’s a nice day, I’ll go out and rejoin civilisation. It really clears the mind and you’ll be surprised how your motivation will suddenly return when you’re back on your account.

 

2 – You have to learn how to market yourself

As soon as you begin blogging you suddenly have to become your own marketing manager and promoter too. There’s no point in having a killer blog post out there without an audience to read it. Self-promotion is so important when starting out as it determines how fast your social following and readership will grow. It helps to consider who you think your target audience is early on. There are many ways to help market yourself but my biggest tip is to network and engage with other like-minded bloggers and social influencers. You’ll end making some new friends too! I would also suggest that you change your instagram profile to the business account so you have access to view the ‘Insights’ section. Then you’ll be able to view which kind of posts are doing well and which aren’t! You’ll also be able to see what times your followers tend to be online so you can post during that window!

 

3 – Understanding Instagram Algorithm is Important

Meh. This annoys be but it’s something that should be mentioned. Basically, the way it works is that Instagram Algorithm tries to predict what photos and videos are the most important to you based on your past behaviour. In other words, if you “like” someone’s pic, expect to see another older pic from that same person’s feed before seeing a new one of someone else’s. So the more Instagram think you’ll “like” that post, the higher it will appear in your feed. This can be a bit of a bore as it means you often have to scroll down a bit to reach the fresh posts. What I tend to do now is to ‘turn on post notifications’ for the accounts I wish to see more of. This notifies me when they post too. (Similar to when you add someone to your ‘close friends’ on Facebook)

4 – You’ll Need To Invest in Many Things

If you’re thinking about blogging long-term, I would definitely advise to invest in certain things early. Buy a proper website domain that’s personal to you or what you blog about. This will be important when you start promoting it. You don’t want to keep sharing an obviously free one that’s ridiculously long and difficult to remember. First appearances are important in this field. Find a decent blog template / theme and server host. I have a WordPress Blog, with a template by Pipdig, hosted by Site ground. (And yes, this all costs me) If you don’t have family or friends to photograph you and your products all the time, you’ll probably have to hire a photographer. Your content is the key to your growth so if your photos aren’t of a high-quality you’ll struggle to expand your following. You’ll notice that instagrammers / blogs with the highest following and best engagement share photos of a consistent high-standard. Selfies won’t always cut it (unless you’re Kim Kardashian). Most bloggers end up investing in a pro camera with some good lenses. Other expenses you’ll probably encounter are advertising fees and buying items to enhance your creative feed (you’ll get gifted items but you’ll always be on the search for new things to photograph or places to travel to).

 

5 – Stay Ahead of the Game

Generally, I try to think about what I want my insta-feed or blog will look like in a few weeks to a months time. As I’m primarily a fashion blogger, my photos usually revolve around current and upcoming seasonal trends. So right now its the end of October and I’m thinking about winter fashion and planning Christmas-themed photo shoots. It’s good to have some ideas and locations in mind and shoot them early (especially if its a popular destination with bloggers / tourists!)

6 – Non-Bloggers Don’t Always Understand What You Do

If you’re a blogger / social influencer you have no-doubt been in that situation in the ‘outside world’ when somebody’s asked you about what you do and you’ve been reluctant to tell them. Not because you’re ashamed of your creative content but because some people don’t fully understand it even when you explain it to them. You may have had questions like, ‘So do you actually get paid then?’ & ‘How much free stuff do you get?’ Non-bloggers (understandably) don’t realise how much hard-work and planning goes into every single post and if we were just in it for the freebies it would be a very long way of going about it!

Plus, there’s this weird stigma about being a ‘blogger’. I think some people think all we do is talk about our feelings and post pretty pictures all time. I wish it were that easy!

 

7- Many Brands will expect you to promote their products for free

I haven’t amassed the social following to get paid for every product I promote (yet!) In the year that I have been blogging though I get daily messages from brands (big and small) about ‘gifting‘ me their new clothes, beauty products or service. This is on a collaboration basis so I’ll generally choose what I’d like to promote from their website and they’ll send me it to me free of charge and in return I post a photo or article that features the product. Personally, I only work with brands/companies who I already like or I think I will like. This is so I am more likely to be able to post a positive review for the brand (a win-win for both parties). It’s ok to decline a collaboration if you feel the product will not fit your readership or target audience. (For example, I’m not going to promote baby products as I don’t have a baby and it would feel like I’m being dishonest to myself and to my followers if I do so.) There are influencers out there that I think fall victim to this trap, especially with slimming products *cough* flat tummy tea *cough*. You can usually spot the fakers, lets be honest.

I should probably mention that after building up a bit of a following some brands like to spam your comments asking you to be an ambassador for their company. (The ones for sunglasses are pretty regular! You’ve seen them!) On the surface, this seems like a flattering proposition but it usually turns out they just give you a discount code for you to purchase something from their online store and expect you to take a photo of it and tag them in a post. In other words free promotion for them. (But you’ve spent money on something you probably weren’t even going to buy in the first place)

Once your genuine following grows, the paid campaigns will start to come in and regular collaborations with larger brands will begin to form.

8- Don’t be tempted to take short cuts

It can be so frustrating starting out and you’ll want to see visible results. Sometimes, I’ll post something that people don’t like and 100 people might unfollow me. Or I’ll be unactive for a few days and I’ll lose more followers. At times, it can feel like you’re playing a game and you’ll end up wanting to take a short cut to get to where you want to be quicker. To be honest running a social media account is a bit like having a tamagotchi. Yes, that little handheld digital pet you used to have as a child. (Did anyone else grow up in the 90’s?!) You’d have to remember to feed it, play with it and generally look after it. If you left it unattended for too long it died. Harsh I know. But it actually has so many similarities with running an instagram account. You have to keep checking-in on it and making your presence known. Otherwise, you lose people. (Not quite like the poor tamagotchi though, they just unfollow you.) But it is something that is always in the back of your mind. I can see why people end up buying 30k followers and loads of likes on their images because they don’t have the time or patience with it all. Personally, I don’t think it’s the best idea to do this as you don’t get any engagement back from fake bot accounts and also brands and potential clients are quick to spot people who have a huge following but with little/no engagement from real people. It’s your choice but in the long run it will affect you I guarantee it.

 

9. You’ll wish you had a walk-in wardrobe

If you are a fashion blogger like me, you’ll probably have enough clothes to start an eBay business! You probably wonder what bloggers do with all the things they acquire… Well, for me if I have photographed something and don’t want to keep it I will either sell it, return it or give it away to family / friends / charity. A good idea for a new blogger is to hold regular giveaway competitions. This helps you to clear your unwanted items and at the same time gain more followers/engagement.

(How amazing would it be to have a huge walk-in wardrobe like in Clueless though?!)

10. Finally & Most Importantly – Enjoy It

I think at the end of the day, if you enjoy what you’re doing you can’t really go wrong. I’ve read so many stories about people suffering from mental health problems because they are over-thinking and over-stressing about their online presence. If you are struggling, talk to someone about it and take a break from social media. (You could always get a friend or family member to look after your account while you’re having a little detox!) For some people, blogging is a business and for others it’s a hobby or an outlet for thoughts and feelings. If you forget about the numbers and just blog about what makes you happy then to be honest you are winning at life!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest post! Happy Autumn! 🙂

Lucy. x

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