Getting the K behind your following and unlocking the “swipe up” is kind of a big deal, or at least that’s what I’ve always thought. Starting my blog a year and a half ago and my Instagram account just a tad over a year ago, I had no idea what kind of response or following I was going to receive. Starting out, I was in it for a creative outlet, for the fun of taking photos and the joy of sharing my passion for style and all things fashion-forward with the world, but somewhere along this past year I wound up in a moment where I felt like I was drowning and could no longer keep up with the demand that we call, Instagram.
As we all know, Instagram changes its algorithm every. single. day. so it’s no wonder why we feel like we can’t keep up. To be honest, I didn’t pay two cents to the algorithm for the longest time and didn’t understand the importance of having a high engagement score, what the number of followers you have means in terms of collaborations or really any of the ins and outs of blogging for that matter. I started Blonde & Bliss all on my own, like many of us have done, and it’s been a learning process every single day. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t made any mistakes along the way because I certainly have, but it’s all part of the process and learning from my mistakes has helped me grow in more ways than it’s held me back, which is why I am sharing with you some of the biggest things I’ve learned along the way that I think every blogger, influencer, social media guru and everyday joe should know.
Focus on YOU.
The second you start comparing yourself to others is the second you’ve lost any hope at building your own unique influence. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to look at other influencers and wonder what it is that they’re doing and you’re not, but the second you let that curiosity start to control you, you’ve lost. It is so easy to get caught up in comparison, but what I’ve learned is that the best thing you can do for yourself and your brand is to be you. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing because what works for them, may not work for you. Being a blogger/influencer is about standing out and showcasing what makes you unique from the rest of the crowd. The blogging world is already so saturated and the only way to stand out is by being different and showing off the special gifts that God’s given each and every one of us to separate us from the crowd.
Learn to say NO.
It’s funny how one little word can be so extremely hard to say, but somehow, I’ve been in a constant tug-o-war with the word, “no.” When I first started out, I never thought that I would have the opportunity to work with brands on collaborations and campaigns. In fact, when I received my first brand e-mail pitching me about a collaboration, I said to myself, “what does that even mean?” – I remember the moment clear as day and I kid you not, I did a google search as I couldn’t even believe it for myself that a brand wanted to send me free product. But gosh, looking back, I had a lot to learn.
When I first started, I wanted to say “yes” to everything that jumped at me whether it was beauty products, random lifestyle gigs, events, clothes, you name it, I wanted to do it all. As I was just beginning to understand brand collaborations, I had no idea how to handle contracts, payment, etc. and as I look back, I made so many mistakes along the way. However, if I had the opportunity to go back and change every little mistake I made I wouldn’t change a thing because through those mistakes I learned so many lessons about myself and the brand I wanted to create.
By saying “no” to collaborations, you’re actually doing yourself a huge favor because you’re allowing yourself more time and freedom to focus on the brands and products you love. I’ve learned that I would much rather work on 2 small collaborations for brands I really love versus 5+ collabs/campaigns that might be products I like, but maybe don’t totally love. Content creation is a lot of work and creating content that stands out takes time and by saying no to more collaborations, you can focus in on the ones you really want to do and create beautiful content that you are proud of which will better your chances of a brand wanting to work with you over and over again, and in my book, that’s a win.
Live in the Moment.
I’ll admit I’ve done a lot of things “for the gram” such as buy one coffee over another simply because it would look prettier, purchased newspapers & magazines I’ve never intended to read, bought a box of donuts just to be thrown away and picked out clothes just to match my feed. The list goes on of things I’ve done to capture the “perfect” shot but somehow we never really see perfection in our own work which goes back to the comparison game. It’s easy to be a tough critic and harder to accept our own imperfections than it is to constantly try and be perfect and capture every breathless moment that we think is going to generate all sorts of engagement. But the truth is, we will never be able to capture a moment the same way someone else did. It’s easy to see a picture on Pinterest or save a photo on Instagram and try to recreate it, but truth be told, you’ll never be able to do it just the way you saw someone else do it because there’s something about the way each of us work that separates us from the rest. Why do everything thats already been done when you can do it YOUR way?
Some of my most engaged photos are the ones where I’ve accidentally moved out of a pose, flipped my hair out of my face by chance or genuinely laughed at something I noticed across the street. What I think is the key to taking a beautiful photo is being real. I’ve tried to do the fun, crazy photos with goofy faces and aspirational poses but every time I’ve tried, I’ve failed. It’s just not “me.”
What I’m getting at with all of this is to live in the moment and capture the realness of your everyday life. Try to focus less on whats going to make the perfect shot and focus on more of what makes you genuinely happy because that is what is gong to shine through in your photos and make you stand out.
Know Your Worth.
As sad as it is, there are a lot of people out there that are willing to take advantage of you. The number of e-mails I receive looking for free content in exchange for product or sometimes not even for free product in exchange is astronomical and in my opinion, that is absolutely not okay.
This is a topic that I’ve gone back and fourth about ever since I started and that is the concept of working for free. When I first started, I did a lot of collaborations in exchange for product, but as I kept going down that path, I began to get exhausted and started to hate working on collaborations because I was putting so much effort into making all of these products stand out in creatively styled posts and seeing nothing in return. I am fortunate to have my mom as my photographer, but for those of you who are paying photographers to shoot your content, it is not fair to you to have to pay for your content in order to promote a brands product without payment.
I’ve been listening to Julie Soloman’s Influencer Podcast on and off for a few months now and she talks a lot about this topic too and she has totally transformed the way that I think about product exchange collaborations. I think of it this way: Your Instagram feed is your billboard. If someone wants to advertise on your billboard, they need to pay for their spot. Your billboard (IG feed) represents you and your brand and if people want to be a part of that, you deserve to be paid for their spot on your billboard.
If there is anything I want you to take from this it is knowing your worth. It is so incredibly important to value your own time and creativity and not let someone else take advantage of that. Say yes to the things and brands you love and kindly decline anything that does not fit your brand. Live in the moment and focus on you, and your brand is bound to flourish. Never lose sight of why you started and always make sure you’re enjoying the journey because through the ups and the downs, you started your blog for a reason.
These are just a few of the many lessons that I’ve learned in my past year and a half of blogging and it is all information that I wish I had known starting out. I don’t regret any of the little mistakes I’ve made along the way and I can’t thank you all enough for all of your support each and everyday! A simple like, comment, DM – it all makes such a difference and helps me reach my blogging dreams. THANK YOU all from the bottom of my heart, for making Blonde & Bliss a reality and dream come true. I love you all and can’t wait for what’s to come!