Before we get started, this post is not just for bloggers. So if you were considering just skipping it or skimming it, maybe reconsider.
These are tips and pieces of advice that I think are thoroughly applicable to any career or endeavor, but since my personal experience these past two plus years has been in blogging and social media, that’ll be the focus. And no this isn’t a guide to getting 20,000 followers on Instagram because, to be honest, I would have no idea how to write that…. but it’s more nuggets of information that will build a strong foundation for whatever business you are building.
This past weekend I attended the Create & Cultivate conference in Brooklyn which was insanely inspiring. After I got home, digested and wrote down all the information I heard, I decided I wanted to share my most important takeaways. While I was able to merge several of those notes into my previous education, I wanted to create another section strictly dedicated to what I learned from that 13-hour day. Not just to brag about what an awesome day it was, but because there were points that were emphasized several times, by several women, in several areas of business. So, it would be silly to ignore, right?
1. FIND YOUR “WHY”
Why do you want do to this? What is it about this topic that keeps ringing in your ear telling you to pursue this? If you don’t know your “why” it will be very difficult to define a mission statement, or really make decisions for your business from that point forward. When I launched my blog I knew I wanted to share something, tell a story. But with experience and maturity in this world I have grown to develop and evolve my “why”.
This next part might not be so popular, but, here it goes.
Be truly HONEST with yourself about why you want to do this, because if you just want a lot of likes or followers or just really like posting pictures of yourself, you probably won’t get the result you were hoping for. I don’t mean that to sound snarky or judgmental, but I see it a lot and I feel like it’s an honest take on this point that sometimes goes unsaid. There is nothing wrong with wanting more likes/followers because, that’s the world we live in these days. But if that’s the driving force behind it, you will have a huge void and miss out on bigger picture growth.
My “why”: I want to help people feel good about themselves. Period. Whether it’s with an outfit, a workout that makes them feel great, or feeling good about getting healthy, because I know how those little everyday details can add up to feeling confident in yourself.
I spent six months studying the business of blogging and social media marketing before I even thought about writing my first blog post. There is so much information out there, and so many people willing to give it because it is such a huge business opportunity! Think of it this way, you wouldn’t start a DIY project around the house that you’ve never done before without researching how to do it right? Finding what materials you need, the step-by-step instructions, etc. so why would you do anything different when it comes to this?
Well, you wouldn’t.
And you shouldn’t! Educate yourself so that when you do put your work out there for the world to see, you are doing so in an informed and buttoned-up way. Trust me, it will not only increase the likelihood of brand collaborations but also add longevity to your work. I cannot tell you how many times I see people caption something incorrectly, likely just because it’s what they see is being done. There are legal and technical differences to being an influencer and being an actual brand ambassador, and if you don’t know the difference or use it incorrectly, that could hurt your chances of working with that and many other brands in the future.
Disclaimer: this does not mean that you won’t still make mistakes because, er, human! It simply means that you are giving yourself the tools to do it less and to succeed. Why not enlist the help of others who have done it? There’s no need to go in lone-wolf style when you have an army of entrepreneurs chomping at the bit to share their knowledge.
3. YOU CAN SPEND SPARINGLY
Y’all, this is so important and I think an often ignored topic. When people think “influencer” they think that it’s just someone who wears cute clothes and pays a photographer to follow them around. Now, for the really successful ones? They do have professional photographers! But my advice for those just getting started, or maybe you’re a bit into it and just hit a rut, find ways to do it on your own. The demand for content is HIGH! So high that if you want to post a different outfit almost every day, or cover two different topics on blog posts a week… that’s a lot of freaking content!
Yes, I have shot with a photographer before, and I still use those images to this day. So, yes, I’m a hypocrite. But I do encourage maybe one or two sessions in the beginning to get a slew of content for your site, maybe add some legitimacy to your feed, and to have the experience! But on a weekly or daily basis? It’s me and Betsy, my $50 tripod from Best Buy.
I’m big on budgeting and I want to know where my money is going, how much money CAN go, and determining the two off of how much money is coming in. Yes, you have to spend money to make money, but does it make sense to spend potentially hundreds of dollars on professional images several times a year if those pictures won’t bring in a fraction of it? The math just doesn’t work. There are so many free apps, great inexpensive cameras, and websites dedicated to helping you look professional and legitimate. So be resourceful, spend smartly and sparingly in the beginning so that you can save your money on brand development down the road.
MY NOTES FROM CREATE & CULTIVATE
If you have done absolutely any research then you have likely heard the following points several times. And yes, we heard them a ton this weekend. But after a few “okay, we get it” responses, I thought to myself, if I am hearing something 18,000 times, then it’s probably really freaking important! Why else would Rebecca Minkoff, Ashley Graham, Kate Walsh, and other hugely successful entrepreneurs say this if it wasn’t important?
First and, in my book, the most important: be authentic. There is only one you and that is what’s going to differentiate you from the others in this oversaturated market. There’s nothing worse than seeing the same cardigan posted by tons of different fashion bloggers. It makes me wonder how many of them would have actually spent their own money to buy it? If you don’t like that super popular blogger sweater, don’t post it! People can tell if you aren’t being authentic and if something truly isn’t “you”, and most importantly they don’t want to follow a copy-and-paste profile.
Secondly, be consistent; that is, with your branding, your voice, your timing, absolutely everything. A consistent look is super important in my opinion. Whether it’s a color scheme, your logo, a preset, or a font that is noticeably yours, It’s your identity. Same with your brand voice; captions, how you sound in stories, your writing, you don’t need to sound or write like someone else to get people’s attention. Timing is also a great transition into the next point and can be difficult. Being consistent with your content that you are putting out there will show that you’re reliable. Don’t post on the blog four times in a month, then not at all for the next six weeks, or post on social media every day for a while, then all of a sudden, crickets. It doesn’t mean you have to do either of these things every day, but if you’re inconsistent with timing it may deter people from coming back to find you, or even forget about you all together!
Lastly, and most difficult… it’s going to be work! Creating enough content to stay in demand is harder than it looks. To be taken seriously, it isn’t just taking a selfie, posting, and that’s it. It’s researching, strategizing, planning, producing, capturing, writing, editing, and posting. And that’s just the content that isn’t collaborative or on shoppable platforms like LIKEtoKNOW.it. That’s the reason your “why” needs to be so solid, because each one of those steps is going to be crucial to the success of your goals and if you just want a lot of likes or followers, a few of those steps may fall through the cracks.
I love what I do because it’s a beautiful merge of being an entrepreneur and being a creative which is what I have been craving out a career. Am I an expert? Heck no! Am I “successful” in this space? I’m getting there. But what I do know is that I have to apply everything I have talked about here on a daily basis if I want to make that success continue.
Like this post? Great! Because I’m working on another one with more specifics; the apps I use, best editing tips, favorite books and webinars, even how I take my pictures! I know it can be frustrating when someone says “just keep working hard”, or something vague like that. So keep an eye out for the follow-up post in a few weeks to learn more!