It’s official! This past February my blog, Styled By: Tiwaa, turned 2 years old! Let’s just hope that this isn’t the year of the “terrible twos”! It doesn’t seem like a long time, but so much has happened between then and now. I’ll admit, when I think about the present, it doesn’t feel as if I’ve achieved nearly as much as fast as I initially wanted as a new blogger.
But when I reflect on the timeline and months it took to get here—I realize I’ve really learnt a lot. I don’t regret the experiences I endured to get here, but there is that part of me that wishes I knew what I know now back when I started. Maybe then, I would have saved myself some time and money.
Photo Shot By: @m.exquisitecreations
Two failed websites, several unpublished half-assed blog posts, missed opportunities, and lost money are only a few of the bumps in the road that I faced. However, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with brands, get free products sent to me to review, host an online restaurant video series (click here to watch the latest), and build my Instagram audience.
With this being the restart of a new Styled By: Tiwaa era, I want to give back. And the best way I know how to do so is through blogging. So from this point on, I want to blog my blogging journey. Not only will you find posts about being a business person in the industry level on my site, but I want to share my insights on becoming an entrepreneur through this new age social media level.
I won’t hold back any longer. As stated previously, I’ve endured countless mistakes. Let me break this down for you so you can start off one step ahead of what I did wrong!
1. Lack of Consistency
This is definitely the culprit of stunt in my growth. If you go to my categories located on my side bar, you will see the tragedy that is my lack of posts per month. Being a university student who juggles assignments, group projects, tests, applying for internships, and having a part-time job, this was my the biggest threat. I know this because there were periods of time where I did have downtime to blog. And when those days came and I mapped myself out a plan, I would see positive results.
People are always looking for more. So you have to give them enough. Not too much and not too little. It’s what I would consider the key to success. With that being said, over time you will have a more accurate measure on your results as blogger rather than having sporadic results. Depending on your aims, this may or may not be higher up on your list of importance. If you want to work with brands in the future, you’ll need the results to show. So buckle down and get to posting!
2. Minimal to ZERO planning (Time management? Scheduling? Organization? Did These Even Exist?)
As this goes hand-in-hand with the first point, planning is so important. However, with planning comes quality. If you don’t take the initiative to organize, you’ll end up missing key points or worse just becoming completely scattered. The way I like to think of it is there’s a fine line between satisfying your audience and exceeding their expectations to make sure they’re delighted. Whether you’re just starting out or have been blogging for a while, having a plan will ensure that you don’t become overwhelmed.
Planning is just one area of the entirety, which includes 4 other stages: conception, initiation, execution, and monitoring. I plan to flesh out these stages in a future blog post, but just know that the planning stage will ultimately be the meat of holding together your blogging sandwich.
3. Unspecified/Unsure of My Niche(s)?
After months of downtime from posting, I started to do a lot of research. One of the major things that kept popping up was the idea of making sure you have a specific niche. There are pros and cons to both ideas of whether you should have a set niche. In my opinion, I think it’s important to have one. BUT I don’t think that you should limit yourself to only one. Write what you want to write about and make it clear.
The more you are passionate about something, it will show through your writing. Not only that, if you’re going to commit time to curating content, you don’t want to drain yourself. I’d assume if you’re going to blog, you’re doing it because you want to and enjoy doing so.
Photo Shot By: @m.exquisitecreations
Limitation can lead to writers block (we’ve all been there). By expanding your niche it allows you to test the waters of your audience. You never know when or what your next viral post could be. Not only that, you might find out you have a new passion in curating content in other areas. My only caution with this is that you don’t choose too many niches or niches that are very board from each other.
For example, I wouldn’t suggest having a blog both about fashion and sports. Unless of course, you decide that you want to talk specifically about sportswear fashion. See what I mean? Make sure that they flow or you’re able to incorporate both seamlessly. Cohesiveness is always a nice touch and you’ll be able to relate ideas of one segment to another.
4. Where Was My Knowledge and Networks? (talking to other bloggers & etc.)
When I started blogging, I began with the sole purpose to display my fashion sense. I had no intention of it getting to this point where I’d work with brands or do sponsored ads. This is and was great. But as I started to get into more of those types of posts, I realized I lacked knowledge. I truly believe that submerging yourself in networks are so important.
Don’t get me wrong, Google is helpful and can be very informative, but I find that personally talking with likewise individuals will give you a more realistic inference of what works and what doesn’t. There’s plenty of issues that go on behind the scenes of blogging and it’s very common to not find this information as readily on the internet.
Much like what I’m doing here with this post, feel free to reach out to me because I love to interact. My story is different from yours, so why not learn each others? In addition to this, having support will keep you grounded on those days where you may lack motivation.
How I’ve combat this since I’ve started blogging has been solely based on reaching out. Don’t be afraid to send that email, comment, or DM (I’m telling you to slide in the DMs for a good cause, c’mon vamanos!). The information you receive from other people could be more valuable than you’d think. And if it isn’t, well hey, you might have just made a friendship at least. Woohoo!
5. Expectations & The Reality of Support
Speaking of support, I started learning very early on that it should not be expected. When starting a blog, I think it’s so easy to forget that everybody near to you may not have the same excitement. In fact, you’ll probably be the most excited out of everybody for you to drop that blog post or your actual blog in general (this is literally me right now as I relaunch my blog with this post). Don’t get me wrong, your inner circle probably means well, but it’s more than that.
Most bloggers will face this illusion: your target audience is your friends and family. WRONG. I wouldn’t even suggest thinking like that to begin with. Yes, you will have support from them, but think of it like this…if your blog were a brick and mortar would you be aiming to sell to your family only? I know I wouldn’t.
For whatever reason as humans, we are more likely to support random businesses than the one your friend owns (again, I am speaking generally and this is not always the case). It’s a strange concept, but if you understand what I mean, trust that you will notice that majority of your audience will be people out of your circle looking for a solution to a specific question that they have.
6. No Research and Development (w/ regards to hosting, goals, & incentives)
This mistake is definitely where my time and money were majorly impacted. Like I just said, research and knowledge goes a long way. As a beginner blogger I started off with a basic personal wordpress.com plan that allowed me to purchase a domain. It was great for the time being when I started off, however, one day I decided that it was too much to figure out and learn.
This is where I went wrong and the trouble ensued. I switched hostings. *Gasps* I would like to say that I regret this, but at the same time, at least I know now and will not be wondering whether I made the right choice.
I’ll keep this short and simple because I know this could be it’s own total journey about how I sorted out my site hostings. It was a total mishap and a pain to deal with. I’ll definitely make a detailed post about it in the near future to explain the pros and cons of each web hosting I dealt with. But essentially I switched from wordpress.com to Wix.com and then to wordpress.org, self-hosting through Siteground.
The whole thing sounds unnecessary when I write it down, because it was. But just know that research will be the KEY to saving your time and money. Don’t forget, I said I’ve been blogging for over 2 years now, so you can imagine what a rollercoaster of transformation that was.
If you’re starting out, my top three questions I would suggest to ask yourself is this: what are your goals with your blog, your incentives (do you want to do this for fun or profit one day?), and are you willing to invest both time and money? Depending on your answers to those questions, it will determine how and what you will need to do when setting up your blog.
Photo Shot By: @m.exquisitecreations
7. Stop Being A Perfectionist (sometimes being perfect isn’t necessary)
If this isn’t me in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. Blogging anxiety. It’s very much a real thing. You write out an entire post or generate an idea and then suddenly a wave of self-doubt comes out of nowhere. What happened?! What I’ve come to realize is that you can only edit so much. Like sis, you’ve read and edited your post 17 or 18 times already. Just publish your post and go. I’m not saying don’t review, but learning to not overdue it will save you from burnout quickly (you don’t want this trust me).
What I’ve found is that combined with the steps above and taking into account that perfection isn’t always needed, you’ll find a balance. If you plan and schedule, then you can give yourself a few days between writing to come back to a post. Not only will your mind be refreshed and you’ll be able to refine your writer’s voice, but you’ll have a better chance of picking out errors rather than editing multiple times in the same sitting.
8. Marketing Strategies. Did I Even Have One?
I’ll cut to the chase, this means more than just hitting that publish button. That’s just the first step, but ask yourself: do you have a marketing strategy set in place? What do you need to do to reach the people who will benefit from your post because they will (most likely) not magically find it. Sorry to burst your bubble. I know that as a new blogger all I did was click publish and think I was done. It wasn’t until maybe 6-8 months later where I decided to start incorporating Instagram and Facebook into my loop.
As of recently, I have decided to take it upon myself to get into Pinterest as well. My biggest suggestion would be to not overwhelm yourself. By all means, you do NOT need to be on every social media. In fact, focusing on a few and making sure that they have viable engagement is more beneficial than spreading yourself to the masses amongst smaller realms.
For me, it was my blog and Instagram. And at one point, I was really just focusing on my Instagram. Once I grew that audience to a significant amount, that’s where I began to branch off. I’ll say that a lot of my sponsorships and freebies have come from Instagram. And despite it not being the largest of the largest platforms out there, brands have taken account of the interaction and micro-influencer account that has come from it.
Now that I’ve gained experience from that, I’m able to utilize my knowledge into other areas. If you used or found any of these tips helpful, definitely let me know! I’d love to hear about your experience!