I returned home from my second over-nighter of the week (Paris on Tuesday, Kilkenny on Thursday) and although utterly exhausted, I was so delighted to find the most exciting of packages had arrived. Behold, it’s contents:
A brand new iMac and iPad mini for me to work from, and I was pinching myself at finally having my dream computer setup. Scanning my blog on that big screen it was like seeing it with fresh eyes again, and I was inspired to make a few new changes to it’s layout. You’ll see it has now has a cleaner layout, and dedicated sections for some of my popular categories, including Travel and Blogging Tips. I hope you like the new design as much as I do.
If you follow me on Snapchat you’ll remember earlier this week I had a chat about this big purchase, and about not being afraid to invest in your passion. It just so happens that my birthday falls in exactly one week’s time, and last week I also shared my birthday wishlist post which was a collection of some pieces I was really keen on picking up. Rather than spend my money on a new slice of Saint Laurent or some Chanel arm-candy, I opted to invest it all this little online space instead. Call me crazy, but unwrapping that big white box, peeling off the plastic to reveal the smooth, cool metal underneath, and finally hearing the welcoming hum of my iMac when I turned it on brought me more joy than any designer accessory ever could. (Sorry, Coco)
So with that said, I’ve decided to share five other personal truths I’ve learned in my five years in the blogging game. Maybe you’ll laugh at them or maybe you’ll learn from them, but either way, they are some of the more important lessons I’ve learned in my time as a blogger. Who knows, maybe they’ll help you out, too.
1: An expensive wardrobe does not make you a better blogger
You can be positively dripping in Chanel, dahling, but if your content ain’t good, there’s no hiding it. There was a time where I used to get down on myself for not having a constantly-updated wardrobe. I felt pressure seeing other bloggers splash out on the latest it bag or those coveted designer shoes, while I was quietly trying to put next months rent aside, and wondering how much was left on my leap card. Thankfully I soon learned that the real value of your work is in your ability to create content that sparks something in a reader, rather than being on top of a current trend. Now that I am at a stage that (sometimes) I can invest in my wardrobe a bit more, I try to be as careful and calculated about it as I can. Because at the end of the day, a designer handbag won’t help me reach my personal and professional goals, but a new lens, editing software, or photoshop course just might.
2: Be Original, Don’t copy others
Any blogger in the game for long is sure to have felt that sting at least once, when they see another blogger has directly copied them. Maybe it’s intentional, maybe it’s innocent, but either way it always hurts a little. If you are a blogger and you do find yourself in this situation, my advice is this: take the high road. Accept it, and move on. People will always take inspiration from others, and you can always have a quiet word with them about it if you like it’s too close for comfort, but I think you’re better off to focus on working harder, and getting better yourself.
3: It’s okay to make money from your blog (just make sure you’re honest about it)
Monetisation. Disclosure. Honesty. Words associated now more than ever with the blogging industry. I feel like there is still a huge taboo involved in admitting that you are earning money from your blog, and over time I have learned to let go if it, along with any awkwardness I felt in disclosing when something I published involved payment. I quickly learned that your readers will appreciate your openness, and they will support you. Heck they’ll even be happy to see that you’re getting paid for your work. So if you are a blogger yourself, then just be honest about what you are getting paid for, it’s that easy. Worried about being judged? You needn’t be. If you create really good content, then creating sponsored content that’s just as good should be just as easy. If you’re a non-blogger, then my advice is this; don’t be afraid to (politely) ask someone if what you’re looking at is sponsored or not, if you’re unsure that is. They owe it to you as a reader to let you know in an equally polite way.
4: Learn to say No
I touched on this topic in another personal post a few months back, but learning to say no was one of the most powerful lessons I learned on my blogging journey. The task of turning a blog into a brand is a vague and complicated one, and I struggled with it myself. Two key ways of doing this is by refining your content, and being selective. This little website is a big part of how I earn my wage, (I also work as a freelancer presenter and stylist) but when I eventually decided to pursue blogging time, I made the promise to myself that I would never let money alone drive my decisions here. Sure, I probably sleep a little easier if I accepted every offer going, especially in those quieter periods in the new year (I know other freelancers will feel me on that one) but is it really worth it in the long run? If did put a price on my words, and allowed my content to be bought and sold to the highest bidder, then what’s the point in working for myself at all? Yes I work with brands on here from time to time, but maintaining my creative freedom is worth so much more to me than having a paycheck attached to every post I publish here.
5: Your social media following does not determine your value
If you’re not careful, social media can become just one big numbers game, and honey, there will always be someone with a bigger number than you. There was a time when I used to get down on myself over not having more followers online, but thankfully I saw sense eventually. If you take away one thing from this post, l hope it’s this: Your social media following does not determine the value of your work. It does not reflect the beauty in your photographs, the originality of your ideas, or the truth in the words you write. It’s just a number. Rather than stress over it, you should be thankful that you have a community of people (however big or small) that decided they wanted to be part of your story. Focus your energy on engaging with them, and making their experience on your pages worthwhile, and I guarantee you, before you know it that number will stop feeling so important. You will enjoy the journey so much more once you stop beating yourself up about how far you’ve left to go.