With the start of each new year, it often brings up sentimental feelings for me! This month means the start of a new year, new goals, and also the anniversary of when I started this little Fashion + Lifestyle blog called Sequins and Sales. Over the past three years, I have had wins, losses, and many things in-between. In this post today, I wanted to share 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging!
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You Literally Cannot Do Everything
This is something I’ve always struggled with. I always want to do EVERYTHING myself and it generally ends up hindering my end product or my mental health (or both) in the process. In school I would do the majority of group projects because others weren’t consistent or just completely ignored the assignment. Once I started realizing there were things I couldn’t do, that’s when I started to prosper! These are some thing I did/discovered:
Hire a Photographer
When I first started blogging, I took literally all my photos myself with my iPhone and a $25 tripod from Amazon! It worked, but I was constantly hating the quality and how long it took to shoot and edit images. I do recommend this for bloggers/influencers just starting out though! It’s a way to start getting recognized for your artistic vision. (Read more about How to Take Blog Photos With Your iPhone and a Tripod (here)!) Things like this hindered my mental health to the fullest extent.
I was working full-time and spending roughly an entire day of my two day weekend shooting and editing content. It was absolutely exhausting and not sustainable at all! In 2020, my biggest goal was to shoot with a photographer. I wanted to at least outsource the shooting and editing so I could focus more on the outfits/content I wanted to shoot! It ended up being the BEST decision I’ve ever made, and now I’ve also gotten an amazing friend out of it as well!
Focus on One Blog Aspect a Year
Another one of my biggest issues was trying to focus on everything I wanted to accomplish all at once. This caused me to start spreading myself too thin! I would try and do 5 different tasks every night, ended up staying up entirely too late, and it also affected my mental health. I would try and pin 10 pins a day, focus on keywords/SEO for my blog every night, and also try to stay consistent on multiple social media platforms.
Once 2020 hit, I realized I needed to focus down on only a couple goals a year and TRULY focus down on them. Last year I really made a point to revamp my blog and make sure Google Analytics was set up correctly so I could get accurate traffic models to send to brands! I also wanted to up my page views so that they were more substantial. I knew this would help me grown passive income streams as well. Focusing down on what I wanted overall helped me grow more than I imagined!
Focus on Pinterest from the Start
When I first started my blog, I did it more-so to show fashion companies that I wanted to intern for that I knew what I was talking about. I went to a smaller school, with a smaller program, and knew I needed to show that I had something special to offer. I shared thrifted transformations, DIY’s, and fun clothing that I sewed myself! I grew kind of quickly on Instagram; however, I wasn’t seeing growth on my blog. I realized I need to really focus in on this!
Last year I discovered Ell Duclos, who runs Boss Girl Bloggers, and her course helped me so much! I am in her FB group and she had a sale where her course was only $10 and I promise I would’ve paid upwards of $100 for it. It helped me EXPLODE my growth and truly kickstarted the increase in sessions I was getting on my blog year over year! She guides you through her strategy, shares tips on researching, and also has templates you can purchase.
Keywords, Keywords, Keywords
I have taken four courses for blogging, and one of the best I’ve had was Make Traffic Happen! It tells you how to really focus on SEO and keywords. These will help you play Google’s game help you rank on search engines! It’s really important to have organic traffic (not all traffic from social media sources), and this course helped me figure out a game plan going forward.
The main tool that I utilize for everything is Keysearch! Keysearch is where I start every single blog post. Before I start writing content (usually, sometimes I just don’t care as much), I head over to check popular phrases for what I plan to write about. For this post, I saw that “things i wish i knew before i started blogging” didn’t have too much search competition and had roughly 70 monthly searches! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it can end up bringing a ton of traffic your way.
Make Sure Google Analytics is Set Up Correctly
This was a big slap in the face last year. Let me tell you why! I was likely underreporting sessions and traffic for about a year because I didn’t have the code on my blog set up correctly. It’s so important to have a base knowledge of HTML and CSS when it comes to things like this, because you’ll be able to realize when things are wrong. EVERY blog needs to have Google Analytics, because it helps you see the most accurate traffic info!
Don’t fret if you’re freaking out about not knowing minimal coding. Google and YouTube will be your BEST FRIENDS! I learned most of what I know through these two platforms. For a basic intro of setting up Google Analytics, (here) is a tutorial! I actually didn’t realize this existed when I first started my blog, but I just discovered it and knew I needed to share it with y’all.
Purchase and Utilize Quickbooks
This is something that I literally did last week and I know I should’ve done it sooner. Quickbooks, if you haven’t heard of it, is a great way to set up your banking when it comes to blogging/being an influencer! You can connect it to any bank account you want; I just set up a business account with Chase last week so that way there is ONLY blogging expenses and income going in and out.
The great thing about Quickbooks is that you can send + receive invoices, it automatically tracks your transactions, and it will make tax season sooo much easier if you monetize your blog! The reason I didn’t sign up sooner was honestly because I thought I would jinx myself by not making money. It was really stupid and I shouldn’t done it from the START! Want tips on 10 Things to Know If You Plan to Monetize Your Blog? Click (here)!
Know Your Worth and Charge That
I was undercharging for sponsored content until JUNE of this year y’all. It wasn’t until I shared my rates with my blogger friends that I found this out. They then kindly bullied me into raising them and charging my worth. You know what? That same week I landed two sponsored opportunities with the new rate that was 6x the rate I was originally charging. SIX TIMES!!
That rule of charging 10 cents a followers (or $100/10K followers) is a SCAM! Please look online and see the budgets that these companies have every year and start throwing out randomly high numbers. If it’s not in their budget, they will tell you. If they like you, they’ll send back a counteroffer that you can accept or decline! Ultimately the worst that they can say is no.
Take a Pitching Course
This is something I wish I had done sooner! I generally only get reached out to by brands through email, but after taking this course I feel more confident in pitching brands! I took it in October of 2019 and was able to pitch my way to some additional campaigns for Q4. This past year was kind of a hot mess since my 8 person team at my full-time job was running our only source of traffic for a few months PLUS here was a worldwide pandemic.
I started slacking off a bit in 2020, but I plan to revamp my pitching technique this year and start reaching out to brands again! The course that changed my whole idea of pitching was Boss Pitch! Erica Gwynn is super sweet, helpful, and has a Facebook group that you can join as well. She even audits pitches occasionally and gives you live feedback on the post!
Stop Comparing Yourself to Larger Influencers
I still struggle with this every single day. When you’re in an industry that is largely focused on numbers, it can be hard to be happy with the ones you’re getting unless they’re existentially amazing! I’ve learned though that I will create the content I want to create and that I need to be happy with this. I work hard for everything I do and it IS enough! I still get great campaigns, I’ve met amazing people, and have had awesome opportunities thus far.
One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is The Thief of Joy” by Theodore Roosevelt because it really and truly is. When you find yourself getting into that mindset, it’s great to remember why you started. What made you love blogging in the first place? What wins have you had that week? Month? Year? These can start to break you from the comparison mindset that can take over.
Celebrate Your Wins
Oh look, here’s something else I struggle with! I added this mostly to remind myself to do this. No matter how small of a win it is, CELEBRATE! I think I would’ve been a lot happier on my blogging journey if I took the time to celebrate the exciting things that happened along the way. I literally won a Fashion Influencer of the Year award (read more here) and brushed past it like it was nothing.
Gotten your most blog views in a month ever? Celebrate that! Landed your biggest paid campaign (even if it’s only $100) to date? Celebrate that! Correctly set up Google Analytics? Celebrate that! There isn’t a limit to celebrating your successes and you’ll have a happier life the more you appreciate all the work you’ve done for something you love.
WHEW, another long post done! I hope you guys enjoyed this post about 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging. These tips will lead you to your own blogging success, and hopefully start you out on a better path than mine! If you have any tips about what helped you when you first started out, leave a comment below.
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Photos by Hannah Lozano