Two Years of Blogging, and the things you should know before you start a blog.
"You learn more in failure than you do in success."
Starting a blog has been one of my best achievements in life. I always say my blog saved my life...because it did. When I decided to start a blog I was on the journey out of deep depression, stemming from an emotionally abusive relationship, I had just gotten out of rehab to help curb a four year long eating disorder ( these are things that I will never be ashamed of). With every day that God blessed me with, I knew that there was a shining light of self realization and happiness in my longterm, but I needed to have life take its natural course to help me get me there...on my own.
When I started this blog, I didn't start it to just wear pretty clothes, I started this blog as a documentation of my journey to understand myself. This blog was my attempt at writing a journal. I wanted to look back on every blog post and see a full journey of how I became the woman that many of you know today. I started this blog for me, to help me understand that hidden within the broken me, was my best me. Just like many of you, when I am at my lowest moments I still come and read my own posts to give myself hope again.
Over the last few years I have learned so many things that have helped me keep this blog true, relevant and inspiring. I hear from so many of you that you want to start a blog too, and while I commend so many of you I always keep pushing you to find your true reasons.
So today, I wanted share a few gems that I learned along the way.
Find your purpose
"Remind yourself, nobody built like you design yourself"
The biggest challenge is deciding why you want to start a blog. I have spent time talking to many of you, asking you this very question. Till today the answer I hear 99% of the time, is that you want to inspire women. While this is correct and true, it is unfortunately a very vague purpose. To be honest...everyone needs to be doing this constantly. Everything we do everyday is to inspire women, each other, and even men. When deciding to start my blog, I dug deep into a special place where I kept all my struggles in life...things from my childhood..things from relationships...from friendships...from my career. I wanted to inspire women by having the unfiltered conversations and saying the things that so many were afraid to even consider speaking. My first tagline was "Exactly what you were thinking". While I have grown from that, it is still a true foundation of why I exist.
Everyone has room to shine, but find your own light
"Nobody wins when the family feuds"
When I first started blogging, I wanted to be the next "xyzy". I had studied so many successful bloggers and I literally wanted to do what they did and do it better. I took note of the types of posts they created and started to plan out how to do exactly that. Almost two weeks in, I realized that at the foundation of every single successful blogger was a truth about that person's life/journey that I could never ever imitate of recreate, and that changed how I wrote my blog.
My blog became a realtime following of my life, the good or the bad. I shared when I was broke, broken hearted, happy, mourning, successful and when I was confused. Till today, you will never ever see me write against a content calendar, simply because my life isn't that structured.
For this reason, I also do not think I have competition in the blogger world. Not because I am cocky but because I see us all on parallel paths moving towards a larger goal of representation of women who look like us. This mindset will always help you focus on your own goal, and give you the confidence to cheer each other on when another is winning.
Being let down will become your norm, but turn that into fuel
" A loss aint a loss it's a lesson. Appreciate the pain it's a blessing"
The most emotionally taxing part of being a blogger has been the unwelcome feeling of being let down. Till today when I feel let down, I shut down. It is the most human experience ever but It is the most painful. I have had photographers decide at the last minute that they no longer want to work with me. I have had makeup artists and hair stylists cancel on me 10 minutes before shoot time (this is why I learned to do my own hair and makeup). I have had assistants, interns and team members quit on me when I was at my lowest and needed the support to keep the blog afloat. I have heard rough things said about me as a blogger from people who support me to my face.
But you know what, these things will always continue to happen. Once I called my oldest sister to cry about blog things, and what people were saying and doing. And I will never forget, she told me to remember why I started the blog and always remain focused on that. Today, when someone lets me down, I get back up because I remember that this blog was created to heal myself and women like me, and at the end of the day that is a solo journey.
Your truth is non-negotiable
"You cannot heal what you don't reveal"
One of the hardest parts of writing from struggle is the fear that you may be opening cans of worms. When I first wrote about the struggles of dating as a plus sized woman, I got a long email from my ex focused on how I made him look vs how he made me feel. The fear of this actually stopped me from ever writing about any more relationship struggles...call it an emotional cease and desist. ha!
The truth is that you have permission to heal the best way you want to. You cannot heal in a way that is comfortable for the person who hurt you or comfortable for society. I challenge you all to write your struggles the way that YOU experienced them, not the way the world wants you to. When you write your truth, you are not only healing, but you are healing many others who are too afraid to admit that they may be going through what you went through.
Write like only one person is reading
The most person thing about starting a blog is making sure to never get caught in a numbers game. I used to focus so much on how many followers I didn't have, rather than appreciating the followers who made the decision to come to my blog EVERY single day. Meditate on that.
At the core of it, I truly write the blog for myself, to help myself, my many selves. For that reason I will write when I want to, when I am inspired and I never write to appeal to a certain audience. Its like dancing with a blindfold on...people will watch and they may be inspired to join in the dance too, but once you remember that you are dancing to celebrate your love of music...you will move to your own beat.
"Whats better than one billionaire? ...TWO"
For months I had been planning what I would do to celebrate this blog milestone. I thought about so many things I could give you guys, an event, free stuff... but I decided that this year I would invest in your dreams. So this year, I am giving away a blog starter package to someone who is inspired to start a blog.
As a part of this giveaway, I will be paying for one year hosting on Squarespace and a photoshoot for your blog key images.
Here is how to enter:
Please note that you do not qualify if you already have a blog.
1. What about your blog will inspire/impact that he lives of your readers?
2. Tell me about yourself, your story/what will make you unique from all the bloggers out there?
3. Why do you REALLY want to start a blog?
Answers should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org - Closes on July 4th 2017