I am extremely excited to celebrate my blog’s first anniversary! I am beyoned touched by the amount of love and support I’ve received from you all. All the kind words and comments mean the world to me and it is because of YOU that I am here doing what I love. A year ago I embarked on a blogging journey under the name OAK + PINE, a Raleigh based lifestyle blog. If i’m being completely transparent here – I didn’t even really knew what that meant at the time. I guess I would write about stuff to do in Raleigh and maybe my sister would join me? Well she didn’t, and I quickly found myself making the biggest mistake by writing about things I wasn’t truly passionate about. Over the last year I’ve been getting SCHOOLED in life, love, and learning what it takes to become a successful blogger. I’m thankful for the re-branding and the new breath of life Freedom of the Dress has given me. However, over the course of the last year I have learned some pretty invaluable lessons …so sit back and get ready, because I’m about to drop some wisdom on ya.
LESSON 1: IT’S A GRIND
Blogging is hard – so let’s just get this one out of the way first. You must have a certain amount of accountability, determination and hustle. Posts don’t write themselves, and getting the perfect picture doesn’t happen on the first shot. Time, patience, and persistence are all big players in the world of blogging.
Blogging is a straight up hustle. And when I say hustle I mean constantly moving, writing, creating. This is physical sweat and tears kinda work. My typical schedule looks something like this:
Gym from 5:15pm – 6:45 pm
Come home – Shower, Cook, Clean
Work on the blog until 9/9:30 pm sometimes even later
Watch an hour of TV (maybe) before I’m off to sleep again.
PHEW! It can be exhausting and there are absolutely some days when I just throw my hands up and want to stop. BUT I LOVE WHAT I DO. There was huge shift in my mentality when I realized I was my own boss. I had to hold myself accountable for all the scheduled posts, content creations, and deadlines I needed to meet. If you are thinking about starting your own blog just know that you must grind – and grind hard. A strong Starbucks Mocha with two shots of espresso just about does the trick. ; )
I will say that blogging is a rewarding experience. At the end of all your efforts and through the sweat, the tears, and the frustration, it is the friends you make and the support you receive that makes it all worth it. Getting to create, design, build, and grow something that is entirely of your own making is a gratifying accomplishment.
LESSON 2: BE PATIENT
This is still a lesson I must teach myself every single day. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not the most patient person in this world, but hey – I’m only human. When I first started blogging I wanted high quality content, I wanted to conquer Instagram, Pinterest, Reward Style, Travel Blogging – I wanted it all, and wanted it now.
What I’ve learned? Blogging is full of learning curves, and I think that’s my favorite part about it. I get to teach myself something new every day, whether it be about a new platform, SEO, or ways to improve my content. I LOVE doing research and learning how to become bigger – better- and self improved. Over time I’ve learned is to be patient with myself as this whole thing is a process. My advice to fellow bloggers or beginners: Set realistic goals and deadlines. Push yourself -but don’t over do it. If you’re not comfortable with producing 2-3 blog posts a week, post one a week. Pick a day to post it and be very consistent with your posting methods.
LESSON 3: BE YOURSELF
I know this sounds cliche but it’s true. Putting yourself out there is not easy, and for some people the self-doubt of being yourself in blogging can actually be crippling.
For me, I don’t think I ever truly struggled with being myself on social media but it is easy to get caught up in what other influencers are doing and wishing I could do the same. Often times I’ll find myself inspired by other influencers, but I don’t want to straight out copy them or actually BE them. I see blogging as a way to create my own narrative. To say what I want to say and be who I want to be without anyone else editing or dictating me. That’s kinda the theme behind “Freedom of the Dress” – bringing the freedom of voice and self expression to the world of fashion and travel.
So, be yourself. Love thyself unconditionally and don’t be afraid to show the world. There will always be someone waiting to knock you down, to judge you and damage your self confidence but if you stay mentally strong and believe in yourself you don’t need to let the negativity in. Remember, you can’t please everyone!
Just be yourself and focus on your passion. Fun, real, authentic, relatable lives are much more interesting than the polished ones.
LESSON 4 : FIND YOUR NICHE
Your blog should be about something you love.
Remember when I mentioned above that I started this blog about exploring Raleigh? Yeah…that was a bad move. I love Raleigh and trying new places, but I love to TRAVEL more. I would much rather go on a trip then stay in my home city. I was lying to myself about what I THOUGHT I could write about. For the first month or two I was super excited about it, but the excitement quickly wore off when I realized I would actually have to create unique posts, go to events, spend endless hours finding something I haven’t tried yet, then going out to photograph it. It lost it’s luster fast and I had no desire to keep it going.
What did I really want to write about? My passion for travel and my love for all things fashion and design. THAT is what I really want to share with you guys. After the re-brand a few months ago things have taken a turn for the better. I find myself writing novels of useful content and really using my own voice. Even writing this now – I just want to keep on going!
So, find what you are truly passionate about in this world and write about it. Your niche doesn’t have to be so narrow that you feel limited on the topics you can write about, but it should be specific enough that your readers know what to expect from you and your blog.
LESSON 5: BE CONSISTENT
Refer back to Lesson #1 – blogging is hard, but what’s hard about it is the ability to stay consistent. I have learned that in order to grow your following, friends, email list, and collaborations, you must be consistent in your efforts. Post every day on Instagram. Be honest with yourself and how much content you can produce. I post one blog post a week, that’s all I can afford to do right now if I want to make sure it is a well written article. Make sure you follow up with sponsorship’s and collaborations to make sure they are satisfied. Check your emails multiple times a day and respond in a timely manner. Post to all your channels. Stay connected and build a community. Get sh*t done – and then do it all over again.
LESSON 6: SOCIAL MEDIA IS SO IMPORTANT
This lesson kind of piggybacks on lesson number 4 and being consistent. You may have the BEST blog on the entire internet with the BEST content out there for your specific audience, but if no one knows that your site exists, how can they find you? Ponder that for a minute. You have to promote your blog; you have to be your own biggest cheerleader, and you have to continually get the word out there. I’m not saying that you have to use all of the social media platforms, but pick two or three that will best fit the demographic you’re marketing to – and – you guessed it – BE CONSISTENT USING THEM. I use Instagram and Pinterest the most, but I also post on Facebook, Snapchat, and LikeitToKnowIt as well. Every social media platform is different, and some work better than others depending on the type of blog you have. Start with one or two platforms and work your way up to more if you think it will be beneficial.
LESSON 7: DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS
Hey blogger friends- did you know there is still a life outside blogging? I know- crazy right?! It is important not to lose sight of what really matters in life; that is friends, family, and self care. Make sure to put your phone down every once and a while and spend time with your loved ones. Take a walk with your dog, hit the gym, go out for a frigging picnic – just disconnect for like 15 minutes! It is SO important to have a life outside you blogging hobby or career and that you make sure your mental-state isn’t suffering from your busy schedule. Blogging should be fun but it can also be time consuming (says the girl who just took an hour and a half to write this). Remember to relax and take some time for your friends, family, and for yourself every once in a while.
Thanks for reading along on this very long read! Many of you have asked me about blogging; how I started and what I use. I talk about ALL these things in my weekly EMAIL FREEBIES – so if you are interested in hearing more please follow along and subscribe to the blog.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, I say do it! Do your research, have a game plan, and jump in. My blog has grown faster than I ever imagined and I am grateful for the lessons it has taught me along the way.
Also, a special thank you to YOU! I am so honored and thankful to have such loyal readers. I started this blog with the sole intention of helping people, and everyday I feel like I am accomplishing that. I am here for YOU so if there’s anything you specifically want to know about, leave me a comment below.
– Amanda Jo