This time 9 years ago, I bit the bullet and googled “how to start a blog”, not knowing for a second that it would change my whole life! And while the blog has taken a back seat thanks to Instagram and YouTube, I’ll never stop blogging. I might do it less frequently, but I love this little corner of the internet and it’s so nice having a place where nearly 2000 posts sit and where I can see the evolution of my photography!
I’m by no means a blogging pro, or claim to know it all, but I do have a bit of insight for anyone thinking about starting a blog, or a social media account (even if you’re doing that, get a blog, people can google that, they can’t google Instagram). So as has been my tradition for a few years now, but I’ve kept it to blogging, here are 9 things I’ve learned in 9 years of blogging/social media aka, 9 years of Lovely Girlie Bits! PS please ignore the fact that I’ve posted all of these photos of my mush, pure notions after 9 years on the internet!
1. Evolution is key.
There are so many accounts on Instagram now with so many doing the same thing, that it’s important to try and stand out, or make it your own as Simon Cowell would say. Don’t be afraid to change it up a bit and experiment with stories, videos, IGTV, grid posts on Instagram and on the blog, try different types of posts to see what works and what doesn’t. I get bored posting the same things day in day out, and I get bored watching the same things day in day out too. So try something new, see what happens and if you’re not feeling it, that’s ok, at least you tried. I’m going to be trying something new in October, something that I started in October last year but never got around to finishing. But I’m going to give it a go and see if there’s a place for it here in Lovely Girlie Bits, so stay tuned for that.
2. Listen to your guts.
Much like your hips, your guts don’t lie and if a brand approaches you for a collaboration and it doesn’t feel right, as nice as the bit of cash would be, listen to your guts. Your audience is smart and they can smell it a mile away if they think you’ve just taken the job for a few bob. My gut (or guts, I like to say guts) is also a great warning sign for those who mightn’t have the best agenda for me and I’ve rarely been wrong about people, so do yourself a favour, look after your guts, listen to your guts and love your guts because they have your best interests at heart.
3. Mind your mind.
I think since becoming a freelancer last year, my mental health has taken a few hits, but as I’ve a long history with my mental health, I know the signs and I know what I have to do to look after myself. I’ve had to take social media detoxes, I’ve had to take proper breaks away from everything and I’ve had to mute people on Instagram. And the thing is, it’s not about them, they’re fab and they’re doing their bits. It’s about me and how I feel after watching them and my mental health is more important than feeling like I need to watch them to appear supportive. I always encourage people to watch those who make them feel good, who give them a laugh or who inspire or motivate them and while it seems like everyone and their granny has an Instagram account, it’s even more important to look after yourself because your phone doesn’t lie these days, telling you how long you’ve been online, so make it a positive experience.
4. Say yes to things and say no to things.
This comes back to the guts thing again and I know I’ve made the right decision if I’ve said yes to something scary but fab because the nervous stomach starts. If I’ve made a mistake and said yes to something that my guts don’t agree with, I get that dread, that fear, that “How am I going to get out of this?” feeling, totally not the same as the nervous stomach! Stepping outside of our comfort zone is where the magic happens, so say yes to things. I’ve said yes to something you’ll see happening next week and the nervous stomach is real gals, not able…. And to go alongside that, say no to things that don’t feed your soul, that you know you’re going to regret and if you don’t know it, your guts most definitely will. I remember hearing this on a podcast earlier this year and it’s stuck. If you find it hard to say no to things, think of it as saying yes to something else. So you might be saying no to going to an event, but you’re saying yes to having a cosy night in that’s exactly what you’ve been craving. Saying no to meeting someone who wants to pick your brains means saying yes to getting some of your own work done. Try it!
5. Downtime is vital.
I’ve learned this so many times over the years and yet I still have a couple of times each year where I burn out and have nothing in the tank. Trying to create a work/life balance in this industry when you work for yourself is difficult, but it’s one I’m determined to crack. Because of Instagram, so many of us are accessible 24/7 and so boundaries need to be put in place. It’s OK if you don’t reply to DMs as soon as they come in, or if you haven’t quite finished a blog post because you can’t get back in the flow. I’ve learned how to take time away from the internet and not feel guilty about it but I tell ya, it’s taken many years for that to happen! This post should’ve gone live last week, but as I was having “annual leave”, I was super strict and said to myself that it could wait. I went through a phase of listening to Gary Vee last year and he was all about working every hour of every day and sleeping for 5 minutes and I got caught up in that. I ended up being so exhausted that my productivity went downhill, my panic and guilt spiked because I wasn’t getting “enough” done, and it was taking me ages to actually finish anything. This is something I’m actively working on all the time, but I’m getting there.
6. Never stop learning.
Right now I’m learning how to work my camera settings properly (I don’t think I’ll ever fully get to grips with them!) because I want to learn new techniques. I can take a mean product shot for Instagram, but I want to learn how to take photos of people and then I’ll move on to landscapes. I’m taking a couple of courses on Skillshare on how to edit photos and I’m working on a new project too, trying to learn how it all works. I love playing with new apps to see how I can incorporate them into my content or the content for the social accounts I look after. And that keeps things interesting for me. If I was to do what I’ve always done, there’d be no Youtube channel, no one minute videos, no experimenting with photographs. So stick on a podcast and try something new this weekend!
7. Invest in your craft and in yourself.
I’m not saying you need the fanciest equipment or need to spend a fortune on tech, but there’s a lot to be said for a bit of a google. Take advantage of all of the free knowledge that’s already out there. I wanted to learn a video technique a few months ago, and searched on YouTube for the answer, watching it, pausing it at the points where I needed to do it myself and I did it! I download at least 10 apps a week to test out and then delete the ones I don’t think I’ll get any use out of before buying the ones I think are useful. Get yourself some new props or backdrops for your blog photos, or get some lighting or a new tripod. Invest in a new blog template or commission someone to create a new logo for you. Right now, I’ve got a new camera lens on my wish list along with a different type of tripod that I think would make life easier for me. I love getting new tech!
8. Surround yourself with those who push you and who inspire you.
Recently I helped my pal Jen out with a collaboration she was doing and we spent half the day experimenting with filming, taking photos, making our vision a reality and I absolutely loved it. She said she needed me for an hour and a half and yet 4.5 hours later and we were still doing our bits, but it was deadly! I love watching people on Instagram or Youtube who are being productive and getting their stuff done and it inspires me to get off my bum and get my own stuff done. When I have my wobbles and bouts of self doubt, I have a gang of women who have my back, who see when I’m struggling (I’m a hoor at asking for help), and who know just the right things to say to me to help me feel better. One of my favourite things is to sit down with a blogging pal and have a brainstorming session together. We always come away feeling inspired and ready to try something new!
9. Enjoy it!
There are parts of freelancing I don’t enjoy, but they’re far outweighed by the positives. It’s so easy to take it all seriously and obsess about numbers and analytics, but that can take the craic out of it, and it’s only blogging and in my niche, it’s only makeup. If you’re not enjoying something, try something new, or head to Pinterest and find inspiration there. Find people who share your passion, don’t take it too seriously, stay away from those pages, you know the ones I mean, and enjoy building your little corner of the internet! Thanks to everyone who’s come along for the ride here at Lovely Girlie Bits! You’re the best!