Okay that title seems a bit harsh—but it’s true! A lot of people typically ask mega-bloggers how they grew their brand, how they create content, for advice on blogging. You rarely see people ask micro-bloggers with less than 15k how they grew their following, how they create content, etc. Not enough for them to post about it at least.
So I’m here to answer the question that was never asked. And I’m going to explain things from my point of view, which is obviously unique to my own experiences. Even though I have a small following, I still work really hard and treat my blog and my instagram, and everything i do for that matter, as if I do this for a living and have thousands of subscribers, so I hope you can learn a few things in this post!
creating quality content
This is said every single time, from every.single.mega-blogger, and I can’t stress how important this is.. Your content - and the quality of it, REALLY. IS. KEY. But what does this even mean? Well....What are you bringing to the table? What differentiates you from the person next to you? You should ask yourself questions like this every step of the way, in whatever you are trying to achieve, not just blogging. from my experiences, when I’m truly passionate about something, quality content comes right along with it. It’s seamless.
To me, ‘quality content’ doesn’t just apply to blog posts or Instagram feeds, it applies to everything we do!
Design school really helped me realize how important unique & ‘quality content’ really is. In 2015, I was preparing myself to enter a super saturated and extremely competitive design industry. Knowing this, it kind of forced me to dig deeper into my design process so that I could stand out over the portfolio next to me. By doing this, I REALLY stood out! I dug deeper and learned that I was super passionate and felt so inspired by deeper thoughts, emotions and feelings, which makes sense because I am super super introverted.
I turned a bible verse into a spring collection, I designed about the feeling of touch itself for fall. My entire senior thesis was inspired simply by my own philosophy of design. I found what my passion was and I literally ran with it.
It was second nature to me to design this way, once I realized where the passion was. And this flowed out vividly in everything I drew or created for my portfolio (that’s where the quality content kicked in).
By mid-senior year, I was competing in design competitions for the CFDA with the top designers in my graduating class across the US. Although I didn’t win it all, I made it to the point where I was a semi-finalist for one of them, meaning I was in the top 4 over hundreds and hundreds of entries in this competition. I was even able to take my designs a step further and compete at a global level - such an amazing experience and a time in my life that I will always appreciate, thanks to God! By graduation, I was awarded Designer of The Year by the faculty at my college and received a really generous scholarship that I didn’t even apply for. I honestly didn’t even know that the scholarship existed.
I’m not sharing this to brag - if I wanted to brag I would have shared it a long time ago. I’m very humble about all of my accomplishments. But what I hope you take away from this is, dig deeper! Take time to find what makes you different and what you’re passionate about, and embrace it!! This will ensure quality content, I can guarantee you that. It might even help because I haven’t used a blogging example but I wanted to share something today that was actionable, my blog isn’t to the point where people want to hear about its successes 😜.
So, this all might be hard to discover at first, it took me years to find who I was as a designer, and I’m still trying to find who I am as a blogger right now. I’ve always found word mapping super useful when trying to figure out things. Start with what you love and things associated with it. Maybe then will help you find something you’re passionate about and you had no idea! Anyway, I really believe that we all have something unique about us if we just dig a little deeper. Then you can use that to your advantage and people will really connect with you!
You might be thinking, well why the heck aren’t you designing now then little miss passion. Short answer is, I truly love design but I love Shawn and my family here in Cleveland so much more. I was sick of missing out on seeing my littlest sister grow up, sick of missing family get-togethers, sick of not seeing relatives before they get to go to heaven. Literally. I left work early one day in Columbus and showed up to the hospital a minute after Shawns grandma passed. If I was in Cleveland I could have been there before she left us. I realized that the lifestyle just isn’t for me, not unless I do my own thing. I have been praying for more clothing design opportunities in my future so we will see.
Also, just want to add - in my experience, being genuine stands out and has always worked for me, so that’s the best advice I can give. You can totally tell when someone’s work is disingenuous because honestly, it just doesn’t feel like them. Share things that are unique and true to yourself. Share content that you want to actually share, share what you really love! And don’t be afraid to do it. Don’t share what’s popular at the present time just because your account will grow. That plan is only temporary and will fade over time, plus you won’t even enjoy doing it as much as creating things you’re passionate about!
my photography & dslr’s
I can’t express now important it is to post quality images! When I first started, my account grew to 1k over just about 1/2 months. At that point I was working with my sister-in-law who is a photographer to create content. She and my brother were just starting their photography business so they needed content too, the partnership was just a perfect time, perfect place kind of thing. We would hangout, drink energy drinks, and take pictures. It was really fun haha!! I was posting those photos twice a day, morning and night, to really get myself out there.
Once I hit around the 2.5k follower mark I decided to invest in my own camera, it was a crop sensor that cost about $1k. So..not the flashiest camera in the market but it helped me learn how to use a DSLR, and how to edit the photos, which I really really wanted to learn more about! Plus my sister was getting super busy as their business picked up, so we couldn’t meet as much for photos. It just seemed like the right time for me to invest!
Around 6k followers I decided that I learned enough to invest in a full-frame camera. Full transparency: these are expensive. If you don’t see yourself using a camera for professional purposes, such as blogging full time, photography full time or some other profession, I wouldn’t recommend investing in it. I bought mine used for about $2k with the lens, my camera and lens new is around $3k. I sold my old camera to help pay for the investment. .
I know that people use iPhone photos for their blogs and IG, but for me I would say shooting photography RAW and learning the ins and outs of photo editing has been something that I genuinely enjoy doing. When you shoot RAW you are more-so able to add you’re on unique touch to your photos, even if you’re starting with a preset. It makes me feel like my photos are more.. ME! But there is a reason photographers make a living off of this, it’s not easy and it takes time. I’ve been shooting raw and editing my photos for over a year and I am still learning / adjusting my editing..and I know I still have so much to learn!
posting every day vs. posting periodically
Right now for me personally, I’m not at a point in my life where I have time to create quality posts every single day. The house renovation is priority right now and we are very involved with the entire process so that comes first over photographing our current house, or posting about plant tips or even partnerships. I think if we weren’t renovating this would be different and I would be posting more, so just putting that out there!
I believe it is good to get in a rhythm and stick to it. If you’re posting every other day then you change to once a week, people will see less of you and sooner or later they will find another blog to fill the void. That’s just me giving my honest opinion, not trying to be harsh! If you plan to change up your posting schedule, do it gradually! bounce back and forth between your current time and your new time, just to show those 8pm peeps that you’re still there.
i use the Plann app to organize my feed and plan posts. It makes the process seamless and enjoyable, I love organizing my grid 😊
Ooooh the blog. I might be biased over this platform because I’ve been using Squarespace for years since I had to make an online portfolio back in 2014. I’ve never tried anything else for this blog. But I do love it and recommend it to everyone’s that asks. It’s so convenient, I’m literally writing this post on my phone right now, at 12:17 AM lol. I pay $17 a month for the membership, $6 a month for my blog email and $40 for my domain a year. So basically what I’m saying is this is an expensive hobby lol. But I love it! I know that I don’t help a massive audience but I interact and help people with different things every single day on here. It’s worth the investment to me and if I didn’t feel passionate about it, I wouldn’t do it.
I wouldn’t recommend blogs to someone who isn’t interested in actually blogging. I think being a blogger and an influencer are two different entity’s honestly. I believe that you can be both but there are also people who are solely influencers and solely bloggers. If you don’t want to blog, don’t waste your moola, that’s all I’m saying!
If you’ve gotten to the end of this post, i love u and just want to thank you for reading. I hope you walk away from this informed and/or excited to find your passion and do something that you truly love. Life is too short to not love what you do every day.
Love you guys!