This week I’m celebrating the 8 year Anniversary of the creation of The Fashion Lotus and its honestly kind of surreal. When I started blogging, I did it as a creative outlet during a time that was scary and things were changing very quickly in my life. My then boyfriend, now husband, and I had just moved across an ocean to our new life in Texas, leaving behind family, friends and life as we knew it. It was a new land, a new adventure and starting from scratch. Today, I have learned and gained so much from this outlet and I’m sharing 8 things I’ve learned in the last 8 years being a blogger!
1. Have an idea for a Blog? Start it!
The idea for a blog actually started a year earlier, when I was posting Outfit of the Day (OOTD) posts on my Facebook and a friend commented “You should have a blog!” I was like, who would read what I have to say? So, I said “Thanks, but I don’t think people care enough about what I’m wearing to do that.” She messaged me and insisted that I should totally do it and that she would absolutely read it. I thanked her but reiterated that I’m not cool enough to do that. Secretly, I started to research blogs and became obsessed with The Blonde Salad, Susie Bubble, Bryan Boy and the like. These were all pioneers in the blogging world and were coming up as icons in the Fashion world as well. I thought, well, I’m not as young or pretty or rich enough to have this level of popularity. I loved them, but honestly, the life they were projecting, and still do today, was unattainable for me. And that’s when I found my angle! I would share affordable finds for people like myself! Because I have a background a background in Environmental Affairs, I also kept sustainable fashion on my radar, but I knew I had to learn more about it to speak up on the subject, so affordability and accessibility was where I would start.
2. You Don’t Need all the Bells and Whistles to get started.
When I started blogging, I was sharing my tips and tricks for affordable shopping, creating gift idea lists and sharing my top favorite red carpet or runway looks. I decided to do it this way until I would be able to afford a good camera to take great photos like the bloggers I so admired. Little did I know that those “trend reports” I was doing would lead me into a new career in fashion journalism, but more on that later. It wasn’t until the following year, in February of 2013, that I just decided to post an outfit which I shot with my crappy cell phone camera. To my surprise, the post got tons of views! That’s what my friends wanted to see, so I started with my phone until I could afford my first camera and start posting higher quality content. Frankly, people didn’t care at first because they knew I was just starting out. They were rooting for me, and I decided to just put myself out there and be my authentic self. Eventually I bought a Cannon EOS Rebel t3i and my husband would take my photos as we explored the city of San Antonio and surrounding towns. Then my friends and fellow bloggers started helping out. I even made friends with photographers and we started working together on collabs or paid shoots. During the Pandemic, it’s been mostly me with my tripod in different spots of my yard or neighborhood, the timer and just playing around with Lightroom as I learn the craft of photo editing.
3. Find your Niche
This one is important. I learned the hard way, that posting about so many different topics will get mixed reviews. I started as a fashion blogger, but also incorporated travel, food and fitness, because those were things that I loved. I noticed when I posted a lot of food on this platform and my social media, it didn’t get a lot of engagement. So, I decided to keep fashion and beauty (mainly curl care) as my niche topics, with the occasional travel, fitness and now wellness post, which would always include fashion to drive back to the point that this is my main topic. Sometimes we find ourselves kind of all over the place, but when we stick to what we know, love and are passionate about, everything else will fall into place.
4. Don’t do it for the Money
When I started blogging, I would daydream about getting famous enough to be invited to global fashion week events and post about how one day I was able to leave my corporate job to be a full time blogger. 8 years later, I’m still at my corporate job, I’ve actually been promoted, too! But more importantly, it isn’t always a reality for all content creators. When I let go of the idea that this would be a career, I started writing more meaningful content, creating more value for my readers and always stayed true to myself. At some point, I started getting sponsored content opportunities, paid promotion offers and even was hired as a freelance content creator for an online fashion news site, Style Lush TV. So, yes opportunities will show up, but you have to be open to the possibility that it won’t happen like in the movies. You have to build your audience, naturally and organically. Authenticity is so important in a sea of carbon copies, so when you post honestly and sincerely, you will naturally grow.
5. Content is King
I know you probably see this everywhere, but it is so true! If you want a blog to be successful, you have to produce quality content. Whether you are the photographer, videographer, editor, writer or all of the above, quality content over quantity is going to be important. No, you don’t need to invest in a $1K camera or pay for photography, although can if you have the means to do so, but nowadays you can take great photos with your camera phone, which have great resolution. You can have a simple camera tripod with phone grip, or just prop it up in a way that gives you those great angles. Just make sure the photos aren’t blurry, grainy and please say no to over-filtering or frames (not cute). When it comes to creating the content, you can use tools like editing software for photos, like Lightroom or for videos, like iMovie (to start. I currently use DaVinci Resolve), graphic design tools like Canva and writing tools like Grammarly. All have free versions, but if you want to use their maximum potential, you can unlock the full features by paying.
6. Consistency is Key
I have been very guilty of lacking consistency. Busy with work or overbooking myself with activities, I noticed my blog suffered the most. I started blogging once a week, then once a month, then once every few months. I would complain that my blog viewership wasn’t growing, but I had no one to blame but myself. What’s helping me now, through this revamp of my blog is planning ahead. I have so may ideas and because of the Global Pandemic I actually have some time on my hands to plan ahead for the content and posts. Now that I’m more consistent, the blog is getting great traffic and emails with work proposals are flooding my inbox. Also, the audience sees the posts and begin to look forward to my posts once a week here, daily post on social and 3 times a week on YouTube.
7. It’s okay to take a break
This may seem contradictory to Lesson 6, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the schedule you’ve set for yourself, have a busy workload or home obligations or are going through something personal, it’s very much okay to take a break. You can announce it or not, depending on your audience engagement. I learned the hard way that burnout is very real, so before you get sick of it and give up completely, allow yourself some time to rest and come back refreshed and full of new creative ideas for brand new content!
8. Don’t obsess over numbers
This is a biggie. I recently watched that documentary on Netflix, The Social Dilemma, and I felt so guilty and wrong about having obsessed about how my posts were doing in the past. I used to get so frustrated when my following wasn’t growing on social media, or if a posts had low views or likes and I just wasn’t having fun with it. Of course, you’re going to feel disappointed if a post doesn’t do well, especially if it’s a collaboration or sponsored post, but natural and organic engagement is more important than likes, trust me. If you engage with your audience, direct them accordingly using the tools in social media, the blog and social stats will grow. Keep producing quality content and the rest will follow. Believe me when I say, not all that glitters is gold. When you see these accounts with rapid growth and likes, but the engagement is low, don’t doubt for a second that there is more going on behind the scenes than what’s apparent to the naked eye. People buy followers and likes, join engagement pods and secret giveaways. I admit to having done the last two, but believe me, even though you’re not “buying” followers or likes, loop giveaways and like pods are not truly growing your viewership. They fade away just as likely as they came in, so I now steer away from those, unless it’s a giveaway with a brand I trust and truly want people to get to know them or win their products. Just keep doing what you’re doing, create that bomb content, engage with your followers and fellow creators, authentically and sincerely, and your readership will surely grow and brands will line up to team up with you.
I’ve really so much more that I’ve learned and gained during the last 8 years, but these tare absolutely the most important lessons to me. I hope this gives you some inspiration to start. We have only scratched the service with what we can achieve with these platforms. There’s plenty of room for all kinds of creatives! Cheers to 8 years, and to many more!