In 2017 I became captivated by likes of Julia Berolzheimer, Carly Riordon, and Rachel Martino. These three bloggers had created these incredibly beautiful and independent lives by sharing their love of fashion and lifestyle.
The more I followed these ladies the more I found myself wanting to learn all that went into growing an online influence. I had always dreamed of having a career where I could combine my loves of performance, service, leadership, and online creation. And there it was!!!
Then on October 11, 2019, in a small Upper West Side apartment, and after a couple glasses of red wine I admitted to one of my best friends that I had this secret little dream of becoming a blogger with a focus on vintage inspired fashion. She, being an incredible friend, was like “you HAVE to do it!!!” That night we decided the name, made the Instagram, and bought the domain. Thoroughly Modern Princess was born. And on February 10th, 2020 I published my first blog post!
I cannot believe it has been a year. It feels simultaneously like 10 years and also 10 days. I’m sure the pandemic helped this feeling haha. Looking back to my first blog posts, just 12 short months ago, they are lightyears away from where they are now. This growth took a lot of trial and error.
Blogging has brought so much joy to my life. I’m so grateful to be able to do it. But being a blogger is hard work.
What I learned in my first year of blogging
Mindset is everything:
It really is! It does not matter how much content you are pushing out. If you are in a negative headspace you’ll hit a wall and burnout.
I have struggled with this much of my life. I will be working towards a dream and will only see all the ways in which things can go wrong. The issue then becomes that I am preventing myself from visualizing the ways I can make my goals happen.
I’ve been working on this a lot since starting TMP. When I keep my goals in mind and allow myself to visualize them happening, I feel excited and motivated. I highly recommend “Stop Checking Your Likes,” by Susie Moore for anyone looking to shake off their need for approval and get into a good mindset.
Planning is the key to Consistency:
Something I learned very early on was both how difficult and important it was to stay consistent. Before starting TMP I really thought that so much of what bloggers did was just “on the fly.” I quickly learned that is not true and I needed to have a system. It took a lot of trial and error and several different types of systems to get where I am today. I use Asana and several different Google Docs to keep everything organized.
Consistency is so crucial in building the “know, like, and trust” of your audience. Being such a new presence in this space I’ve found that my engagement drops off when I don’t follow through on projects and post only sporadically. Planning ahead for the month, week, and day have become key to staying consistent.
Patience, patience, patience:
Patience is not one of my greatest virtues. And that remains true with my blog. Less than 2 months into blogging I knew I wanted to make a career out of it. I am glad that I could see so early on that I wanted this, but it has been hard not to accept that growing to that level will take time. I look at bloggers, like Julia Berolzheimer, who have 10+ years of experience under their belt and struggle to be okay that I am not at that level yet. I’ve definitely had to catch myself a few times when getting hard on myself, and remind myself that I am doing all the right things.
I would also caution that impatience can hurt your blog. I have definitely lost sight of my purpose and made silly investments because I really wanted to see a big improvement. If I had paused and reflected I would have recognized that I had a lot working for me already and I didn’t need to make that purchase.
I believe that as long as you try to learn all you can, keep consistent, and take time to reflect than you are doing enough.
Make small calculated changes:
There is soooo much that goes into blogging! Keeping up a website, getting photos taken, and planning out posts are just few of those things and so much goes into each of them! I have found the best way to see what is working is to pause and reflect, then re-access and make small changes. Otherwise I have found that bigger changes, which usually come from my frustration that things aren’t growing faster, are much harder to track their progress later.
Batch it out:
Batching is another lesson I am glad I learned early in my first year of blogging. Batching means to do stuff in batches to save time. For example: instead of photoshooting one outfit, writing a blog post, and posting to Instagram in one day; Take one day to take all your photos, another to write your next few posts, and another day to plan ahead all your Instagram posts for the next week.
You’ll never be done learning:
In my first year of blogging I really thought I would know everything that went into every aspect. I am happy to admit I was so wrong. I have taken many classes in the last year on things like branding, SEO, and goal setting. I am constantly surprised at how much more there is to learn and apply.
It is still daunting at times. But more than anything this excites me. I am really trying to see this as freeing. I believe that if there is more to learn, then there is room to grow, and continue to make my blogging business serve my audience better.
Don’t loose sight of YOU:
This was a tough lesson to learn. I started pitching brands over the summer for brand deals. Out of a bit of unconscious desperation I stopped thinking about what I wanted and became fixated on becoming whatever “brand x” wanted to see from me. I started curating all my content to please brands.
After a month of doing this I felt frustrated and burned out. Blogging was actually making me unhappy. On a walk trying to clear my head it dawned on me, why start a business if that business is not going to align with me?! What is the point otherwise? After about a 15 minute out loud conversation in the backyard and lots of swear words later I practically ran back inside feeling that spark to create again.
Be careful with seeking feedback:
I remember surveying my Instagram audience when I was only 3 months in. My follower count was at less than 300. The survey was asking whether or not my audience wanted a post on swimsuits for the summer. The feedback I got was “no.” I was bummed. I actually really wanted to write that post.
I found that if I was going to survey my audience I needed to do it from the perspective of “let’s see if my ideal audience is here yet.” This has become a very useful tool in improving the engagement of my audience.
Professional photos help:
Especially for fashion they have made a big difference when pitching brands.
Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable:
It is hard for me to feel “good enough.” I have had A LOT of people tell me throughout my life that I wasn’t. I still have to fight this feeling pretty hard at 28 years old. And I would be telling a bit fat lie if I said there weren’t days I wanted to shutdown my site, delete my social media, and hide under the covers.
Being an influencer is hard! It takes so much courage to do it. While there are times it seems scary to try new things I am so glad each time I do. I feel like each time I muster the courage to try something new and feel uncomfortable I grow not only my blog but I grow a bit more comfortable in my own skin. As Susie Moore says, remind yourself often “my life is mine.”
Concentrate on one thing at the start:
There are so many directions to go as an influencer. You can talk about fashion, beauty, travel, mental health, and any other possible thing you can think of. I started out wanting to talk about fashion, travel, and mental health. It became clear pretty fast that this was too much. I strongly advise picking whichever you feel most called to speak on. Then once you have built your foundation branch out.
Use your resources:
Blogging takes an investment to make happen. Even if it is just time. See if you can work with friends to trade services to help each other out. One of my best friends, who is in banking, is my financial advisor and in return I give her style advice and Instagram tips.
You are worth more than you think:
Gifted collabs are not that hard to get. And unfortunately a lot of brands will take advantage of influencers since many are willing to work for free. Good relationships with brands can come out of working with them in a gifted way to start, just make sure that the time, energy, hassle, and lack of money are worth getting that free $40 blouse.
Take time off:
Especially with social media it is hard to feel like you can step away. I always worry that taking time off will set me back in my progress. But I always find that I am more motivated and energized to create when I come back from a break.
Hit it & quit it:
Try your best not to “doom scroll” on social media. I have been trying really hard to just post and then exit out of the app. I have found that by going on to the app with a goal of completing some task keeps me in a good mindset. When I start aimlessly scrolling is when I start to second guess myself.
Shop the Post:
Photos by Allie Provost; pretaprovost.com