It’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve been blogging full time for almost four years – and blogging in general for over eight. Insane. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m constantly learning, failing, still figuring things out – the list goes on. Sure, it’s really exciting for me to know that I’ve been able to run a business on my own but it has in NO way been an easy journey.
I get questions from other bloggers (and even from some of my friends) about my process or how I became a full-time blogger. And, as annoying as this might sound, I don’t have all of the answers. Shoot, I don’t even really have an answer. I’m the furthest from perfect and, as mentioned, still have lots to learn as the industry (and the world) changes but I do think there are a few things all bloggers/content creators/business owners need to have locked down to be successful. So, here we go.
No. 1 Know Your Worth
In my opinion, this is hands-down the most important thing I’ve learned. And I learned it way too late in the game. For years, I undercharged for campaigns and over-promised just so I wouldn’t have to hear the word “no”. I sold myself short and had no idea how much value I could bring to brands, big or small. It took me years to learn just how much I was worth and although I still make mistakes with what I charge and what I promise to deliver, the moment I understood my value was the moment I was able to turn my business around for the better.
My biggest tip is to find a handful of women (or men) in the industry that you can have an open and honest business relationship with – and then leverage that closeness to help each other grow your business. Discuss rates, contract details, vendor and brand contacts, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for advice. And even better, don’t be afraid to share. Way too many bloggers don’t like to chat money or even share a brand contact. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in sharing contacts or business info with just anybody, especially if they’re not doing any of the work on their end. But I have a few girls that I chat with constantly and feel comfortable trading contacts, sharing how much a brand is paying, etc. At the end of the day, the more successful I am, the more successful other bloggers like me can be.
No. 2 Identify Your Voice
Real talk. This one is important, too. No matter what business you’re going into, you have to identify what YOUR unique voice and perspective will be. Take blogging for example. There are a ton of us. Thousands of bloggers sharing lifestyle, style, fitness, food and decor content to hopefully inspire and incite action in other women and/or men like them.
For the first few years in my blogging career, I did nothing “unique”. I didn’t copy – but I also didn’t think outside of the box. Around year five, I made the decision that if I wanted to stand out, grow my business, provide content that could actually help my unique set of followers and lock in my position as a value to both brands and readers alike, I would need to figure out what I could bring to the table – and how that was different than the other bloggers around me.
My content is constantly evolving as my life and interests evolve but there will always be one constant: my voice and my perspective. I can talk about the same toothpaste as another blogger but by using my unique perspective as an African American woman whose goal is to empower women with realness and authenticity, with a side of creativity, I can offer a unique spin on the same story. And that’s the goal.
My homework for you: identify 3-5 qualities that you’ll have present in every photo/post that differentiate your content from someone else’s. Go.
No. 3 Be a Boss…and Then Some
Running your own business sounds like a lot of fun…until you realize that being your own boss comes with a TON of responsibility. Sure, the goal is to get to a place where you can hire a team. That’s the dream. But, I’m not there yet so the team is, well, me. I’m the CEO, the accounting department, the marketing team, human resources and the janitorial staff. Not gonna lie – this was the biggest adjustment for me. Not only are you now juggling every role needed to run a business but you are the sole person in charge or making sure the business is as successful as possible.
And then don’t even get me started on the discipline it takes to run a business. It took me a few years working from home to find that discipline but once I found it, things got a lot easier.