9 Years On:
What I Know Now
Next year will mark heading into my tenth year of blogging. Just shy of a decade after deciding to share some Body Shop products and NARS makeup bits I was loving, here we are 9 years on and thousands of blog posts, photoshoots, videos and images down. The definition of a true whirlwind!
Between the transition from hobby to career and the ability to make a living out of my creative vision now, there's lots I've learned about the social media industry in general but even more specifically, what I wish I'd known when things started to develop.
Social media and the influencer industry as a whole is set to be a 15 billion dollar industry by 2022 (yes you heard that right billion!) so what's the difference between 2012 me and 2021 me? What has the last 9 years of blogging taught me and what did I wish someone else had told me back when things started to get serious?
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In 9 years of blogging certain aspects have changed immensely and others have stayed relatively the same. When I decided that the time was right to try to turn my hobby into my career, I so wish I'd had more self employed friends to lean on and ask questions. When the excitement of moving to London, starting a new career and signing with an agency somewhat died down, I found myself aware of the fact that being self employed was actually very lonely. My previous jobs had always been full of people to interact with, bounce ideas off, problem solve with and generally gain inspiration from and suddenly I was working from home and had no one around to support me.
There are still days where I feel that twinge of loneliness (even before the impact Covid had on our lives) because being self employed, successful or not, is just that - it's alone for the most part. No office mates to plan lunches with, no customers to enjoy a chat with and certainly no lecture halls to engage with hundreds of students at a time. As a self motivated person I feel very much that I've always been able to manoeuvre and deal with so many aspects of being self employed but loneliness is definitely not something I was ever prepared for. Now I invest in time spent with the rest of my team to stay motivated (even if it's virtually), I definitely try to prioritise self care to ensure I'm not feeling overwhelmed by all things work and I cherish the friendships I've made in this industry who know first hand, what it's like.
Being self employed will always feel a little lonely so make sure you pivot when you need some outside help, inspiration or simply a break.
I think the other self employed hurdle for me was ensuring that I always had people around me who had my best interests at heart. Moving from the hobby stages to the campaign stages of blogging, felt like an absolutely gigantic leap and one that I was not prepared for. Knowing my financial worth at every stage, having someone advocate for my talent, ensuring I was taking on campaigns that were 'me' and also ensuring contracts were fair and didn't take advantage of a newbie to the industry. Until I signed with an agency and realised the importance of all of the above, it was a minefield to attempt to navigate. In fact I'll let you into a little secret that I don't think I've ever shared before but I once signed a contract with a huge beauty brand without a full understanding of what I was signing and almost signed the rights away to my image for an entire year. It's a mistake I never ever made again and to this day even though I've learned a few things to look out for over the years, I ensure the only people that deal with the intricacies of legal documents are my team and my lawyer before my signature goes anywhere near them. There are just some things now that I would never dream to try and get my head round - there are experts in these fields for a reason!
Never be afraid to admit that you don't know something or aren't sure of the next steps - it's better to be safe than sorry and a lawyer is an expense I wish I had taken on far earlier.
One thing I can happily say I didn't expect when this became more than a hobby for me, was how important the community we've built together would become for me. I'm not shy to share that I've found some of my greatest friendships through blogging, whether that's fellow content creators I now consider colleagues, people with shared passions who I regularly chat with and follow, people I've connected with who work in PR outside the influencer industry or simply just other community members who I've grown up with. In amongst the hurdles that this job has brought (just like any other does) the huge advantage I have is that I have a group of people who share in what I choose to do. People who are kind, passionate, inspirational, encouraging and a joy to be around, even if being around them is only ever via social media. Not many people get to see the amazing side of social media and the internet every day but I really wholeheartedly do. Peoples support and supporting others is truly something I'll never tire of - what a joy to celebrate your achievements with a like minded group of people and to help them celebrate their achievements too.
It costs nothing to lift others up so take a minute and indulge in celebrating the moments that you feel deserve to be shouted about - even if those moments aren't yours right now.
As my blog has grown, so to has our community and so to has my responsibility to do and be better. There's always room to grow, always room to learn and always room to give back through the choices I make. Whether that's through the other creators I support, through the sharing of charitable causes or simply through amplifying the things that resonate with the people that make a choice to be here. If there's anything that almost 9 years of blogging has taught me, it's that we all have a responsibility to be authentically ourselves, if we choose to share some aspect of our lives online. It may be a learning curve and it may be hard to work out what boundaries you're comfortable with, but when any of us get there we're privileged enough to have a platform to use and to build upon.
There's always something more you can do, always something important you can learn and always something/someone who needs your support - it's a journey we're on together.
I'd love to take the opportunity to answer any questions you might have on blogging or the logistics of making social media more than just a hobby so please leave them below for me if there's anything you think I can help with or might be able to share from my own experience :)