It’s been just over a year since I plucked up enough courage to start my very own blog. What began as my very own creative project soon turned into something bigger; I grew a sense of belonging within the community and began receiving more opportunities to work with amazing brands. It still baffles, scares and excites me in equal measure that so many people seem to be interested in little old me; the stories that I have to tell and the opinions that I share. Fear of failure and lack of confidence held me back from blogging for a long time, but after a year of Sophie Hearts, now Soph Hearts the only thing I regret is not establishing myself sooner. I’ve learned a lot of lessons in the past year so what better place to share them than right here?
Lesson 1. The First Step is the Hardest
Have I mentioned that it took A LOT of courage for me to take the leap straight into the deep-end of the blogging pool? It’s that initial little toe contact with freezing cold water that makes you realise that a cannon-ball is the only way you’re getting in. After the initial shudder and potential embarrassment the water gets warmer. The people who started staring at you either start supporting or bugger off.
Lesson 2. Know Your Worth
A lot of recent attention has fallen on bloggers getting paid. There are non-bloggers who think that payment makes recommendations less genuine. Although this is true in some cases, the trick is working out who would put their face to something they don’t believe in for a quick pay out. I certainly won’t. There are also bloggers who have the luxury of looking down at other, usually smaller bloggers for accepting low or NO fees. Knowing your current worth is very important. Beyoncé is able to charge extortionate prices for the privilege of watching her perform, other artists charge less. If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing London busking you’ll know that there are also amazingly talented individuals who do it for free in order to spread awareness. Expecting payment for your efforts when you’ve only just started out and have a reach of 3 people including your Nan is as ludicrous as a brand expecting free promotion from someone with a reach of millions. I could go on about this for ages, so let me know if you’d like a dedicated post!
Lesson 3. Dust yourself off and try again
In the words of Alliah ‘If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again’. This applies to almost everything in life. For one picture that I post on Instagram there are maybe 50 photos that didn’t make the cut. My blog posts are drafted up ahead of time and I re-read them multiple times to make improvements. It’s easy to be disheartened by one bad picture of ourselves when we see pretty girls in beautiful places all over our Instagram feeds but it takes a lot of practise to know what works best for you. I refuse to believe that big bloggers nail their shots first time around. Sometimes being your own worst critic can be useful, it enables you to see what’s wrong with something and how you can improve it, but making sure you’re not too hard on yourself is also important.
Lesson 4. Travel at your own pace
Another general life lesson. We’re all travelling at our own speed and that’s okay.
Lesson 5. Plan Ahead
I had no idea how much scheduling would be involved in blogging! Planning ahead makes life so much easier and allows you an online presence even if you’re offline for a little while. When I started out I’d literally write posts a day before they were due to go live. Now I plan everything in advance and reap the rewards. With better planning comes better quality.
Lesson 6. Don’t Get Over Yourself
Tooting my own horn does not come naturally to me. It’s actually quite difficult to start promoting your own content because we’re conditioned to think that it’s big headed. ‘Get over yourself‘ is thrown around as an insult, so being proud of your work is somehow an undesirable trait? The thing is, if you don’t love your own content and think that it’s worth sharing then who will? The fact of the matter is: the more you promote your content the more it will be seen and enjoyed.
Lesson 7. The Importance of Engagement
Engagement is crucial. By taking part in twitter conversations and support threads I’ve found some amazing bloggers who not only inspire me, but who now cheerlead for me too. The more supportive and engaging you are, the more support and engagement you’ll get back, fact. Just make sure you’re genuine about it, most people can sniff fake ‘support’ a mile off and won’t take kindly.
Lesson 8. Anyone you feel comfortable in front of the camera with is invaluable
I don’t like the camera any more than it likes me, but I am lucky to have such a patient photographer. My other half wholeheartedly agreed to let me train him up in the photography department. Not only does he spend hours of his time tying to nail photos, but he also puts up with my strops when things go wrong (usually because I don’t like the way my hair looks). I honestly don’t know what I’d do without him because I feel so uncomfortable in front of a camera that anyone else is holding.
When I selected the images that I wanted to include in this post the above picture didn’t cut it. I’m clearly laughing with Jamie about something and not posing, but that’s exactly why I decided to include it in the end. If you can find someone (be that a friend, partner, relative etc.) who helps you relax and have a good time rather than taking it too seriously then you’ve found yourself a keeper.
Lesson 9. The more you put in the more you get out
What’s so wonderful about personal projects or running your own business (or a combination of the two) is that you are in full control. The more effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out and really there aren’t many limits to what you can do with it. There is a direct correlation between promotion and blog traffic, the more brands that you reach out to and the more collaborations you’ll work on. I’ve been able to physically see my hard work paying off and that’s the best motivation anyone could ask for.
Lesson 10. Success is a process
When I first started this blog I had no idea what possibilities would come from it. Fast forward a year and I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing brands. I’ve also actually earned money (albeit a few million pounds less than Zoella) from something which I really enjoy doing. Most people have to pay for their hobbies, and blogging is no different when you’re first starting out. Saying that, not many hobbies ever start repaying you, so I count myself very lucky.
Lesson 11. Love what you do
This is a cliche tip in the blogging world, but it’s one that I wholeheartedly agree with. It’s okay to blog for money or gifted items, but it’s not okay to blog JUST for those things. I genuinely think that the more love you show your blog the more successful it will be. At the end of the day you’re not going to make a penny from blogging without first paying into it with both money and time, and even then its never a guarantee.
Lesson 12. It’ll turn out all right in the end
You get 12 points if you made it this far and a bonus point if you know which Disney movie I’m quoting, hint. There have been so many times that I’ve lost inspiration for content or images but I’ve never missed my weekly post and I’ve never published anything that I’m not proud of. Usually inspiration strikes when you least expect it. Trawl Pinterest, Instagram and your favourite blogs if you need to, but never force content that you’re not invested in.
If you’re just starting out then I hope that these lessons help you. Let me know if there’s anything else you’ve learned from blogging in the comments! I’d love to hear it and learn from you too!