Three years ago, on October 13th 2014, I started a little website called According To D. Now, my blog has become such a huge part of my life and my passion. I am beyond grateful for what my blog has become, but I also know it's just the beginning in the vision I have for my blog and my brand, there is so much more to come. It's such a nostalgic feeling looking back on old blog posts, I've been through so many amazing life moments through the last three years that I've been able to write about, and share with you all along the way. From being a newlywed, traveling abroad for the first time (and then again for another month), countless travel experiences, to getting pregnant, sharing my pregnancy, birth, and motherhood with you all, and so much more... blogging for me has been truly amazing and I love sharing my life with you and I can't wait to continue to do so.
I look back at old posts and cringe at the bad photos, poor writing and sometimes silly topics... but that's just it- I'm not perfect, I'm not a professional writer, I don't have the best grammar (clearly since I just put grammer and it had that squiggly red line under it indicating I made yet another mistake), or the best ideas or content. But I am real, transparent and a bit goofy. I'm searching to connect with you, share stories with you and in some sort of way do life with you. For those of you who have played a part in my blog, whether it be you've followed me since the beginning or you encouraged me along the way- Thank you! I am so passionate about blogging and everything that goes into it, but it'd be pretty pointless without the community. The community, conversation and the interaction between myself and the readers is why I do it. So thank you for following along and I hope you continue to enjoy.
That brings me to this - I get messages almost weekly of people asking how to start a blog (or other things along those lines), so I thought I'd share some of the biggest things I've learned about blogging throughout the years. Not the technical stuff, you can find that in one of my older posts HERE, but simple tips that will help you as you navigate the blogging world.
Stay Authentic to YOU
As you build your blog, you'll probably get collaboration opportunities, which can be very exciting. I mean who doesn't love some free product or to get paid to review products. But here's the thing, your relationship with your followers is worth way more than anything. So make sure to only do collaborations or represent products that you GENUINELY like and want to share. When you work with a company, you are attaching your name and your brand to theirs. Think to yourself, is this in line with what I want to represent? Does this brand, product or service match my brand? If you are hesitant, don't do it! In the very beginning I would take any collaboration that came my way because I was just excited about the idea of getting free product. For example, one of the first "collabs" I did was with a hair extension company. Were they amazing extensions, sure. Did it make my hair look nice?.. I suppose so. But here's the thing. I don't wear hair extensions and I never will. I have naturally thick hair and to be honest I don't need them. So was that an authentic and genuine collaboration or was I just eager and excited about the idea that a company wanted to send me their expensive product.
It's all good, just like anything in life, you learn, grow and get better. I am now pretty picky about who and what I collaborate with. I say no to collaboration opportunities if they are not a genuine fit with my brand and what I love. If your followers feel like your blog is becoming just a giant AD space and has no authenticity, they will unfollow you and they'll leave your platform with a bad taste in their mouth. Thank about it, you follow bloggers to get their honest opinion on what to wear, try and do and you want to feel like you can trust that they are being honest with you and not just doing it for a paycheck. Well, if you start a blog you need to begin with that mindset too. Treat your followers how you want to be treated. So, in a nutshell, stay true to you.
One last thing on the topic of being authentic is, don't just do a blog post because every blogger is doing it. You'll see posts that become popular and you might feel the pressure to blog about the same thing. The reality is that there are hundreds of millions of blogs in the world and the only thing that will set you apart from them all is if you do you. Share something with your followers that only you can bring to the world. Your stories, your recipes, your experiences, your truths. It might be similar to something that already exists out there, but as long as it's coming from your genuine passion, that will set you apart and attract more followers and readers.
Don't Put Yourself In A Tiny Box - You Change & So Will Your Blog
You've probably heard the quote, if you're not growing then you're dying. Well I don't think any of us are dying here so let's just assume we are all growing and changing all the time. When I first started my blog I was in a totally different season of life than I am now, three years later. Of course one of the largest changes in my life since then is entering motherhood. I am now able to incorporate that into my blog. Your true followers will come back for you. Yes, they love your content, but your main followers are there because they love you and relate with you as a person and they enjoy watching your journey of life through your blog. You are always going to be changing and if you pin yourself into too tiny of a hole then it'll be difficult to make any changes if you ever chose to. You should pick the main focus of your brand and what you want to share with the world and stick to that (I'm not saying be all over the place), but keep it flowing with you and what you're genuinely passionate about. For example, when I first started my blog I thought I would do a ton of DIY posts. Well, turns out I am not that passionate about it and every time I attempted a DIY post, it felt forced and was more work than fun for me. On the flip side, I have found that writing about travel is such a genuine passion for me. And now I get to incorporate my new life into travel posts. Example: 10 Tips For Traveling While Pregnant. Since I am a Lifestyle blogger and cover many areas of Life, that transition was no big shock to my readers.
I want to make myself clear, having a niche is a good thing when it comes to blogging, I'm just saying don't make your niche too tiny to where you can't make any transitions if you wanted to. If you have a blog that is strictly about healthy recipes and you try to throw a random post about makeup in there, you will lose a lot of your followers because they are there only to see healthy recipes.
Set Your Purpose & Stick With It
1. the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
"the purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee"
synonyms:motive, motivation, grounds, cause, occasion, reason, point, basis, justification
As a blogger, you are a creator. And when you create content, it must stem from a deeper purpose. My purpose for According To D is to be real, transparent and allow my creativity to flow while spreading positivity and connecting with women all around the world. In every post it's important to ask myself, does this fit with my blogs purpose? If the answer is no, it's probably not worth posting. So many times I have exited out of an Instagram photo draft because in the caption I am venting about something. That is being real and transparent, however it's not spreading positivity, so I have to keep myself in check.
One of the first things you should do when creating a blog is mapping out what you see as your purpose. And although your blog my shift and change throughout the years, adding topics and taking some away, you purpose should ultimately stay the same.
Help Others Who Ask For Advice on Starting A Blog
If there is one thing I've learned in business, it's that a scarcity mindset will not get you anywhere. There is enough success in this world to go around, and the best way to make it to the top is not to tear everyone else around you down. I have had countless people message me, at least three people a month, asking how to start a blog. Blogging has become so popular these days that everyone seems to want to give it a try. Not everyone will take it seriously, but it's not my job to poo poo on other's dreams. When people ask for help I do my best to help them out, offering tips and advice and wishing them the absolute best with their blogging journey. A wise woman once told me that dimming other's light does not make your light shine brighter. So, my tip to you is that if you start a blog and have others asking for help... HELP THEM! The blogging community is such a great opportunity for people to come together and lift each other up, but only if we act in that manor.
Embrace The Community
Connect with people in the blogging community. I have met so many amazing people in the blogging world throughout the last three years. Some of which I am so grateful to call friends. In Denver, bloggers are truly blessed with the community, everyone for the most part is so kind, positive and open to connecting. I've heard horror stories about the blogging communities in other cities, it being a very catty environment and not much support from fellow bloggers. I'm so proud and grateful to say that Denver isn't that way. Even the top Denver bloggers are loving and supportive of up and coming bloggers, as it should be. So, network and get connected as you embark on your blogging journey! Heck, even if a great group of friends is all you gained from blogging, that's totally worth it.
Be Hungry & Humble To Learn
I am smart enough to know that I don't know it all (think about that for a second). Even when you think you've learned everything you need to know about blogging, there is still SO much more to learn. I attended a blogger event recently and overheard some of the ladies discussing things about their blogs that I had never even heard of before. I quietly listened and then started frantically googling the mysterious words when I got home that night, only to realize... wow I still have a lot to learn about blogging. Building a blog and a powerful brand is not an overnight thing, you don't just learn it all by reading two blog posts on How To Blog and then pow you're a professional blogger. It takes time, patience and lots of effort to learn all there is to know. My mindset is, stay eager to learn and that's how you become the best. When I am around other bloggers, weather they are "bigger" or "smaller" than my blog, I know there is tons I can learn from each of them. I also listen to podcasts, read e-books, watch as many online courses as I can, and join tons of groups that are designed to teaching you about blogging!
Rachel Hollis from The Chic Site has some amazing e-courses, one on social media and one on branding. Pinterest is an amazing search engine for blogging resources. Another helpful group is My Haute Society, a newer group that is designed to connect bloggers and provide resources to help aspiring bloggers. Collective Bias is another great community and site that has an abundance of resources to help you learn.
If you are an aspiring blogger, I hope you found these tips helpful. I absolutely love blogging and like I said before, I can't believe it's already been three amazing years! I cannot wait to see where According To D goes in the future and I thank each and every one of you for following along and supporting me!