On Christmas Day my blog turned 6 years old! It all started on December 25th, 2012… we finished breakfast, opened presents, settled down with an afternoon Gin Fizz and then I sat at my sister-in-laws kitchen table and signed up for my own little corner of the digital world on WordPress. Actually if I’m being honest here, my husband and then 13 year old niece signed up for the site while I drank my Gin Fizz. 🙂 I had almost zero computer skills at that point and the only social media platform I was on was Facebook. Little did I know what a life altering journey this little thing called blogging would have on my life.
So what on earth prompted a girl with no tech skills or interest in social media to start a blog you ask? I was working as an actress and I began to get asked at auditions how many Twitter followers I had. Around this same time, a handful of classes began popping up on how to market yourself as an actor using this new social media phenomenon to get discovered by casting agents and directors. While I really hated the idea of talking about myself on social media, I really LOVED to talk about all things fashion related. A girl I knew (who was our personal trainer) had been blogging for a few years and would talk about her blog incessantly, so I (very naïvely) thought why not start a blog? I really didn’t know what I was doing and never dreamed my blog would be anything more than a place to post an occasional outfit. While I didn’t know anything about social media or blogging when I started, the one thing I did have confidence in was my fashion sense. I would get stopped on the street for my outfits on a daily basis and when I went to set, or started my first day at a new theatre job, I would almost always get asked if I was wardrobe or talent. I would even get mistaken for a professional stylist when I was out shopping sometimes.
Fast forward to 6 years later and this blog has led to so many opportunities, friendships and a lot more self confidence. I would say it was very much worth all of the hard work. The first two years, I posted very little and really regret not having taken my blog seriously back then. Nevertheless, I had brands reaching out to collaborate in my very first year and also got to attend Lucky FABB and become a Lucky (RIP) online correspondent. I’ve ended up on International Style Pages (including Vogue Italia), in a catalog and on the Instagrams and sites of some of my favorite brands. I got to host a spot on NBC Open House TV, attend London Fashion Week and style shoots for AfroElle and Bronze Magazine. My computer skills have improved, as have my skills in so many other areas (thanks to online courses and in person seminars). Most importantly, I’ve made some incredible friends, found a new confidence in myself and created a new digital series that I can’t wait to share with you in 2019.
For anyone just thinking about starting a blog or working to promote your personal or professional brand through social media, here are 7 things I’ve learned from 6 years of blogging:
Use Key Words and Alt Text to Label Your Photos
This is single handedly the biggest mistake I made when I started. I still have hundreds of posts that have no key words or alt text attached to any of their photos. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and best key word practices are still something I am learning and studying and I still have a long way to go. The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone starting a blog is to start your site on WordPress and install Yoast SEO from day one. Follow the prompts and be sure to label those photos!
Streamline Your Handles
This was another big mistake I made when starting my blog. My handles vary from @lisavmorgan on Instagram and YouTube to @prettylshopper on Twitter. I really wish I had just claimed @lisavmorgan for every handle from the get go. If you’re just thinking of starting your blog, brand or business, pick a great name and reserve all of your social handles asap. Check to see if social handles and dot com are available as you are choosing names.
Get a Reliable Hosting Site
As mentioned earlier in this post, I literally had NO idea what I was doing when I started this site. Consequently, my site ended up getting hacked a few times and I nearly lost hundreds of posts last year on several occasions. Thankfully Mo (who you know as the main man behind the camera here on the blog), came to the rescue and saved my blog from completely disappearing at least twice. We finally signed up on Flywheel this year and haven’t had any issues since. The takeaway here is that If you’re running your site as a business, the hosting fee is well worth the money. You don’t want to see your work obliterated from cyberspace in a nano-second by an evil hacker. Which leads me to my next lesson…
Grow Your Email List
Start growing your email list from day one. This is the only list you own. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. can shut down at any moment. I’ve seen fellow bloggers get hacked and lose, or nearly lose their accounts. I’ve also had my own accounts blocked for a week at a time on Instagram and Facebook. They do give you a box to check if you think it’s a mistake that you’re shut out, but in my experience I’ve never gotten a response and just had to wait out the ban. Place a call to action at the end of every one of your posts asking people to follow your blog and main social media platforms. A pop-up “Subscribe” box is also key. Be sure to set the timer so it doesn’t pop up immediately. There’s nothing more annoying than clicking on a site and being asked to “sign up” when you haven’t even had enough time to find out what the site is about.
Your Style Will Change
Fashion blogging will change the way you dress and shop for better or worse. You’ll learn about new brands and develop a heightened love towards fashion, but there is a level of sustainability that is worrisome with so much fast fashion coming in and out of our wardrobes. The first couple of years I blogged my way through my existing wardrobe and new pieces I bought or was gifted by brands and for holidays. Somewhere around year 3, the pressure was on to always have something new and it led to a lot of fast fashion looks that didn’t always reflect my quality over quantity shopping sensibilities. The last couple of years I made a conscious effort to only buy pieces I really love and the same goes for working with brands. I only work with and accept pieces from brands I truly want to wear and share with my readers. Sometimes I do take a risk on a new brand that reaches out and a cool perk has been getting to discover so many new brands I truly love like Mott & Bow, Crown Goose, Buxom, Creed and Colorescience. I’ve also gotten really active with helping my pre-loved items find a new home between Poshmark and donations.
You’ll Make New Friends
It’s amazing how you can find anything these days on the internet! I used to get teased by my family and members of my theatre company for my love of fashion. It’s amazing how putting a few (thousand) photos of your passions on social media can attract so many people with similar interests. I met Kali when I reached out to her on Instagram. It’s amazing how many things we have in common other than fashion! Sheree and I had already been following each other on a site called Chictopia, when we recognized each other at a Simply LA conference years ago. I can’t imagine my life without these two glamorous gals! We’ve had so much fun reaching out to other blogger babes we’ve met online and in person along the way.
On the flip side, I’ve also encountered a few trolls, mean girls and cyber bullies along the way. It’s maddening and sad, but I’d like to think it’s made me a tougher person and even more compassionate about such an important issue. I’m hoping to find a way to be a voice in stamping out cyber hate in the new year. So many voices are needed on this issue! And on that note:
You’ll Find Your Voice
The constant soul searching, branding and re-branding it takes to put up content day after day has been an enormous gift to my life. I can’t believe how much confidence I’ve found, while developing so many talents and skills. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to share my voice and passions with so many of you.
Photo by Mo Summers.
Thank you so very much for reading my blog and as always, please send your comments and any notes about future articles you’d like to see here in the New Year!
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