I don’t remember the exact date I started blogging. My first site got deleted in a moment of technical clumsiness sometime late in 2008, so my earliest posts are no longer on the internet. I’m actually rather pleased that my initial foray into writing about weddings is gone forever though because, man, that shit was embarrassingly bad! I do know that it was sometime during October 2007 that I registered my domain, which makes Rock n Roll Bride SEVEN years old this month and a relative dinosaur in the wedding blogging world!
While looking back is hilarious and mortifying in equal measure, it’s also a wonderful time capsule and a reminder of how far I’ve come. The (lack of) writing skill, the questionable photo choices, the terrible formatting and attempts at ‘branding’. But it’s all part of what got me to where I am today. Not having a clue, bumbling through, excitedly posting things at all hours of the day and night because I was just so damn enthusiastic about weddings!
While condensing everything I’ve discovered about blogging into one article would be impossible, here are five little lessons that I hope will inspire aspiring bloggers.
1. You have to be yourself
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. That overly quoted line by Oscar Wilde is a cliché for a reason. As with everything in life, you have to be yourself when it comes to blogging. Forget about trying to be the next whoever, be loud and proud and focus on being you!
People will love you for it. OK so some people might not, but screw them! Trying to be something you’re not is bloody exhausting, it’s much more fun to be unashamedly weird. Plus, the people who think like you do will powerfully connect with your blog because it speaks to them specifically. It’s much easier to write about things you genuinely like, and for people that feel the same way you do. Never try to be all things to all people, its a recipe for disaster.
2. Focus on your readers
Last week I was named Best Alternative Wedding Blog at the Wedding Blog Awards in London. In my unrehearsed, champagne-fuelled speech, I thanked the industry for embracing me, but most of all I wanted to have a massive gush about my readers. “Without them”, I said, “I’d be working in McDonalds”.
Without readers you don’t have a blog at all, so they should be your top priority. When you start to write something, always ask yourself if your readers will get something out of it. Is it helpful or entertaining (preferably both), or is it just something that’s promoting you?
If your content helps people they won’t be able to stop themselves coming back for more.
3. Surround yourself with good people
It’s unlikely that you’ll get on with everyone you meet through blogging. When your blog reaches a big audience, or you go out and meet lots of people in real life, it’s impossible that you’ll get on, or be liked, by every single person you encounter. That’s actually GREAT though because by ignoring those people you can instead focus your energy on the people who really matter (aka the ones that do like you!)
I have met some of the best friends I’ve ever had through the internet. Having those people who ‘get you’ and love what you do is imperative. You need them by your side to unconditionally support you. They will be there to listen to your troubles and advise you in the best way they can. They’ll share your content, send you cards and little gifts in the mail, and you know they’ll always have your best interests at heart.
These friends are invaluable as you go through your blogging journey. It can be a very solitary pursuit if you let it, but if you put yourself out there and meet other people, I guarantee you’ll make some of the most amazing friends ever.
4. Being scared is good
I always like to think that if I’m shit scared of doing something then it’s probably the right choice! Being scared is good because it means you’re pushing yourself, you’re putting yourself out there, and you’re doing something to progress your business.
Every single thing I’ve ever done that has made me feel sick to the stomach has turned out to be a business altering decision. I bet it will be for you too. So go out and freak yourself out once in a while! The most magical things happen when we’re outside our comfort zone.
5. You have to do it for the love
When I started my blog I had no idea what it could become. In fact I didn’t even know you could make money online at that point! In some ways, I think new bloggers are at a bit of a disadvantage. They look up to and want to emulate what others have done before them. They want some of what they’ve got for themselves.
They see them getting book deals, being interviewed on television, putting out products, getting flown around the world on press trips, and sitting in the front row at fashion week… and they want that too. Of course they do, who wouldn’t want a slice of that highly attractive pie!?
While having dreams and aspirations is a good thing, in many ways it can hinder you because you’re always looking at the big end goal. I am so thankful that when I started blogging I had no idea what it could become. It meant that I only wrote about things I was genuinely passionate about. I was never wondering if something was the ‘right’ thing to do, if it would impress certain people, or if it was helping my ‘career’.
That kind of authenticity can be hard to come across these days. So many bloggers seem to publish things just to appeal to advertisers, or please their sponsors. While making money is obviously a necessity for full-time bloggers like myself, I do often pine for the days when everyone was just unashamedly themselves, without motive. It’s something that I am acutely aware of, which pushes me to always put a unique and genuine spin on whatever I do, whether I’m being paid to do it or not.
So, if you are just starting out with your own blog, my biggest piece of advice for you would be to do it for the love. Don’t try and impress anyone, don’t go chasing the dream of big bucks and sponsorship. Be yourself, share the things you love, be authentic. If you do that freely, then all that other stuff will come naturally in time.
- Photography: A Muse Photography