Y’all it has been one whole year since I introduced my little space here to the Internet. So many friends and acquaintances had mentioned that I should start one and I had been laughing it off for a while, but secretly wanting to. My husband also started encouraging me and talking me through the fear of judgement and insecurities that went along with being a former politician wanting to start a fashion blog while I navigated through an academic journey. It felt like I shouldn’t. But I wanted to.
Looking back, I’m so thankful for every word of encouragement or push in this direction. I’m so glad the opinions of those I respected and cared about were not negative. I’m glad I felt comfortable moving forward. In February of 2019, I started planning out my website. I reached out to designers to help with my blog layout and an artist to create the banner I had in my head but couldn’t artistically do myself. I still LOVE my website banner/branding and even have it on my phone case now! I put so much time and thought into Down in the Hollow and on March 31, 2019…I put it all out there in the open and started my Instagram account in tandem with my blog website.
Blogging probably seems so insignificant in the grand scheme, but I have found it to be crazy fun – and even more than that – therapeutic in a way. In recent years I have been through numerous things that knocked my confidence back several pegs, ripped my pride apart and caused me to become a bit reclusive. Putting myself “out there” turned out to be a type of therapy I didn’t know that I needed. And I could write an entire blog post about just that, but I will leave that thought short and sweet.
That being said, I wanted to list out the things I’ve learned during my first year of blogging. Hopefully it can be comedic, insightful and interesting for you to read through, especially if you’ve been wanting to throw yourself into something new as well.
Everything you do in life has to completely ignore the fear of being judged for doing it. Everything. Blogging is no different. Number one: there will always be people wanting to see you fail. I have plenty of those. And they have seen me fail sometimes! HA! Number two: those people do not matter to the path of your life. Number three: the people that love you want to see you succeed and want to see you happy. Even if they don’t understand what you’re doing (like some of my friends are with my blogging), they’ll be with you on it. Number four: if they’re not…what kind of friend are they? I had a friendship actually end because a “friend” said something SO nasty to me about blogging and I do not need that kind of crap in my life…cut out the poison.
Taking a lot of pictures of yourself seems narcissistic. And some people may think that it is. Whatever. I wanted a fashion and lifestyle blog. How else do I show beautiful clothes that I love without taking photos of me wearing them? I’m not a model. I’m a very average size, totally normal looking person with no exceptional, runway-type features. But I love fashion. And I love blogging about it. So I take pictures of myself and I don’t compare how I look to others. I don’t hate what I see on the camera (although at times I have, and I’ve had to work on not being that way). Social media can really take a toll on women’s self-esteem and I just have not let that evil come in. The minute it becomes stressful or makes me feel bad about myself is the minute that blogging becomes not worth it. I intend to always make it worth it.
Sometimes your biggest supporters are people on the Internet that you’ve never met LOL but for real – the people liking my posts, reading my posts, leaving comments, shopping through my links, supporting my Beautycounter business, reposting things I do and encouraging others to follow me…all of that? It’s not my friends in real life doing it. It’s girls online that I’ve never met in person. There are days where that kinda gets to me. None of my oldest friends in real life have ever actually shopped anything from my blog. I guess that’s just part of this whole thing. I had seen the quote, “No one supports you more than a stranger on the Internet” before and man, it kinda turned out to be true.
Authenticity is everything. I have abstained from doing a lot of things other bloggers do, because I didn’t feel like it was authentically me. I don’t do engagement groups where I’m required to engage on other people’s posts just to get them to engage on mine. I don’t do loop giveaways where I offer gift cards, cash and designer items to get people to follow me. I don’t buy followers. I don’t use automated bots to interact on people’s stories to gain followers. I don’t do anything. I post about things I love, recipes I’m making, candles I burn, stories about my life…I post about me. And people have gotten on board. I would have a much higher number of followers if I used other methods like the ones listed above. But that’s not me. I want people to follow my blog because they want to…because it resonates with them on some level and they find something here they can identify with and get inspiration from.
Slow progress is still progress. I put in work on my blog every single day and only recently have I really seen it start to generate a lot more substance than it used to. I stopped worrying about progress a while ago and just kept my head down and kept plugging away. But a year later I’m starting to see the result of all of that work. And it’s incredible. If I let myself feel defeated and bowed out a while ago, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to see what could really happen if I just kept doing what I loved and believing others would connect with it eventually.
There really is nothing you can do to prevent creepy guys from being creepy guys. Every single day I’m blocking weirdos that ignore the wedding ring on my finger in every picture and still leave gross comments (I think “nice mangoes” was my favorite) and DM me on the daily. I’ve had old men offer to be sugar daddies, I’ve had proposals of marriage, I’ve had just about everything. Dudes on the Internet are like a whole other level of WTF. And there’s just nothing really you can do about it other than keep that block button strong haha
Take the picture. I have learned to stop being so fearful of taking pictures in public. Whether that’s having my husband go take photos or using my tripod to go take them myself. I try to find the most secluded places that I can, but when I can’t…eh, whatever. I once had a literal string of seven police cars drive riiiiight by me as I was taking photos by the side of a shut down business building. Awkward. There’s a LOT of awkward things about blogging. Get over the awkward, get over the insecurities. Embrace them. And take the picture.
Comparison is a thief of joy. I’m not even talking about the “meh meh meh she’s prettier than me” kind of comparison. Knock that nonsense off right now, though, for real. What I am talking about is comparing your growth and your numbers to that of others. You never know who is buying follows. And also, there’s girls that have been blogging for YEARS longer. Don’t let other people’s success take away the success that could be yours. Keep grinding even if you feel like those goals are so far away. You’ll only reach them by continuing to move toward them.
People will copy you. You can’t prevent that from happening. It’s supposed to be flattering I guess, but I find it to be 100% enraging. I’ve had so so many people look at things I’ve posted and then go buy it, intentionally not through my links so I don’t get the commission (that wouldn’t have cost them anything extra) and then I’ve had those same people literally post those things they bought and not give me credit. Copycatting isn’t cute. Don’t be that person. I’ve had people use the same content I use in my stories without crediting me. And so on and so forth. Listen. If someone can’t be original, that’s unfortunate for them. Keep doing your thing anyway.
I’m sure this list could go on, but I feel as if these nine things pretty much sum up my first year of blogging. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who don’t blog who wonder what it’s like and I’m sure there’s a lot of girls wanting to start one that need just a little bit of insight. I hope this post helped!
Lastly, I want to say a huge, huuuuge THANK YOU to everyone that follows along with Down in the Hollow. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I’m so grateful and appreciative. I can’t wait to continue building what I’ve started and I so hope you continue following along.