I was looking at a calendar when I realized that I relaunched my blog nearly six months ago! It’s weird because it feels like I’ve been blogging forever (cliche, I know) because so much of my time is now devoted to content production. Truth be told, I really only started posting regularly + prioritizing high-quality content a few months ago, and I began aggressively looking for ways to grow my following + engagement in January, so I’m still new at this! It’s been so much fun, but as I reflect, I realize that there are things I do and don’t want to continue for the rest of the year. True to form, I made a listicle about it, because what else would you expect from me?
It goes without saying that some bloggers 10 times more successful than I am probably would disagree with this list, and that’s totally fine with me! I want to emphasize that these are just my preferences, so if you don’t find it relevant, I won’t be offended. Nothing is going to fit everyone (except those amazing one-size sweater ponchos) and you have to find what works for you.
I’m at a point now where I work off a loose content calendar, but I don’t hold myself to it. If you’re a full-time blogger or actively chasing monetization, you may have to treat social media like any other paid job and suck it up. But one of the reasons I felt burned out on blogging in the beginning is because I was forcing myself to produce content, even if I felt completely uninspired. I took the entire month of February off from the blog, and it was so refreshing. I realized that unless content creation was my full-time job, I’d find the whole process draining because I have so many other things to do! Right now, I seize moments of energy/creativity and jot down as many ideas as I can, which makes the whole thing worth it.
I sometimes get sad checking Timehop and Facebook memories. I think, “Wow, I was so much happier two years ago” or “Why did things get so dreary?” During the last several months, I’ve been hospitalized, seen friendships fall apart, had unexpected panic attacks after a long time of peace, lost weight & gained it all back, had family health scares, paid hefty medical bills, gotten laid off from a dream job, experienced some things that made it hard to even go to church, and questioned God about a lot of things. ––⠀ When I look at where I was a year ago, I wonder why I’m regressing. One step forward, two steps back. But I’m reminded that I’m also stronger, more compassionate, less afraid, more thoughtful and a lot more open-minded. I punish myself less. I treasure the people around me more. ––⠀ I’m keeping my eyes focused on the growth that couldn’t have happened any other way; the hard reminders that I’m an imperfect person just trying my best. Even when things have been objectively bad, there’s still been so much to be thankful for. There’s so much grace.
A few weeks ago, I posted something that did not fit my blog aesthetic and got real about the struggles I’ve been facing. It’s so important to me to be vulnerable and not lose sight of who I am, which is why I want to continue sharing content that matters to me, even if it isn’t bright and light-hearted. It’s okay to get real every once and a while, and I don’t want likes or followers to get in the way of that.
This is one of many pictures that never made it to Instagram because I picked myself apart to the point that I began to hate it. When I look at myself next to famous influencers, I feel silly. I’m not thin, not a fashion expert, I don’t have unlimited funds to follow every designer trend … but that’s not what my followers are looking for. Once you realize that comparison will only slow you down, you’ll be proud of your brand and your content without side-eyeing anyone else’s.
When I started my blog, I didn’t really have much in mind. I knew that I loved Lilly Pulitzer (and still do, although I don’t wear it as much) and wanted something to do with my free time since I was only working part-time. I kind of stumbled around until I realized that I wasn’t a fashion-only blogger and the only thing that actually was fun for me was mixing in lifestyle + relationship content. If I’d known this way back when I decided I wanted to blog, I’d probably have gotten an audience way faster.
At the end of the day, you deserve to do something that’s fun for you, and even though this influencer/blogging life is time-consuming, I absolutely love it! Finding brand partnerships + creating content is seriously such an exciting side gig, and I love that I get to do it with all of YOU! Do you have any do’s and dont’s you stick to?
Ayana Lage is a fashion and lifestyle blogger based in Tampa, Florida with a background in digital media and content marketing. She’s worked for Bustle, the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and numerous freelance clients. As a blogger, she’s worked with 50+ lifestyle, fashion, travel and food brands. When she’s not blogging, she’s focused on her day job in digital marketing, watching Queer Eye, or laughing aloud at tweets from @dril.