12 Ways to a Better Blog—and a Better You—in 2012
2011 was an incredible, exhilarating year for me and G&G. I was so fortunate to have been invited to participate in the IFB conferences in February and September, to speak at Blogger Brilliance, to travel to Barcelona for an MNG by MANGO photo shoot, and more! You’d think with all that excitement, I’d be on blogging cloud nine (which I’m sure is lit completely by Gucci phosphorescence, but that’s another post).
Actually, I was elated to have so many fantastic opportunities come my way last year, but after all that FUN, that HYPE, that TRAVELING, that WRITING, that PICTURE-TAKING while balancing a full-time job and a life, I was exhausted. Which equated to less time in the gym, and more weight on me. By November, I was alternately happy and cranky. And not able to fit into some of my favorite pieces. Boo.
What’s a style blogger to do when she’s burned out on…herself?
Feeling self-conscious, mentally taxed, and pulled in 10,000 directions, I did the only thing I could do: I took a little break. A semi-hiatus. I blogged when I felt like it. I took photos sparingly. I stopped pressuring myself to burn all my candles on both ends, at the same time—which gave me time to re-group, rest, and come up with this list…
12 Ways to a Better Blog—and a Better You—in 2012
1. Accept yourself as you are right now.
Think it’s soooo bad? Just remember there are people with ailments, disabilities, or who’ve had accidents that would be grateful for a functioning body like yours. Acceptance is crucial to self-love. This is a tough one, but to move forward, you have to nip appearance-induced depression and self-loathing in the bud. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you have to love the way you look—it just means that you aren’t beating yourself up about it. But if you don’t like how you look and feel right now, realize that it’s not going to change unless YOU change.
2. Got goals? Write them down.
It has been proven that you accomplish more when you actually write down goals and can see them. I actually did this a couple years ago, and you know what happened? I ended up on two IFB panels last year! I swear!
3. Get out.
Outside, people! Into nature, without your tablet/phone/iPod, etc. No matter where you are or what season you are in, disconnecting and taking a stroll in fresh air does wonders for the soul. You’ll feel better after a 30-minute excursion, even if it’s only once a week.
4. Pump up your playlist.
If the last sentence of #1 speaks to you (um, it’s SCREAMING at me!), give yourself the kick in the pants to get moving by psyching yourself up with music. I know it helps keep me moving in the gym. Find a new anthem using Shazam. I can’t tell you how many dance tracks in my fave playlists were discovered via Shazam. It’s brilliant.
5. Try a trend you’ve never thought you could pull off.
Barring trends related to hairstyles/color, what’s the worst that can happen? Nothing! Clothing, makeup, nail colors—they’re temporary. Think you can’t mix prints? Oh yes you can! Think you can’t do a half-moon mani? Practice makes perfect. Stop limiting yourself and live a little. Give yourself permission to try, and even fail. But at least try.
6. Remember: Everything is a potential post.
That trend tryout above? If you love it, there’s a post. If people looked at you like you had three heads, that’s a post too. Everything—from going to the doctor, to memories associated with specific fragrances or outfits, to how a new beauty product has changed your life, to how a life event changed your style—all potential posts. So what if other people have written about them! They’re not you and they’re not writing from your experience.
7. Tackle new technology—apps, devices, social media—anything.
Take some time to play, and you could discover…
- A time-saving invoicing app like FreshBooks (it simplified my freelance invoicing and expense management!)
- A way to purge all those DMs in Twitter at once through Social Oomph
- An awesome weekly blog Twitter chat like Blog Trends Chat
- Inspiring imagery and delightful DIYs on Pinterest
- A better blogging platform like WordPress.
Don’t let fear stand in the way of learning and efficiency. The more you explore, the more you are likely to discover. And the more tech-savvy you are, the more marketable you are in the career world.
My Build a Better Blog page has lots of resources, especially for those looking to jump from Blogger to WordPress, a tech move so many fear unnecessarily.
8. Beg, borrow, and barter.
Desperate for better blog photos or a new blog template, but lacking the cash to make it happen? Reach out to friends/family/contacts with the skills you need and propose a trade. Get a new logo in exchange for free ad space on your blog. Polish a résumé for someone in exchange for a photo session.
What do you have that others appreciate? Leverage your talents…ethically, of course.
9. Say no.
As your blog grows, so will inquiries from those interested in partnering with you. Don’t accept every offer just because it means more money than you had yesterday. Too many ads, paid content, and giveaways muddy the look of your blog, your personal brand, and your intent. Know what you stand for and be selective. Realize that the offer on the table has probably been extended to dozens of other bloggers as well.
Honestly, the chances of you quitting your job to blog full-time are nil. There are a few bloggers who have successfully made a career of blogging, but they’re not holding the fort down based on ad revenues alone. In fact, most are represented by a talent agency (like Digital Brand Architects, for example), and their income streams are multifaceted. By all means, follow your dreams, but know that it takes a ton of work, a real plan, and a very serious approach.
10. Stop trying to be BIG, and just try to be you.
This is basically an extension of #8. Who doesn’t want to be as famous as Aimee Song, Kelly Framel, or Jane Aldridge? Who doesn’t want to be courted by designers and flown to fashion shows? It’s the universal dream of fashion bloggers, and a reality that most of us will never have. Stop obsessing over your comments and traffic and followers and fans, and focus on being you. When you focus on sharing your unique talents and perspective, and when you genuinely engage with bloggers who are similar to you, your numbers will grow—but more important are the rewarding connections you will make.
11. Share early, and share often.
Tweet, retweet, and share inspiring or informative content from other bloggers via all your social media channels. It’s a great way to establish yourself as a go-to person, grow your reach, and have your own content shared. Share new blogs, DIYs, tech tips, or say thank you or send a congratulatory message. I promise, people will notice and respond.
12. Help someone. Or something.
None of us has gotten to where we are today without help from someone at some point. Whether you were mentored in your career, nurtured by your family, or given a tip through a tweet, you MUST pay it forward. Help comes in all forms, from writing a recommendation on Linked In, to holding a door for a mom struggling with a stroller, to finding a home for a stray animal, to letting another blogger know about a helpful plugin. In the blogosphere and in real life, when you can or you are asked, you should help others by sharing your knowledge, time, talent, and wisdom. It will make someone’s day and make you feel good too!
And the bonus: JUST DO IT!
Similar to #2 above, in order to make your wishes come true, you actually have to DO SOMETHING! Do something now, today, to start that business, get that job, run that race, or take that vacation. If you’re aiming for a new career or a better job, polish your Linked In profile or create an online portfolio of your work. Want to run a race? Find a group to train with at your local gym or through Meetup.
Whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do or change, there is no time like right now to get started. Every day is a gift. Make it count.
Which one of these tips speaks to you? What are you going to do or change in 2012?