I’ve been asked this question before and I always love reading others’ stories so, I wanted to finally answer…
“How did you start your blog?”
I started my blog in 2012.
I had just graduated from college and moved back from the beach when my sister, Erika, discovered Cupcakes and Cashmere and shared the link with me. She was in her freshman year at Virginia Tech. College kids are always the first to know about cool things on the internet, aren’t they? Then she found Fashion Toast and, again, shared it with me. I was instantly enamored with what they were both doing with fashion and photography, two of my biggest passions. And I thought, if they could have a blog, we could have a blog! Erika and I decided that it would be a fun project to work on together, while we lived four hours apart, so I asked for a Nikon DSLR camera that year for Christmas.
I instantly fell in love with everything about blogging – The writing, the photography and the fashion. A few things you may not know about me ~ I took photography classes all throughout high school, which I really enjoyed. Also, our grandma was in the fashion business and, well, you could say it’s in our blood. She was dressing us up in matching faux fur coats at the ages of 1 and 3. Wasting no time, she had us loving clothes and fashion early on. Fast-forward to the next decade, I was totally the girl in high school who would never wear the same thing twice and my dream was to be a buyer or fashion merchandiser. Or a photographer.
I remember when I got my first blog comment.
Of course, at 22 years old, I took the first job that wanted to pay me a salary. I was an executive assistant at a company that had nothing to do with fashion. Blogging was still entirely for fun at this time, but I was still consumed with it every day. Even though I never even imagined that anyone (besides my family) would read it. I remember thinking, how would anyone even find it? Bear in mind, social media was nowhere near what it is today. Luckily, my blog was hosted on Blogger.com and so other Blogger users could find you through the platform’s feed. And I think that’s how I received my first comment. It was so exciting. And I wanted more!
That’s when I became (slightly) obsessed with learning anything and everything about blogging and how to grow your blog’s online presence. At nights, after work, I would spend hours online researching. A few of the key ingredients that made for a successful blog I read were having a well-designed website and dedicated social media accounts. So I added an ‘About Me’ page and a few interactive widgets to my site, along with created a Facebook business page and a Twitter account. On Twitter is where I would discover the huge blogging community here in D.C.. And that’s when I began to go out and network face to face. I was dying to meet all of these awesome girls I was following on social media. Networking seemed to be the key to growing your brand and audience, at least on a local level (We’re talking still pre-Instagram at this point). I was going to 2-3 events a night per week during my first “real” year of blogging. Quickly, networking and events turned into what felt like going out with your best friends. I met so many wonderful people through networking, some of which I call some of my best friends today. Meeting people will always be my favorite thing about blogging.
Until February 2016, I always worked full-time and blogged on the side (mostly as a hobby).
After my blog continued to grow, thanks to networking and social media, and great blogger friends who would take my photos for me, I began working with agencies and directly with brands to get paid sponsorships. That’s when I started to make money blogging and when I began to take things more seriously. At this point, I also added my blog to my resume and was able to land my first job in social media management. I worked for a small start-up tech company for about a year doing this until I connected with a local radio host and blogger (Hi, Melanie!) and she told me about an open position at the radio station. I applied and was subsequently hired as the Webmaster & Digital Content Producer for two local radio stations. I really loved that job, it felt like the perfect combination of business and creativity. Famous artists were always coming into the office, I had a great boss, my co-workers were so much fun, I had an intern and I even had my own “What to Wear Weather” on-air segment in the mornings. Yes, I was a really chic weather girl for about six months.
At the time, I thought building their websites and running their social media would be so exciting and challenging but, while I had learned a lot, it still wasn’t as fulfilling as was working on my own site and social media. Simultaneously, business was really picking up with my blog. I was always having to request for time off to travel and for shoots and I was feeling guilt over not being able to give my best effort. My mind and heart were fully invested in my blog.
So I decided to take a leap of faith and go full-time.
It was a super scary and not easy decision to make. It felt like jumping off a cliff but I couldn’t ignore that small voice inside me that was saying, “Jump!” Also, my friends and family were beyond supportive of the decision. Honestly, I didn’t even believe in myself as much as they did. But I really didn’t see myself wanting to grow with the company, which also said a lot to me at the time. That, combined with the feeling that it was my only chance to do it, before life became consumed with serious with things like getting married or starting a family, is what got me here.
I’ve worked a ton of different jobs over my lifetime and have become to be a believer that you really do learn something from every single one of them. So, if nothing else, I dreamed about what I would learn from the experience of working for myself. I had already dabbled in it a little bit, as a Stella & Dot representative and freelance social media manager.
It’s now two years later and I’ve never once regretted my decision! It’s a super challenging and demanding business, which I still run 100% on my own, but I love what I do and I’m excited to see what the future holds!
If you have any questions for me, blogging-related and beyond, feel free to reach out to me anytime!