It's bonkers to me that yesterday was the one year anniversary of when I set Black & Blooms live. What started as just a lil creative outlet and simply a way to get my photos off my computer and out into the world, has turned into this amazing community where I've met some of the most talented individuals, many of whom are now good friends. The past year has had its ups and downs as I've navigated this blogging world that I really had zero clue about starting out - mostly ups though, and it's all thanks to people like you, who take time out of your day to follow along and read my posts or follow my journey on Instagram, always leaving me the sweetest messages and making me feel so supported - I'm very thankful to you for that! I wanted to share a few things I've learned this past year, and tips for anyone who's been thinking of starting their own blog.
1. Figure out who you are & what you're about, then stay true to it. Let's be honest, there are a ton of bloggers out there, and the number is rising every day. And you know what? That's awesome. But it also means that now more then ever, we need to know exactly who we are and be un-apologetically that. What lights you up? What do you have to say? Why do you want to say it? For me, it started with my blog's name. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to call this site - I knew it had to give a hint as to what sort of content I create. When it finally popped in my head I thought, duh - that's it. I love wearing black and plants/flowers are my jam. Black & Blooms!
2. Know your worth, then add tax. Starting out as a blogger can be very exciting. All of a sudden, brands start reaching out to you to give you free products. And who doesn't like free goodies? But they may also have certain asks of you in regards to posting about that product - that's the trade off, as brands usually will want something in return for free gifts. I've thought of a good chunk of the past year as an internship in the blogging world. I did work for free in exchange for the experience and connections I made with brands while I grew my following. I found it very valuable, and looking back wouldn't change a thing. But there comes a point when you can't keep working for free, and when you reach that point, don't be afraid to tell brands that you charge for posts! You're worth it, believe me. And if they tell you they don't have a budget for paid posts or try and low-ball your rate, it is 100% ok to politely turn down the gig. Shooting sponsored posts on Instagram can take hours - finding the location, setting up and styling the scene, taking photos from different angles, setting up a different scene when the first one doesn't work out how you planned, uploading all the photos to your computer, editing through them and picking the best shots, downloading them on your phone, planning what day/time you're going to post, doing any last photo edits on your phone, researching the best hashtags for your post, and thinking up a caption. Sure, it's all fun and I enjoy all of it - but it is work, and people deserve to get compensated for the work they do!
3. People are going to steal your work - and you have to learn to live with that. This was an extra hard learning experience for me, and I'm actually still struggling with it. I don't want this to be the norm, but unfortunately it's the reality of the situation. As amazing as the Instagram community is, there is a really serious problem of people taking the work of others and posting it on their own feed with no credit. And let's be clear, crediting "Pinterest" or any other site/account that is not the direct creator/photographer of that image, is NOT ok and not accurate crediting. Same goes for reposting a photo and tagging the creator in the photo itself, but not the caption of the photo. Or burying the creator's handle after 30 hashtags and bunch of spaces, where no one will even see it. I can't tell you how upsetting it is to see a photo you worked so hard to create end up floating around online without accurate crediting, or even worse, someone else taking credit for the image. It amazes me how many brands and really big accounts with 100k+ followers do this! I do think a lot of it is ignorance, and people not really empathizing with others in this regard. They see a pretty picture that they like and want to share it with others - I get that. But I think everyone has to understand that there is a person behind that image who worked hard to create it, and they deserve to be recognized for their work. Unfortunately, you can't police the whole world and people are going to do what they want, so you do have to learn to live with this - but I think if we each did our part to call out people who steal others images, it would create a lot of awareness and they may be less likely to do it again in the future.
4. It's called "social media" for a reason - be social! Before I started blogging and taking my Instagram seriously, I was definitely NOT social on social media. I interacted with my close friends and family, but that was about it. It would have been crazy to me to ever comment on a stranger's photo, or "like" a pic from someone I didn't actually follow or know. But once I broke out of my shell and started communicating with other people on the platform, that's when it really started coming alive for me. That's the beauty of the Insta community - we may live in different cities or even on different continents, but we're connected through our imagery and words - so get to know each other! Let people know when you love their photo, it's always appreciated and could blossom into an actual friendship - I know from experience. I've made such wonderful connections through this platform, and it can start with just a simple pic comment to spark conversation.
5. Don't compare yourself to others, and have FUN! I know this is a super obvi thing to say, but believe it or not it's the most important thing to remember. It's easy to get stressed out or discouraged about your growth and following, or compare yourself to others - but all that crap is just not worth it. The competitiveness that can come out in the social media world is not only unhelpful, it's unhealthy. Wouldn't it be so much easier to celebrate each others achievements, rather than compare ourselves to other people? Wondering, "Well, why didn't I get that opportunity she did??" or "How did she grow her account so much faster than me??" or "How did she get that many likes on her photo??" does nobody any good. We're all on a different path, using social media in different ways and working at different speeds. Focus on you and doing your best work, creating photos and content that you love and are proud of is key - I have to remind myself about this often! At the end of the day, you should be having fun and enjoy the process.
This is probs the most word-heavy post I've ever done! I think fitting for B&B's 1 year anniversary - haha! I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything I've talked about here - feel free to also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or just want to say hi. I love chatting with all of you! Thanks for being here, and happy Friday :)