I’ve just hit publish on this, my 48th blog post after pressing launch on A Brunette Edit exactly 2 years ago. 48 blog posts equates to 24 posts a year, 2 a month and an average of 3 hours work per post totalling 144 hours of writing. Not to mention the 867 Instagram posts and captions alongside the blog. All in all a pretty hefty chunk of my ‘free’ time outside of my day job, with no expectations of anything in return. But a decision I have never regretted.
I didn’t start A Brunette Edit to be able to call myself a blogger, influencer, creator….I started it to build a community. Newly moved to Bristol in my mid 30’s, working part time and having exhausted my, then, Fiancé’s capacity to listen to me chat skincare and beauty I decided to throw my musings out to the ether. Writing and putting thoughts down in words was always my passion during school and, to this day, whenever I find my mind in a log-jam I turn to writing as a method of pulling apart the confusion.
‘….I didn’t start A Brunette Edit to be able to call myself a blogger, influencer, creator….I started it to build a community….’
And whilst aware the beauty blogger scene was already heavily saturated I also felt there was a bit of space for a mid 30’s mum, rediscovering a love of beauty after some tricky personal issues, and wanting to share a love of products whilst helping decipher the often confusing beauty industry, with honest reviews and products that actually work.
Alongside these 48 blog posts there has also been a wedding, honeymoon, friends made and lost and a lot of everyday life thrown in. The world of social media can be all-encompassing, and an emotional drain if you don’t set boundaries and regularly review them. I was naïve to this at the start and thought that to ‘do well’ meant saying yes to every opportunity, attend every event and accept every product that is dangled in front of you. Side note, there is no real measure of ‘doing well’. A follower count is just a number, often artificially inflated and a pile of free products is useless if it doesn’t lead to genuine brand connections and relationships that you can build on. My measure has and always will be ‘am I enjoying it?’
‘…I thought that to ‘do well ‘meant saying yes to every opportunity, attend every event and accept every product that is dangled in front of you….’
A quote that I come back to time and time again is to ‘nurture the community you have, not the one you are chasing’ and I genuinely think this is the most important thing to keep at the heart of the content you are creating. The minute you lose sight of the time and effort that every follower you have puts into liking and commenting on posts, and start concentrating on products, a bigger number or more ‘insta worthy’ collaborations is the minute the authenticity is lost and with it the community you have worked so hard to build.
With that in mind I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt along the two years;
- Some connections you make will come with a sting in the tail. And this is part and parcel of working out who your community is and who you want to put your time and energy into. You will undoubtedly get it wrong with some people, and that’s absolutely fine. Just as with friendships in the ‘real world’, personas and personalities on social media change over time and so will you. Don’t feel indebted to spreading yourself too thin that you can’t keep up with the connections that really matter and bring something to the party for you.
- Know that whilst building a community on a social media platform does take time and effort you can also step away and have breaks. If you have built genuine connections with followers then they will still be there even if you take a bit of time off. As soon as the pressure to be ‘present’ outweighs the fun of creating then it’s time to re-evaluate your purpose and revisit the reason you started it.
- You don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that is presented to you. When I first started being approached by brands to share their products I accepted things that I would never have bought or used ordinarily if I’d been browsing Boots. And then I wondered why I was finding it hard to write a genuine review that came from the heart. I appreciate everyone has a slightly different take on the world of PR but this approach works for me, allows me to maintain integrity and also be confident in the reviews and information I’m putting back out on my blog.
- If there is a brand you really love and would like to work with approach them! And work out what you have to offer them. A small but engaged audience is often worth far more to a brand than a following in the thousands that doesn’t interact. Point out your engagement, sing your strengths and above all be genuine and relatable. Behind every brand is a team of people wanting to engage with someone just like you – you just need to make them aware of your value. And if you hit some rejections along the way (inevitable) that’s all part of working out your social media strategy and growing your strengths.
- Be forever grateful, and never ever take a like, follow, PR product or opportunity for granted. However small. Don’t compare your opportunities to anyone else’s or you very quickly lose grasp on the reality of a situation. The saying ‘stick to your own lane’ is never truer than with this. If you’ve worked with a PR or individual take the time to feedback on the experience and build on that connection. At the end of every year I go back through my emails and send a personal thank you to every PR or company I’ve worked with over that past 12 months – it’s a little gesture but probably one not everyone is doing.
I am so grateful for the all the opportunities that have come my way over the past 2 years from pressing publish on that first post to being featured in Blogosphere Magazine this year as one of their beauty accounts to follow (a total pinch me moment). But above all I love this little community at my fingertips that make it all possible. So thank you.
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