How to Survive as a Blogger (in a Blog-Eat-Blog World)

Co-authored by Chloe Legras of Boxwood Avenue

Society Letters is a women's blog founded by writer Deborah Stachelski in April of this year, as an outlet for women to share their voices.  She felt that there was a missing link in the blogosphere for a place where women could collaborate on a personal level, with the goal of empowering others.

What she didn't realize, was that she was getting herself into a world where everyone lives a magazine lifestyle, eats donuts for breakfast, and partners with Nordstrom.  Deb and Chloe Legras (who is also a regular contributor at Society Letters), have had the pleasure of becoming great virtual girlfriends over the past several months, and recently sat down in their respective offices (Chloe in Likely, CA, and Deborah in Austin, TX) to laugh and discuss what they've learned throughout the early stages of blogging and writing.

Below are some points they found while chatting (which happened over coffee and via google docs), and some helpful tips for keeping it real if you are starting out in a blog eat blog world!

1. Get personal, but don't fake perfection - Clients and customers like to see a real person, not a cold and detached brand that doesn't really feel reachable. Followers and readers of your blog really do appreciate getting to know the real you. They will generally unfollow people they sense are not genuine, and are trying to look too "cute", or too perfect. And remember, selling should be for your shop, and social media should be a place to be personal with your followers, and promotion should remain organic.

2. Take GOOD photos - Viewers are instantly drawn to the good color schemes and clear, high quality photography.  They also love a simple layout, and easy, intuitive navigation.

3. Have a clear message, but don't restrict yourself too much -  It's important to create a variety of themes that are acceptable within your brand, and find a way to make them all go together under your umbrella. Followers can be very sensitive -if they don't like 2 or 3 pictures in a row on their feed, they lose interest. It's a process to learn how to brand yourself as a person, which is especially hard with bloggers since so much of it is showing your personal life. It's definitely trial and error."

4. Don't get desperate for growth - Produce quality, and brand growth will follow. People/bloggers/brands can get so focused on getting more likes and more followers, they don't focus on the quality of followers they have. Having a lot of followers may help you look legit, but it does not mean it necessarily translates into getting more business. It's best to have less followers you interact with who help you promote and drive business, and create a community that is supportive, interactive, and mutually beneficial!

5. Stay true to yourself - Fear is something in our minds, and we are truly the only ones who can set limits for ourselves. When you are sure of yourself, and you go for what you want and produce quality (over quantity), people start to see your hard work and start to take notice. Remember that quote, "be so good they HAVE to work with you". When you are good at what you do, and you're consistent, over time it will show and people will want to partner with you and create good things together.

6. Be creative, and think outside the box - Something that bothers a lot of followers on social media, is lack of originality. Sometimes it can get very repetitive. They enjoy following creative bloggers who find ways to promote their content in an original way, as well as let their followers get to know their personality!

7. Support other brands/bloggers in a genuine manner - If someone leaves a really thoughtful comment on your blog, make sure to respond. They have just spent their time clicking over to leave kind words, the least you can do is reply.  Or better yet - pop over to theirs and return the favor.  

8. Don't become a walking advertisement  - Let's face it - giveaways can be good, and they can be bad.  How you handle giveaways will hugely affect what type of environment you create.  If a blogger does giveaways 3 times a week, and has 145K followers, you can deduct that they are not likely being completely true to their vision. Seeing too many sponsored posts can also backfire.

9. Don't be afraid to reach out to other blogs and brands - Just make sure you do so in a sincere way. You'd be surprised at how many people and brands want to partner up and help achieve a common goal. And if you get a no, that's not the worse thing that can happen to a determined blogger like you, and you can just move on to another potential partnership.

10. Don't compare yourself to, and compete with, bigger blogs - Remember your story is unique, and that you are at a different stage than others may be. Don't focus too much on other people's success, or you will end up sidetracked and discouraged because it's like comparing your beginning to someone's middle or end.

11. Use your time wisely - be efficient, and don't put things off that you could do right now. No more self sabotage or "next week" lists. Don't over-prepare and never do the things you're preparing for. Just be here, in the now, and be as productive as you can today. Write now, edit later.

If you are a blogger or a writer, feel free to add more in the comments and share the lessons you've learned!