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What Nobody Tells You About Blogging (Especially As A Teen)

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What Nobody Tells You About Blogging (Especially As A Teen)

David Ruff

For those of you who do not know, I officially started this blog mid February. I saw a bunch of bloggers on Instagram coming up with innovative content that inspired others for a while now. I finally realized that is something that I wanted to do. I would always post my outfits, where I eat, and such on my Instagram for years now but only for a close knit circle of friends and mutual friends. I would always get asked "Where are your shoes from?", or "What filter did you use on this picture?". Something finally clicked and I noticed, why not expand this and have one central outlet of creativity for people to look at.

I have always loved to create and share my creations, so it all made sense for me to share amongst a broad spectrum. Now I have readers from all over the world - I still get shocked when I get an e-mail from someone from South Africa or many other places such as France. It is so cool and I'm like, "woah somebody in another country actually cares about what I have to say!".

Anyways, initially the purpose of this blog was to showcase myself in a creative way that inspired many people. And it still is, but I slowly began to comprehend the business side of blogging and started monetizing my content.

Overall, I have learned there are many pros and cons to the world of blogging and I am still learning. There are many things that I had no idea of going into this and I can finally say now after a couple of months, I know how to maneuver within this expertise. 

Brands

You will either hate or love a brand, and a brand will either hate or love you too. There is no in between. Working with a brand whom you don't believe in is detrimental because your followers are your friends and they trust your opinion. I would never work with a brand that I wouldn't recommend to a friend no matter how many products or how much money is on the table. My followers and relationship with them is my biggest priority and once you put a brand before them, you loose your credit. Essentially you are your own brand and who you associate yourself with is crucial. Same goes for a brand, not everyone will love you. There are many factors that go into deciding who will be apart of their campaign, and if you aren't the right fit that doesn't mean that you should be discouraged. I have turned down many opportunities and many brands have turned down me. It has to be a right fit because at the end of the day the brand and yourself has specific standards that need to be met in order to satisfy the targeted demographic. 

Engagement is key

The amount of followers you have is everything and nothing. This is specifically referring to brands. Many brands have a specific amount of followers in mind that a blogger has to qualify in order to work with them. From there, the brands assess your relationship with your followers. A brand would rather work with someone who gets four hundred likes a photo and has a close relationship with their followers than that of someone who gets four thousand likes a photo and has no communication with their followers. My first collaboration was with Uniqlo (which is a household name brand) - they were specifically attracted to my engagement on my Instagram, and how I connect with my followers. At that time I only had three thousand followers, but if a tenth of my followers went out and bought a shirt I was wearing, then fell in love with more products from their line that is the goal. The main goal is to sell a product and help your followers chose that product. And when your followers trust the brand as much as you that is essential to a campaign's success and forming more relationships. If your followers don't trust you or your opinion no matter how popular you are that is a major red flag. 

#Sponsored

Many followers are turned off by a sponsored post or an ad. For those who you don't know, a sponsored post is a blogger's source of money. This is where a brand pays you x amount of dollars or sends you their product for a post displaying their product. Followers must believe in your opinion in order to want to buy what your buying. Nobody will listen to you if every post you do is sponsored. Believe it or not many bloggers will just take anything if money slapped on to it. As I said before, selectivity on both ends is integral. Your authenticity is what determines success in all aspects of blogging.

Your personality is your biggest strength and weakness

Blogging is and will always be a saturated industry. Thousands of bloggers will continue to do clothing hauls and skincare tutorials, but the determining factor of one's success is your personality. For example, my friend Patrick Starrr, does weekly makeup tutorials, but how he differentiates himself and the reason why he has reached a coveted two million subscribers on YouTube is his funny personality and powerful messages he conveys in each video. The common thread amongst my advice is your authenticity. Being yourself attracts followers but there are always boundaries as to what is professional and what is not. Always writing formal e-mails and being professional is so crucial. Responding to everyone (even your haters) with the utmost respect is what will make or break you. 

Growing takes time and consistency is important

Today I just hit fourteen thousand Instagram followers and it takes time. Making a connection with your followers takes time and so does attracting new ones. The more consistent you are, the quicker you will grow. When you post more and your followers engage, it shows up on other's feeds and they will want to follow you too. What I always say is quality over quantity. If you have amazing content, a follower will tell five friends, and they will tell another five friends and so on. Nothing happens overnight and I am still looking to grow. Setting realistic goals is always great to work with. I know I have been successful in a short amount of time due to my consistency and quality of content, but I know I am not a "famous" blogger by any means yet.

Events are the best place to network

Fashion Week is one of my busiest weeks of the year, if you don't believe me watch my vlog here. Attending blogger events are always so much fun. Recently in LA, I attended a blogger brunch with Bliss. Between fashion week and brunches, I get the opportunity to make new friendships and collaborations. I am a fearless networker and if I see someone I want to work with I will walk over to them and exhibit myself and my ideas. It is important to remember first impressions dictate everything but it is not your fault if someone turns out to be a total A-hole, trust me it happens all the time. Age is a big factor so a lot of people and brands will either love or hate your youth. The younger you are there are pros and cons that come with that. More followers will follow you because the younger generation is more intuitive with technology and has a tendency to look up to others. The con is, well, your age. I was invited to an event by a brand and I had e-mailed back and fourth with the people who were running the event. But my age was looked over and nobody mentioned to me that there was an open bar. So once I arrived to the event the guards would not let me in without ID. Everything in blogging is a learning experience and there will always be obstacles along the road especially when you are not the ideal age.

Being analytical is smart

Knowing your followers and how to attract them and new ones is vital. If you are planning to grow your following, turn on the business account on Instagram. This allows for people to contact you by simply clicking on the email button. In addition, it also allows for analytics. There is a little bar graph button in the top right corner of your profile: its shows all information about your followers including age, where they live, what time is best to post, how many impressions you get, etc. This lets you see what posts are most popular and when to post them. In addition - tagging, hashtagging, and geotagging is best way to attract people in your niche. When you tag the brands you are wearing they will most likely repost it and their followers will follow you because your style reflects that of their brand. When you geotag where you are, new followers in your area will see your post too. I always geotag where I am eating or if I post in a store or new city. And hashtagging in my opinion is the best way to earn likes and comments - also followers! Within a hashtag there are x amount of posts and there are 9 top posts in that hashtag determined by the engagement on that photo. The main goal is to get in that top post section because it is the first thing these people will see when they are exploring that hashtag. The more posts within that hashtag, the harder it is to reach that top post section. Knowing your range of post numbers is essential in order to strategically hashtag so more and more people can find you. All in all, know what your followers like and dislike, and who they are! I know an outfit post will be more popular than a food post with my followers. When you do more of what you like and what your followers like you expand. But stepping out of your comfort zone attracts new groups of people!

There will be fans and haters

When people see that you are exposing your life on social media, you are vulnerable. When you take the risk of sharing your life and opinions, people will praise your for that or hate you for that. I know my loyal followers who I am always DM-ing with, they are like my best friends. But there are internet trolls who will try to kick you down. I will always get a comment or message from someone that is so so mean. Growing a thick skin is apart of the process and not engaging back in shallow activity is important. Learning to block someone and move on is something that took me a long time to do. When you are young you aren't as mature and you want to "clap back". But having a reputation as a sassy person who can't keep their mouth shut is even worse. There will always be more supporters than haters and remembering that will get you through the meanies. The fans definitely outweigh the haters. It is the best feeling getting stopped on the street and someone telling me they read and love my blog. 

Blogging is a full time job

Blogging requires new consistent and relevant content. The quantity and quality of your work is the most important factor. Keep in mind that blogging requires hour and hours of work. And blogging is a job of many jobs. You are your own photographer, creative director, writer, video editor, photo editor, model, guinea pig, CE0, founder, analysist, and so much more! 

There are more things I could say and I could talk for hours. But these are my main things that I wish I knew going into blogging. I figured all of this out while blogging and I still find out new things about this industry and myself everyday.