Today I thought I’d take a look back over some of my blogging/vlogging mistakes, which there are plenty of. Some are the really naive ones made when I first embarked on this journey of attempting to make blogging into some sort of career, and others are ones I still make to this day, and will probably continue to do so because I’m an idiot/stubborn.
Don’t believe everything: When a new industry appears to be booming and a good little money maker you’ll inevitably get people wanting to be a part of that, whether they know what they’re doing or whether they have good intentions or not. I’ve had numerous phone chats with Influencer Talent managers, YouTuber Agents etc over the last few years, and have been completely shocked at the sheer balls of these people masquerading as experts or people that can carefully guide and nurture your career. After a few questions regarding their experience and other clients it was clear they had no qualification, expertise, or contacts, to deliver what they were promising people via their websites or social media. So I’ve learned you really need to be careful when considering whether you seek outside help to boost your career, as teaming with the wrong people could harm your reputation and damage existing relationships with brands that you may have….that’s before you consider the 20% they will take whether they’ve earned it or not.
Worrying about cliques: I’m too old in the tooth to worry about being in the cool gang, I have enough amazing friends in my life that don’t care I’m the biggest geek going, but a while back it did hurt my feelings when people would have group blogging photos at events and I’d be left out because I wasn’t part of the same blogging aesthetic or have the same sort of reach. But there’s a lot of good eggs in the world that don’t come part of an intimidating team, and as a natural shy person I’ve always preferred one and one interactions anyway.
Quantity of Quality: When I first started blogging I had zero awareness it could be a career, I didn’t share the posts anywhere or even upload images to make the post aesthetically pleasing. It was quite literally an online diary, a place where I got thoughts out of my head and onto screen. By the time I was clued up and thought I’d take the blog in a career direction, I had so many bad habits deeply ingrained, ones that I have to tussle with till this day. I’d post willy nilly, whenever I felt I had something I wanted to put online, whether that be 4 blog posts in one day, or making one live at 2am. The posts were unstructured, without header images, some were barely there others were rambling. When I started to attempt to make YouTube a career having used to that simply as a place to store my video files for many years, I repeated my offences, posting at least 5 videos a week if not daily. This works for some people but it wasn’t right for me, my views are subs are in a far better way when I upload less and put more time into the videos.
It’s only in the last year I think I’ve started to work out how my content should be and how often I need to post (which is less often but better thought out) and my views on my blog have gone up by 20,000 a month, so it’s clearly working.
Not all Rules Apply: Every week a post goes up about how to succeed at blogging, how to make a career out of blogging/youtube etc. A lot of the information featured are great and effective rules of thumb, techniques that would be beneficial to most to consume. But you have to be careful, because with anything there are anomalies, people that buck trends, people who are forward thinking, or have the influence to drive things in a different direction. We also have to be extremely mindful to the fact that we are part of a new industry one that is unpredictable, relentless, continuously changing and evolving, so rules are likely to need constant amendments. For instance my network have often told me my videos should ideally be at 4-6 minutes, any longer is unhelpful to my growth. However my long chatty videos (near the 16 minute mark ) always seem to do the best and get the most engagement. With the rise of weekly blogs, the likes of Brogan Tate coming in at the half hour mark, it’s clearly longer content can reap rewards too, with many sitting down to catch up with their fave bloggers rather than watching a soap on TV. I’ve learned it’s important to know your audience, why they tune into you and what content they they appreciate the most.
Cheating: I don’t think I would have ever gone through with this, as I’m someone that prides oneself on honest content and doing things by the book (goody two shoes in other words), but I will admit to clicking on some of the links that came into my inbox regarding increasing followers. The trail of intrigue stopped when I realised they wouldn’t be genuine followers, but it still haunts me that I even bothered to check it out. I’m one of those people that believe you always get found out, so I could imagine I’d be living in fear that it would be uncovered and I’d be outed virally on twitter or something (although I’m probably not big enough to cause a social media storm). Also it’s such a great feeling to be proud of something you achieved, growing your channels in this fake manner completely eradicates the potential for feeling genuine pride. If I do well I want to know it’s because of something I did well…and I don’t mean being good at getting away with things.
Photos: It’s crazy how much your tastes change and your skills progress in this industry. I can even look at photos I’ve put on my blog a couple months ago and dissect and rip them apart – whether it be the colour grading, the crop, the composition, the outfit choice, the hairstyle. I could get really cross with myself when I think of the photo elements of my blog just a year or two ago, as it was so evidently below par and undoubtedly preventing me from progressing, but weirdly I don’t remember acknowledging it as much as I do now. I know the sleek and professional nature of blogging aesthetic has risen by a huge extent in the last few years, so maybe it’s mainly down to that, but I just can’t believe I was ever happy to upload some of that unintentionally low fi dross, it’s simply embarrassing. I’m not just talking a few bad outfits and some cringe myspace poses…they were taken on an ancient phone, grainy, blurred with some awful filter that actually made them look even worse. What was I thinking? I genuinely would have got better result taking the picture with a potato. Realistically this area still needs improving though and I need a way to work with photographers (even without a budget to do so) as my self taken shots aren’t ever going to be up their with the best bloggers.
Embarrassment: I know it’s pretty obvious that you need to share your posts/videos if you want people to see them, but this is still something I struggle with. I don’t quite know what the root of this issue is. I think it’s a combination of factors. Sometimes it’s because the posts is extremely personal and I only want people searching for that topics to read them (as I know it will come from a place of understanding) rather than every person who follows me. Sometimes it might because I’m not overly pleased with the quality of the video due to my equipment limitations. I think the main thing is probably because I don’t want to be annoying on social media, as I know a large amount of my followers aren’t followers or blogs/YouTube as they were pressed the follow button before it became my primary work focus. I know that I find the regularity and heft of some people’s self promotion a bit much on Twitter, and I guess I’d just hate to be that ‘too much’ person to someone else. I do need to get over this though, how on earth do you become an influencer if you’re not willing to offer anything that could have an influence.
Imitation: When you growth feels a bit slower than you’d like you start to question yourself – don’t I dress well? Am I even more uncooler than I thought? Am I making the wrong type of videos? You can’t help but look at the other bloggers/vloggers you follow that are bigger than you and start to think you should be doing what they are, as it’s clearly working for them. My problem is that I was following bloggers who were in very different stages of their lives, some over a decade younger than me and fresh out of uni (or even still in uni). Because I’ve slightly regressed due to my health/financial position and because the music industry turns us all into man/womenchilds I do or wear things probably a bit younger than a lot of other people in my age bracket would do. However the reality is that the worries, thoughts, interests and opinions are more aligned to the older bloggers, and if anyone is going to help guide me it’s more likely to be them. I think my days of glitter tutorials and Primark Hauls may be over and a video about a new kitchen appliance may be more likely. Sad but true. Further than this though, I’ve learned how important it is to find your own voice, the subjects that make your words ring out with passion or truth. Working out whether you’re more about visuals or messages, or whether you’re a mixture of the both is very important. I’ve learned not everyone has to put out cinematic masterpieces for success, but similarly you also don’t have to bare your soul and put out ultra relatable content to achieve either. Simply, just do you. Authenticy is key.
Being Negative: The problem with making the decision to be a transparent and honest blogger who shares a large part of their personal life is that you don’t sugar-coat things so your stream of outpourings and uploads take a particular form. If you happen to be in a phase of your life which is depressing or tricky, your content will likely mirror that. This isn’t particularly business savvy though. Brands like honesty and a blogger who has an audience that trusts them, but they won’t necessarily want to work with someone that puts out largely negative or sad content. They’re looking for bubbly, enthusiastic, grateful and positive. I use twitter to vent, and because it’s been a tough few years realistically my feed is probably harming my ability to attract work. I’m currently trying to find a way to express how I’m genuinely feeling while not be an off-putting proposition. I think they key is improving my life away from social media, so that in turn my tweets/Instagrams content will be elevated mood wise.
Not sticking up for myself: Even at my relatively small size you get numerous offers a week for sponsored posts and other posts that are touted as sponsored posts that turn out to be people pushing for free advertising. I’m an innate people pleaser, it’s an Eggleton thing apparently, so I stupidly used to help brands out with free posts and shares, when I really shouldn’t have. While I still have a way to go, always finding negotiating money a very painful to and fro, I have learned the importance of valuing your work and the time you put into it. I realise that by offering my services free to people who knew they really should be paying, I was doing my fellow bloggers as well as my a disservice and my actions were very unhelpful in terms of the industry being respected and taken seriously. More importantly though I also make sure I don’t feel forced into creating content I’m not happy with and make sure I am transparent about the fact that the video/blog/Instagram has to fit seamlessly with my style and ethics.
Skinny Teas: I used to get a lot of sponsored request through from branded tea’s promising to help you shed weight. I started negotiating a fee with them because they seemed to have good science to back them up and even if weight loss wasn’t the reasoning for drinking them they seemed a healthy drink option. Then I felt uncomfortable about it. Considering the tone of my channel and the things I want to promote and draw attention to I wondered if it be right to promote this – to put a product in front of potentially vulnerable and impressionable people who could abuse it’s function. I didn’t go ahead with it. A couple years later within the blogging community it is definitely a type of collaboration that gets judged by other bloggers, which confirms I made the right decision in this instance. I think your gut usually tells you which opportunities to grab hold of which to politely decline, so I’ve learned to listen to it. The problem usually lies when they arrive at the beginning when your a bit giddy about someone being willing to pay you. Excitement takes over, because this sort of transaction makes you feel official and legitimate, but trust me a more suitable opportunity will come along. You also tend to feel a bit weaker when you find yourself a bit financially stretched. But I’ve learned that the damage to your moral compass isn’t worth it and you’re better off holding out for something that fits you and your ethics a little better.
Not engaging: I didn’t realise how integral it is to engage, not just with your readers/viewers but with other bloggers/vloggers. I’m not too bad at this on Instagram these days because it’s a platform I genuinely enjoy looking through and do so regularly. But because I don’t read blogs or watch videos I don’t really comment on those, so therefore I’m not building relationships that way. Other bloggers are more likely to come and read your blog if they know you visit their’s and make an effort to commment on their posts.It also means you are on more people’s radars which also helps things move forward and grow.
Flying Solo: I don’t socialise with other bloggers nearly enough. I’ve always been lucky enough to have lots of great and dear friends in my life but because of the amount of time work eats in to my life and the amount of events I have to go to do with blogging/youtube, I already feel like I’m being a terrible friend to those. I live with constant guilt from being so absent from Whatsapp groups and for missing so many birthdays etc, so I’m almost at a point where I actively try not to connect with more people. I know it sounds silly, but I kinda don’t want to have more people that I know I’m going to have to let down on regular occasions. Of course there’s also a lot of bloggers that just aren’t my sort of people too, as would be the case in any industry you work in. However we are constantly told that collabs are the best way to grow your channels/blog. Not only does it mean you get showcased to someone elses audience, you build a relationship which will mean they will be more likely to retweet your posts, engage with your Instagram and so on. Of course it’s lovely to go to blogging events and see lots of friendly faces you can hang with too.
This is merely scratching the surface, my career is a comedy of errors so if you’d like a part 2 of my blogging mistakes I have some other howlers ready and waiting to be shared. If you’re a blogger and related to any of my mistakes, let me know in the comments below!