Why This Fashion Blogger Stopped Taking Outfit Photos

BloggerIf you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you may have noticed that it’s been a really long time since I’ve done outfit photos. I slowly came out of the groove when I got pregnant and afterwards I was struggling not only to find the time but the inspiration. Plus my body and wardrobe are still in flux almost two years later.  I was constantly looking at my favorite outfit bloggers for inspiration, trying to make sense of my closet, and stressing over finding the time to shoot whatever I can come up with.  Then when I did manage to put something together, I didn’t like any of the photos. After months I stopped stressing and had a blogger epiphany:

Who says I have to do outfit photos?

The answer: No one. I realized again that I was putting unnecessary stress on myself. Stress that was coming from outside perceptions of what a successful fashion blogger ‘needs’ to have on her blog. Subconsciously I felt like my outfits and my photos had to be just as pretty and creative as the bloggers I admired, beating myself up in the process when they weren’t.  I honestly thought I lost my sense of style in Mommyland and I was trying way too hard to get it back. But did I want it back for the sake of my own fashionista fulfillment or for the blog?

Honestly it was for the blog and that’s a surefire way to suck the fun out of it. So I stopped taking outfit photos and since then I’ve felt relieved. No more pressure. No more stress. I can focus on the content I want to write about and on the off chance that I want to share my outfit, I can do a quick Instagram post and go on with my crazy day! Personal styling just isn’t my blogging voice at this point in my life and you know what? It’s perfectly okay!

The lesson to be learned here: Don’t let the pressure to be a ‘successful blogger’ take away your motivation for wanting to blog in the first place.

Blogging is huge right now, the gateway to many great career opportunities in and out of fashion. While that is super awesome it also puts a lot of pressure on bloggers to be the best that can be so overwhelming it can kill a blog.  Between all the how-to articles and bloggers landing magazine spreads it’s no wonder we can  stressed out! And if you have or planning to make the plunge into freelance writing life, there’s even more pressure, your blog serving as your portfolio for future clients.

No matter what role your blog plays in your life, at the end of the day it has to be a reflection of you. Everyone who’s made it big has done so because  their blog was about thing that were unique to them. It was a voice and style they never backed away from regardless of what everyone else was doing.

So step away from your Bloglovin feed and close down your WordPress Dashboard.

Take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the blog posts I’m writing really what I want to write about or what I think I’m ‘supposed’ to write about?
  • Is blogging still fun or feeling like a lot of work?
  • If my blog had the same traffic in two years as it does today, would I still want to blog?

I would love to know your answers in comments!

2 Major Things Being a Mom Taught Me About Blogging

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My Mom and I!

Mommy’s Day is this Sunday and I tell you, when you become a mom you get a whole new perspective on the holiday. Before I would get on the gift bandwagon and get my mom flowers, perfume, and everything else the commercials tell you to get her. Now everyday is mother’s day for me when it comes to my mom and I, especially when my daughter pulls a stunt that I’ve done to her! To say I have a newfound appreciation for my mom is an extreme understatement. Those pearls of motherly wisdom she gave me in life are seriously starting to make sense and even apply to my blogging life. I know this blog was my first baby and even though it can drive us crazy sometimes, we wouldn’t give it up for the world!

Still, we don’t want to go too crazy too often. That’s why I try to keep these three lessons that I learned from mommyville in mind!

It Takes a Village (aka a Community) to Raise a Blog

We can never underestimate the power of community both as bloggers and as moms. We all want to be superheroes and do everything ourselves, even if it means sacrificing our well being. As a mom, I felt like I had to do everything for daughter, my husband, and my house. I wanted help but felt guilty asking for it.

Does this sound familiar my blogger friends?

You want a break from blog posts but afraid to ask for guest posts. You know a fellow blogger who’s a whiz at designing logos but afraid to ask her to help design yours. You want to learn how to grow your readership but afraid to reach out to a blogger whose blog is at the level you want to be. When I started blogging the sense of community was so strong that you wouldn’t think twice about asking for advice. Now with such an over-saturated market, everyone feels they have to blog in a bubble and that sense of community has gotten lost.

We need to get back to reconnecting with each other and helping each other. There’s enough room for everyone to have their own space in the blogosphere and we will all become better at what we do as a result.

 You Deserve to Take Breaks (Without the Guilt!)

OMG this is a big one for me, even before I became a mom. I wrote about this here and here after going through two big bouts of serious burn out. You would think I would’ve learned my lesson but sadly that’s not the case all the time. As a mom you feel super guilty about getting a break from your kids, even if your sanity is unraveling at the speed of lightning. I could literally be losing my marbles and I would be the first one to turn down help in keeping my little girl occupied for a few hours.

With blogs it’s the same guilt. We don’t want to take a day, let alone a week, away from blogging because we feel our blog would just tank if we do so. You believe that despite struggling to come up with new content, losing your blog’s sense of direction, and your passion for your niche fizzling out.

Listen, it’s okay to take a break!

You need it. You can’t keep up this pace forever and trust me, your readers would totally understand. Real life gets in the way. Creative wells dry up. Toddlers have epic breakdowns because all the goldfish are gone. Life happens and it’s okay to let your blog go on the back burner until you can get yourself back together.

What life lessons have you learned that’s helped you with your blog?

The Not So Glamorous Side of Freelance Writing

When you’re sitting at your day job looking over the fence to the full time writing life, all you see are the birds chirping and the sun shining down on you as you type away. You see the sweats you would wear while working at home or the coffee you’ll order before huddling away in a swank coffee shop.  Man, those bloggers who get to write full time must have the life! Roses and daisies all around! Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of awesomeness on this side of the career fence. But I’d be a fool to tell you that there aren’t not-so-fun times.

These past few days are a prime example.

You may have noticed the blog has been quiet since Wednesday. Despite the nicely laid out editorial calendar and carefully planned schedule, when I sat down to blog my brain came up with nothing. On Sunday it was time to crank out yesterday’s post – I wasn’t in the mood and couldn’t think of anything. I was like, “I can’t have writer’s block! I can’t afford to have writer’s block.” But I did and even as I type this I’m still in my creativity funk. And I know exactly how that happens.

You see, freelance writing (or having any type of business) you wear a ton of different hats. Your creative mojo is on all the time – from brainstorming posts to pitch to creating content for clients. Your marketing efforts also have to be on full blast, thinking of ways to make money and diversify your portfolio. I’ve been dipping into my creative pool a lot since January started, my brain having to churn out ideas, figure out how to get them on paper, then make them perfect and sell the mess out of them.

Having a flexible schedule is great, but when everyone gets to home at 5pm, my work day is really getting started. My daughter has become a lot more demanding so many nights I don’t start work until she goes to sleep at 8pm. My writing has to be on until 12:30 am some nights. Then I have to turn around and be up for my baby girl at 7am, who has her own set of play dates, reading programs, and classes (because keeping her entertained keeps the tantrums away). Even still I’m checking and sending emails during her meal times.

Don’t even ask me when the last time I slept in was. It takes a lot not to check my phone when I go to bed at night and first thing in the morning. I have trouble getting a good night’s sleep because my mind is always going. Will I meet this deadline? Will that client book my services? Can I make enough money?

No wonder I’m tapped out by the time it comes to my blog! My mind is drained, for reals!

Instead of freaking out, I’m just going to take a step back. Breathe. Think of all the good things I’ve been blessed with and smile. I’ll be all right.

I’ll do just fine. :)

Tell me, when was the last time you just felt so spent? What did you do to get over it?

How to Make This Your Best Blogging Year

lissarankin.com

lissarankin.com

Happy New Year!

Whenever a New Year comes around, we start breaking out the pads of paper and start getting those resolutions together.  I actually started writing down my 2014 game plan about a week before, taking the same approach I did last year.  I accomplished the one and only goal I set for myself last year and I couldn’t be happier.  This year, I have a lot more goals, compiling nice sized lists on all home fronts (personal, blogging, and business) but I’m not worried.  I came out of 2013 a brand new person, more fearless and more focused.

That’s what I want for you guys this year.

I want you to accomplish those blogging goals you set for yourself because nothing feels better than knowing you completed what you set out to do when the next New Year’s Day comes around.

For today’s post, I’ve accumulated not only my own blog posts but others from blogs I read on a daily basis that can help you have your best blogging year ever.  From making resolutions to taking your blogging to the next level, these are great articles to get you started and keeping it going well into 2014.

Want to make blogging resolutions but don’t know where to start?

A New Year, A New Look, and New Resolutions: Need some ideas for resolutions?  Here were some of mine that I set for myself when I rang in 2012.

10 Writing Resolutions for the New Year: Bloggers are writers in the end and we all know that content is king when it comes to our blogs. This awesome list from About Freelance Writing can help you figure out what you need to take your writing to the next level.

Friend Friday: Learning the Hard WayI find that learning from other people’s mistakes is a great place to start when it comes to doing things better when it comes to blog. I share the missteps I made in my blogging journey so I can save you the time (and trouble!).

Fashion Bloggers, It’s Time to Step It Up!: Fashion bloggers have been getting a bad rep the past few years and the only way for us to be taken seriously is take our craft seriously. Aside from my rant on the state of blogger affairs, I give some ideas on how to improve your blog.

Ready to put those resolutions into action?

You’ve Set Those Blogging Goals – So What’s your Plan?: One of the downfalls of making resolutions is making them without a plan. In this post I show you how to break down your goals into smaller, action items that will help you accomplish what you set out for yourself.

Get It Done, Girl! Lessons Learned From Daddy Darling: Our fashion favorite Gala Darling goes into more depth on breaking down goals, including a system on how to prioritize along with a good healthy kick in the pants to help you to stop procrastinating.

Every blogger suffers from burnout or writer’s block.  Here’s how you can overcome it.

It’s Okay to Take a Break (Your Blog Will Thank You!): This is for that midyear slump that happens when you’ve been hitting the ground hard with your blog since the New Year. Sometimes doing too much can leave you not wanting to do anything. I’m here to tell you that it’s quite okay (and sometimes very necessary) to take a blogging break.

Taking Time to Regroup (and What to Do in the Meantime): Decided to finally take that break? Here are a few things that you can do to keep those creative juices flowing so you’ll be good to go when you do get back into blogging.

Fierce Vlog: Stepping Out of the Box With Your Blog: Writer’s block still hanging around? In this video I talk about how stepping out of your own comfort zone can open up a world of content possibilities.

Want to take the leap into professional blogging land?

Want To Go Pro? 4 Things You Need To Do FirstBefore you jump into the freelancing world, here are four things you need to do first so you’ll go in prepared.

What it Really Takes to Make a Living Writing: Carol Tice is one of the leading freelance writing bloggers and her site is full of super useful information when it comes to having a writing career. I chose this article because she really breaks down what you really need to write for a living and after a year of doing this full time, you’re going to need to do every last one of them.

2013: Money and Lessons: When I think of a blogger who knows how to hustle and make things happen, Krystal comes to mind. She’s the blogger behind Miss Business and after reading all the things she had to do and sacrifice to make her product line come into fruition, I was definitely inspired.

The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs: Okay, are you ready to be a professional blogger?  Sophie Lizard (aka the Freelance Blogging Guru) has put together an amazing list of websites that pay at least $50 a post.  After you check out this list, run over to her website Be a Freelance Blogger.  The posts on there are ah-mazing.  I literally read this blog every single day.  Like every.single.day.

Time for you to share the love!  What was the latest post you’ve read that has got you moving this New Year?  Make sure you share a link in comments!

Want To Go Pro? 4 Things You Need To Do First

madamenoire.com

madamenoire.com

Have you been blogging for awhile and want to make it your full time job?  I talked about being a full time writer for years, dreaming about it when I filed into work every day.  I finally took the leap January of this year and let me tell you, I love what I do!  That doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park by any means. I’m working harder than I ever have and I’ll be the first one to tell you it’s not as glamorous as you may think.  It takes a lot of work, persistence, some serious planning, and realistic expectations.  Freelancing is not for the faint of heart and it takes awhile to be able to make the full time money you may be used to.  I freelanced on the side for years before leaving my job and I’m super fortunate to have a very supportive husband.

So if you’re serious about making blogging your profession, here’s what you need to do first.

Create a Business Plan

Blogging professionally is a business – you are the company, boss, employee, and brand.  You have to sell yourself and your blog.  In that respect, you need a business plan.  It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy, but it does have to be detailed enough that you have a clear idea of who you are as business, where you want to go, and what you have to do to get there.  I wrote a business plan for my blog two years ago, using Yuli Ziv’s fashion blogging book as a guide.  She breaks down everything, asking the questions you need the answers to in order to have a clear vision of your business.  Some of those questions I asked myself while putting it together were things like:

  • Why does your blog exist and how is it different from all the others?
  • What services will you provide?
  • Who is your target market? (i.e who are the people who will be reading your blog? Age? Gender? Occupation)
  • How is your blog going to make money?
  • What’s your competitive edge?

This step is essential because it’s your big game plan that will set the tone for everything else you do to make your writing dream a reality.  Take your time with it.  Put in some serious thought. Then move on to the next step.

Do Your Research

Now you know exactly what type of blogging business you’re getting into, look up people who are doing the same thing you want to do.  I love reading bios because they not only give me a better idea of who the writer is and what the site is all about, it gives me a sense of perspective.  Many of the professional writers I aspire to took at least 5 years to get to where they need to be.  That means, I’m probably not going to be at their level in one year or even two.    Another thing you need to look for?  What they’re doing right, what you need to learn to be just as good as they are, and what you can offer that they can’t.  Also, look into groups and blogs that are catered to type of business you want to do.

Break Down the Business Plan into Smaller, Attainable Steps

Now it’s time to break down your game plan into smaller, more bite sized steps.  Setting small weekly and monthly goals will make the journey to your dream job less overwhelming.  It also gets you into the habit of staying organized and meeting deadlines – two major skills you need when you strike out on your own. I go into more detail about this here, sharing my experience with breaking down blogging goals.

Get Busy!

You’ve got your plan.  You’ve got your research.  Now it’s time to put it into action.  This is what separates dreamers from doers.  Opportunities aren’t going to fall into your lap and life is too short to put those ambitions on hold.  I’m not saying you have to quit your day job tomorrow but I am saying you need to start taking those steps you outlined in your plan so you can get much closer to your goals.

I would love to hear from you!  Tell me about your blogging dreams.  What are you doing to reach them?

I’ve got a lot more blogging advice for you here but before you do, make sure you enter the #PlusSizeGiveaway.  $500 in gift cards can really help get your blogging dreams off the ground!