Monday, March 12, 2018

Tips for New College Bloggers

Hello, beautiful! It took a long time for me to really see myself as a "college blogger" - you know, as a member of that scary-but-actually-not-so-scary community of successful niche bloggers. But one year and 72k monthly Pinterest views later, I think I've finally "made it" to legit college blogger status! (Although let's be honest: when you're a blogger, have you ever really "made it"? I don't think so.)

Last week, I had the privilege of getting to know Laila of Laila Anne Co. in person (we're sorority sisters now!) and our conversation on blogging really put my past and present successes (and failures!) into perspective. It was so nice to sit down and just talk to someone else who gets it - because let's face it: all my non-blogger friends just think I'm weird and bring my camera everywhere for fun. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I easily get caught up in the pressure to keep working, working, working toward the next big thing. But how often do we hard hustlers actually stop to reflect on how much we've already accomplished?

Well, this post is my way of doing just that - while providing some helpful tips that my fellow bloggers can actually apply to their careers. I'll be looking back on some of my biggest mistakes and greatest successes as a blogger while I share with you my best tips for those of you who might be new to the blogging scene. Here we go!

Don't Be a Cookie Cutter

There's a tremendous amount of pressure in niche blogging to be just like everyone else. In college blogging, for example, there are a couple go-to topics you can never go wrong with if you want traffic: spring break, finals, etc. 

But if we're being honest, all my most popular posts have been posts where I chose to take a risk and break the mold! My number one post to this date is my post on being pre-law - and while I'm not pre-law anymore, I think it was the fact that there aren't that many undergrad pre-law bloggers out there that helped propel my post to success.

Another example? My posts on being in a sorority are always a hit! While many other college girls are in a sorority, not many girls write posts targeting chapter women or talking about much other than recruitment itself. By taking something I'm passionate about and capitalizing on it, I was able to achieve much more success than I would have if I'd just blindly followed trends. 

That's why I encourage you not to be a cookie cutter of every other popular college blogger out there. It's great to have role models and girl crushes - but I guarantee that if you spoke to any of those people in person, they'd tell you to be yourself above all else. 

Readers, like dogs and babies, can sense when you're being fake. It's that genuine sense of passion and connection they're looking for. And besides: if you're interested in something no one else has written about, chances are there are tons of girls just like you waiting to read about it! So take a chance and put your story down on paper (well....Wordpress).

Spread the Word

Another mistake I made as a new blogger was trying to hide my blog from family and friends. And believe me: I get why I did it, and why you might do the same thing. Friends who don't understand how you spend your time can be relentless with the teasing, and tend to think you're weird for spending twenty minutes grabbing the perfect shot at brunch! 

On the other hand, confidence is key in getting anything you want in life, including blogging success. If you want to be a big blogger, then don't hide your work from the spotlight! Encourage your friends and family to hit up your blog - and share it with their friends and family. 

And speaking of family, I know firsthand how tough breaking the news of your blog to your family members can be, especially when they are unsupportive. Although my family thought I was weird at first for spending so much time on my blog, they eventually came around when they saw me getting sponsorships and free products in the mail, seeing what good this blog has been doing for my career.

My best tip? Prepare your best pitch for naysayers to explain the importance of your blog in your life, and don't be afraid to share, share, share! After all, retweet accounts and hashtags can only get you so far. It's word of mouth and that personal connection that really get people invested in what you do, and you absolutely need your friends and family behind you to make that happen.

Burst the Blogging Bubble

Speaking of spreading the word, that goes for your fellow bloggers, too! Don't live in a "blogging bubble" where you put your own content out there and never share other people's work. The best way to achieve blogging success, like any kind of success, is with a team of supportive, likeminded people behind you - and to get there, you need to build professional and personal connections with other bloggers.

So, support your fellow bloggers as much as you can: read, tweet, share and comment on their work! Make response posts to interesting things they've written, link to them in a roundup post or encourage your fans to follow them, too! Most of my best blogging connections were made by simply reaching out and being myself.

And that's another thing: don't feel pressure to act like someone you're not in the blogging community. In my opinion, the blogging community is built on individuality, not on leading the "perfect life," as some people have suggested. And when people join the blogging community who aren't putting forward their truest, best selves, well...let's just say it doesn't reflect well on any of us.

So, how do you make connections with bloggers you've never met IRL? It's simple, really: reach out! Email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram...whatever way you can get in touch, pop in to say hi. No matter how many followers they have (well, as long as they're not uber-famous like Zoella), they'll almost always take the time to appreciate a fellow blogger by lifting them and their work up to their audience. 

If you only remember one thing I've said, remember that you can always just say hi! Because what's the worst that could happen? (I know I will always take the time to answer you guys!)

What's your best tip for blogging success? LMK in the comments below!