Reflecting on My 1 Year Blogiversary: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned After a Year of Blogging
I can’t believe it’s already time to celebrate my 1 year blogiversary! In 2018, I decided to start The Cocktail Snob blog because, like many creatives, I was looking for a creative outlet, a space on the internet I could call my own. In addition, I thought blogging would be a great way to get back into the habit of writing more regularly as I prepare to go back to school for a Ph.D (I’m obviously a glutton for punishment).
When I started this blog, I could never have predicted that I would connect with amazingly talented people and that it would open up a world of opportunities I’d never even dreamt of. I’ve rubbed shoulders with who’s who in the spirits industry, been inspired by fellow bloggers, and drank more cocktails than I care to admit.
The Cocktail Snob turns 1 this week and in honor of this milestone, I’m sharing 10 lessons I learned this year through my blogging journey.
Establishing Your Own Goals is Important
Comparing yourself to Blogger Brittany is not good for your mental health and it’s not gonna help with your writer’s block either. It’s so important to establish your own goals and remember that you and other bloggers might have different goals and/or different paths to the same goal. But it’s always important to remember why you started and what you’re hoping to accomplish.
You Don’t Need to Be an #influencer to Have an Impact
This one is worth repeating-You don’t need to be an influencer to have an impact. Whether you have 10 followers or 10,000 followers doesn’t matter anymore. As cliche as this phrase has become, engagement is the most important. If you have a small group of people who support you and find value in your work, then what you’re doing is impactful.
Blogging is Not a Passive Activity
In addition to writing, it’s all about shooting your shot- to brands, to bars, PR people. If you want people to read and consume your content, you have to grab the bull by the horns to find ways to promote yourself and your work.
You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Every Opportunity
Every blogger will tell you that when a brand, restaurant, or bar reaches out, big or small, it’s pretty exciting. That’s because that usually means they’ve visited your website or noticed you on social media and they were impressed.
However, not every opportunity that comes your way is for you. The other day a brand reached out to me via email and told me how much they loved my writing and they wanted to partner with me to promote their product. They felt it was something my readers would enjoy. The product they wanted me to promote? Shapewear for women.
I know what you’re thinking- what the hell does that have to do with cocktails? It doesn’t. But I think if I tried really hard, I could have made a connection. Ultimately, I said no because people don’t visit my blog to learn about shapewear. They come here to get cocktail recipes and find out where to drink. Although I was excited to be contacted by a brand, this was not the right opportunity for me. And I had to let them know I would pass.
You Don't Need to Be Paid to Promote a Brand/Product
A lot of folks disagree with me on this point. Some will tell you that if a product is not #sponsored, you’re not doing an #ad, or your meal is not comped, you should never mention the name of a product or showcase them on your blog/social media. I beg to differ. If you genuinely love a brand and you’re already using one of their products, don’t be afraid to mention it. It's okay to tag them in your posts. You might even get noticed by the brand. Plus, if you only talk about a product or restaurant when you’re getting paid to do so, what does that say about your credibility and authenticity?
I Don't Want to Blog Full Time and That's Okay
Sis likes health insurance and a steady paycheck. Sis is me. I am sis. I’ve met so many bloggers who are counting down the days until they can quit their 9-5 and make blogging their sole source of income. I commend these folks. It takes a lot of guts to leave the structure of a 9-5 to be a freelancer or entrepreneur. And I get it. Some people really dread going to work everyday. For a lot of people, working for themselves and carving out their own entrepreneurial path is their ultimate goal. Personally, I don’t thrive in that kind of environment. I require structure, structure, and more structure.
Being a full-time blogger is not my goal at this time in my life. I work in Higher Education and I’m so grateful that God has put me in a place where I can have a positive impact on students, especially ones that look like me. As the first person in my immediate family to attend college, my college admissions journey was difficult because my family and I were not familiar with the college admissions process. And after successfully completing college and graduate school, I feel strongly that I should use my experience to help other first-generation college students find their way.
I love cocktails but I feel very fulfilled in my work and I just can’t imagine leaving my students behind. At least not right now.
Rep Your Set
Be your biggest cheerleader! If you don’t tell people about you and represent your brand, you can’t expect others to. And it’s so important to have an elevator pitch, which leads me to my next lesson.
The Elevator Pitch is Essential
As soon as you tell people you have a blog, their immediate response is “What is your blog about?” For me, the obvious answer is cocktails but that doesn’t provide much information. Am I a bartender? Am I a brand ambassador for a spirit company? Do I advertise cocktails? These are questions that can be answered in a 1-2 sentence elevator pitch. So, what I usually say is “On my blog, The Cocktail Snob, I help people discover great cocktails in NYC and share cocktail recipes so people can create happy hour at home.” Simple and to the point. In the blogosphere, connections are very important and you have about 5 seconds to introduce yourself before the other person loses interest. So it’s important to have a solid elevator pitch.
Get You a Tribe
Whether it’s a tribe of creatives with different niches or a tribe of bloggers with similar interests as you, you need people. People you can commiserate with, cry with, celebrate with. Yes, your mom and your husband are a great support system. But, you need people who are going to be in the trenches with you grinding-people who understand what it’s like to stay up until 2am working on a blog post. The support of a community is essential and there are so many virtual and irl communities that you can join to get the support you need.
Don’t Lose the Joy
If at any point on your creative journey, you start to hate what you’re creating, you either need to take a break or leave it alone for good. If it stops being fun, don’t do it. Plus, it’s your blog so you make your own rules. If I need a break from social media, I won’t post. If I’m feeling creatively burnt out, I don’t write. If I don’t feel like going to an event, I stay my ass home. It’s that simple.
Most importantly, my blog is not a measure of my self worth. I made a vow to myself that if this ever starts to become stressful or unenjoyable, I’m gonna hang it up.