My blog turns one year old on the 10th of June 2018.
The past year has been the most rewarding, fulfilling, challenging and fun year I’ve had.
These are some of the lessons I’ve learnt in one year of blogging
Blogging is different to knitting
For me, blogging could never be something as simple as a hobby. To me, blogging is a job like any other. I chose to continue to work after having a baby. “Blogging” is my job.
Nothing in life is for free, not even in blogging
If I was going to make the choice that content creation would not get in the way of me living my life, I was not going to be able to do everything for “free” forever.
It’s okay to make personal choices about when I do want to work for “free”. But, I made the choice for my writing and content creation to be public and a benefit to others too, therefore I was going to have to put some discipline into practice. As my way of life and influence was becoming beneficial to public interest, it meant that all of my living expenses, therefore, became cost to company. If I were to publish every single post about every single thing for nothing, or just in exchange for a product/service in return for my work, I would be doing it at the terminal cost of my life and that of my family.
Influencer Marketing (Blogging) is not a very respected occupation
It is a common public belief that Influencers try to score a free ride through life. And that’s okay. What others believe doesn’t have to make any impact.
It’s is also totally unnecessary to try to change common public belief. People who don’t pay my bills don’t need to know what goes into my job.
My stats and figures are important to me, but they actually don’t mean anything
There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers who don’t have a proper understanding of their own figures. Some don’t understand the difference between calculating engagement by followers and calculating engagement by reach. But, more importantly, at this stage of my journey, it appears many brands and PR companies generally don’t know which figures are most important to them for any particular campaign. “Reach” doesn’t mean anything. “Engagement” doesn’t mean anything. While it means the world to me when my readers, my friends or my family comment on my posts and engage with my content, the figures mean nothing.
The only figures that count (or should count) for a client are Influence/Sales. The only figure that counts for me is Job Satisfaction and my ability to deliver on the objectives.
I am the only person who needs to be happy with my figures. When there is something wrong with my figures, I am the only one who can change it. “Reach” figures and “Engagement” figures don’t measure Influence.
The saying “Stats Don’t Lie” is a lie
“Reach” figures and “Engagement” figures don’t measure Influence/Sales, as mentioned above. When I go to a Gin Festival 50 000 people may have heard about a bottle of gin at the festival on the radio. 35 people may be physically talking about this gin around the stand at the festival. It still doesn’t measure how many people bought the bottle of gin.
Understandably, clients generally also don’t ask for reports on private messaging or private feedback from readers who have bought their products. Many Influencers don’t have the capacity to even attend to their private mailboxes. I think it would be rather unfair for Puma to expect Kylie Jenner to tell them what her fan privately asked her about the pair of shoes she advertised. Or maybe it’s not unfair? Many Micro Influencers don’t even respond to their public comments, never mind private messages.
Then we also have engagement pods in this industry. We have a lot of brands and fellow bloggers following us and authentically engaging on our posts too. They are sometimes the very people chatting to us and engaging on a piece of content, whether sponsored or not. Are they skewing the stats? Instagram records every one of my replies to a reader as a comment. Is it the same as when you remove yourself from your Google Analytics tracking on your website? Whether it’s the same or not, it’s going to change the stats. Stats do lie.
One would need a professional auditing company to measure your stats if you want to do it properly. It can take forever, depending what you want to measure.
Bloggers/Influencers/Content Creators are Sales People for Brands. They are just not officially on the payroll.
Working with a rate card doesn’t work for me
I am no longer working with Medical Companies and massive Pharma, giving them ad space in a digital medical magazine. I am not running a newspaper or a magazine or working with editors and handing over to production. There is no separate production office where designers are taking material and artwork that was given to me to fill “space”. What I’m doing now is a different kind of “publishing house”.
I am now creating the artwork, I am the editor, I am the production office, I am admin, accounts, legal, logistics, cleaning, everything. I am also the publisher, and I host and manage the interactive content for the lifetime of the content. Sometimes I do everything by myself. Sometimes freelancers help me. It all depends on the requirements of the content that is filling the space.
I battle to charge R10 each to two different people with different requirements when the one person requires five days of my time as well as a few hours of time by three other people, and the other person requires 45 minutes of my time only.
Content isn’t always King
Not every single piece of my content is great. Furthermore, it’s unpredictable. Sometimes I anticipate that a piece of content will do well, and it doesn’t. Other times I anticipate that a competition will perform poorly, and it goes viral long before I boost it.
Just like in any other job for any other person, some days are better than others. Roger Federer doesn’t win Wimbledon every time. He can also have a bad day at the office. It doesn’t make him a bad player.
Consistency is crap
I can’t be consistent. I cannot churn out a blog post on a set calendar of every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or blah blah. And that’s okay. Being consistent like that will totally steal my joy and defeat the purpose of why I do what I do.
I can, however, be extremely consistent when it comes to my work ethic and my commitment to my readers.
Comparison is human and natural, but toxic and unnecessary
I need to be mindful of the difference whenever I compare myself to anyone with regards to anything.
Comparing ourselves to each other is as natural as it is for territorial mammals like elephants. It is inherent. It is part of the survival instinct we are born with. The most self-actualized people cannot 100% abstain from comparing themselves to others.
Comparison is bullshit though. It is not necessary for me to compare myself to a picture of Natalie Portman before I go to the beach. It’s toxic. I have evolved. Natalie Portman and I are not two elephant bulls in must in a tiny radius of the Pilanseberg Game Reserve.
Furthermore, in Blogging there is a choice of more than 150 million bloggers who are “publishing houses” to unique audiences. And there are billions of different brands to suit the different bloggers. The comparison is a waste of time and energy, for me. I become aware of my natural instinct very quickly when I start comparing. I need to deter it.
The Algorithm is not against me
The algorithm is a computer code that is working in the background of the social media platforms to optimize the experience of my readers. Based on the technical specifications of my content, it decides (on my behalf) who will see the content, how many people will see it, and when they will see it. And that’s a good thing.
My readers are not on any social platforms because of me or Poppet Patch. They are on the platforms because they enjoy the experience. If my readers leave the platform, they also leave me. So, I appreciate the algorithm’s help to constantly update in an attempt to maximize everyone’s experience.
It was important for me to make friends
The blogging community is no different to school, the mom community or any other community in life. Not everyone wants to be your friend. And that’s okay.
When you arrive at a new school and you find friends to have lunch with, they are likely going to be either welcoming or a bit off-ish. Those who are nice at first may decide a bit later on that they prefer to rather smile and wave. It is also not compulsory at any school to take part in jealousy, hatred, bullying and bashing. It is within your rights if you choose not to take part in the negativity. When you show people some love, or send some kindness, it is also not compulsory for them to return it.
You can choose your friends and they can choose you. And your new friends will be one of the most important ingredients in your blogging recipe. They become an extension of your family. By the time your blog turns one, it feels like they have been your friends for a hell of a long time.
It’s okay if I don’t always fit in with industry standard
If I choose not to do something that “everyone else” is doing, it’s okay. People won’t hate me. People won’t care. If I choose to deliver prizes myself or anything else that’s not “standard”, it’s okay. It doesn’t actually matter. Some people feel comfortable always going with the flow. Some people feel like dead fish when they are permanently going with the flow. We’re all different.
I don’t like scheduling posts
My blog is a tiny bit of insight into my life itself. My content is totally authentic so when I start scheduling because I’m going to be unavailable, it steals my joy. When I go on a holiday that is a pure holiday and I am not active for a few weeks, my platforms are still there when I get back. And so are my loyal readers and fans. I don’t think they really notice or care too much when I’m away. I mean that in a good way. My loyal readers get that I am human, just like them.
I can’t be everywhere at the same time
Just like I can’t be at the grocery store, behind the stove, or playing with my child all at the same time – I also can’t be on my website, on Instagram and on Facebook all at the same time. And that’s okay. While I can’t be everywhere at the same time, I also don’t have to be everywhere at the same time.
My platforms grow according to where I spend my time
Where I sow, I reap. My flowers grow where I plant my seeds. If I spend my time and effort on Facebook, then Facebook blossoms. If I go and do my gardening in a different patch for a while, like on Instagram, then Instagram blossoms. This also relates to the law of relativity. Time doesn’t pass at the same rate for everyone. And that’s okay.
It’s okay for me to ask for help
It’s okay for me not to be good at everything. If I’m not very good with the technical stuff like SEO, it’s okay to get someone else to help me with that. If a poet is good at writing poems, it’s okay for him to get a publisher to help him to publish his book. Being a Content Creator, Influencer and Digital Sales Artist is no different from being an artist who can paint, draw and write but can’t necessarily sculpt.
I can do whatever I want to do
As long as my actions keep coming from a place of Love and Gratitude, I can do whatever the heck I want to do.
This is the best job I’ve ever had
I’ll be celebrating my 20-year work anniversary this year. I started working as a waitress when I was 15. After school, I worked as a waitress in London for two years. I qualified as a Marketing Manager and worked in Business Development in the corporate industry in Cape Town. After working for two years in the United Arab Emirates and four months in Kenya I returned to Johannesburg and started a career in Digital Advertising. I’ve always had a passion for people, for working and for job satisfaction. When I was pregnant I didn’t think that I would be able to juggle all the balls and continue to work. You can read the Letter to my Daughter on her First Birthday to find out about how Poppet Patch was born.
In the last twelve months, I have learnt about a Job Satisfaction like no other.
It’s okay for me to be different!
Happy First Blog Birthday to me. I don’t actually know how to thank my readers and all the people who have brought me to my first birthday. I feel a little bit like a one-year-old child who is smashing her face into a cake – almost like blissfully unaware of what is actually going on, but very well aware of how much fun it is to smash this cake, right here, right now.
Except, I won’t be smashing a cake, I’ll be smashing some gin and tonics on Sunday 10th of June!
With Love and Gratitude,
*This is not a sponsored blog post
*Featured imaged was sponsored by Leigh Benson for the Pampers Splashers swimming nappy campaign.
P.S Throwback to our very first shoot on 26th of May 2017
Special thanks to collaborating partners who sponsored products and services for the Poppet Patch launch campaign. In no particular order:
- Life Baby South Africa
- Ambre Gems
- The Little Closet
- Bugs Unlimited
- Cherise Brady Photography
- Epimax Baby
- Eucerin International
- Annapatat Kids
- Baby Tastes
- The Cotton Company South Africa
- Jellycat London
- Matchstick Monkey
- Poppet Post
Did you Know?
I worked as a Business Development Executive in the Plumbing Industry in Nairobi for four months during the height of the Al Shabaab Terrorist Attacks. I had a driver and we sometimes sat in traffic for four hours a day. That time was allocated for me to work in the car, to do my admin and make my appointments, etc. I spent most of that time getting to know my driver and learning about Kenya, the places, the politics and the people instead.
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