BY HAYLI GOODE
Even before going to college, I knew that writing was my jam. It gave me energy, focus and, like a good book, allowed me to escape the world for a little bit. So when I was all settled in my dorm and had somewhat adjusted to a new season in my life, I started my own personal blog. It lasted about a month, and then I got too busy trying to juggle the world.
After my freshman year of college, I got this amazing opportunity to intern at a reputable photography studio in a large city. There, I acted as a photographer’s assistant, blogger and stylist. All of the responsibility made me wish I would have started my own personal fashion blog. Now, three years later, I still feel that longing.
I was fortunate enough to keep that internship throughout my sophomore year of college and split it with another opportunity the summer before my junior year. I was writing at least five fashion posts a day. Even better, I wasn’t getting exhausted by the topics. In fact, I expanded the blog to include news, fashion tips for mothers/seniors/kids/prom, etc.
The only problem was, I was doing it for other people. Not for myself.
The same year I got the internship, major fashion bloggers started becoming popular. When I interned in New York this past summer, I was able to meet some of those bloggers myself (total fangirl moment).
I held onto my dream of starting a blog, but never got around to doing it. As college continued, I got heavily involved in student media, took advantage of extra opportunities (hello, Olympics!) and got heavily involved in my academics. I was definitely writing, but not writing for myself.
I also got more and more passionate about social issues. Human trafficking has always been an injustice close to my heart. I realized that this is what a personal blog is about. I would be able to write about the things I cared about, and develop a portfolio to show employers and finally write about what I wanted to. So, no matter where I was, every time an idea popped in my head, I would add a note in my phone.
Now, that list is 30 categories long… and my blog is at a total of zero posts. I’m not usual one for the typical New Years Resolutions (I’ll admit, years of failure has me exhausted), but this year, I made one. And I made myself write it down and sign it.
I finally wanted to start my blog.
Whenever friends would ask me about this, I would get common responses like “Oh you just want to be like your own entrepreneur.” or “Are you trying to make it big like all those other fashion bloggers?” Or, my personal favorites, “Don’t you know fashion blogging is kind of dying?” and “Think of how many Instagram followers you’re going to get!”
But. Just. No. I didn’t want to start this blog because of the Instagram followers or the possibility of it turning into a major thing. I had serious doubts that it would. Instead, I wanted to start a blog because I discovered there was a market for clothes made my human-trafficked survivors. And I discovered there was a market for blogs like the one I wanted to start. And because I wanted to write about what I wanted to write about when I wanted to write about it (aka at 2 a.m. when I can’t sleep and am on my fifth episode of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.)
Please, don’t get me wrong. I have had the best experiences writing for the best publications and still about topics that I wanted (ahem, Bustle). But I know having the leadership and knowledge of managing my own blog would gift me with invaluable lessons that I could carry on with me to a job. And, there’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to developing your own voice.
I’ll admit, it was difficult at first to force myself to sit down and do it, especially since I’m still freelancing as my day job, but this was important. Here are some tips for how I developed the willpower — hopefully they’ll encourage you to get typing, too.
1. Appreciate The “Me Time”
I viewed my time to blog as time to myself. Even though I no longer live with five girls in one house, it’s still nice to shut myself in my room and get a personal project done. Treat your dedicated blogging time just like you would an important school or work meeting, and don’t blow it off for anything.
2. And The Place To Store Your Thoughts
There’s no sweeter feeling than having a brilliant (OK, or at least kinda good) idea for a story come to you out of no one where. Sometimes those ideas don’t have a place in the publications I’m working for so they just sit in my mind, taking up space. Having a place to write all your ideas down helps come up with even moregood ideas, no matter what industry you work in.
3. Make It A Priority
This was possibly the hardest part of starting my blog. I needed to make it as important as showing up to my internship on time or applying for X amount of jobs a day. If a friend asks to go to dinner during your personal blogging time, tell them you can meet an hour later.
4. Add It To Your To Do List
In college, I operated on a to-do list. I would fill my planner each day with homework, meetings, and other things I needed to accomplish that day. Turns out, that was good practice for the real world. I still have that need to cross everything off that list before I go to bed. It makes me want to do it, even when I don’t particularly feel like writing.
5. Don’t Strive For Perfection
It sucks, but it’s going to happen. Some days, I you’re going to be too busy to finish a blog post, or I realize I’m going to need to contact another source before I can publish a piece. Failing has always been something I’ve struggled with, so I’m learning to give myself grace. Just make sure you don’t fall into a habit of skipping days of writing — that’s the easiest way to get off track. Worst comes to worst, always ending the day with a dance party is one sure-fire way to go to bed feeling better.
6. Be Proud Of Yourself No Matter What
It might just be a little side project, but hey, at least you’re doing something. So far, I have created those 30 blogs and am getting pictures and designs to publish with them. My resolution may be off to a shaky start (my unrealistic expectations wanted me to post a blog every day…) but it’s actually happening. And I’m going to choose to be proud of myself.
Photo via Nicole April/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)