Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Three Years of Mimosas & Lipstick

It's funny how some things in life feel like they've taken forever, but have also only taken a day. It feels like yesterday that I was stuck in an uninspirational job, fresh out of college in an office with no windows. I was new but I felt stuck and disoriented about where to go from there. 

I saw bloggers like Courtney Shields, Lauren Sims, and Dani Austin share what they love. I soon realized that I looked forward to watching their content every day and following along with their lives. I always loved fashion and pairing outfits together because I watched my mom do it every day for work. However, the office park I was currently commuting to every day didn't really lend itself to being fashion-forward. So in my mind, I felt like my outfits were being wasted on my hour-long drives to and from work. 

I had done a little blogging in college when I interned for Jay Ducote and I really loved the process. Being a resource for others, telling a story, and getting to try new things all excited me. However, it was in the world of food which I was pretty inexperienced at it. My dad saw how much I enjoyed interning and he had urged me to start a food blog in college, but I quickly shut that down. 

"I'm not good enough."

"No one will care about what I have to say."

"I am not an expert in anything no one will read what I write."

And my dad would build me back up when I spoke that way about myself. He'd tell me that he believed in me, that I could do anything I set my mind to, and eventually he wore me down. I missed writing and what did I have to lose? 

So I started researching. I read blog posts from bloggers I idolized, I researched website domains and overhead costs. I asked for advice from people I knew like Karli Willis and Filo Garcia who had experience in the world of blogging. I used my resources to better prepare myself for the world I wanted to enter. 

And from there - I tried. I wish I could tell you that there was some magical formula or secret sauce but there isn't. I had to learn not to be afraid of failing and try new things to ultimately get where I wanted to be. 

Blogging is just like anything else in that you have to work for what you want. There was a lot of trial and error, there were some engagement groups and big giveaways which ultimately stunted my growth. There were some fellow bloggers I encountered who ultimately weren't loyal people, there were partnerships where I was scammed or overworked or underpaid but it got me to where I am today! 

Like everything else, there were some challenges I had to overcome.  People close to me in my personal life didn't understand why I worked so hard at a hobby. Others told me that I couldn't just start a blog, I put a lot of pressure I put on myself to have the 'perfect post', and my fear of what others thought of me really made my anxiety spike. I feel that blogging has really taught me to rely on myself and my visions for what I believe is possible. 

I'm all for a healthy amount of skepticism. I definitely needed the people in my life who were there for me to bring me back to down to Earth when I was overwhelmed and putting pressure on myself to constantly be online. I needed my people who helped me take photos and proofread my posts and let me crowdsource them for follower feedback. I couldn't have started this blogger journey without my close family and friends because even though they might have not understood what I was doing in the beginning, they still helped me in the ways that they could. 

My mom always listens to my stories about negotiations, collaborations, gossip, and strategies, she is honestly my hero and my best friend. I am so thankful for her.

Through my blogging journey, I have met some of my closest friends in adulthood. By looking to them for blogging support, advice, and brainstorming I was able to reach my goals, try new things, and grow my confidence levels. Redirecting my blogger questions, events, and photos to them helped formulate bigger, newer ideas that I wouldn't have been able to achieve without them. Additionally, this ultimately helped put less strain on my interpersonal relationships outside of blogging and helped me find more time to relax and decompress. 

This last year was a big one for M&L! I branched out into video content creation and editing, I reached 10K on Instagram, I went on my first few blogger trips, started my own blogger tips series on my website and I was able to connect with all of you, old and new! I landed partnerships with dream companies and landed more paid partnerships than I ever could have dreamed of - which is all in thanks to your support! I couldn't do any of this without you! 

I am honestly still in shock that I am allowed to wake up every day and do this. Whether it's a hobby or a full-time gig or something in between, knowing that I created and built a business that you all time and time again come back to means the entire world to me. 

The internet can be a harsh and cruel place. There are bullies and scammers and liars - but I like to believe this corner of the internet, our corner, has helped us through one of the craziest times in our lives. 

On my end, this year of M&L was mostly spent navigating the loss of my dad and the grief process. I truly believe that having the blog and being able to lean on this community is what got me through. So many of you have unfortunately had to navigate this type of loss as well and having you to turn to on my bad days really made a difference. There was so much support and love from so many angles regardless of different walks of life and you were all so helpful in my darkest hours. 

Looking forward to next year, I hope to continue to grow and meet more amazing people. To learn, listen, and love others, while also inspiring others. To try and share more things with you and for you to share more things with me so I can best create content that you enjoy. 

My advice to people who are thinking about starting a blog or are newer to it - if you wait for the "right time" or the "right place" or the "right relationship" or the "right weight" you're never going to do it. You're always going to find an excuse for why you can't start working toward your dreams today. If you put yourself out there, if you're coming from a genuine place, and if you're willing to learn from your mistakes and try again, you're never going to feel like you failed. 

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