So it turns out that my first “Blogiversary” (thanks, Dad) completely escaped me a couple of weeks ago. Whoops. In belated honor of the occasion, here are the Top 10 Things I Learned During My First Year of Blogging, accompanied by a few of my favorite snapshots from the past year. It hasn’t always been pretty or easy, but man has it been fun. Here’s to many more!
1. Hire Professionals– If I could impart one lesson to you, it would be this. Always. Hire. Pros. Amateur work looks amateur. I’m sorry, but it does. The best money I spend is on my photographer, Michele LoBosco. I know that I have a limited amount of time and attention when it comes to my readers. Some are just going to look at the photos. Having Michele shoot those guarantees that my blog looks exactly like I want it to- beautiful and editorial. Professional hair and makeup is also key. Cameras don’t lie. Make sure you pack on enough concealer and hair spray to look camera-ready. 2. Take Risks– Granted, starting a business is a risk all on its own. But my favorite outfits and posts have been the ones that I wasn’t sure about. The ones that I didn’t know how people would respond. Maybe the outfit was too loud or the post was too personal. But, more often than not, I’ve been glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone. It makes it easier that you’re doing it on the internet, too. You’re one step removed, which makes the leap feel safer.3. Surprising Support– This was perhaps the most surprising part of the past year. Your support will come from unlikely places. My family is my greatest supporter, of course. But I was shocked to find that some of my biggest fans are acquaintances or total strangers. Equally surprising was the fact that some people who I expected to be very supportive were completely disinterested. Who knew? But, I guess that when you throw something out there, you never know who you’re going to attract or, likewise, turn off. 4. Location, Location, Location– In my experience, better locations equal better photos. Period. Bonus points if you can contrast your ensemble with your surroundings. (If you don’t believe me, see my Gaultier gown in a lion enclosure above.) Los Angeles is a huge supporting character in my story. I love showcasing her diversity in all its glory. Plus, it just makes things more interesting than another street corner.
5. Butt + Chair = Pages– I learned this a while ago in a screenwriting class and it’s proved to be simple, yet invaluable advice. If you don’t sit and write, you’re never going to write anything. Duh. But it’s the truth. Even if you’re uninspired, keep shooting and keep writing. Some of it will be crap. But the only way you’re going to create anything, greatness or otherwise, is if you try.
6. Social Media is Everything– Despite the long hours I spend typing away, my largest audiences by far are via my social media. Attention spans are decreasing by the nanosecond; people are reading less, scrolling and double tapping more. So I’ve been writing a little less and putting a lot more effort into upping my Instagram game. Next stop, Snapchat.7. Strike While the Iron is Hot– You never know when inspiration will hit. When the mood strikes, take advantage. I will get ideas at the most inopportune of times, like in the shower, so I always try to have my phone with me. That way, I can input the thought in my Notes app before I forget it five seconds later. There’s nothing worse that remembering you had a really great idea but having no clue what the idea actually was.8. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment– Over the past year, I’ve experimented quite a bit with The LA Survival Guide. I’ve tried different blog styles, worn a bevy of outfits and shot all over town. See what works and what doesn’t, both for yourself and your readers. I’m pretty keen on tracking my stats on my blog and social media channels. These can be great indicators of what people are digging and you can steer your blog in that direction.9. Get Out There– Read, listen, watch, explore- you never know where you’ll learn something new or be inspired. I’m constantly surfing the web, trying new restaurants and strolling different neighborhoods, looking for my next great idea. That also goes for the company you keep. Creative, intelligent people spark creative intelligence in others.
10. Have Fun!– Last but not least, have a good time! If it’s not fun, stop. Because, quite frankly, it’s not worth it if you don’t enjoy the process. Yeah, it’s not all fun and games, but the overall experience should be enjoyable. It’s a lot of work but, if you love it, it will never feel like it.
Photos by Michele LoBosco