5 Lessons I’ve Learned in My Second Year Of Blogging!

I’m a day late and a dollar short with this post but earlier this month was my second blogiversary!

I have been blogging for two full years now and I thought it would be fun to keep up the tradition from my last blogiversary post & say 5 things I’ve learned about blogging in the second year.

With each blogiversary, I’ll post 5 things I learned in the respective year. I am very much in this for the long term and with each year in, I’ll learn more and more.

2017 was definitely an interesting year in the blog space. Though many more have started their blogs this year {which is SO awesome, btw!}, I don’t think it’s even hit it’s peak yet. I have a sneaking suspicion 2018 will be the year. SO- if you are thinking of starting a blog, I can’t go back to my biggest piece of advice from last year enough… just do it.

This was also an interesting year because I feel like there was a certain little a-word that haunted the social media space.. ALGORITHM. Every single time I log onto Facebook, there’s a post on it.

I’ll touch on this in one of my below points but it goes to show in this modern industry, it’s CONSTANTLY changing so you must have a strong foundation {again, my biggest tip from year 1} so you can evolve seamlessly.

Let’s get into it, shall we?!

ONE :: Your blog is simply that… yours. So make it yours.

This is the biggest lesson I learned over the past year. I touched on it a bit here, but when I first started blogging, I turned myself into the stereotypical blogger: think marble / rose gold everything, peonies, cursive script fonts, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with that… except that it wasn’t me at all. In fact, it got to the point where I hated looking at my blog because I felt like it didn’t represent me.

On top of that, I was stagnant with Instagram growth. I didn’t know what to do or how to grow because I was tagging brands, feature accounts, hashtagging, engaging, etc.

In February, Erik & I were watching a documentary on Netflix called “The 80’s”. Long story short, IT COMPLETELY spoke to me & had my a ha! moment.

I wanted to channel that period – it spoke to me and my soul in a way nothing else did. SO I started playing with my instagram, tweaking the aesthetic a bit.

I went from desaturated to technicolor and never looked back. In March, I decided to try something totally new – I used a 3D glitch effect on a photo and it was a hit. I LOVE the computer glitchy look and it got a great first impression so I stuck with it. Win-win.

My feed was much more me, and I grew about 5k since I changed things up after being stagnant for so long.

This later translated to my blog and the big 2K17 update. My blog has never felt more me. In fact, I did an instagram story when I was updating the site and did a side by side of my old & new layout and a relatively new follower of mine commented “WOW! That’s SO just not you!”

Really analyze your platform and see if it’s the image you want to portray & try something unique that not everyone is doing, you may be surprised at the result. Take a risk & if it’s a flop, just delete the photo, dust yourself off and try something else until it works. As huge as the internet is, it has a VERY short attention span. 🙂

TWO :: Your blog is YOUR BRAND, so never let other brands take advantage of it

To give some background on blogging, you are your own creative director, model, photographer, graphic designer, content creator, with your own unique vision. Each blog post takes me AT LEAST six hours, minimum. That may sound extreme, but copy takes time, editing photos takes time, taking the photos takes time… then you have to promote the post which takes even more time. Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential nailed it in this post called: Ok, SO what REALLY goes on into a blog post? It’s dead on.

Brands & influencer marketing is the future, & I love it! That is SO exciting! A brand will partner with a blogger or influencer to put their own “spin” on things. It’s a REALLY neat way to advertise and when done well, it’s beneficial to both parties… like most partnerships.

A brand will partner with you & your brand because they truly dig what YOU are doing and want to partner & join forces and put your own spin on it rather than doing it themselves and hiring & directing a model. It’s a match made in heaven.  More times than not, they will be prepared with clear contracts, rates, what they specifically expect, where to post, when to post, etc – however…. not all brands.

It’s easy in the beginning to get caught up in the allure of working with brands to add to your resume but I cannot reiterate this enough – and by following this it helps set up other bloggers for success: do NOT work for a brand unless it’s mutually beneficial. It’s the basic rule of business & it’s just the right thing to do for both parties.

Your blog is YOUR BRAND. It’s not a place for another brand to take advantage of or cheapen/undermine your work & time.

Let me tell a story :: a few months ago, a very well known brand reached out. They complemented my style, announced they were releasing a new ~futuristic~ line, said I was a perfect match, and asked if I would be interested to feature them with a good review – if so, they’d send me all the materials. I was interested but I had questions to which they only said “Okay, great!” & sent “the materials”.. aka forwarded me photos of the line.. and ended the email asking when my post would be live & the sooner the better.

I responded with my rates for ad placement, because at the end of the day, that’s what it was – they said they didn’t have a budget but could give me potential {<<< da fuq} exposure. I asked for product so I can give an accurate review & they said that’s not an option but I can join their affiliate network & can order product through there {remember, they came TO ME, not the other way around}. For those unfamiliar, that means selling their product throughout my site & making a small commission off what I sell.

Basically, they wanted me to work for “free”, praising & selling their product that I didn’t even try & they wanted me to post it ASAP. It was not an ethical ask & obviously, I didn’t accept it, despite who the brand was.

But here’s the thing. Free isn’t free. It costs ME time/money to do a post for no payout.

Working with brands is an amazing part of blogging, but it’s not the sole reason I blog. This blog is MY space, MY brand, & something I work very hard on daily and take extremely seriously.

My readers {THANK YOU BTW I am so lucky for y’all} trust me to work with brands that are a good match. I’m not sorry that I’m not going to lose that trust from my readers. Selling myself out for “potential exposure” is a very easy way to do it.

Sponsored is not a bad word at all, especially in a perfect seamless partnership. If anything, it strengthens both parties. But when not done right {including lack of disclosure – this is a shady ask that happens too}, it does the opposite.

At the end of the day, if I’m going to work for “free”, it’s to work on & build my own brand, not someone else’s. And you should absolutely do the same.

THREE :: In this Instagram World, Don’t Lose Focus Of Your Blog

Who knew that such a fun photo app in 2012 would cause QUITE the commotion and impact?!

What’s really fun about Instagram is that it IS an extension of your blog. It’s where you can give INSTANT day-of content. However, I see it happen far too often – blogs get neglected for instagram accounts.

@shannonsilver is my account on Instagram. What I mean by that is that Instagram owns @shannonsilver.

To put it bluntly, instagram can shut down tomorrow and we will lose everything there. I had a taste of it when I was in Spain – I was one of the many effected by the hack and lost my account. It was stressful, & I was very lucky to get mine back – but it showed it was completely out of my control & power.

That said, my self-hosted blog isn’t shutting down unless I shut it down. I own it, it’s my property. In this insta-world we live in, it’s easy to get wrapped up on the ‘gram, but it should NOT be a replacement for YOUR blog!

I was fortunate to have seperate phone calls with two very big bloggers this year for blogging Q&A seshes and they both had the exact same answer to the following question: “what is the biggest mistake you see bloggers do?” Their answer: putting their blog on the backburner for Instagram. That should say it all.

FOUR :: Don’t Focus on The Algorithm, Focus On Your Content, & Evolve Accordingly

If I hear the word ALGORITHM one more time, I’m going to turn into the damn algorithm & hack everyone talking about it. I actually think mr. algorithm gets a ton of unnecessary blame.

YES- it sucks when instagram keeps changing things up… but I have two choices: I can complain or evolve. And the only beneficial option is the latter. I spent a lot of time complaining and it got me nowhere.

Make sure the content you are putting out as a content creator is aesthetically pleasing and/or providing value. That right there will bring the engagement.

A popular way to “cheat the algorithm” is to join an engagement pod. However, I don’t recommend it. They are a LOT of work and energy, and remember: energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred. The energy you put into pods, you should transfer into your own account. Engage with people you actually want to engage with not ones you have to engage with because rules are rules.

Instagram is also notorious for punishing behavior that goes against & cheats it’s algorithm, so in my opinion, it’s just not worth it & cheaters never win. 🙂

Content, content, content & constantly evolving is the best way to make the algorithm your bitch vs the other way around. Ok moving on since I’m so f’ing sick of the word algorithm…

FIVE :: Do Not Underestimate Pinterest!!

Last year, I wish I used Google Drive more – this year, it’s Pinterest!

I used to LOVE Pinterest and was very active on it from 2012-2014 but it was a tool I rarely used for my blog. Sure, I’d pin a post here and there but that’s really it.

I kind of neglected it for a good year… until I went in my analytics and the monthly views were off the charts from heavy pinning years ago to this day! I was SHOCKED by the traffic I was getting on a channel that I completely neglected.

I am currently giving my Pinterest a maj makeover but it’s def something I wish I did in the beginning. It’s a great way to share & connect with other bloggers.

It’s also one of my favourite ways to create moodboards for the blog. By following my pins, you know exactly what to expect from me and so it’s a fun way to curate a new audience there looking for all things retroglam, 80’s, vaporwave, & models from decades past.

Get to pinning – I think you will be shocked at the results, not to mention it’s so fun & addicting!

It helped me with both blog traffic & instagram traffic but more importantly? It has helped me connect with other likeminded accounts & keeps me inspired.

While we’re at it :: check my Pinterest here!!

OKAY! Done. Whew, That was a lot!

NOW- I want to hear from you.

If you blog, leave it in the comments so I can stalk! I’d love to know how long you’ve been blogging for and what are some lessons you’ve learned.

Again, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, do it! It’s a lot of work but so rewarding. The community is second to none and it’s something that I truly look forward to every day. Check out my blogging resources here.

Also, to my readers – new & returning – thank you. Seriously, I can’t thank you enough. I think one of the coolest parts about blogging and the internet is how it connects human beings to human beings from all over. For that, I am so grateful.

If there’s ever anything you want to see here, let me know & I’ll make it happen.

I also have a very special Champagne Edit for another anniversary on Friday. Stay tuned! x

Love, Shannon

+++ Read my 5 lessons from my first year of blogging H E R E 

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