At the start of 2018, I was jotting down some ideas for the vision I have for my blog in the coming new year. It was meant to be a list for my eyes only until I read a fellow blogger’s post titled Finding My Why.
As I was reading Andrea’s post, I realized that the ideas I jotted down for myself came from the same struggles she was having. How can I marry fashion with faith? How can I find the right balance where my self-worth is solely grounded in His eyes and not in the “eyes” of social media? Can I be a Christian fashion blogger without looking self-absorbed, robbing attention from the Lord, and appearing vain? Can I do this blogging thing while still remaining true to His light and being grounded in the Word? How can I project my true identify on social media without compromising the real me?
These are all questions I have been asking myself lately.
Andrea’s post was a reminder that I may not be the only one facing this internal struggle.
Blogging can be a slippery slope of comparison, competition, hitting a certain number of followers, reaching out to brands and when rejected, feeling unaccomplished or not good enough, constantly having to scratch someone’s back so they can scratch yours in return (e.g. follow for a follow, comment for a comment, etc.). It all starts to weigh you down, especially if you are new to it all. And ultimately can rob you of your joy and peace.
I love blogging, but I noticed that it tipped my balance off a bit (much). I crave balance in my life and without it I start to lose my peace very quickly. We all have that internal radar to some degree and everyone’s balance is different. But we can sense when there is “danger ahead” if we continue down the road of imbalance. Realizing this, I decided to come up with a list of practical ideas to cultivate my vision for this blog in the next coming year(s) without tipping off my balance.
Let me preface this by saying that this is in no way passing judgement on anyone who is doing or not doing any one of these things I am sharing below. This post is more about where I found my own imbalance and my solutions to getting back on track. And ultimately, pursuing my passion for blogging without being robbed of my peace and joy. Jessi Afshin from My_Darling_Diary has this quote on one of her IG posts: “If it costs you your peace, it is too expensive.” How true is that? Side note, check out her feed for some great faith-based insight and inspiration!
I am also sharing this self-reflection post with you because in documentation, there is accountability, am I right? I am not doing any one of these things 100% by any means, but these are my ideas for a framework I can live within to keep me in check as a blogger striving for authenticity and living out God’s purpose for me.
1. Exercising Self-Control to Maintain a Healthy Balance
This is broad but we all have our poison when it comes to self-control. Is it too many hours on social media? Is it the urge of wanting to buy anything and everything we see on our favorite influencers? Is it not knowing how to say “no” sometimes and setting healthy boundaries?
Looking back at these few months I have been blogging, I easily pin pointed where my self-control was starting to slip. The two areas for me were money and time management.
I wrote down some practical ways to correct my path in these two areas. For example (and this is a small example), but it is tempting to buy a cute top for $20 here and there. But revisiting the budget and setting aside a monetary budget per month for this purpose gave me a healthy boundary. This helps tremendously in exercising good decision making too in what I buy – like buying basic pieces that I need and can be used in creative ways, instead of too many pieces that I may wear once because they are just not versatile enough.
The other area was time management. There is a famous verse in Matthew 22:21 where Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s”. If you are in a similar situation where you have a full-time job but pursuing blogging on the side, it can be so tempting for blogging hours to bleed into your regular hours of the day.
Give your job its due time. Honor God by working hard, even if it is for a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy right now. Working hard through the ups and downs and the different seasons of life builds character for “building” your dream. After all, your full-time job is providing stability for you and your family today.
I wrote down a list of my daily, weekly and monthly tasks and began to designate time to these tasks, one of them being blogging of course. I noticed that I actually have pockets of idle time that I can use to be productive with my blog instead of wasting it on frivolous social media surfing.
Basically, the summary of all the above is, if time management and money is your struggle, assign each dollar and each hour of time to “something” and stick to it. This isn’t easy and takes practice! But the more specific we are with how to utilize our time and money, the better we exercise self-control for a healthy balance.
2. Setting the Standard of #Myworkhasvalue
When I received my first brand offer, asking if I can promote the brand in exchange for a free or discounted product, I was super excited! I felt like I hit the jack pot! Like so many newbie bloggers, I loved this idea. As I started to learn more about blogging and experience all the time and effort that goes into wearing multiple hats (you are a content creator, photographer, editor, writer, marketer, developer, etc.), I realized how that approach was not fair. While blogging is not my full-time job, I can only imagine how busy full-time bloggers are! I decided I did not want to contribute to an unfair standard for me or for them.
I came across Grace Belle’s hashtag #myworkhasvalue and something just clicked! The time I put into my content has value. I decided to set this as my own standard for my blog. Now when brands reach out asking for promotion in exchange of free or discounted products, I politely decline and use this hashtag in my email with my rates. The worst that can happen is that they do not accept. But at least, it is still raising awareness around this hashtag and the true worth of bloggers and influencers.
Any products and brands I promote and review on Jolie and Grace are an extension of who I am. I do share with my readers only those products that I actually use and love. On the flip side, any business transaction needs to benefit both parties. When pitching to selective brands, am I writing a purposeful pitch or a wishy-washy one that I hope sticks? In everything you do, do it with a purpose and clarity and stick to your vision. Your integrity is so much more valuable than some free/discounted products or accepting any offer that comes your way. Your work has value and a purpose.
3. Connecting Through Real-life Topics
We are naturally inspired by others’ struggles and how they overcome them. I want this blog to be multi-dimensional, a true reflection of the many facets of my own life. I need God’s purpose, and not mine, to resonate through the blog. You may think, can God really exist in a blog? Well, why not. He exists everywhere else. I don’t underestimate what God uses in His toolbox to reach others. But if He can use my blog, why not?
I am by nature a very introverted private person, but I want to start opening a bit more about the real stuff. I want to share more of who I am, rather than just sharing the “what I have”. If my vision for the blog is to inspire a well-rounded life, then I must share my own life – and fashion is only a little part of that.
Creating an editorial calendar can help in this area. I jot down all the random blog post ideas in Evernote and then plan out my blog content one month at a time. This helps me see from a bird’s eye view if I am dedicating content to one topic more than another. I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. If you have questions about it, reach out to me.
4. Praying More
Yes, I need to pray for my blog and others more! We are all here to connect and inspire one another. But why not pray for each other’s highs and lows too?
I would like to connect with others through prayer. You know the saying, you find more joy in giving than receiving and I believe in the same impact with prayer. How much more joy would I feel if I bless someone with a heart-felt prayer instead of just going down my laundry list of things I want from God?
So, on that note, I created a Prayer Request form under the About tab on my page for anyone who wants to submit an anonymous prayer request. This can be for anything, big or small. I would love for my family and I to pray for you!
5. Stopping the Comparison and Judgement and Checking in with Those Who Know You the Most
We all have heard it. Comparison robs you of your joy. Comparison debilitates you. Comparison slows you down, shifts your focus from Him to others, makes you feel all sorts of things that are just down right lies! On the same token, so is judging. As I scroll through Instagram, I cannot tell you the number of comparison and judging thoughts I have about others and myself. As if social media is that reliable as a comparison gauge.
Compare yourself to yourself only. Have a family member or a close friend examine your blog and allow them to be frank with you. Do they see anything unauthentic? Do they have advice on how you can project your true personality more on your blog? Be open for that feedback and criticism. It may take your blog to a whole new level of genuineness! Find your true persona and stick to it.
6. Shut Out All the Unnecessary Noise and Focus on One Thing at A Time
There is a reason why God is a God of order and not of chaos. And man, did I feel chaotic when I first started blogging. I can’t tell you how many offers I got bombarded with for free seminars on how to monetize my blog, how to grow my following, how to gain traffic, the “must haves” of tools and software I need for my site, I can go on and on! I felt like I was seriously drowning, and it only made me feel like I was not accomplishing anything. But that is so far from the truth.
Blogging is a constant learning curve, but you will fizzle out quickly if you do not put a limit to how much information you are allowing in. Your brain can only hold so much. Write down all the things that you want to learn or accomplish and prioritize them. Focus on one thing at a time. Remember, your favorite influencers and bloggers did not learn everything overnight. Like I said, blogging is a constant learning curve where you will keep learning year in and year out.
My blogging goal for 2018 is simple: consistency. I want to focus on churning out purposeful and consistent blog content. It is a small goal but that is what I want to focus on right now. Maybe yours is hitting a specific number of monthly pageviews, or working with a dream brand, or hitting a certain engagement percentage. No matter how big or small your goal is, just don’t over saturate yourself with so much information that you lose your focus on your primary goal(s) and get burned out.
7. Pay It Forward Without Always Expecting Something in Return
Sometimes it is just nice to highlight a fellow blogger or an influencer without asking for something in return (a follow, a comment, a shout out, etc.). This makes us human.
I understand this can’t work in all situations, especially with full-time bloggers being mindful of their competition. I get that business is business and that it is not a charity. But if you can yield occasionally to help someone else out, to highlight someone else’s accomplishment, to empower someone by teaching them something totally new, why not? I think this goes back to finding joy in the most unexpected places.
One mega influencer who makes this a point and I think this contributes a lot to her own success is Huda Kattan from Huda Beauty. Check out her Instagram feed and you will see what I am talking about. We need more of her in this industry!
I hope you find some inspiration or idea in this post that may help you if you are facing the same struggle. I want to leave you with my word and verse I chose for 2018.
Verse: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
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