Believe it or not, it’s Lipstick & Ink’s first birthday this week! It’s incredible in just one year how much I’ve learned and grown from this crazy exhausting, but extremely rewarding experience in blogging. There’s been a lot of realizations along the way, and I thought it couldn’t be more fitting than to share what those are in spirit of hitting the one year mark this week.
I’m Always Learning
When I started Lipstick & Ink a year ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I work in technology, but I’m in no means a coding expert. I felt a little over my head in purchasing my domain and building my site through WordPress. I quickly learned how much Google becomes your best friend, especially when starting your own website. I spent hours upon hours researching and making my site the best it could be. I’d try one thing and if it didn’t work, it was back to the drawing board (or back to Google). Each and every step of building Lipstick & Ink into a brand this last year has been trial and error and I’m still learning something new each and every day.
Blogging Requires Hard Work, Dedication & Consistency
Holy moly, maintaining a blog is hard work! All my fellow bloggers are probably nodding their heads, but I think if you’re not a blogger, this can be hard to understand. So, let me explain:
- First, I have to plan what I’m going to write about. Then comes writing the actual posts (which always take way longer than planned because #perfectionist). After that, I go back and edit.
- I have to take pictures or get pictures taken of me for the posts and then have to edit the photos.
- From there, I publish the posts in WordPress, while including details for SEO (search engine optimization) and integrating all the photos into the posts.
All done! Not quite.
- I then have to promote the posts on all relevant social channels, which involves deciding the right photos to post and writing out all of the captions ahead of time.
And that’s just the blog side of things. I started expanding into events a few months ago, so that adds another layer of busyness and dedication. Event planning is no easy task, either. It definitely has become a balancing act, especially while still working a full-time job.
I Need to Slow My Roll
When you start blogging, you’re thrown into an abundance of possibilities. The more you research, the more overwhelmed you get. There’s so many opportunities when it comes to blogging that it can be easy to think you have to do all the things. I’ve gotten caught up in it a few times over the last year and I’ve had to tell myself to slow down. I can’t do everything, even if I want to. It forces me to focus on the priorities.
Blogging Brings Business Opportunities
I started Lipstick & Ink because of my love for writing and helping women navigate their careers. Truthfully, making money wasn’t even on my radar. But as I launched and began growing a social following, I found that brands started to reach out to me. I also noticed more and more bloggers selling custom content like e-books and using affiliate links to get a commission off products they were recommending. I started incorporating similar strategies into my blog and working with brands on sponsored posts. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of forming strong relationships with brands and making a little extra money on the side. It’s been nice to be rewarded in that regard, especially with the amount of hours I put into Lipstick & Ink on a weekly basis.
I Need to Ask for What I Want & Deserve
I am damn proud of Lipstick & Ink – sometimes it can be hard to admit that, but I am. I put so much into this each and every day and I know that anything and everything I publish is authentic and of high quality. Because of that, I won’t work with just any brand and I won’t work for free. I explain this in more detail in this post. In working with brands, I’ve learned the art of negotiating even more than I had before in my day job. It has challenged me to ask for what I want and what I deserve. I’ve learned to stand my ground and stick to my brand and my values. I’ve also learned how to pitch to the brands I want to work with. It doesn’t always go my way and sometimes I fail. But I’ve learned through those experiences and haven’t let the “no’s” get in the way of me continuing to ask. “No” is the worst thing I’m going to hear, so I figure I’m not going to let that deter me from at least asking a question or asking for what I want.
Blogging Brings New Friendships & New Networks
Writing can get pretty lonely. And if you would have told me a year ago that I’d have a new group of blogger friends to go to events with and collaborate with, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s incredible what the power of social media can do. I met so many inspiring women this past year because of Instagram, which is so crazy but amazing to me. Meeting them IRL and going to events with them have led to even more meetings of more inspiring women. It’s an ever-growing new network of people in my life and I am so beyond grateful for that.
Not Everyone is Going to Support Me
This was probably the hardest lesson of all this year. I was confused and personally hurt when I discovered that some of my family and friends didn’t read what I writing and sharing. But I had to really think about it and bring myself back down to earth. I realized that some people just aren’t going to understand blogging and why I do what I do. And I’ve reminded myself that some people just don’t read blogs – plain and simple. And in a few rare cases, I’ve come across those who don’t support me out of jealousy. It’s an unfortunate truth and one that I don’t understand, but again, I’ve learned to accept it and move forward. Creating content for my target audience is really the only thing that matters.
I Need to Remember My Why
As I focused on growing my social followers (particularly on Instagram), I found that I was comparing myself to other bloggers. A lot of these were bloggers whose value was fashion, which is very different than mine. But still, I found myself doing things they were doing and then feeling pretty crummy about myself because I didn’t feel I was measuring up. I found myself then not really getting excited to write and enjoy what I was doing when I had those negative thoughts. I’d then have moments of clarity where I would ask myself, why am I doing this or thinking this way? I’ve come to realize that my offering as a blogger is much different than the bloggers I was comparing myself to and on top of that, we likely have different audiences, too. I reached a point in late September last year where I had to really dig deep into that and get my brand back on track. I still have momentarily relapses where I find myself comparing. But nowadays, I do my best to nip it in the bud as soon as I realize it’s happening and remind myself of my why – why I do this every day and why my value is different.
I Feel Fulfilled
I have grown so much in the last year and realized this was the path I was always meant to take. I’ve always been a writer. I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a pencil. I wrote poems and short stories as a kid and wrote newspaper articles into my teens. And I think deep down, I’ve always had an entrepreneur spirit inside of me. Growing up, my sister, my best friend and I would sell things like lemonade and friendship bracelets in my parents’ driveway. Combining writing and business and my passion for helping women unlock their potential really is a dream job for me. I really don’t know what the future holds for Lipstick & Ink. But if this is something I can turn into a full-fledged business down the road, I’d be one happy girl. Only time will tell….so until then, here’s to another year and hopefully many more after that!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.