Holy WOW. I’m 9 months into my blogging career and The Modern Jetsetter journey – I wish I could tell you where time escaped to, but I’m still wondering myself. I’m not one entire year in quite yet, but I’m in that precious reflection stage and ready to delve into this whirlwind beginning of entrepreneurship…and share the surprising lessons discovered about business and myself along the way.
I’ve spent hours in deep, soul-tickling brand introspection over the past few weeks and decided it’s time to fine-tune the chords of my voice so this blog is saturated with authenticity, my sharpened brand instincts and the truest essence of what it means to be a Modern Jetsetter woman. First, I want to share with new bloggers and creative business owners the steps that got me here.
Whether you’re reading this as a loyally devoted travel girl, craving new blogging tips or looking for pointers on how to start your own blog or creative business venture…I hope these tiny milestones of realization help shape your decisions as you follow your wanderlust for life, travel and success:
Reinvention and Change is Powerful; Embrace It
When I launched The Modern Jetsetter, I was as detached from American culture as I could be and travel plans to the U.S. were slim to none…flash forward to this moment as I type from a café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn…where I not only live part-time, but consider my home base for exploring one of my new niches: NYC and American living.
Upon watching election results from a London hotel room (liberal, heartbroken and three pizzas in), I realized I’m as American as an American girl gets. Upon embracing the new deep-rooted desire to renew wanderlust for this incredibly diverse and culturally wholesome country, the beat of my drum changed and my brand followed. By embracing who I was and my roots, the level of authenticity, quality and response to everything I put my fingerprint on increased ten-fold.
Don’t Fear Experimenting, Especially During Your First Year of Business
Coming from a journalistic background, I was accustomed to adjusting my voice to fit that of a brand and editorial content vision. The beautiful thing about blogging is…you are the brand. I put immense newsroom-driven pressure on myself and my content to be perfect from the get go – but the truth is: you can only craft your brand through creation, experiments, mistakes and the constant state of reinvention.
Don’t try to make your brand perfect and refined from the first day of blogging. Allow yourself room to enjoy the beginner’s journey and learn. As I approach this one-year mark, my brand instinct is constantly pulsating and the ability to streamline all content and business activities with my vision comes now almost effortlessly. That will come for you. Still, embracing the changing tides of imagination and natural reinvention is the pillar of progress – never let go of it, and certainly never fear it.
Don’t Forsake Authenticity for the Social Media Hamster Wheel
Dear bloggers just starting off, let me predict a bad habit you have: at least once a week, you find yourself in an Instagram-driven vortex of self-criticism because you don’t know how to keep up with the numbers, aesthetic perfection and luxury-brand-saturated feeds of your competitors. Let me tell you a secret: they aren’t your competition, they are noise.
The angst of being a new player in a world of – let’s face it – millions of bloggers who share the same niche as you is completely unnecessary. The constant need to have an aesthetically perfect and monochromatic feed is the first symptom of not being an authentic brand – the romance of life is found in the unexpected, changing seasons and the vibrancy of a diversely lived life true to yourself (especially with travel). Let go of the need to “keep up” with the rat race and let authenticity flow into your social media work. Engage with people. Make relationships, with both readers and brands. It’s only when you enjoy every moment the journey you are sharing that growth occurs.
Make content the king, engagement your mother and quality your pope. The rest will come (trust me).
Be Picky About Who You Work With …Even if it Takes Longer to Form Those Relationships To Form
At the beginning of your business, free trips, clothing and other trendy freebies will be tempting to grab – my advice: don’t.
Map out your dream collaborations and only drift from your vision if the offer truly enriches your content and brand message. The hustle to make those dream collaborations a reality is a long and restless one, but they do pay off and materialize faster than you think (and you won’t lose the trust of your audience by pushing products you only half-heartedly believe in).
Know Who You Are and Where You’re Going
Truth: I don’t consider myself a blogger. I’m a writer and storyteller in the first place. My brand, blog and travel activities fall under that umbrella but they are by no means my identity. Think carefully at how you brand yourself and not only your immediate career goals, but your long-term professional life. Obviously, if you blog as a hobby, this does not pertain to you, but if you blog as a career it’s time to start thinking of the big picture. Do you want to be solely a blogger in 20 years or is it your platform to something much bigger?
I’m thrilled that Modern Jetsetter is gaining more momentum than I can almost keep up with…yet, I’m using the milestones as building blocks to something greater. For example, this year I will spend a chunk of my travels devoted to finishing my first novel…which is full of ideas inspired by this journey. Your dreams shouldn’t stop at becoming a successful blogger because being a blogger won’t be enough in a decade. Harness your talents, solidify your platform and build a sustainable career from a cocktail of it all (piece by piece).
Know Your Worth and Demand It
Creating high-quality “spec” content for little to nothing in the beginning is a right of passage every influencer must venture through – but don’t stick to that habit for too long. Once you have a steady roster of clips and brand partnerships, set your rates for sponsorships and content creation and don’t waver from them.
You will get plenty of emails offering you freebies in exchange for content, my answer? Usually no, unless the trip or product value exceeds my usual rate or the experience is superfluously valuable content-wise. You can’t pay your bills and build a business from exchanges alone. I can’t divulge all my secrets or how I make a deal…but knowing your worth and sticking to it is step number one.
You may be thinking…I’m a new blogger and my numbers aren’t anywhere near that of my competitors, how can I ask for money? Value is more than social following, and that truth is more relevant than ever as numbers can be bought and engagement becomes a truer measure for an influencer’s power. Coming from a journalistic background, one of my strengths is creating socially sharable and discoverable high-quality content with an editorial eye – and it was worth more than a high social media following when I started.
Know your strengths, put a price on them and make money. It’s time to break the stigma that creative jobs should be free or are less valuable than the corporate ladder.
Only You Are Responsible
People will want to help you, and it will be tempting, but never for a moment relax and divert from the most important mantra to live by: you alone are responsible for every ounce of your success or failure. This is especially vital to remember as success starts coming your way – don’t get used to it, build on it.
Never get comfortable, never delegate tasks blindingly, never count on anyone but yourself to bring your brand to the summit of success. Not everyone is made to be an entrepreneur or creative business owner – and that’s fine, it’s one of the most demanding, testing and challenging ventures one can take…it’s a lifelong lifestyle of business growth, not a hobby where you wait and hope for success. It’s a 24/7 job and vacation days aren’t a thing (family will get annoyed, friends won’t always understand) and it’s not always glamorous as Instagram shows.
But once you make the decision to turn your creativity and passions into your dream career it’s one of the most vibrant, rewarding, puzzling, romantic, frustrating, adventurous, truest ways of life and it will take you everywhere.
Echoing the words of Viola Davis’ incredible Oscar speech: “I became an artist—and thank God I did—because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”