Today is a (very) special day here at love ‘n’ labels because we’re turning 1!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LNL!
I’ll be honest … when I sat down to write this blog post, I had no clue where to start. There’s so much I want to say and so many people I want to thank for helping me get to where I am today. So, I’m just going to start rambling off all of the thoughts that are jumbled inside my head right now as I reflect on my first year in the blogging world … here we go!
I truly can’t believe how fast time flies. It’s hard to fathom that it’s already been a whole year since I launched love ‘n’ labels. I had prepared for and wanted to start my own fashion blog for years before I actually took the leap of faith, but when the time finally came for me to go for it, I remember having a ton of mixed emotions. Mainly excitement and some (good feelings) of anxiety. But then along with those feelings came the bad anxiety and fear. What if people didn’t like me? What if I put all this effort into it and no one reads it? What if I get made fun of behind my back or on social media? What if it’s a total bust???
There were sooo many thoughts going on inside my head on this very day last year. I remember not even feeling fully ready to launch the site or to publish my first blog post. But then again, with things like this, I quickly learned that you’ll never feel ‘ready’. But that’s okay – everyone starts somewhere. And that’s what I kept telling myself over and over and over. The huge influencers and fashion icons that I had followed for YEARS and looked up to so much, all started exactly where I was at. Everyone starts at the bottom. So, with lots of determination, hard work, loads of patience, some thick skin, a strong passion, and God leading the way, I knew that I would be able to do it. A humble confidence builds over time if you just have a little faith in yourself and never give up.
When I published my very first blog post (don’t judge, we’ve come a loooong way ha!) this time last year, I honestly had no idea what I was doing, what all I was getting myself into, and how much work came with running a successful brand and fashion blog. But over the past year, I have learned so much about the blogging industry, about myself, about other people, about having an audience and about the fashion world as a whole. To celebrate and further reflect on my first year of blogging, I want to share a few things that I have learned that continue to stick out to me time and time again:
1. If you have a (true) passion that you think about daily, pursue it. No matter the risks.
2. Trust God when He closes one door because a much better door that you’ve been praying VIGOROUSLY for is just around the corner. Trust Him to lead the way because He knows the desires of your heart and will do whatever it takes to give them to you. Take all your worries to Him, and wait for His answer because He’s always working things out for YOUR good.
3. Say ‘YES’ to things that scare you. Take that leap of faith because it will turn out to be the best decision you have ever made.
4. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed at something. When people try to tear you down, don’t react. Just use it as fuel to work harder than ever before. Let your ACTIONS show them that they were wrong in thinking you couldn’t succeed.
5. Be helpful to others. Like I was saying before … everyone started somewhere. When I first began my blogging journey, I had a few particular ladies (my girls, Olivia Rink & Julie Solomon) who helped me (a TON) when I had under 7,000 Instagram followers, under 50 blog subscribers and didn’t even know how to write a proper blog post. They were beyond helpful and took interest in me (when I genuinely had nothing to offer back to them). I will literally never forget all that they have done for me and the way they made me feel. Pay it forward, always!
6. Make as many connections as you possibly can. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, and I can attest to it even more after being in this industry — life really is all about connections and who you know. Be yourself, be kind and be helpful. Others will help you in return.
7. Never burn bridges or end things on a bad note. There is always a way to respectfully discuss matters that need further discussion.
8. Being your own boss is awesome 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, your boss (aka yourself) is driving you crazy and making you stay up into the wee hours of the night working 😉 It’s hard, at times, to just turn everything off after 5:00pm.
9. NYFW was everything I ever dreamed it would be and more. Can’t wait to return! I also learned that it’s very possible to get invited to shows and events as a small-town girl, first-year blogger. Honestly thought it would be YEARS before I was lucky enough to attend the shows. Beyond grateful!
10. Staying authentic and only promoting clothing/products I already use (or would use) in my everyday life is CRUCIAL. It’s so important to have the ability to (politely) say ‘NO’. As a recovering people pleaser, this was a hard lesson for me to learn. But I’m a much happier, more content person when I can politely answer ‘no’ to something that just isn’t really me or that I don’t see myself a part of.
11. If you’re feeling inspired, share it. If you have a lack of inspiration that day, just skip out on ‘trying’ to write about whatever that subject may be.
12. Be yourself. Your true, weird, honest, quirky self. Don’t try to hide behind this ‘perfect’ person that people only see on social media. If you do something dumb or make a fool of yourself, share it. If you can relate to other people who are going through the same hard times that you’ve been through, share about your experience and how you got through it. If you just feel like being a goofball for the day, go for it! Don’t hold back. Life is short …
13. Relating back to #12 … don’t worry so much about what others think of you — grow some thick skin!! This lesson can be hard if you’re a blogger because of course, I HAVE to care (to an extent) what you all think of the content I produce, the products I share, the advice I give, etc. But I’m not talking about you all — y’all are my people. If we ever disagree, we can discuss our differences (like family) and move forward. I’m talking about those people that you just KNOW are dying inside to make fun of you, to catch you off guard, or to find a fault in you. I don’t picture any of my LNL Babes being like that to me. So … this lesson I’ve learned goes out to the ones who I know just want to find my flaws, throw a brick when I’m already down, laugh with their posse when I post my first ever YouTube video (that I’m already nervous about), or make fun of me for sharing so many personal details when all I’m trying to do is relate you all – my loyal readers. If you follow a lot of other bloggers, you’re used to seeing this kind of behavior … but if you don’t, then I’m here to tell you that all of this happens more often than it should in this industry. And unfortunately, stuff like this happens in life in general – not just in the blogging world. But I will say that in this industry, you often set yourself up for failure and (basically) put yourself in the line drive for others to pick you apart. It’s really sad, but thankfully I’ve always had some tough skin and after this past year have grown an extra layer of it after reading and hearing the huge amount of support I have from you guys! Other blogger friends of mine haven’t been so lucky, and that breaks my heart.
14. BE KIND. Reflecting on the past two lessons, I’ve learned more than ever before how important it is to be kind to others – even strangers – because you never know what they’re being called behind the scenes or how your one kind word could totally turn their day around!
15. Invest in people who invest in you. Oh boy, this is a biggie that I’ve learned this year more than ever before. For starters, I’ve learned that investing in relationships, with a brand or business partner for example, can lead to so many more open doors for yourself. If you invest in someone who has also invested in you in the past and always leave that way of communication open and honest, chances are you will have a much more successful outcome and have the great opportunity to work with that person again. There are a few brands, for instance, that I’ve worked with in the past, and we kept in touch, kept a line of communication open, and helped each other out as much as we could outside of our collaboration, and now have worked together on each other’s behalf too many times to count. Forming relationships with brands that I genuinely love has been one of my favorite parts of this whole experience. Now, on the other hand, I’ve learned that this lesson goes for your personal relationships as well. It’s almost kinda interesting to see how people you know start to act toward you when you start into a business like this one. Actually, it can be somewhat disappointing at times. But I will say that one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that you should invest in those relationships with the people who believe in you from the very beginning – when you are literally nothing special. Those are the ones who will be by your side through it all. Always be kind to everyone else, but don’t ever bother wasting your time and effort on people who won’t fully support you or your wildest dreams — even if they seem outrageous at the time.
16. Time management is everything. Simple as that.
17. Organization is also KEY when you are the boss, CEO, manager, writer, editor, stylist, accountant, travel agent, publicist, etc. of your whole business. Don’t get me wrong, this was a struggle at first and I’m still learning something new every day (I recently learned about filing my quarterly taxes – ew, so boring), but I feel like it’s making me a better and more organized human because of all this.
18. Don’t ever half-a** anything because it’ll show in your work. For example, I’ve published blog posts before (when I’ve been in a huge hurry on my way to the next event / meeting) and just basically typed ‘here’s this cute outfit, I love the shoes, etc etc etc…’ I’ll go back and read it later and think, ‘Gahhhh that was so boring and awful.’ Needless to say, I apologize for those boring posts, but I’m thinking I’ve learned my lesson about that now 😉
19. Apologize for the things you say when you are hot during a photo shoot. Funny LOL but like, no joke. In the heat of summer when it’s 100 degrees and you’re changing outfits 6 different times in the heat and trying not to sweat your make up off, you may get a little hostile and hateful haha. I always feel sooooo bad after, but geez it’s honestly the biggest struggle of this whole job!! Luckily, my sweet Mama is my main photographer, so most of the time she just understands and loves me anyways! That woman is gold.
20. Be humble. Be hungry. Always be the hardest worker in the room. And NEVER stop learning.
Before I close, I want to be sure to give a few, special shoutouts to some people who have immensely helped me beyond belief over the past year. There’s physically no way I could name off every person who has had a positive impact on my blogging career over the past year, but there are a few people who I must say a special thank you to …
God. First and foremost, I wouldn’t be where I am today with His guidance and grace. About 7 months ago, He LITERALLY shut one door and opened this big one for me on the exact same day (after I had been praying for months to let me take my blog full time). And on that day, it finally happened … I just didn’t know that this would include one door being closed before I was mentally prepared to fully take on this new adventure where I’m a full-time influencer. But boy am I SO grateful that He did it this way. He is truly so good and just thinking back to that day makes me literally shed tears. Every. Single. Time. that I think about it. It’s truly amazing how He works!!
My sweet husband. Oh my sweet Teej, how much patience you have for me! Patience (trust me, I’ve tried to learn it for myself over the past year) is such an amazing gift. Whether it be me needing to finish a post for a deadline on the weekend during date night, trying to proofread my blog before we can watch Game of Thrones, you fixing the widget or the code that I somehow messed up and made my entire site go all to you know where, being the supportive & encouraging partner that you are, keeping me in check on my IG following, putting up with me when I video you on my IG stories & it makes you feel awkward (LOL), or celebrating every little success & huge brand deal. Overall, you’re the best ‘Instagram BF / Husband’ (because that’s apparently a thing these days …) that I could ever hope for. And your faith in me from the very beginning (when we didn’t even know if this could work) has meant the entire world to me. Now, I have to stop or I’m going to cry. 🙂
My mama aka my bomb photographer. I said it earlier and I’ll say it again … This woman is GOLD. She has always been my biggest fan since I was a little girl – and that hasn’t changed even to this date. She’s actually the first person I ever mentioned taking my blog full time to. And she said, “GO FOR IT. I know you can do it.” Not only is she an amazing supporter but she is the one behind the camera 95% of the time when we take all of these photos. We have learned by trial and error over the past year — with manyyyy funny bloopers to date 😉 — and it’s been so much fun to experience the ‘behind the scenes’ with her. She’s the best for making me feel comfortable in front of the camera and for telling me when my ‘butt looks huge at that angle’ haha (which every girl wants their photog to tell them that, I don’t care who ya are!!). Needless to say, this job would be impossible for me without her!
My big sister. Aka, my PR girl, my contract proofreader, and my best friend ever ever ever. She gets me. Possibly more than any other person ever. I can always count on her no matter the time or day. Her exciting texts every time I get another 100 followers on IG make my day – because she is paying attention and supporting me (literally) every single step of the way … even when her attention should actually be focused on so many other things. Not on me. She is truly my angel on this earth and there’s no way I could have made it through the past year of this job (or really any year of my life, for that matter) without her.
My granny. Really, only my family and best friends know this … but when I was so miserable at my first job, my sweet grandmother hired me on as her personal assistant. She’s in real estate. And that time in my life was great because I finally got to get away from the job that was literally giving me anxiety daily and got to work alongside my sweet Gran everyday. I also learned most about my hustle from that time in my life when I got to learn from her. She not only basically rescued me from that other job, but she also taught me how to work in the freelance world – which is exactly what blogging is. At the time, I of course didn’t know that my future would hold this full time job in the blogging world, but thank goodness she taught me all her ways and what it means to hustle day in and day out to get your name out there and be a successful businesswoman. Let’s just say that she’s in her 70’s and still going strong, if that tells you anything … 😉
Julie Solomon. This woman. It’s hard to come up with words to accurately describe her. You may have read earlier in this post where I said that she invested in me early on, after I had taken her Pitch It Perfect course, and she hasn’t stopped. I met Julie for the first time at the end of 2016 when I was in desperate search to learn more about this blogging industry, how to make it profitable, how to even talk to brands professionally, etc. And she has, since then, helped me and mentored me beyond belief. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without Julie’s help. If you follow me on IG, you’ve probably seen me rave about her before because she has so many resourceful blogging tips / guides, is a fantastic influencer herself and has a wonderful podcast for influencers with the industry experts. Not to mention, she’s a UTK alum (Go Vols!). Juls, if you’re reading this — I love ya and I could never thank you enough!!!
Olivia Rink. This is another amazing woman that I mentioned earlier in this post. Gosh, I guess it was like a month after I launched my blog that I reached out to Olivia via e-mail, basically asking for any and all advice she had for new bloggers. How to monetize. How to grow a following. When to post. What to post. Etc etc etc. I basically drilled her brain LOL (sorry, Liv)! And honestly, knowing how many emails these influencers receive daily and how busy their schedules were, I didn’t really expect her to even respond. Actually, on that same night, I emailed (basically a very similar) email to about 15 other ‘big time’ fashion bloggers — seeking help. And ya know what? Olivia was the only person who responded to me. And not only did she respond. She responded with an e-mail of about 10-12 full paragraphs basically telling me how to go about starting my journey in this industry and all the tips and tricks she had. Now, I don’t fault those others bloggers for not having the time to respond (because now being in it, I realize how many e-mails and DM’s you get per day — however, Liv taught me early on how important it is to try to respond to everyone), but the one person that I consistently admire and look up to and brag about to others will always be Olivia Rink. Because she invested her time in me (and has every single time I’ve emailed or spoken to her) when really, I’m no where near as big of a blogger as she is. That’s special. And I will always admire and share people like that!
My girls. You know who you are. And I’m so grateful for y’all! You deal with me when I have to do a takeover for a brand during our girls trip, when I ask you to take 32 outfit photos so I can find just one that looks decent enough to post, or when I have to fix something for a brand at the dinner table or on the lake, when we’re not really supposed to be working. You support me wildest dreams and understand why I do what I do. Y’all ‘like’ all the selfies (even though y’all wouldn’t ever do that on your page 😉 ) because you support me and what I’m doing with my career. I’m so proud of each of you, and I’m just so thankful to have your support and encouragement as well! You all get it.
My friends and family. This whole blogging thing is still new to our part of the world here in the South (minus the bigger cities) … but when I told y’all that I was planning to pursue my interest in it, I instantly had your full support. Some of you (who have no interest in fashion whatsoever) even chose to subscribe and follow along — thank you for that. You know who you are, and even though I don’t say it enough, it really means the world to me to have the love and support. You guys are the best!!
Rhonda & Sarah. You have both had faith in me this entire year to help you with my styling services, and I couldn’t be more grateful for your trust. Providing my services to and working with each of you has been a highlight of my entire career. Thank you for your support in all aspects of my business!
The brands. Geez, it would take me another full year to name all of you off and list out why I love each of you and have loved working with y’all, but I will say that those of you I’ve worked with this past year have made me smile in more ways than one and I’ve genuinely LOVED building a relationship with each of you. Thank YOU for taking a chance on the ‘new girl’ and trusting me to deliver content to my readers that best portrays what your brand is all about. I loved you before this whole blogging journey, but now I love you all even more! I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.
My blogger girls. Victoria, Chelsea, Lindsey (aka Kelsea Ballerini), Ali, Bailey, Elle, Katy, Ashley, Lisa, Ashlee, Rachel, Jessica, Laurelle, Tala (just to name a few) … some of us new friends, some of us old. But either way, they inspire me daily and have supported me (immensely) in some way, and I am eternally grateful. I can always count on their posts to brighten my day. I just love these girls!!
YOU. If you are reading this … if you are an LNL supporter, new or old … I can’t thank YOU enough!!! To tell the truth, I left the job of being my grandmother’s assistant to go into another job that ended up driving me (almost) to my breaking point before this door was opened up for me, and it was not a very pleasant time. Thankfully, once God opened this door of becoming a full-time blogger, YOU were there to support me, to love me, to encourage me, to catch me when I was falling (even if y’all didn’t really know it). YOU were there for me in ways that you probably didn’t even realize. But there aren’t enough words to accurately thank you for your love and support over the past year. I feel such a special connection with my readers that it’s actually hard to describe. As I’m typing these posts, I don’t feel like I’m just writing into a diary or journal. I picture you all right in front of me and feel as if I’m talking to a friend … just spilling it all out. And for some reason, you seem to come back time and time again. Which is CRAZY for me to think about. What do I really have to say that is so special or important that you would want to come back and visit?? I really don’t know the answer to that, but I’m just reallllly thankful that you do! Your all’s support over the past year (which may very well turn out to be the hardest one of my blogging career) means the absolute world to me. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for loving me and for joining me on this journey, for reading every post and paying attention to my social media, for celebrating the highest highs with me and comforting me during the lows. YOU mean the world to me, and I could never say thank you enough!
CHEERS to Year 1 of LNL — here’s to Year 2! We’re in this together. 🙂
I love love love love love ya! Mean it.