A YEAR OF BLOGGING
Chic in Cali is one!
I remember when I finally decided to start a blog back in 2016: I had accumulated so many pictures of cute outfits with no one to share them with. I wanted to showcase my personal style with the world, but after a then-embarrassing attempt a few years ago (read on), I was very touch and go about starting a blog.
When I finally started to entertain the idea, it all looked so simple on the surface. Fashion, writing, and photography were already favorite pastimes of mine, so it couldn't be that challenging. All too quickly, I realized that it was no simple feat to design a website from scratch, plan outfits, scout locations for photoshoots, compose blog posts, and manage Instagram, among other things.
It took me months to set up my website and if I'm being completely honest, it's still in the works. Putting together outfits to shoot and the photo sessions are probably my favorite parts. I love browsing through hundreds of potential items and piecing them together. It's a process, kind of like solving a puzzle, but definitely worth it.
I've always loved getting my pictures taken -- when I was little, I used to make my dad take pictures of me in my costumes until he refused to take any more. And so I began to meet with a photographer to do basically what I do now, just so I could satisfy my love of dressing up. But those pictures have never seen the light of day. My very first Instagram posts were terribly lit snaps that my mom or Samuel would take with a filter slapped on top. They did the trick for a while, but I was craving more artistic shots. Enter: the search for a photographer.
I knew that I would eventually work with a photographer because iPhone snaps only do so well. I spent weeks hunting down the perfect photographer whose creative vision and aesthetic matched mine. My style is very feminine, so I needed pictures that complemented that. I got really lucky and found my perfect match, and we hit it off right away. We've been working together ever since. In my opinion, working with a photographer isn't necessary by any means, but it was a step that I felt like I needed to take to improve the overall quality of my content. And it really takes off a lot of pressure to get the "right" pictures when you have a professional behind the lens. I also really appreciate how the pictures are ready to post (no need to edit), which saves me a boatload of time.
So that's my story of why and how I got into blogging. I promised you all that I'd share my previous venture into fashion, so here goes:
I used to waste away my days on YouTube, watching everything from song covers to shows to tutorials. The makeup and fashion videos really drew me in, and after several months of binge watching dozens of girls share their hauls and outfits, I wanted to give it a go. I would hide out in my room with my MacBook every weekend and just film all sorts of fashion-related content. I kept it going for about 3 years, and I think I had a little over 2,000 subscribers -- pretty good for a 15-year-old!
I was very much enjoying making videos on YouTube until one day, a classmate mentioned that he had found my YouTube channel. I think things might have gone a little differently had that been a close friend, but he was nothing more than someone I'd greet in the hallway. I felt embarrassed that someone I knew had discovered these videos of mine. I wasn't ashamed of them, but I don't think I ever disclosed to very many people that I was interested in fashion. I shut down my account days later.
Do I regret it? Kind of. It's not like I was bullied because of it. In fact, he said that it was cool that I had a channel. But I felt like my own little fashion bubble was popped when I had to worry about people I knew seeing it. Once in a while, it does cross my mind: what if I kept my YouTube channel going? Where would I be now? Would I also be blogging?
Who knows, but I do believe in fate and that I'm where I need to be.
I'm sharing this with the hopes that 1. you don't stop doing something that you're passionate about just because someone found out -- it's not the end of the world, and 2. all my videos are indeed deleted, as much as they'll ever be from the internet.
A few thoughts, things that I've learned, and my two cents on blogging:
1. Blogging can be awkward. Taking pictures for the blog is something to get used to. I think I've gotten pretty good at ignoring strange looks from people. Just accept that people will stare. I think you just have to own it and work it, you know?
Asking people to read your blog is beyond uncomfortable. I try not to push it. A plug here and there is perfectly fine by me. I like to announce new posts, and those who want to read it, will. It's such a fine line between promoting your work and shoving it down people's throats, and because I don't have a knack for selling things, I find myself feeling like I'm toeing the line and crossing into the latter.
2. It adds up. I didn't realize it when I first started, but blogging can be an expensive hobby. I often try to wear items that I already own, but sometimes the need to stay current has me spending more than I need or should. It's definitely taught me to invest in more versatile pieces and err on the side of timelessness. Add on website and photography costs and other miscellaneous fees, and you actually spend a pretty penny.
Setting aside a budget for blogging purposes has helped me stay on track. There's definitely no need to go into debt for a blog.
3. The hardest part for me is putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable. I'm a firm believer in biting my tongue if what I have to say has the potential to be hurtful. I slip up, of course, but I try really hard because I know firsthand how much it sucks to be attacked by a stranger. I've received some hurtful messages since I started my blog, and I wish more people were actively conscious of what they say to people online. Remember: kindness costs nothing, but it means everything.
4. It's funny how comfortable I am sharing my life with complete strangers, but when a friend comes across my Instagram and follows me, I freeze. This has happened more times than I'd like since I started Chic in Cali, but rather than abandoning this project, I've just learned to suck it up and let them see a side of me that they've never seen before. I really want to give this blog a chance and see where it goes.
5. I make it an overall goal to try to stay positive and to focus on the good things, but nonetheless, negativity does slip through every now and then. I've had a quite positive blogging experience so far, which I'm very thankful for, but I do have my frustrations, troubles, and doubts, too.
Lately, I feel like I've really been struggling with connecting with my followers. I have a handful of the most amazingly supportive followers who I just want to hug for always liking and commenting on my posts, no matter what. They're the supportive ones, the ones who put a smile on my face. But there's a good number of people who only seem to pop up when there's a giveaway, which trust me, I totally get, but it puts me in a tough spot. I love hosting giveaways as a way to show my appreciation to the people who are engaged and connected, not so I can keep people (who wouldn't even interact with my posts otherwise) on the hook. So it's discouraging to me to have these people come in and out only when there's something in it for them. And lastly, there is a solid chunk of people who follow me and are never to be heard from again.
Okay, rant over. I try not to complain much about the struggles of blogging because they are ridiculous first-world problems, but I get the impression that this topic is rather taboo. No one wants to talk about how slow and tough things can be; on the other hand, it's not always rainbows and sunshine, and it's so easy to get sucked into that way of thinking and expectation, resulting in lots of disappointment.
6.. Be 100% YOU. When I first starting posting on Instagram, I worried too much about what would fare well with my followers. Some of you might remember: in the beginning, I was wearing Lilly Pulitzer and preppier styles almost exclusively. That was my niche, so I was only posting stuff that they would like. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lilly, but I didn't actually wear as much of it in real life as it seemed on Instagram. I made a quick switch and began to post things that I liked and wear clothes that were more "me." Once I did that, I felt less restricted and more true to myself, which is key.
I'm taking a stroll down memory lane and sharing all my favorite memories of this hobby of mine:
I didn't start blogging consistently about fashion until February of 2017 -- you can see my very first post here. I started out wanting to focus exclusively on fashion, lifestyle, and travel, but there's been an interest in more personal posts, hence this diary entry. I'm making an effort to share more of myself and not just my style. I post a lot more candid things on my Instagram stories, which you can watch if you follow along here.
I'm really proud of all the content that I've created over the past year. I really pour my heart into the blog, and it makes me smile just knowing that I can share that with you all. A few of my absolute favorite posts are: this one in the beginning of spring, this one with the sweetest horses, this one where I'm pretending I'm on Full House, this one where we're exploring San Francisco, this one on the most epic street in the world, this one in the beautiful Marina, and this one with the Golden Gate Bridge.
I'm looking forward to what's to come, creating new content, and documenting my style growth and evolution on here.
It's been quite a year! Thank you for following along and reading Chic in Cali!