I can’t contain my excitement with this blogging series (by the way, I’m writing this on a plane while traveling for work. Oh the irony…). This is not something I had planned weeks or months out in advance like I try to do a lot of the time. In fact, I came up with this idea only a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned it on stories. From you’ve told me, a lot of you have the desire to start a blog yourself (or maybe you’re just curious how I manage it all?) so I believe this could be really beneficial for a lot of you. I have a lot to say so let’s get started. By the way, there will be many posts in this series so subscribe to the blog to be the first to see when they go live!
In grad school I decided to start a blog that was all about how I was trying to complete a marathon in every state and the donut shops I tried along the way (if you didn’t know, I love donuts). It was called Donut Stop Running. Blogging wasn’t huge at the time but Instagram also wasn’t as “advanced” as it is now. Posts couldn’t be as long, there were no stories or highlights, etc. I thought the blog would be great because it allowed for me to share more photos and write about my training, race experience, etc. without being limited. Eventually I got to the point where I wanted to share more than just running so I changed my name to Donut Ever Stop. I felt like it would allow for me to branch out a bit and the title was essentially a metaphor for my life. Spoiler alert: that name was still constricting. A year or so later I made the final switch to Jordan Jean (blog). I never considered myself a true “blogger” until this past year though. I’ll explain why later.
As for working full-time, well, I work full-time. I’m a Food Scientist for one of the world’s largest food companies. I’m 99% sure you’ve eaten our products many, many times throughout your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to work wherever we’ve moved but I can’t say for certain that will always be the case. Because of that, my “blogging as a hobby and creative outlet” mindset slowly evolved into a “Maybe I could do this full-time someday…” mindset. I’ll also share more on that later!
I want to make this clear. I don’t consider myself “big”. Not one bit. I have learned a lot though in the past 4 years of dabbling in this and last year of doing this “seriously”. I personally love that I’m sharing this at this point though. I hope it gives you hope that you can do this too, if you so desire. Most of this stuff I’m about to share with you I’ve had to learn the hard way. Bear with me… I’ve learned a lot.
To start, we’re going to walk through the why, what, when, where, how, and who to consider before starting a blog. There’s so much information in here but it’s important! I wish I known this stuff years ago when I started this journey. Later in the series I’ll get into all of the logistics, how I manage my time, stay organized, etc.
You ready? Let’s go.
I want to back up and start at the very, very beginning… The desire to start a blog. I don’t know what’s driving the thought in your mind, whether it’s that you think you’re different than everything else you see on the internet, you want a creative outlet, you like the idea of working from home, or you crave the potential income. There are a lot of great reasons to blog. Before you move forward, I encourage you to establish your WHY. Be honest with yourself because this will set the foundation for your goals. Just like mine, this might change over time and that’s okay! For me, I started out blogging as a creative outlet in the middle of a very research-intensive grad school program but my why has evolved drastically over the years and my blog has changed because of it. If you are clear about your WHY from the beginning, that will be evident on your blog and the content you produce.
Next, establish your WHAT. This point is HUGE because of a few reasons. One, this will help you find your niche. This is so important because I’ll tell you this right now – you need to be passionate about what you’re sharing. Do not worry about how many people will follow you. Do not worry about what everyone else is sharing. Do not be ashamed. Trust me when I say that it might take time but you will find your niche. I have found that growth happens faster if you focus on one thing and do it well. Ha… Life in a nutshell. Maybe you’re like me though and want to share multiple things, that’s okay too. Like I said though, growth might not happen as quickly. I’ve heard some people say, “You need to stand out and be completely different. What sets you apart?” To be blunt, I don’t think that’s entirely true. Do I think you should completely copy what someone else does? Absolutely not. Not only is that entirely wrong but you’ll also fail… Hard. And rightfully so! Blogging is freaking hard work. Someone that steals content deserves to fail (harsh but true). I do believe though that in this day in age, it’s nearly impossible to share something that hasn’t been shared before. The beauty in that is that I believe we all teach and learn differently. I love looking up tutorials on Pinterest and reading all of the different ways people do things. Seriously, how many ways can we DIY shiplap?! Typically, Stephen and I will read a bunch of different methods, modify them based on what works best for us, what we already have in our noggins, what we have on hand, etc. and try that out. Sometimes we fail so we’ll share what NOT to do but a lot of times we can come up with new methods that save time or make a process easier so we share that too. There are many ways to skin a cat as “they” say.
The second reason why establishing your WHAT is important is because it greatly influences the WHERE.
I don’t believe blogging is always the correct answer *gasp*! Blogging is not easy and it’s not cheap. I’ve learned over the years that it takes quite a bit of investment not only of time but also of money. I think a lot of people assume we can just create a blog for cheap (or free) and be on our way to becoming a millionaire. Well folks, I hate to burst your bubble but that’s far from true. To do it really well, it takes a good chunk of money every year or every few years. Luckily though, we have a FREE app at the tip of our fingers where we can do nearly the same thing (and then some!) much more efficiently. You guessed it… Instagram.
I can’t tell you all how many people I’ve had come to me saying, “I want to start a blog” and I always respond by asking, “What do you want to share?” When I receive something like fashion as a response, I ask, “Why a blog?” A lot of people are stumped by that. I think that the term “blogger” has become so popular that we just automatically assume a blog is a necessity… Duh Jordan. That’s not the case though! I know of people that make full-time+++ incomes from Instagram alone. Here are the reasons why I would highly consider focusing on Instagram as your platform.
Instagram is much more efficient. The process for blog posts is not a fast one. Posts have to be written, edited, formatted, photos taken, photos edited, photos added, photos formatted, SEO words chosen, title chosen, post image formatted and selected… Sure, some of things are required for Instagram posts too but it’s much more efficient.
The great thing about having a blog? You have the potential to make it exactly how you want it! You can write as much as you want, share as many photos as you want, etc. The options are limitless. You also don’t have to deal with Instagram algorithm. That does come with financial, mental, and a time cost though.
Even if you are still set-in-stone about having a blog, I highly highly suggest you start on Instagram first for a year or more and then create a blog afterward. Focus on ONE THING AT A TIME and kick butt at it. I tried to do both and looking back it was just stupid. I really had to learn the hard way that I should’ve focused all of my energy into Instagram first… Even last year when I decided to get serious about blogging I think I would’ve been better off had I just focused on Instagram alone before putting any time in to the blog.
As for day to day time… Looking back I didn’t consider my blogging “side hustle” a serious job until this past year. Heck, I still debate that statement in my mind. Since I started “blogging” in 2015, I was either going to school full-time or working full-time. I still am doing that, of course, but “back then” I just blogged whenever I had some spare time. I didn’t have a plan for where I wanted it to go or a schedule for content, anything like that. It was just something I did for fun. That’s okay too! If you want to grow though, that won’t work. CONSISTENCY IS KEY. I didn’t truly believe this until I got more consistent and started to see my numbers improve because of it. That means that I work on this daily. I work 9+ hours at my full-time job and then come home and “work” on my side hustle until I go to sleep to wake up and do it all over again. Stephen says I work 16+ hour work days and he’s 100% right.
Blogging takes a substantial amount of time. Whether that’s brainstorming content, planning out content, producing content, etc. there are a lot of parts to the puzzle. Do I love it? You betcha. A lot of things that used to be priority for me have taken a back seat as I’ve tried to grow my little slice of the web. If your desire is to blog for income eventually, you’ll have to decide when you’re ready to make that change and when you’d be able to produce QUALITY content consistently. That will determine your ‘when’.
When choosing a name my biggest piece of advice is DON’T CONSTRICT YOURSELF. You will evolve over time. You will love different things depending on what season of life you’re in. If your goal is to blog for years down the road, I’ve learned it’s beneficial to have a more general name/handle. Since you’ll most likely be blogging/Instagramming about things that YOU love, it’s easy to use your name somehow and it makes it more personal. Now, I will also add that there is a flip side to that too. Maybe you plan on only sharing food for example, that’s it. Sometimes a more specific handle can make it easier to grow in your niche of a community. If you have any doubt in your mind that you’ll want to branch out though, I suggest selecting a more general name.
Now that I’ve shared the why, what, where, when and who, it’s time for me to share my perspective on the HOW. I understand the concern with the logistics when starting out in the blogging/Instagram world. There are a lot of pieces, especially when creating a blog. The questions that hit me the most though are about how I gained the courage to start blogging. They always stop me in my tracks a bit.
I had some fear when I started out, I did. Hello… “opening up” to the “world” is understandably intimidating. I didn’t really lose sleep over it though. Here’s why…
When I was in middle school we had a dance to celebrate the milestone of going to high school. It was a mini homecoming dance of sorts. I had never been to any of the (many) school dances but I was determined to go to this one with my friends (this might come as a surprise but I’m 100% a stay-at-home-and-hang-out-with-family-and-friends type of girl). My mom knew this was a big deal for me so she took me to get a brand new dress to wear to the dance. I remember having such a good time shopping with her. It wasn’t typical for us to go to the mall to get something like this so it made me really happy. I ended up picking out a Jessica McClintock dress that was white with tulle and pink polka dots. I loved it SO much that I told my good friends about it. I couldn’t wait to wear it. Then a few days later in PE we were running the mile and a girl that I didn’t really ever talk to (and was much more popular than me) stopped me and told me I had to get a new dress if I wanted to go to the dance since she had the same one. I went home after school that day and told my mom I didn’t want to go to the dance anymore and she could return the dress. I never told my mom why. I can imagine she was pretty bummed too. I’m sorry, Mom.
I don’t tell you that story to make you sad or have sympathy for me. Not at all. I tell you that because I realized that day that no matter what you do, there are some people out there that just aren’t nice. Maybe they’re going through a lot and are taking it out on you, maybe they’re having a really terrible day, or maybe they’re just being a middle school girl. As unfortunate as it is, some people out there will judge no matter what you decide to do. It’s the ugly truth — we live in a world full of sinners. I’m also sharing that story because the first day I seriously decided to put myself out there and hit ‘publish’, with a heart full of joy, I kindly said to that mean middle school girl, “I’ll see you at the dance… I have a timed mile to finish.”
People will judge, they will be mean, hurtful, whatever they want. I encourage you to look past that. If this is something you’ve had on your heart to do, do it. I’m sure people probably think negative things about me all of the time. Do I really care? No. I don’t. Would it still hurt my feelings if I found out? Yep. I’m human. That doesn’t stop me from giving all I’ve got on here though. I’m passionate about serving on this platform and just happen to have a great little tribe of wonderful people that constantly remind me how grateful they are for that. Life is too short to sacrifice your own joy for someone else’s ugly heart. Do what makes you happy. If you ever need a cheerleader, you know who to call.