With five years of blogging behind me, it definitely makes me reflective of how far my blog has come over the years. I am damn proud of my blogging work. I’m also a perfectionist and am continually looking for ways to improve my content. When I started blogging years ago, I really had no idea what I was doing! In many ways, I am still learning about the world of blogging, but five years ago, I was basically an insecure fish out of water trying my hand at this blogging thing.
I had the idea of starting a blog probably as far back as 2010, but I had no idea where to start. More significantly, I didn’t feel confident that I had anything worthwhile to say about fashion or style. I wasn’t very secure in my body, and I definitely felt like I wasn’t skinny enough, tall enough, or attractive enough to attract a blog following.
I shopped mostly at mall chain stores like The Limited and New York & Company. I followed runway fashion but didn’t have the money (and still don’t) to buy designer goods. I struggled to dress my body after a recent weight gain. At the time, I perceived these qualities as deficiencies, not the strengths I now believe them to be.
I couldn’t come up with a name for my blog, and I let this be my excuse for not starting a blog for two years even though I knew that this was only a small part of my delay. My insecurities got the better of me, and I let them keep me from pursuing my goals.
Finally, during the summer of 2012, I decided it was time. No more excuses. No more delays. I reached out to friends about what to name my blog, and the name Style Cassentials was born. It wasn’t a choice with which I felt 100% positive, but I decided it was now or never. Over the years, I have learned to really love the name of my blog, so in the end, it was a great choice.
The lesson I learned from waiting to start my blog was that I can’t let insecurities keep me from living. I can’t let them keep me from pursuing my dreams or making the right choices for my life. I have had so many wonderful opportunities and met so many amazing people, both virtually and in real-life, as a result of my blogging.
Through blogging, I have gained so much confidence in myself. I have learned that I am so much more than a number on a scale.
As a feminist, I always understood that a racist capitalist patriarchy had manufactured the ideals of beauty and worked to undermine women by pitting us against each other. I understood that the body ideal was largely designed to make women feel insecure about themselves. Can’t go crushing the patriarchy if we’re worried about our lack of thigh gap while we’re marching in the streets, and we can’t work our way up the corporate ladder if we’re worried that our arms are jiggling with each rung. But even though I understood those things, I didn’t know them for myself. I didn’t believe deep down in my soul that I was worthy. I didn’t believe that I was enough, in any sense of the word. My blog has helped me so much in that regard.
I started my blog in part to help other women find confidence in themselves and to realize that you too could love fashion and enjoy style even if you didn’t have the body, budget, or look that Madison Avenue says we should have. And, I love nothing more than the comments, e-mails, and messages that I have received from some of you. When I get messages that I have helped someone find the perfect look for an event, inspired them to try a new trend, or just made them feel a little better abut their bodies, this means EVERYTHING to me. If nothing else came from writing my blog, this would be more than enough.
But what I got was so much more! Writing my blog inspired this same confidence in myself! I forced myself to try trends or styles that I may have been afraid to try before. Sometimes, I test-run a style that I’m too nervous to wear in real-life by wearing it on the blog first. I have revealed my weight, my clothing size, and my body measurements on the blog. These are aspects of myself that I would have tried to keep hidden before. Realizing that they aren’t really a significant part of who I am has made it so much easier to give myself the love that I know I deserve.
Blogging has not been without its ups and downs. Sometimes, I get overly focused on numbers and get discouraged that my following isn’t growing as fast as I would like. I suck at monetizing my blog – it’s the business side of blogging that I don’t enjoy and don’t seem to have the patience or understanding to nail down properly. It can be challenging to keep up with all the things that blogging entails – writing posts, taking photos, maintaining multiple social media accounts, etc. while working a full-time job and raising five kids. And while my blog has always been first and foremost a labor of love, it can sometimes be frustrating to put so much time and effort into work that doesn’t have have much of a monetary return-on-investment. I love blogging, but it certainly doesn’t pay the bills!
Photography continues to be one of my biggest challenges. Finding the time during daylight hours to snap pics and finding willing and competent photographers can be difficult. It’s not in my budget to hire professional photographers, so I rely on my husband and kids and the narrow window of time we have together to take pictures. I also like the idea of style blogging as being about everyday people sharing their personal styles. Nowadays, blogging has grown so much and become more competitive. It seems that bloggers more than ever need to have slick, polished, professional looking content in order to attract collaborations and paid opportunities with businesses.
I think there is definitely room in the blogosphere for all of us, but there can be a pressure at times to continually create more improved, magazine-quality content. And as I said, I also tend to be a perfectionist! That said, I am proud of how much my photography has improved over the years. I started with a simple brick wall which I used almost exclusively (taking an occasional picture indoors when the weather was too cold). I knew little to nothing about picture editing and often had crooked, sometimes cringe-worthy photos!
I liked that brick wall because I like the idea of the blog being about the clothes, first and foremost. And, I still use it from time to time. That said, it definitely got boring, and I yearned to create more of a story through both the clothes I was wearing and the setting. Part of my attraction to fashion magazines as a kid and young adult was the beautiful, editorial photography. I have visions of settings for certain looks, and I hope to have the opportunity to make at least some of those visions manifest into cool, artistic shoots. Seriously…if anyone knows of an old, concrete abandoned swimming pool in the St. Louis area, please let me know!
Over the years, I have definitely tried to improve my photography, focusing the last six months or so on trying to find new and accessible locations to snap pics. It means that I’m forced to blog a little less often, but I’m usually much happier with the finished products.
So yes, I definitely get bogged down in the minutiae of blogging, and I definitely get frustrated at times. But then I remember all of the reasons that I started my blog in the first place. Because I love fashion! I love to talk about fashion and style, and it never feels like work! Or, it feels like the kind of work that you really, really love! I love sharing positive content with all of you. I definitely believe in faking it til you make it, so when I’m having a bad day or feeling less than confident, sometimes I put on a happy face and go rock a great outfit for the blog!
I have always found style and body image to be very related. Developing one’s own personal style and learning to have fun with fashion can be very empowering. In that vein, I have the third installment of my Color and Confidence series coming up next month! I always enjoy writing those posts, and it forces me out of my “black and white everything” aesthetic for a week!
I believe in writing your goals down, so one of my goals over the next year is to figure out the monetizing aspect of blogging and to do so in a way that feels natural to my blog. I will never sacrifice my voice or vision for profit. I regularly turn down opportunities that don’t fit my blog, but now I need to figure out more about what will work for my blog and me!
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my blog and for myself! I know that my immediate focus is to monetize, continue to improve photography, and to maintain a consistent posting schedule. Now, I have questions for you:
What would you like to see on the blog? Any topics/styles/etc. that you’d like to me cover?