Society Letters was founded by Deborah Stachelski in April of this year, as an outlet for women to share their voices. She felt that there was a missing link in the blogosphere, for a place where women could collaborate on a personal level with the goal of empowering others.
What she didn’t realize, was that she was getting herself into a world where everyone lives a magazine lifestyle, eats donuts for breakfast, and partners with Nordstrom. Deb and Chloe Legras have had the pleasure of becoming great virtual girlfriends over the past several months, and recently sat down in their respective offices (in Likely, CA and Austin, TX) to laugh and discuss what they’ve learned throughout the early stages of blogging.
At the end of their chat, they realized they hit on some pretty major points, and wanted to share some peeks into their conversation (which happened over coffee and via google docs), and maybe some helpful tips for keeping it real in a blog eat blog world!
You’re not living in a magazine, and your life probably isn’t perfect all the time. So don’t act like it.
D: “So, when do you think you became a "real" blogger?”
C: “I definitely don’t feel like I am a real blogger at all. When I visit real blogs, I look at them in awe, the way I looked at the Mona Lisa. When I see the photography, and the perfect lives bloggers lead, I feel stupid, ugly, and small. At the same time, I feel inspired."
D: “I can get discouraged when I focus on other people who are doing the things I want to do. I know that’s silly, but it's just the way it is for me at times. Being at the beginning stages of writing, I can get down on myself like, “wahhh, I’m such a long ways from that.” I think its a natural part of wanting to accomplish things and trying to find your way. But I do get inspiration from the beautiful work I see on social media".
Don’t compare yourself to others.
C: “In the words of Beyonce (loosely translated), “Women should compete with each other over business, not men.” I think it’s a great transformation we’re seeing.”
D: “Haha! I think it’s true that we are starting to see that more and more. I don’t really get competitive with other women, never really have… I have always been a girl’s girl and gotten along well with women. I love seeing their businesses grow and for them to go the entrepreneurial path! I have found thought, that I can’t focus too much on other people's success, or I get sidetracked and discouraged because it’s like comparing your beginning to someone’s middle or end. It never goes well and it gets depressing, and then you need wine".
Connecting and developing friendships with a few quality bloggers is vital.
D: “So can I tell you my first impression of you and why I thought you were a real blogger?
C: “Yes, serve me all the flattery, or is this flattery? Should I get a tissue?
D: “…definitely flattery. When I first came across your account on Instagram, I was instantly drawn to the color scheme and photography. It’s no surprise that people are drawn to crisp and bright images. Everything was very clean and minimalist, and the photos were very high quality. So I was like “okay she’s cute, she can stay.” I followed you and then stalked your blog. I remember loving the layout and how simple and clean everything was. I think at the time I only had few personal followers and an idea, but I figured, "whatever, I’ll email her anyway and see if she responds." I wanted to know what you used to make your site and if you had paid for it. It just looked professional and well put together. You responded, and we fell in love.”
C: “Instant love! The funny thing is, that when I got your e-mail, I thought, “….ummm is she lost? Maybe she sent this to the wrong person. Definitely not me. Nope. But suuuure I’ll pretend I know what I’m doing...”
D: "Lol! Maybe I was lost, but it was meant to be!"
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Just do it. A ‘no’ isn’t going to kill you.
C: “Sometimes when I am about to e-mail really big bloggers or get in touch with a dream company, I think, “Deb had the courage to e-mail you and give you her phone number, you can do this!””
D: “Haha I’m glad to hear my shamelessness rubs off. I totally know the fear of being told no, but I’ve been through much worse than just a “no”, so I figured if someone tells me no, I’ll just be like, “Fine I’ll find another way, you’ll see! You’ll all see!!!!” Lol. I think that we self-sabotage a lot of the time just because of fear, and a lot of times it’s fear of succeeding, and not knowing what to do when you get there.”
C: “If I’ve learned one thing from you, it’s that everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and everybody is human. You’ve taught me to not be afraid of submitting, reaching out, writing...etc. The work you crank out in an hour is generally what I produce in an entire week. So I’ve been cracking down on myself to just sit down and do it. No more self sabotage or “next week” lists. Just to be here, in the now, to succeed.”
Focus on quality over quantity.
D: “Honestly, you inspired me to get going. I remember when I first told you about my idea for Society Letters. I was tentative about it, and you simply said, “I’m down!” - to a complete (and potentially creepy) stranger. I mean you hadn’t even texted me a picture of your wedding dress then, so we were not on the level we are on now! I’ve learned that fear is something in our minds, and we are truly the only ones who can set limits for ourselves. When you are sure of yourself and you go for what you want and produce quality (over quantity), people start to see your hard work and start to take notice. Something I heard someone say one is, “be so good they HAVE to work with you”. When you are good at what you do, and you’re consistent, over time it will show and people will want to partner with you and create good things together.”
Always be original and creative, no matter what niche your blog is in.
C: “Speaking of quality, what is the biggest turn off for you when it comes to bloggers/instagrammers, that will make you unfollow them?
D: “The number thing that bothers me personally is lack of originality. Sometimes it can get very repetitive. I personally enjoy following creative bloggers who find ways to promote their content in an original way, as well as let their followers get to know their personality! I get inspiration for myself on how to present an attractive brand or product."
In regards to your followers: send them love!
C: “The number one thing that turns me off is if I leave a really thoughtful comment on a blog, and I don’t get a response. I just spent my time clicking over to leave kind words, the least the owner can do is reply. Or better yet - pop over to mine and return the favor. I’ve had a few bloggers complete some of my projects, and when they tag me, it sends me over the moon. I always make sure to send them sooooo much love, because that’s the reason I started blogging! I didn’t start for the Instagram likes.”
Always remember your purpose. Remember why you started.
D: “So what do you think helps create a clear brand?”
C: “ Think of Jenna Kutcher as an example: she has a clear purpose, and has created a niche/brand for herself that is very different, unique, and personable. We don’t think of her as a wedding photographer anymore, we see her as a person and remember what she says.”
Don’t ever get follower hungry. And don’t be self-centered. Just don’t.
D: “People/bloggers/companies/brands can get so focused on getting more likes and more followers, they don’t focus on the quality of followers they have. That is one thing I want to not lose sight of with Society letters as well as my personal business, because having a lot of followers may help you look legit, but it does not mean it necessarily translates into getting more business! . Having a gazillion inactive, unengaged followers is pointless. I would rather have less followers I interact with who help me promote and drive business, and create a community that is supportive, interactive, and mutually beneficial! Clients and customers like to see a real person, not a cold and detached brand that doesn't really feel personable".
When participating in giveaways...
C: “Let’s face it - giveaways can be good, and they can be bad. How you handle giveaways will hugely affect what type of environment you create. If a blogger does giveaways 2 times a week, and has 145K followers, I automatically know they are not being totally genuine, and will generally unfollow.”
Brand yourself, but don’t limit yourself.
C: “Balancing giveaways with your own personality can help keep things real. Your own personality can be a multitude of things - just because you seem to have a majority of home decor enthusiasts in your network, doesn’t mean you can’t post a selfie or dog pic. I think it’s important to keep your brand in mind whenever you post something (photography, writing, whatever it may be), but it doesn’t always have to be the same thing.”
D: “I think that a lot of people find themselves in that situation. Sort of stuck inside this box of this or that, and if they post pictures outside of that theme, they lose followers and get sad. I think it’s important to create a variety of themes that are acceptable within your brand, and find a way to make them all go together under your umbrella. Followers can be very sensitive ( I mean I know I am, if I don't like 2 or 3 pictures in a row on my feed I lose interest, so I can't blame my followers for doing the same thing!). It's a process to learn how to brand yourself as a person, which is especially hard with bloggers since so much of it is showing your personal life. It's definitely trial and error."
Bad photography isn’t gonna get you anywhere. Nor will the 9th picture of your cat.
C: “It’s obviously annoying when an Instagram account only posts pictures of their shop’s items. Instagram should be a place to be personal with your followers, and promotion should remain organic. I get it, you sell children’s headbands... I’ve seen the previous 198732984 pictures. Also when someone posts a bunch of selfies. And even though she/he might have a great personality or great ideas, the appearance of the photo matters to me. If they’re poorly lit shots at odd angles, I’m probably going to unfollow.”
D: “Well it’s no surprise that people like looking at pretty things! Good photography will alllllways attract attention, and bad photography will make you look unprofessional.”
So to sum up our brainstorming sesh, here are the key points we feel we have both learned in the early stages of blogging/branding your business! Feel free to add more in the comments and share the lessons you've learned!!
- Be personable, and get personal. People like getting to know people behind brands.
- Take GOOD photos
- Have a CLEAR message and vibe
- Don’t get desperate for growth; produce quality and let your brand grow organically
- Stay true to yourself
- Be creative, and think outside the box
- Support other brands/bloggers in a genuine manner
- Be honest with your followers and don’t fake perfection; they really do appreciate getting to know the real you
- Don’t become a walking advertisement
- Remember why you started
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to others; just make sure you do so in a sincere way
- Don’t compare and compete. Remember your story is unique, and that you are at a different stage than others may be.
- Use your time wisely - be productive, and don’t put things off that you could do right now.
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