December 30, 2011
Categories: Beautiful Mess
A few months ago, I was sitting in an afternoon training session at work. The message was all about becoming “famous”. I instantly thought of Nick Cannon’s song, “Famous” – don’t ask. Granted, the lesson was much more targeted around generating sales leads, but I found myself ferociously taking notes…more specifically, I found myself strategically thinking about myself as a photographer and a blogger.

I suppose I could have simply taken the notes and stored them away in my memory, but I’m Ashley Sisk…I like to share…and what better time to share what I’ve learned about blogging than my TWO YEAR BLOGOVERSARY? That’s right…as of today, I have officially been blogging for two full years.
So, you want to be famous? A famous photographer…a famous blogger…a famous musician…a famous artist…a famous writer. Whatever you are trying to be famous for, it starts with discovering an opportunity. It stars with focusing on one area in which you can be the best…and that means that you aren’t going to be the best in many other areas (I could give you an entire list of things I’m not the best at…including cooking and cleaning). 

I know that I’m not the best photographer and I know that I’m not the best photography/Photoshop/editing teacher. And although I look up to people like Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) or Kelle Hampton, I hardly believe I’m the best blogger. I certainly didn’t start a blog with the intent to make money or become famous…I simply wanted an outlet to express myself creatively. I was inspired by bloggers who would willingly share their own experiences, lessons learned or free tools that would forever change the way I operated my computer, and I just wanted to give back a piece of what had been freely given to me. 

Being “famous” is less about skill and more about being “opportunistic of where you spend your time.” I will tell you that I spend probably as much time “blogging” (that includes writing actual posts, commenting, imagining future posts, etc) as I do working…for a paycheck. Granted, I have the time to do so right now since we don’t have any little ones…but I do feel as though this community we’ve created is a wonderful return on my time and commitment. I also believe that if my heart wasn’t poured into it, that blogging would have come and gone like many of my previous “hobbies.”
Ashley - nose and lips RS
Two years later and I’m convinced that blogging is here to stay. But, if you’re anything like me, you’re evaluating the past year and your time. Is blogging worth the investment you’ve made? Do you still enjoy it? Are you more or less focused…do you have a focus? Have you made friends…fans….are you a fan of your own work? These are all questions that swirl through my brain, so I’m sure I’m not the only one (and if I am, consider this my year end monologue). 

One thing I’ve learned over the past two years is that blogging is much like a business – granted, I don’t make any money doing it just yet, but I know plenty of people that do. Any successful business (and plenty of unsuccessful businesses) or blog for that matter has spent time building their brand. A strong brand not only generates leads, exposure and sales, but it also creates raving fans…or as we call them in the blogging community…”followers.” For some that means creating a blogging personso (ex. The Paper Mama and the Naptime Momtog)…for others (like myself), it means you expose yourself to the world. Either way, it’s important to keep your brand as consistent as possible so your readers always know what to expect.
Computer Lies - BW-RS
Still with me? Here are some other words of wisdom:
  1. Give credit where credit is due. Always link back to those who have inspired you…in the same way your teachers used to make you reference your sources within term papers. Pinterest makes it even easier these days to remember where the inspiration came from. On that note, I once had a college professor that told me I was hardly expected to remember everything, but she did expect me to learn where to find information.
  2. Refer Refer Refer. If for some reason, you can’t do something, refer the business to a trusted colleague. I would much rather connect an individual with the right resource than try to respond to a request that I have absolutely no business dealing with. 
  3. Give to get. Provide freebies from time to time to demonstrate your expertise in a particular area and further develop your brand. For example, I might share editing tutorials, Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets or textures. In the case of client work, I might under-promise the number of photos I will process in a given portrait session and then over-deliver on the contract. Consider what you have to offer.
  4. Bring in the experts. You don’t always have to be the expert. Where it makes sense, bring in guest writers to fill in the gaps. Furthermore, retain credibility by choosing wisely…only ask guest writers that you want your blog aligned with as it will be a reflection of you. 
  5. Connect with your readers. If you aren’t doing so already, use email, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Google + and other social media tools to create a community with your readers. Blogging is not a one way communication approach. 
What am I missing? 
Mirror Mirror RS
With that said, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this blogging community with me for the past two years. I can assure you that there is a lot of exciting things to come in 2012 and I hope you’ll be a part of it. If you have any interest in sponsoring a giveaway or writing a guest post, please send me a message. Also let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see on my blog in the coming year – I’m always open to ideas.

In the meantime, Happy New Years! I wish you a year full of life, love, happiness, blogging and “being famous.” I’ll see you again on Sunday for Memories, Dreams and Reflections.