As Trials N’ Tresses approaches it’s second year in existence in a few months I look back on how far we’ve come and how much I’ve learned in the process. That is why I’ve compiled a list of my top 9 difficulties of being a natural hair blogger as well as how I’ve fixed/alleviated/ or solved most of what made it so difficult. Don’t be fooled you wont be able to fix everything at least not over night, but I’m hoping this list gives you a few ideas/tips/tricks to easing your process whether you haven’t started yet, are just now getting started, or you’re already deep into the game!
1. Lack Of Time:
I know we always hear time is of the essence… but when you’re juggling a full time job, a part time job, and a side hustle blogging about anything let alone your hair can seem like a giant nuisance. Let’s face it, you’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy but if you know that blogging is something you love and you really want to blog about your trials/tribulations with your tresses ( see what I did there… haha) then you have to set up a schedule for yourself that you are going to stick to. The first schedule I created for blogging was on my wash day… FAIL! That failed for so many reasons. One… I was trying to wash my hair, prepare myself for my week (lunch/lesson plans…etc), record/edit videos for the Youtube channel, and blog about something unique or related to my hair at that particular time. I was OVER doing it. I was also not sticking to the schedule time wise.
Solution: Make a clear schedule.
First step: Choose a day or two (start off slow… one day is best) and an amount of time to go towards creating content. Do not go over that time ! I would slot myself two hours… and always say oh I need to do this really quickly and end up in front of my computer for 8 hours!
Second step Have a plan/map/ check off list (blogging calendars come in really handy for this step) as to what you content you want to release that week and schedule it. WordPress has a great scheduler that allows you to set the day AND time you want your post to come out on all of your social media platforms (except for Instagram).
2. Over Saturation & Competition:
Let’s face it… the natural hair community has grown RAPIDLY and it seems like everyone wants a piece of the pie. It seems like every where you turn a new natural hair page or product pops up & people are fighting (not literally… just digitally) for likes, comments, & shares on all social media platforms. It’s difficult to obtain a crowd/audience that will be a dedicated reader to you as a blogger because they can find a little piece of everything they need just about everywhere they turn.
Solution: Create An Authentic Unique Voice To Capture Your Key Audience & Network
First Step: Before you start typing away at your computer, and creating tutorials for Youtube you need to first think about what sets you apart. What is going to make your blog, or your videos different from the hundreds of other pages and channels that are already in existence? What is going to be your niche? You have to find your unique voice to find a unique audience that will actively interact with your content. It is easier said than done, but what I love about the natural hair community is that there is always room for one more great idea or one more inspiring unique voice. Every time I think I’ve seen it all something new surprises me so I’m positive there are so many stones left unturned in this community that are begging for people to explore and expose.
Second Step: Network with other bloggers in your similar niche. Attending other bloggers events, sharing ides, partnering up is a great way to expand your audience and become well known in the community you are blogging about/ Or you can even network with bloggers that are completely outside of your stratosphere to bring your audience something new and refreshing. A crossover that has never been done before will definitely have you stand out in an over crowded room.
It is possible to make a large amount of money from your blogging endeavors if done right. However to make money you are going to have to spend money. Now the amount may vary depending on what you can DIY, learn to DIY, and certain decisions you make as the creator of your content. And even after putting in the money to create and elevate your blog to what you want it to be, the return may not instantly be so great. You have to put in tons of time to properly monetizing your content space without blasting your audience with advertisements that are not authentic to your voice and message of your blog. Remember you spent all this time creating your unique voice to capture your audience it would be a shame to lose them due to improper monetization tactics.
Solution: Invest small, Build your voice/audience, Then continue to invest gradually
First Step: The first step to monetization starts with really just finding your space to spread your voice. There are plenty of free blogging platforms you can use that will host your site for you (blogger, wordpress..etc) and purchasing the domain can cost you as little as 10.00 dollars for the year. This is the time to build your unique voice and audience so that you can see what further investing and modification you need to do.
Second Step: Once you feel confident enough to do so I suggest moving onto a self hosted server that will provide you more opportunity to advertise the way you see fit for your platform. By this point you will know what your audience likes or doesn’t like and how they respond to your content. With purchasing your own host, you may want to also consider finding/getting a web designer to develop your look or tweak it a bit. This can be pricy depending on what you want your site to look like or how much of the design you can do yourself. Good work isn’t ALWAYS expensive, but you want to be careful going the CHEAPER route (as we did in our first year) and end up paying to fix the mistakes in the end.
Third Step: Look into reaching out and advertising with some brands that fit into your blog as well as Google Adsense. Google will become your best friend in many aspects when first stepping into building your blog into a monetary aspect of your life rather than just a hobby.
4. Remaining Consistent & Relevant:
Like previously stated with the amount of friendly competition in the natural hair community building & keeping your audience is difficult. It is important to stay consistent and relevant, or your audience will move on without you. Staying consistent is important after you have spent all of this time, effort and money to obtain an interactive audience. They become accustomed to a certain level of content from you on a consistent basis. You want to avoid letting them down. Of course sometimes it happens, but it is not something you should make a habit of. Relevance is just as important as consistency which means you want to “keep up with the Joneses” so to speak without just being seen as a carbon copy to whatever may be out there in the community already.
Solution: Set up a calendar & stay social
Step 1: When I first started blogging I had neither a calendar nor a real grasp on social media. The calendar will help you organize your time but will help you plan out the release of your content in a timely manner that your audience has become accustomed to. If you release one blog a week, or two blogs a week you need to make sure you attempt to maintain that schedule.
Step 2: Staying social involves keeping an eye and ear on the “Streets” so to speak on social media and see what has already been done, is currently being done and what has yet to be done. By being socially aware of how many “twist out” tutorials are out there and what is being done you know that you can either skip that tutorial on your blog. Or if you have a special way that you do a twist out that hasn’t been covered by the masses that is what you would want to focus your time on. Remember you need to give your audience what they want in a refreshing new way. Repackaging the same info will not get you a loyal audience base.
Branding your blog may be one of the most important steps in creating a successful blog, but it is also one of the most difficult and tiring. Making sure you get everything down to the T the way you want it can be difficult. Everything from the color, to your icons, your logo, your website everything is a representative of who you are, your message, your content. That is your brand. That is what people know you as, what they associate with you, and what comes to mind when they think of you. Branding is also a major way you get involved with other brands, so if yours isn’t on point monetization and cross branding will be even more difficult.
Step 1: Know what your message is, what you are putting out there and how you are being viewed. The first thing that happens when a brand reaches out to talk to us, we do our research. We put them in google, we look up their social media platforms and move forward with a decision from there. No one wants to work with a brand that is messy, all over the place, unorganized or unfocused. You want to make sure you are always putting your best possible foot out there for the world to see. Because in this day and age, the internet moves so fast that you can’t UNDO anything once it’s made its way to the social media realm. Someone somewhere has a screen shot of whatever “mistake” you have made no matter how fast you delete it or apologize for it.
Step 2: Once you know how you want your self to be portrayed only work with people that will elevate that. Many times one brand can be the downfall of another brand and you don’t want to work so hard to build your blog /brand up and have it crumble because you partnered with a loose canon.
6. Finding Your Voice & Losing Your Voice:
Finding your unique voice is can be an extremely difficult process, because we are always evolving as people. Therefore when you do find your voice it can be difficult at times to hold on to it. As Trials N’ Tresses increased in the public eye it was difficult to avoid copying whatever was trending at the time just to grab more likes or more attention. It’s difficult to avoid following trends that you see are popular or working for other bloggers. As we increased in popularity and started working with brands it became more and more difficult to keep our unique voice because we wanted to please the brands and people we were working with.
Solution: Take a short amount of time to step back away from the blog
Step 1: Once I started feeling too overwhelmed to do “positive” product reviews for fear of angering a brand, or copying a tutorial that I recently saw uploaded on Youtube, I had to step back from creating new content to refresh my battery. I stopped blogging on Trials N’ Tresses for a month over the summer and started taking some of my own advice. My partner remained relevant on social media by releasing archived content and images, but I wasn’t releasing anything new. That enabled me to play around with my hair, think about new ideas and activities and come back later to the blog to once again bring great content to my audience.
7. Getting Turned Down/ Overlooked:
No matter how much work you put into your blog there are going to be times when your hard work and dedication are not appreciated or can be straight out overlooked. It is difficult to keep trying to reach out to brands when you put your all into one pitch or into one particular post and the world doesn’t take notice like you’d wish they did.
Solution: Never give up
Step 1: I know it sounds cheesy but that is THEE only way to get through this difficulty. You have to realize/remember that it isn’t personal and brands are often looking for a very specific thing that they do not think they can find in you or that you can provide. It doesn’t mean that what you are doing isn’t good enough or that you are not good enough.
Step 2: You can take some time to do some research, update your media kit, and tweak a few things in our approach/pitching to different brands. Practice makes perfect and for every yes I’ve gotten I’ve received over 10 no’s. It’s a matter of dusting yourself off and analyzing what it took to get that one yes, and the few missteps I took to get the no’s.
8. Doing Your Actual Hair:
I know this sounds funny to say/read… but having to actually constantly/consistently do my hair for display can be a bit tiring. When you are a natural hair blogger you have to keep the content flowing and give your audience what they want to see. Wash days aren’t just wash days any more, instead they become filming grounds for a new technique, a new style, or a product review. You then have to edit & promote your new hair style for a period of time before you start over and do it all over again for a new style/technique/product. You become tired and your hair becomes tired.
Solution: Offer More Options For Growth For Yourself
Step 1: You’ve found your niche, you’ve found your voice, you’ve built your audience, now you’re tired! It happens! The great thing about people is they are multi dimensional so while you want to focus on what your audience wants to see you’d be surprised to know that they could want to see more than just one thing from you. Send out a poll to your audience and ask them what it is they want to see you in conjunction with your hair blogging
Step 2: Slow down on production to build on what you have out. Instead of trying to release four new videos a month you could do four videos every two months, so each video has more time to grow/blossom. Instead of doing product review after product review you could give updates on how the product is still working in your hair regimen 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks down the line …etc. You don’t want to over saturate your market with too many product reviews because it may start to feel less authentic to your audience. Offer options and true advice.
9. Keeping Up With technology:
Oh my… the amount of things I’ve learned in 1.5 years of natural hair blogging is mind blowing, and the amount of things I still have yet to learn is just as mind boggling. Once I think I’ve got it all figured out I learn something new, that would further improve the brand. That can be tiring just as it s helpful. It can also be extremely expensive. Everything from graphic design, hosting, promotional advertisement, SEO, new video /lighting tools…etc. That’s when it this the stressful aspect more so than tiring.
Solution: Network and do your research
Step 1: I joined an awesome blogging network that provided tons of answers for questions that I didn’t even think to ask. That was a helpful free resource that taught me many things I didn’t know about the blogging process, and it also provided a sense of comfort for me when I become frustrated. You’d also be surprised to know how much you can find out/learn to do from google searches. Don’t pay for what you can get for free, because you will certainly have to pay for specific things to expand your brand and your blog. Once I learned I would need to incorporate something or that I want to incorporate something I’d map it out into my schedule because sometimes I wouldn’t be able to do it right away due to budgeting issues.
Good luck to you & let us know any blogging tips or tricks you’ve used to get your blog up and running!