Ahhhhh… What. A. Year! The only way to start this post is to stop and thank everyone so much for this last year. The love and support we have felt and experienced has been amazing! We have a lot of new faces since our beginning (YAY!) so I just wanted to recap for some of our newer followers.

 

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop Cristie’s top here)

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop our outfits here)

We started this blog together as a transition from owning a clothing boutique for 7 years. To say that we were terrified of giving our company aka “first baby” a new direction would be an understatement. We loved what we did and all of our amazing employees and shoppers but the retail lifestyle was just not conducive anymore for our families… especially since it was headquartered in a different state than Texas. But after many, many months of prayer and preparation we realized that transitioning into a lifestyle blog appeared to be a great new direction for our careers. And man have we LOVED it!

One of the things we talked about a ton this weekend was reflecting on this last year and how we want to use year two to really grow with you guys, and be able to share more of us and our journey. In saying that, when we first started our blog we hung on every word of advice we could read from other bloggers talking about their beginnings or their tips & tricks for blogging, so we thought we would share 10 of the most useful things we have learned in our first year!

 

10 Things We Have Learned in our First Year of Blogging:

  1. 1. Be real and genuine to your brand. But y’all this is SOOO IMPORTANT! Especially when it comes to working with brands. As you grow, it is so exciting to have companies reach out to you wanting to work with you but that doesn’t mean you say yes to everything. We only work with brands and products that we love, or see real potentially in trying and using, that would be helpful for our followers. Anything else that doesn’t align with that – we, in the kindest and most polite way possible, thank them for reaching out but decline the offer. You are your brand and, just like a reputation, one thing or product that is off from your brand can ruin that relationship you worked so hard to build with your shoppers. People can feel when they are being pitched and if you aren’t being genuine or its not your style. Better to lose one deal than lose the respect of your followers.
  2. 2. Everyone has a different groove…. Find yours and stick to it! I remember reading multiple bloggers tips on a day in their life, and while it sounded amazing, it just was not conducive for our lifestyle. Whether someone is up at 5am to work because of sleeping babies or another person stays up from midnight til 2am to finish their next blog – its okay that you have a whole different routine. Now in saying that, you have to find a schedule and stay on it. I feel like a “blogging”schedule can be pretty ambiguous to others but also ourselves. The whole “lifestyle” part can be super hard because you are never off the clock. We luckily had a similar lifestyle with our boutique, so it was a little easier to realize that but we still have to block out time that we are not working. Phones and laptops put away, so that family and friends time can come first. Which sometimes is easier to say than do, because the beauty of social media is that it is always on and moving forward. So carving out the schedules for both is soooo important. This is something we are still really trying to work on but are determined to do better at it in year two.
  3. 3. Get a good camera or iPhone. If you had asked us before we started we would have said a nice camera is essential from day one. However, now we see how much the “lifestyle” or “in the moment pics” have become so popular. So honestly, making sure your phone camera is up to par is wayyy more important starting out. We have a Cannon Rebel  but 8 out of 10 pics we post are iPhone photos. We use Cristie’s iPhone 8+ and love it because it takes such incredible quality pics and videos. Plus its great to be able to use a phone to start out with because you are not having to make a huge investment of buying a camera (like we did). Now with that being said, we love our Canon Rebel and I am so glad we have it because there are some pics that just need the sharp image that only a Camera can take. So, it is definitely something to start saving for but I would not say it is essential to have starting up. If you are interested in getting The cannon rebel I found ours on sale here!
  4. 4. Reach out to brands that you want to work with and don’t be offended if you are turned down. This is something I feel like is also easier said than done. It can be super intimidating sometimes to reach out to brands, and then after doing so, to hear that “they are not interested at this time” can be totally discouraging,but it happens to everyone! And isn’t it better to have gotten your name out there than to wonder? Even if you are an introvert, the answer is yes lol.  An example: We reached out to a brand we wanted to work with really early on in our blogging and they nicely turned us down, but then we were on their radar and 6months later they reached back out to us and presented an awesome contract.Who knows if they would have ever known us if we didn’t originally reach out to them!  Now, that’s not going to be everyone’s story but we encourage you to reach out and you’ll be surprised how sometimes brands will even give you great advice on what they are looking for in order to collaborate. Another great tip is to look and see what style images they are reposting and that can help you land the deal later on.
  5. 5. Get very comfortable with editing Apps. We regularly use Lightroom for our presets and love it. I will not pretend lightroom is an easy app to understand but youtube is a miracle teacher and can help get you going. Plus once you create your own presets (or you can buy others presets) it cuts your editing time in half which is a game changer! This goes hand in hand with the good camera too, because who cares about a good quality image if the lighting is weird or off. The aesthetic of pics is also super personal and so unique for everyone so find what you feel best represents YOU! Another app I love is Facetune for detailing products and cleaning up images. They also have some good filters I will use sometimes as well. I also love Snapseed. Snapsee is actually what I first used before Lightroom and is really helpful! It is great for lighting, editing colors, and sharpening images. I know a lot of people use VSCO and Colorstory and love them. I have only played around with these a little but its really up to what you find easiest to use and best creates your aesthetic for images.
  6. 6. Community is everything!!! Connect with other bloggers & Influencers. We have met some of the SWEETEST people through blogging and love anytime we can meet up and hang out. Some have a much bigger following than us, and some have a few less than us but that what makes connecting so great – the follower count doesn’t matter, the people do. So look to meet up and get to know others in the industry. We are lucky to be sisters doing this together but its always so great to talk with others and get their perspectives on this fun and crazy blogging world. Which leads me to the next tip….
  7. 7. Don’t get caught up in the comparison game. There’s a reason that there is a popular quote that says “Comparison is the theif of joy” it’s because it really is true! Nothing can take the wind out of your sails as quickly as negatively looking at other feeds and wondering why they are “doing better”. I am not saying we all don’t have low moments in this industry but it is such a lie we tell ourselves. When you find yourself doing that, get off your phone or account and give your self this little pep talk: “YOU are doing a great job. Look how far YOU have come in the short time blogging. Your followers love YOU, not what someone else looks like or what they have.” You are doing this for you and your followers. Your followers are investing in YOU, by following you so just try to be the best, most genuine version of yourself.
  8. 8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It is ok to sometimes let down your guard and get help in areas you need to improve in. Everyone is not a master of everything. Take a class,  join a group, watch YouTube videos, podcasts…Research is king in this industry!!   But don’t let a lack of knowledge or your insecurities hold you back from taking your business to the next level.
  9. 9. Dream BIG…Don’t let Self Doubt Take You Over! We only get this one life, so don’t waste it in self doubt and the “what if’s”! And don’t let people suck the wind out of your sails. Look for those that encourage you and create positive energy. It is important for you to surround yourself with this kind of community!   When we started our first business, people would either say to us that’s so brave, or that’s going to be so hard,  that’s so risky, are you sure there is a market for that, what about all the other… ETC. The truth is, Cristie and I always learned to bet on ourselves, build a strong community and work extremely hard from our parents. Create a life you love where you can live well and help others! We have always been more afraid of looking back and thinking we should have at least tried it then getting fixated on the judgement of other people.  The truth is, people are always going to talk, so you might as well keep it interesting and chase your dreams! Sure, every idea and dream we have had is not a success (That wouldn’t be real life). But you know what, it helped shaped the great ideas that came after it! Think positive and take time to look for the things you excel in so that you can start your next successful adventure! “Dream BIG stay positive, work hard and enjoy the journey!”
  10. 10. Have a Game Plan…Goals Matter!  It is so important to write down your goals and a strategies of how you are going to get there! Don’t make your goals so small that its easy to achieve all of them without hard work…Because then is that even a true goal?! It has been said that “If it were easy everyone would do it.”  We had years of practice of this when we owned our boutique. If you do not have goal and a game plan, how are you going to be able to track your success and know what is working?! Also, this business pulls you literally in a million directions so if you don’t have your goals and to do lists together each day, you will be chasing your tail every day with less to show for it. Let’s all be honest, as a Blogger/Influencer there are always emails,  DM’s, comments and likes, website issues, pictures, texts, shipments, photoshoots & etc that need to get done ASAP… If you don’t have a game plan you will be constantly overwhelmed and on the edge.  It is also so important to have these tools in place so that you can see and celebrate your little victories along the way!

We hope these 10 things we have learned have been helpful to you! By no means have we mastered these, we are still working on these every day. Again a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been following us and encouraged us along this adventure! We could never express how much your support means to us. To our followers ….WE LOVE YOU!!! Thank you for being part of our community and investing in our platform. We are so grateful for what a blessing you all have been to us!

We cannot wait to see where Merritt & Style takes us this year! We we are so excited to hear from you on what you want to see in year two and share some of our favorites as well!

(Shop outfits here)

(Shop outfits here)

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