She Went West Turns 1!

I truly can’t believe it’s been a year since I officially launched She Went West. For those of you who are relatively new to the blog, I’ll give you some background. For years and years I would compare my life to bloggers and complain to Ray that I wish I had pursued a creative outlet like they did. The idea that I could work with brands I love and admire, create content that’s all my own, share my life with people that wanted to follow, get free stuff at a constant (one of the best perks, I’m not going to lie), and interact every day with likeminded, creative and positive people seemed like a dream to me. So one day, three years ago, I decided that I should stop complaining and do something about it. We had recently moved to LA and I had just written the California bar. I started a blog, hired a photographer and did two shoots (with eight looks). I was ready to go! Finally! And then I landed a full-time job. Somehow I convinced myself I couldn’t do both, so I gave up the blog idea. And I can’t tell you how much I regretted it. Every so often I would say to Ray, “imagine I had started the blog x months ago, where it could be now!” And he would always tell me it’s not too late. So finally, two years later (and now a year ago), I launched She Went West.  I am so grateful that I get to say “I can’t believe what has happened in a year” rather than “imagine where the blog could have been if I launched last year.”

People ask me what took so long to get the courage to launch the blog. For one, I was really nervous what people would think of me. If you ask my photographer, I was sooo nervous shooting at the beginning. You inevitable get the stares, eye rolls and people thinking another basic b. For some reason, I cared. Something switched in my late 20s and I no longer cared what others were going to think. If they were going to judge me, that’s on them, not on me. Secondly, I thought I couldn’t be a lawyer and a blogger. To this day I try and keep those two worlds separate. But the fear wasn’t enough to stop me from launching She Went West. The real reason I finally launched was because I was so sick of hearing myself complain and not doing anything about it. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who complain and don’t take any steps to try and make it better. After all, no one was stopping me from starting a blog. I figured I might as well try.

 Overall I’m so happy with how the first year went. I collaborated with some awesome companies, like Nordstrom, Saks, Sephora and the Four Seasons. I’ve met an amazing community of girls online. And I constantly feel joy when I’m working on the brand, whether it be pitching ideas, writing posts, styling looks, editing outfits, etc.

I thought I would share 10 things I learned in my first year as a blogger (scroll down!)

1.   People will judge and then they will get over it – As I mentioned above, at first I was so nervous about people’s reactions. And it’s true; people will likely judge you at the beginning. But when you stay true to yourself, work hard and show value to your work, people’s perceptions will change (or not, and that’s there loss!). 

2.   Patience is key- I’m still learning this. Some weeks are great while others aren’t. Some days my posts will do amazing and others will fall flat. Some weeks I’ll get tons of emails for collaborations and others I won’t get any. It’s all about patience (which, truthfully, is the hardest part). I want the brand to get bigger and bigger overnight, but I know that’s not how it works. Patience and dedication is necessary to grow a successful brand.

3.   Don’t be afraid of rejection. I pitch a lot of brands. If I love something, I reach out. I’m not afraid of rejection. I get tons of no’s and tons of yes’. You never know what the outcome might be and as cliché as it sounds, you will never know unless you try. What’s the worst that they will say? Something like, “thank you for reaching out. At this time we do not have any room for collaborations.” Okay, that’s not so bad. No one will judge you for trying.

4.   It’s okay to figure it out- what does that mean exactly? Your first year is all about learning. What’s your voice like in blog posts? What’s your tone in your captions on Instagram? What does your feed like? What about home décor? Personally, my style and taste has evolved a lot over the past year. Even this week, I am making tons of changes (new blog, new editing for my feed etc.) I think it is okay to take time, figure it out and evolve. From home décor (I used to be obsessed with shabby chic and now I’m so over it), to editing (my feed used to be very bright and now I’m shifting to a more moody tone), style and taste will evolve and change.

5.   You will gain a lot of followers and lose a lot of followers- This could not be more true. And you can’t take it personally.

6.   Eventually you will shift from a hobby to something more serious- This is where I am at right now. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I still really felt like She Went West was a fun hobby. Something changed recently and I have completely shifted my vision. For one, I have started to invest in necessary equipment (using money from collaborations so I don’t have to be out of pocket). I bought a camera, lighting, tripods and I’m building a home office. It feels good to take it to the next level.

7.   Don’t compare yourself to others- OH MY GOD, this one is hard. Brutal. Scrolling through Instagram on a daily basis (it’s your job!) can make it almost impossible not to compare yourself to others. There are bloggers that seemed to have gained popularity overnight, that have such exciting collaborations, that go to such great events and that travel all the time for work. It can be extremely hard not to compare yourself and feel down about where you are. You just need to remember that nobody else is you. There may be a million bloggers out there but everyone is different and your following chooses to follow you for a reason. Just like I mentioned above, patience is key. I remember there was a week where I had amazing collaborations with brands I could have only dreamed of working with a year ago, and yet I was complaining to Ray about something regarding comparing myself to other bloggers. I had to stop myself and realize what was happening. A year ago I would have dreamed to be where I am right now. And I’m sure I’ll say the same thing this time next year.

8.   You need to invest to grow- You need to be willing to invest money to grow the brand. My tip would be to pick and choose what you invest your money in. For me, good quality photographs were key. So, at the beginning, I would just shoot clothes I’ve had for a while but spend my money on a photographer. It is only recently I’ve invested in equipment I’ve wanted for a while. Make a plan and decide what your priorities are.

9.   Some people won’t understand you- Since blogging is relatively new in the grand scheme of things, some people just won’t understand how scrolling through Instagram, commenting on people’s pictures, writing blogs and taking pictures is work. But, boy is it. It takes tons of time, hard work, creativity, patience etc. They’ll understand when they see your paychecks ;)

10. Remember why you started in the first places- On days when it’s not going so well (no collaborations, posts don’t do well, you lose followers etc.), remember why you started the blog in the first place. This always makes me feel better. Because, even if on that day the brand isn’t doing as well as I would like, I think about how far I’ve come. I would way prefer to have an off day than to have no day thinking about She Went West.

Photography by Felicia Lasala

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