Should you start a blog? Here is my advice.

akansha-agrawal-blogging

akansha-agrawal-blogging

I had the chance to catch-up with Anna Stern, community manager for Collectively Inc. and we both came to the simple conclusion that blogging in 2017 is fundamentally different than what it was back in 2009, or even 2013.

The online space is much more saturated now and as a blogger, you need something that sets you apart. These days it’s not enough to post your outfit of the day or your latest smoothie bowl.  What will you provide that separates you from the other thousands of bloggers out there?

I started my blog about a year ago and truthfully, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew I wanted to share content around health & wellness from a South Asian perspective but did not have a strategy or method for getting there. I was overwhelmed and lost. Though I still have a long way to go, here are a few pieces of  blogging advice:

  1. Define your Mission and Stick to It: With a successful blog you need a clear focus for two reasons. Number one, to keep yourself accountable and number two, to give your readers a purpose. As a blogger it’s so easy to get distracted by the next shiny object and lose track of your original intent. Consistency and clarity will also help your readers understand what they will receive from you.
  2. Create a Community: I’ve created a successful community by creating a Facebook group for women interested in health and wellness. A Facebook group is more valuable than a Facebook page because your readers can participate in valuable, genuine dialogue. A community also allows you to conduct a bit of user research by finding out what matters to your readers.
  3. Approach Local Brands Proactively: Working with local businesses and brands is the way to go because you can lead with a warm approach by chatting in person. For example, if you are a fashion blogger, try hitting up your favorite retail store/boutique and discuss potential collaborations. It can be scary to take your blog from behind the screen to in-person but real life interactions can do wonders.
  4. Spend More Time as a Creator and Less Time as Consumer: I want you to do me a favor. Grab your phone, go to your settings, battery life and then check how much time you’ve spent on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Those hours could instead be used to create valuable content! There have been multiple weeks where I’ve felt exhausted, mentally drained from “blogging” but in reality, I had not published a blog post in weeks!  I was completely caught up in the noise of social media.
  5. Stay in Your Own Lane: I believe the biggest factor that hold bloggers back is their mindset. It’s easy to be discouraged and overwhelmed if you start comparing yourself to those who have been in the game for years. The quality of your content is important but you don’t need all the fancy production elements a professional blogger may have. Your reader wants to see you grow authentically so don’t be afraid to take them along your journey.

I hope my blogging advice is helpful! Do you have a blog or are you planning to create one? I’d love to learn more about your own journey.

This Was Not Part Of My Five Year Plan

*Like the side hustle article this was also originally published on LinkedIn but also feels relevant for the blog :).

If I were to meet myself from five years ago, I feel I might not recognize her — at the very least, I’m almost certain she wouldn’t recognize the person I’ve become. Five years ago, like most college students, I was trying to navigate through life, to prove my worth to potential employers, and to figure out what it means to have a career. When I landed an internship at LinkedIn, I felt like I hit the jackpot — my career had been set. Little did I know how transformative my professional journey would be.

If you told me five years ago I would leave my job to pursue my own projects, that too in the wellness space, I would have looked back at you with a dumbfounded blank stare. That was never supposed to be in the cards for me. It was definitely not part of the the five year plan I had perfected to a T while preparing for my job interviews.

It’s serendipitous that my own wellness journey began right around the time I started at LinkedIn. In the last four years I’ve held three different roles in advertising, market research, and sales analytics, but that only covers a portion of my journey. I’ve also ran three half marathons, a handful of Turkey Trots, and an obstacle course race — all thanks to LinkedIn’s amazing wellness program! I’m grateful my passion and career coincided.

My career in wellness began with this simple blog about a year ago. Then I received my first group fitness certification, created an online community for women, worked with multiple brands and now, I’m developing a healthy Indian food recipe eBook with my mother. Only time will tell what else is in store for the future.

Perhaps ironically, the knowledge I have gained at LinkedIn is what has given me the confidence to leave. From writing content with some of our best marketers to learning how to tell stories with data, LinkedIn has given me the tools to succeed regardless on the role or industry I choose.

Not to say that I know everything quite yet. In fact, I have a huge learning curve ahead of me and I know there will be many restless nights during which I’ll question my decision to leave. I don’t know what success looks like for me yet, but I know this leap will get me one step closer to finding my version of it.

Thank you to all who have been with me through this incredible journey.