What I Learned From My First Year of Blogging

by Serina Gousby

August 1st will mark my first full year of running The Rina Collective, and I have come a long way. Yay for growth. For years, I always wondered what it would be like to create a brand of my own, and inspire someone with my writing. However, these last eleven months taught me that building a brand is a lot more difficult than I thought, and in the end, it’s all about patience, consistency, and my authentic self.

Back in July of last year, I had this structured plan all figured out, well I thought; I was going to post on the blog three times a week, alert everyone on all my social media platforms, email subscribers, and stay consistent. Within the first three weeks of August, I crashed. After September, I wasn’t consistent, I would alert people on social media the day before the post, and then have to announce a different date because the post wasn’t done yet, and…everything was just a mess. Trying to maintain a perfect blog, and keep up with other brands was complete chaos. I needed a realistic plan that will allow me to produce quality content, and build up my blog slowly.

Today, I have been very consistent thus far with one blog post a week, and have kept up with alerts and notices the best I can. I used to follow all of these blogging Facebook groups and Twitter feeds so I can figure out ways to gain more followers and readers, and one of the tips was to post everyday on social media and the blog. I would have quit if I kept doing that. I learned that I have to simply keep a schedule that works for me, and the supporters will eventually come if they like my content.

Speaking of content, that was another problem. My main goal for this blog is to educate, reflect on my life choices and lessons, and share my music and literature interests. The beginning stages of blogging was difficult because at first I was writing for myself, and then it slowly turned into blog posts that I didn’t necessarily enjoyed writing but thought other people would like. My posts about Janet Jackson’s tour, my review on Black Panther, and my honorary playlist for my brother’s wedding day, are examples of posts that I wrote just for y’all. After a while, blogging became more like an obligation rather than a fun hobby, and I had to start writing about topics I cared about. When I wrote about Phillis Wheatley, I thought that post would be overlooked, and I didn’t think many people would care about my admiration for a Black Boston Poet. Well I was wrong, because It is currently one of my most viewed posts on the blog. That just showed me that authenticity was enough. As long as I continue to write content that not only has purpose, but carries my personal interest, I will be successful. Writing content that I think will give me a bunch of attention and followers like gossip and hot topics, is not the way I want to build my blog.

I came across a short clip the other day, of Oprah talking about brand and authenticity, and the fact that many young people feel like they have to establish their brand once coming out of college. Here’s the clip below:

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She’s absolutely right, and I’ve been measuring success all wrong. In these current times, social media fame, followers, and recognition seem to open doors for many entrepreneurs today. However, it’s not easy. I’ve asked many bloggers and writers about their rapid growth and presence on social media, and their responses varied. Some brands grow fast through trends, appearance, and relatable topics—while other brands had to promote for months or even years to receive any type of recognition. All of this equals to consistency and allowing the brand to grow naturally. I just started blogging nearly a year ago, and it’s been hard to promote, maintain a schedule, and have family, friends, and acquaintances actually share and tell people about my writing. I’m still new…why am I putting so much pressure on myself?

One of my good friends has a great way of showing me the positives when I can only see my faults, and they reminded me of the supportive comments I receive publicly and privately, the number of views on the blog each day, and the incredible number of people following both my Instagram and Facebook for the blog. I may have a small village of supporters right now, but I’m grateful that I even have that. If I can’t be grateful for the 100+ people who support me, then what am I going to do with 1.5 million people?

Plus, the fact that I have been pushing content after content, week after week, just to give back in some way for people, is amazing. I didn’t have to start a blog that documents my mental health, weight struggles, childhood traumas, and victories, but I did it so I can reach some of you who may have gone through the same things. I love it. I love that the blog taught me that it’s okay to be myself, it’s okay to talk about poetry and literature, it’s okay to shed positive light on Black men and women, and that it’s okay to heal open wounds. I want to thank you for reading this, and for following my journey throughout this entire year of The Rina Collective. I would not be in this calm and liberating space without your kind and thoughtful support. I’m just getting started.

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