Today I’m excited to share a different kind of post. I get tons of questions about how to start a blog, and how I started, and people are always interested to know how I made this blogging thing into a career. So today I’m sharing just that!
I probably need to start at the very beginning.
When I was newly married and still in college, I was studying at BYU in their art program. I loved art — specifically drawing and painting — and planned to make that my career. I lived out of state (I grew up in Las Vegas), so my mom suggested I started a blog to document the art I was creating in school. Did you know that’s why it’s called Merrick’s Art?
Fast forward a few years, I graduated from college, was studying under a few local artists, had quit my day job, and was staying at home with my first baby. I really loved art, but I was feeling increasingly frustrated by it because I just didn’t feel creative. If you gave me a photograph, I could create a pretty painting from it (and that’s mostly what I did), but I didn’t have any fresh, creative, or new ideas, and the thought of coming up with a show of 10 or more cohesive and themed paintings just made me want to puke with fear. I had artistic creative block, always.
Around that time, my mom got a new sewing machine and gave me her old one. I’d taken sewing classes for a couple of years in middle school so I knew the basics and had made some very nice pillowcases, pencil holders, and pajama pants (ha!) but I hadn’t sewn anything in over ten years.
Also around that time, Philip and I cleaned out our closets and made a donation pile. I happened to weed through that pile and snag an old polo shirt of his, and with my new machine I worked a little magic (actually there were plenty of mistakes from this newbie seamstress) to make it a shirt for me. I happened to post that on my blog, which had now become less of an art blog and more of a post-whatever-I-want blog, and it happened to be right around the time Pinterest was making its big debut. And the post went viral. Well, as viral as a tiny art blog clothing refashion could go back in 2011. It got pinned thousands and thousands of times, I got a ton of emails, and for years it was the most viewed post on my blog.
Have any of you been around since then and remember this??
I had people emailing me, asking me if I had a facebook page and a twitter account, or if I could share other tutorials. It was exciting and confusing and completely unexpected.
But the thing I learned the most from it was, I was creative.
For years I’d felt like a fraud when people had told me I was so creative with painting. Because I knew I wasn’t. I had painting skills, but I didn’t have painting creativity. But with clothing, I felt that creativity. Real creativity that keeps you up at night because you’re so excited about a new idea. Creativity that consumes and motivates and pushes boundaries. It was so incredibly exciting and freeing that I’d found my creative passion.
BUT…I still wasn’t very good at sewing. In fact, I was pretty terrible. And I still had no idea what to do with all these new blog followers. But I had motivation and passion that made me want to keep going, regardless of how many followers I had. I wanted to sew, and I wanted to share, and I wanted to learn how to put outfits together (even though I wasn’t very good at that either).
So for the next few years I did a lot of sewing — mostly refashions — and styling, and a lot of Googling. Cause I had no idea how to be a blogger.
When we moved to California in late 2012, right after Fos was born, I decided it was time to really push myself to the next level, because I knew that I really loved blogging, and I wanted to make it into something more. The biggest change I felt I could make was creating better content. I decided the best way to do that was to become better at sewing, and have better images. So for the next year, I really focused on that, and with these changes came more exposure, more connections, more opportunities, and increased growth.
a few posts I did after moving to California
In early 2014 I attended my first blogging conference, in the hopes that I could take my blog to the next level. And this turned out to be a turning point in my career as a blogger. Up to this point I’d probably made less than $500 on my blog.
On the first night of the conference we had a brand dinner, and we got to choose which of the brand sponsors we’d like to eat with. I chose Collectively, a brand new influencer agency, not really knowing who they were or what they did. It was a complete shot in the dark, but it has turned out to be one of my best blogging relationships to date.
Whenever people hear that my job is as a blogger, the first question is, “How do you make money off of blogging?” And that’s where amazing companies like Collectively come in. They’re the go-between for influencers and brands, and over the last three years they’ve brought in a huge percentage of my sponsored content, and connected me with brands I’d only dreamed of working with.
There are a lot of influencer agencies out there, and finding ones that fit with your niche and your brand can be difficult, and that’s what I love so much about Collectively. They have such a wide variety of both influencers and brands that they work with, and they’re amazing at connecting me, as the blogger, with companies and opportunities that fit my brand.
As a creator and maker, I want to have time to do the creative stuff — not spend my time writing contracts or trying to manage payments and collections. So having a great agency who you trust, who wants you to be successful, and helps you stay true to yourself and your brand, is key in building a successful brand. I have recommend them to so many of my blogger friends, and if you’re trying to build your blog or brand, they’re an amazing place to start.
As much as I cringe looking back at my old posts and photos, when I was taking my own pictures with a tripod in my bedroom, and then in the backyard of our condo complex, and then in random spots where I hoped no one would drive by, I also love seeing how much progress I’ve made over the years to get where I am today. I love seeing how my passion for sewing, and my drive for creativity and skill turned my little hobby into a job, and I’m grateful for the people along the way who have helped me turn this passion into a dream job.
I’d love to answer any other questions you might have about blogging! Leave me a comment below! xx