Get Started: tips on starting a blog from the right technology to fighting fear

posted on: Friday, 5 August 2016

This month marks the seventh anniversary of FFG's existence. I like to think of it as lucky seven, really, as each and every day that I get to call this crazy world of mine a "job" is another day where I'm feeling pretty lucky indeed. But, as I've said before, and I'll say again and again, it's not all been smooth sailing. There have been ups and downs, crazy times and hard times. But there's a bigger story here and it's about getting started and keeping the momentum. To tell the story, and to hopefully provide some inspiration to those of you that are sitting here thinking, "how can I move forward in starting a blog or a social entity," I've teamed up with Currys PC World to share my "get started" adventure. In truth, this is a collaboration that is near and dear to my heart as I believe having the right tools can be just as important as having the guts to get going.

True story, in August 2009, I started Fashion Foie Gras with an HP laptop, from a Starbucks in Holborn, on my lunch hour. I had a full time job, was working about 12 hours a day, and had never before really taken a full lunch hour in the eight years I had been employed there. It should be said that I was a workaholic. But, the whole lunch hour phenomenon changed for me at that point, the moment I bought the URL for FFG. I was taking a pledge that the lunch hour in question would be my launchpad. And so, from that day forward, I became a regular in my local Starbucks. The baristas knew my face and my order - tall skinny latte, extra hot, two splendas, wet. So American, I know. I would come in, open my laptop, click into the free wifi and let my fingers do the walking and talking. I think on average, in the first year, I was posting something crazy like 20 news stories a day on FFG. I would sit at my desk, in my full time job, and my laptop would tease me from my bag. It was my gateway to another world and I was creating it one hour at a time, from a local coffee shop. That was the beginning and then the obsession took hold. I was creating more as I took the bus home at night after work, and even more after that as I wrote regularly until 2 or 3am every evening! My laptop was always with me and only ever closed when I was working in my full-time job. All other hours my laptop was open and in use, whether on a plane or sitting on a beach attempting a holiday. Sounds absurd right? Well, seemed it seven years ago as I wasn't sure where the one hour rendezvouses with my HP laptop would take me. 

If only I knew then what I know now... mainly that the 10,000 hour rule seems to be true. I'm sure you've heard this rule before, if you do anything for 10,000 or more hours you become an expert? Well, I'm pretty sure I racked up that many hours in the first three years of FFG's life. And after that three years I was able to take what was a dream and turn it into a full time job.

So, how did I do it? There are a few simple rules that I'll say are absolutely key in starting out as a blogger or social influencer and they go a little something like this:

  • Get started. Yes, sounds basic, right? Well, this seems to be the first hurdle for absolutely everyone. I hear, "but, I don't know what to write about," or "what if people think I sound stupid?' Well, here's the great thing. No one is reading you in the beginning. You are writing into a big black open void where the readers will eventually find their way into, but for now, it's just you, your laptop and a publishing tool. You can write about absolutely anything. What do you love? Not sure, write about a bunch of things and take some time to read your own emotions as you are doing so. Are you excited? Frustrated? Trust the excited gut reaction. You'll want to write about the things you love, because this will in fact lead you to greatness. Love conquers all, and the songwriters weren't just talking about romantic love. Being online and in the spotlight will require a great deal of grit and the love of a topic will allow you to persevere through it all. Trust me.
  • Embrace technology and get yourself the best tech. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Make sure you have technology you can rely upon. Choose a great laptop. I still love HP and use a HP Pavilion x 360, from Currys PC World at present. HP's been good for me, what can I say? And technology has really come a long way in seven years. My entire creative process is realised, from video to photo editing, on my laptop. I use Windows 10/Microsoft Office Home 365, which helps manage my business, allowing me to keep track of finances on Excel and send invoices, etc, with Word. I also am religious about backing up - both my computer and blog, which I keep on a My Passport external hard drive. One can never be too careful and I can't stress enough that an external hard drive will become your best friend, besides your laptop. My Passport device has also become my portable inspiration. It stores all of my pictures and mood boards for design projects and can easily be accessed on the go. I like to think of it is as my portable encyclopedia of fashion.
  • Throw fear out the window. I can't stress this enough, folks. Fear isn't an option. Fear of not being successful, fear of being discovered as a fraud, fear of failure in general. This isn't about anything other than pursuing a passion, so there are no wrong turns. You can only learn more about what works and what doesn't, what you love and what you loathe and finally, whether or not this is all a right fit for you at all - it isn't for everyone, but it's sure worth a try. And this leads nicely onto my next point...
  • Do it for the love, not the recognition. Over the years I have met so many men and women that have jumped into the world of blogging and social influencers for one reason and one reason only - fame. You know what? Not one person I have met with this goal in mind from the start is someone who I would classify as happy or satisfied in what they do. There is always another mountain to climb, always someone that has more followers than them or has more campaigns under their hat. If you take one day at a time and be appreciative of your own talents, of your little piece that you put out into this big old world, then each day becomes a win. Don't look sideways, don't look down and don't look above. There is enough room in this world for each of us to be unique and successful, online and off. 
  • Work hard. A blog or social account doesn't build itself. It requires effort and it shouldn't be easy. If it's easy, you don't want it badly enough. Sure, it may appear to get easier, but the easier it gets the harder you should be working. Trust me on this, the hard work always pays off. If you want it, it will come to you. Put in every ounce of energy you have and you will be handsomely rewarded. You are the boss here. This is your site or your account, you control how much effort goes in and I'm telling you that anything less than everything you've got will give you something that is subpar and the online world will know it. What do you have to lose in giving it your all? Time? If you're doing what you love, it won't feel like a waste of time at all? And if you're doing what you love it also won't feel like hard work at all. A little trick scenario there, eh? 
At the end of of the day, it's all about getting started and keeping it going. If you have the write attitude, the best technology to support you and a topic you love to write about, the world's your oyster.

Now, in keeping in line with the "the best technology" theme, I want to make sure that you have what you need to get started. In teaming up with Currys PC World, I've been given an opportunity to run a very special competition in which I will be giving away two top of the line laptops to readers. Watch this space as I'll be announcing the competition soon. You won't want to miss this!