Photo by Shari and Mike
I realize that a lot of people don’t know/understand what I do for work. And really, I can’t blame them. Up until January of this year, I had 4 jobs (which, is actually an understatement, but more on that later). Now, with some much needed focus and drive, I can say with confidence that I am a full time blogger. And I’m pretty sure people STILL don’t know/understand what I do for work – but, that’s okay. Over the next little while, I want to explain, share my story with you and hopefully inspire some of you to finally start your own blogging journey.
What has sparked all of this? Well, it just so happens that I started aliciafashionista.com EIGHT years ago today! Can you even believe that?! I’ve taken what was initially a creative outlet/way to pass the time and built a personal brand that is actually making me enough money to live on. Holy smokes, this is actually real life!
Let’s start in 2008. One of my favourite years in music and when I hit publish for the first time on this blog. It was called ‘Back On The Block’ in those days, some silly song lyrics from a Coconut Records tune I liked. I was working almost full time at a local clothing company as their Junior Stylist and in school part time for Fashion Marketing. When I dove into blogging, I had the same problem that most people do when they’re starting out. I felt like I had nothing to talk about. I’d sort of write when the mood struck me, but I lacked any sort of direction or purpose. Then, I tried out Kendi’s 30×30 Challenge and it was the push I needed to be okay with posting outfit photos. I branded myself as ‘Alicia Fashionista’ and started trying to grow my presence on Chictopia, Twitter, and even YouTube.
I ended up pausing my studies to take on a full time position at the clothing company and began working on their marketing team as well. I set them up with Facebook and Twitter, contributed to their blog and sat in on meetings about their e-newsletters. It was such a valuable 6 years of learning experience. Being with a small/medium sized local company and working in their head office, I saw how every single department ran. I was able to do the work of 7 or 8 people would at a large corporation and acquired far more skills than I would have ever dreamed of. All this time, my blog readership and Twitter following kept growing and growing. I started getting invitations to fashion events and was even given some really cool opportunities/collaborations. Back then, I wasn’t confident in my professional skills though, and with the exception of a few gigs, accepted payment in clothing. Which I don’t regret at all. I think I needed to experience those humble beginnings in order to appreciate everything that followed.
Eventually, I started feeling trapped in my 9-5. There was nothing wrong with the job at all, but I’d simply outgrown that path. No longer feeling creatively or even professionally inspired, I did something I’d NEVER done before; I quit my job. It certainly wasn’t my most graceful meeting. My voice cracked out of nervousness and I managed to spit out a complete lie that I was going back to school for graphic design? (lol) Knowing that it was time to pivot in order to move forward was a really tough moment in my life. I felt like I was breaking up with my first boyfriend all over again. I recently found my notebook from that time and it’s full of words of encouragement and mantras like “You can do this” and “You’re stronger than you think”. Repeating these positive affirmations were what got me through such a big change!
While my blog was at one of its highest points, instead of leaving my office job to blog full time, I didn’t understand how you could make money blogging. That seemed like a pipe dream. Instead, I decided to utilize my social media skills and started my own company. I worked closely with some AMAZING brands and managed their online presence, which ranged from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, product shots, content calendars, social media strategies, video components, etc. It was such a blast and there was no better way to tap into my entrepreneurial skills than just going for it. It took courage and for many years, pushed me to learn and grow professionally.
All the time, I was still keeping things going on aliciafashionista.com, but having so many jobs (I was also teaching a social media course at a local college and teaching dance classes on the weekends) meant that I inevitably burned out. Last year, I experienced what it’s like to push yourself past your limits. I was no longer doing work I was proud of for anyone because I lacked focus. After a ton of soul searching in November and December, and some contracts that had ended, I knew it was time to finally do the “impossible”. I stopped all other work and decided to try my hand at blogging full time. It’s almost too overwhelming to think about, but my big, unattainable career dream actually came true! And apparently, I was the only thing standing in my way. Feeling stale in your work and life really blinds you from what’s potentially out there for you.
I have big plans for this exciting next chapter in my career. I feel so passionate about travel and sharing my recommendations for you. I want to help spark that fire in you to also pursue your big professional dreams. I’m expanding my health/wellness content as I try to get stronger mentally and physically. I want to write more, improve my photography, and create more videos. And of course, I will always be sharing my outfits and beauty recommendations. I am ‘Alicia Fashionista’ after all!
If you’re considering starting a blog, I will say to you what I say to everyone who asks: GO FOR IT! Even if it just starts out as a hobby (as many successful blogs do) you never know what could happen. The amount of opportunity and organic networking that happens within blogging is beautiful. Human connection, even if it’s online, is something we all need and benefit from. I’m thinking about doing a blogging series as well, so if you have any specific questions, let me know. I’d love to pass on my knowledge about starting a blog, building a social media presence, personal branding, etc.
And of course, I have to say it every April 13th, but my goodness…THANK YOU! You’ve all helped shape this strange and wonderful career path and for that, I am forever grateful. Even though it has been 8 years, this feels like the beginning of the next level and I look forward to many more happy years together! xoxo
EDIT: For those of you asking, the dress was a very inexpensive purchase from SheInside. I’m wearing a size Large (but their sizing is tough to trust…)