In March 2020 The Ocean Minded turned 4. Whoa. Has it really been four years since I started this blog? Time flies when you’re having fun.
A lot has changed in four years. And I mean, a lot.
When I started this blog I was living with my (now ex) boyfriend of nearly five years, and was working for a sad, little salary at a dead-end job. In my defense, I loved both the job and the boy at the time. I was 26 years old. Nonetheless, I started this blog as a creative outlet to share my love for bikinis, and to fill the void that my relationship and career left. I like to think that everything that happened in the 18 months after I started this blog was preparing me for everything to come. A new world of opportunity, personal and professional growth, and endless hustle.
I’ll just say this: the glow up is real, y’all.
If you would have told me in 2016 that my blog was going to take me where I am today, I never would have believed you. Honestly. I started this blog and my Instagram with pure intentions, solely out of my love for writing and taking cute pictures. Of course I knew there would be some freebies along the way, but that’s not why I started. I said it then, and I’ll say it now, if you’re starting a blog for free clothes you’ll never make it. There is so much more that goes into it— time, dedication, and passion— and people will pick up on it if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. When I was just starting out, I was buying 80% of the outfits that I was sharing and my coworker at the time (or my dad) was taking the majority of my photos. I was sharing random DIY projects, $200 bikinis that I bought myself (when I could barely afford my rent), amatuer recipes, and embarrassing flat lays. I had 1,000 followers on Instagram and my grandma and my best friend were the only two people subscribed to my blog. In 2016, it was a hobby, and it showed.
Over the years, as my following grew, I was able to work with more brands—but I did it for free. I got my first paid gig in mid-2017, a year and a half after I launched the blog. But sponsored collaborations were still few and far between, and I was okay with that. At this point, I had only scratched the surface of blogging. I was meeting like-minded people, and talking with brands, but had no idea what was in store for The Ocean Minded.
I was starting to form real relationships through this platform. I still can’t totally wrap my mind around it, but it’s pretty damn cool.
Things really took a turn when I got closer to 10,000 followers on Instagram. Which, by the way, took three years (that brings us to 2019). What was once a hobby quickly turned into a part-time job. It was crazy, honestly. I left for Coachella with 6,000 followers and a month later had 10,000 and an inbox full of collaboration inquiries. My friends (and followers) would often say things along the lines of, “you’re so lucky, you get so many free clothes and products.” I agreed, I felt extremely lucky. However as I continued to build my brand, and business, my mindset shifted.
The more I hustled, the more I realized it wasn’t luck. I was working my ass off to get where I was. I knew this wasn’t just a hobby anymore, it was a business that I was intensely passionate about. Sure, I get complimentary hotel rooms, and products gifted to me, but nothing in life is “free” (can I get an amen?). I put in the work (and then some) for those things. I essentially run my own business, and there’s so much behind the scenes that people don’t see. It’s countless hours, contracts, negotiations, (a lot of) rejection, building new relationships, putting myself out there, networking, celebrating small wins and getting back up after the losses, applying my marketing skills, and ultimately (if I’m doing my job right) compensation.
As soon as I started to monetize on my blog, and Instagram, I knew I needed to uplevel my work so that it reflected my end goals. Now 90% of my pictures are taken by a professional photographer (or my Sony and trusty tripod). Because I have a full time job, it’s more feasible for me to hire someone to take my photos biweekly. With her help I’m able to knock out 7-10 outfits in under two hours, and that gives me two weeks worth of content. My website needed some help, too. A couple of weeks ago, to celebrate TOM’s 4th trip around the sun, I hired someone to completely redo my blog. I want my platforms to always evolve and grow with me. Will I want to redo it all again in 2 years? Probably. But I’m happy with where things are at now.
At the end of the day I had no idea what I was signing up for. Blogging is a lot, especially on top of a full time job. Between the two, I easily end up working over 70 hours a week. But I’m better for it. I have made so many new friends, learned business management, traveled to new places, expanded my network, increased my motivation and drive, discovered my worth (literally $$$), and I get to do something I love on a daily basis. I can’t imagine my life without TOM in it. Do I think I’ll be doing this forever? No. But I’m excited to see where it will take me in the next couple of years.
Happy (belated) birthday, TOM— I’m so proud of us!