They say if you make it seven years in a relationship then you have a really good chance of staying together for the rest of your life. Well, I’ve been blogging for seven years now & I’m happy to say that I’m still committed to seeing where this whole thing is going. My relationship with my blog has definitely ebbed & flowed over the years, but I’ve never given up on it & I don’t think I ever will. Ever since blogging came into my life I have had a sense of purpose, a place to write & express myself, & it’s something I never knew I needed so much until looking back on my life now. My blog has been with me during almost my entire adult life & because of it I have the life I never knew I was meant to live & I’m a part of a creative dream I never knew I always wanted & is now mine. I’m so proud of the 19 year old girl who just woke up & chose to start a blog one day because without her bravery & courage I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Seven years is such a long time. When I started I had no plans for the future. I had no direction, no college education, no clue what marketing was, had barely used my camera before, & I had no prediction of where blogging was going. All I knew was that I loved creating different outfits with the clothes in my closet & I just wanted to share my looks with the world. So that’s what I did. I paid attention to other people like me in other cities because I was the first one in Reno to be doing what I was doing. I followed girls like me, different than me, women who inspired me with their outfits, life, or photo styling technique. I just watched what others were doing, felt inspired, & did my own version of it. And I did it all on my own too. It was so lonely & frustrating in the beginning, & people didn’t get it, but I just kept going.
It’s really crazy to think about all I’ve done & learned in just 7 years. I used to shoot all my content on my iPhone even though I owned a camera. I didn’t know how to edit when I started out & I’m pretty sure the only editing almost anyone did at the time was inside the Instagram app. I didn’t know a thing about lighting, but somehow I did. I also didn’t know what a call to action was & only found out last year that I was actually using them from the beginning. I really knew nothing when I started. I was just a girl who one day started a second Instagram account that she dedicated to clothes & everything grew from there. I eventually started using my camera, somehow figured out what to do with it, & people started to notice. When I say this all happened by chance, it truly did for me. I still don’t know everything about photography or social media or even marketing, but I know a lot more than most people do, & I’m actually good at it.
Over time companies started reaching out more & more, local businesses loved reposting my photos & wanted to work with me, giveaways happened with small brands, & legit photoshoots took place that weren’t taken by my dad or brother. I was lucky. I didn’t mean to become a blogger or a product photographer, & I didn’t know all the I was doing would continue to grow. So many times I wanted to give up & quit. And every time I thought about stopping I would get a new email from a new brand saying they loved what I was doing & they wanted to work together, & I always felt like they were signs to keep going, & so I kept going. I took photos of item sent to me as flatlays, I modeled clothes, I did weekend takeovers for coffeeshops, & in the beginning years ago I put in the work to learn more & more & traded my time for that experience.
I didn’t fully work for myself until two years ago. Before that I did my blogging in between being a nanny, working for my mom, & working at daycares. Somehow I fit it all in & made it work. But two years ago I was miserable at my part time job so I made the decision to quit & get out of a bad situation, & when I did my mom encouraged me to focus on my blog full time because I had never had the chance to do so yet. Moms are wise because as soon as I did the jobs & emails just rolled in… When I went full time so many chances & opportunities fell at my feet, but I also did so many different types of things to get a paycheck. I had experience in this whole blogger world for five years at this point, I knew photography pretty well having had tons of my photos reposted at this point, & I also knew a lot about writing, advertising, & social media too. Brands reached out, I sent emails, companies took notice of my consistency & ABBEY KAY became full time. But not just as a blogger, I was willing to use my skills I had learned to do so many things.
When I went full time I wrote for the local review paper & took photos for my articles, I started doing social media takeovers for the local mall, I was contacted by Macy’s & Whole Foods within a few months of each other, I started my product photography business, I started getting more & more sponsored post opportunities, & I felt like I was getting sent products every other day. I woke up every day & went to “work” because I treated ABBEY KAY like it was my job & because of that I was getting paid for it. Some people still don’t understand how bloggers, or the new term influencers, make a living & they mock it. But it’s a real career, it’s a serious job & it’s a lot of hard work. I’m the project coordinator, photographer, stylist, photo & copy editor, assistant, planner, marketer, accountant, model, & so much more all rolled into one. I do the job of multiple people in an office as one girl running her own business all on her own. I‘m getting paid so this is my job, & I must be doing something right then!
Every day is different. I get to do the coolest things. And I love all of it! Modeling in my own content photoshoots, taking food styling photos, writing my feelings & emotions, doing takeovers, writing content for other sites, getting to try new products, picking out clothes that brands choose to send me, encouraging others, & posting to social media. It’s all been a whirlwind & I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m not like all the other upcoming girls out there, & that’s okay. I have a brand that is unique to me & what I want out of life which is a weird thing to say. But I have my own goals, & they don’t have to be what everyone else is doing. I can want what I want & it doesn’t have to look like what everyone else is doing. I know my skill level, I know what my time & energy & craft is worth & I will not settle for anything less than what I deserve. And no one who works for themselves should ever have to.
I didn’t start my blog so that I could make money. I didn’t start my Instagram account to just get free things. I started before either of those things were even an option. The reason I posted my outfits every day & the reason I continue to post photos is because I genuinely love doing it. I love putting outfits together, I love styling food & props, I love working camera angles both as a model & as a photographer, I love editing photos & sharing my life & voice with the world. I’m lucky that I’m able to make money doing things that I sincerely love doing. I love being creative in all the ways that being a blogger & photographer allow me to be.
I don’t know why certain companies reached out to me when I only had 2,000 followers. People think you need thousands & thousands of followers to do what I do. And I mean, yeah, if you want high end brands to notice you or want free trips to Europe then you’ll need all those “followers” or numbers. But first, you need a passion & a reason. Post about what you love, learn & grow, don’t expect things to just fall into your lap from the beginning, & over time you probably will get new & cool opportunities that come your way. This isn’t an overnight career switch, it’s not about fame or free stuff. I have my own money that can buy me things. It’s about waking up everyday & getting to do what I truly love & believe I was made to do. I’m so lucky that at 19 I fell into a passion of my mine that eventually lead to a career.
Truthfully, I find so much joy in my job as a blogger & product photographer. Why? Because I’m good at it, it’s unique, it’s fun, challenging, different, & always changing. I’ve always been big on voicing my opinions & what I believe in, & with this job I get to do just that! How lucky I am? Really. I think about this all the time. I am so grateful that I started when I did, that I’ve never given up, & that I have acquired & learned all I have over the years. Without blogging my life would look different. I have gotten to experience so many things because I am a blogger. I found my love of photography because of it, I’ve met so many people, & I’ve gotten to be a part of tons of amazing opportunities. It’s not always easy though. It’s a lot sometimes putting yourself out there for the world to see & criticize as your literal job, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
When I started I was a teenage girl posting about cheap clothes, sales, & styling. Now, I’m a woman who has opened up a little bit more & has chosen to share the reality of her life. Something clicked for me one day & I wanted to use my voice for more than just clothes. I’m glad I left room in my brand to evolve it into what it is today, a place where I can be real about my emotional struggles & spread encouragement through all the ups & downs in life. My blog has changed alongside the changes in my life & I think that’s a beautiful thing. I never want this space to oppose who I am or where I’m currently at in life. It’s crazy to look back at my old posts to see how far I’ve come & I can’t wait to look back on the ones I share now 7 more years down the road.
Thank you to you for following, reading, liking, & supporting however long you have! Thank you to every single brand & company who has sent me products, reposted my photos, sent me paychecks, supported my work & entrusted me with representing them & doing a job. Thank you to anyone who has encouraged me along the way. It’s been a crazy journey of figuring life out while also figuring out how to own my own business in a field that is so brand new. I’m so humbled to get to be a part of it & could never express my gratitude enough!
Always know that anything is possible, even the things that seem unattainable! Be encouraged to just start because that’s half the battle, but then keep going & fighting & get to the place where you want to be. Sometimes it’s lonely, sometimes it’s hard, but it’s always worth it & it’s a really great feeling to look back & say I did all of that & I’m still doing it!
– abbey kay
*brought to you by a girl who is just lucky & happy as can be that she made it 7 years without giving up