Alicia Chew of Alicia Tenise is a full-time fashion and travel blogger and freelance social media manager. Alicia just recently made the leap to self-employed, but even before that she's worked with major brands and has been featured on huge sites like Teen Vogue, The Washington Post, and Essence.
Despite being relatively new to the world of full-time self-employment, Alicia knows a lot about the business and dishes some great advice.
Here's what she has to say...
Tell us what you do in 2 sentences:
I am a full-time fashion and travel blogger based in Washington, D.C. In addition to blogging, I also manage a few social media accounts for local businesses on a freelance basis.
You recently made the leap to full-time blogger - what did that process look like for you?
I always thought about blogging full-time, and I always had a great support system. My last 3 months of when I had a full-time job in addition to blogging, I was incredibly burnt out. My blog was growing and super successful, but it was hard to keep up with the amount of campaigns that were sent my way.
I went to work one day my company was in the unfortunate position of having to lay off several employees. I knew that was my chance to take a stab at blogging full-time, and so far, I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish!
What did you do next?
I called my mom about 50 times to talk over the financials/ask for her blessing (she happily gave it to me), and also chatted with some of my other D.C. blogger friends who made the leap and started blogging full-time. I am really lucky to have such an awesome support system and loved ones who are rooting for me with this career move, I doubt I’d be half as successful without them!
What are your favorite ways to monetize your influence online?
What works best for me is to produce custom content solutions for brands. I like to tell a story, and with a sponsored blog post, I can make a product/service seem personal, and I’m able to market it to my readers as well. I love brainstorming ideas for sponsored posts, partnering up with photographers, and coming up with really strong visuals for brands!
What has been the best part of running your own business?
I get to set my own schedule (but I’m not going to lie -- I work on nights and weekends a lot!), and work on projects that I absolutely love. I never held a marketing position that allowed me to be this creative, and I’ve never been happier!
You have partnered with some major brands through your blog - any tips for running a successful collaboration?
Communication is super key! I like to sign an agreement/contract beforehand, so I know every expectation that the brand has of me. I also negotiate what I would need as a blogger. Making every part of the collaboration crystal clear from the get-go will help things run smoothly!
Also: don’t forget to thank brands after the fact! Email thank you’s will do if you’re in the pinch, but if you make it personal and send a handwritten thank you or even a bouquet of flowers to brands that you really enjoyed working with, you can build a long-lasting relationship with a brand.
Are there any tools or programs you use to organize and plan your blog?
I use CoSchedule to schedule out my editorial calendar and social media (mostly for Twitter and Facebook, but it can be used for Pinterest and Instagram too). It’s great because it integrates with Wordpress seamlessly, and as soon as I finish a post, I can start scheduling social media. It will automatically add the link to the post as well as images from the post as well! It’s made me so much more efficient.
I can also add tasks and assign due dates for them on CoSchedule as well, which helps me keep track of when blog post drafts are due, or when contracts need to be signed. It’s the best investment I’ve made honestly!
What were your biggest struggles early on? How did you overcome them?
I was really nervous to network in person when I first started my blog! I lived in Richmond, VA when I started it, and I thought I wasn’t good enough to go to the local blogger meetups and didn’t tell my family about my blog for a while. I finally got over my fear, and in-person networking has probably helped my blog the most over the last few years. Not sure why it intimidated me so much at the start!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are looking to go full-time in their online business?
You have to be really disciplined to be your own boss: no one is looking over your shoulder, you have no one to report to, everything is just up to you! Even though I make my own schedule, I still have an alarm set for 7 am every day, and make sure that I’m showered and logged on to my computer by 8:30 am. You’re going to need to motivate yourself every day and really work on becoming an expert in your field. Don’t plateau, keep moving forward and bettering yourself!
What are your plans for the future?
I have a couple of freelance social media clients now, but in the long run, I’d love to create my own digital marketing agency and grow my client base. I really think that social media is only going to keep growing and it will be essential for brands to have a strong social presence in order to market and communicate with their consumers.