The Truth Behind Being a Full-Time Blogger with Summer Telban
Where did your blogging journey begin? Give us the full scoop!
This is such a good question because to be honest, I can’t really pinpoint exactly where my blogging journey began. When I was entering my senior year in high school, I created a Tumblr account (a micro-blogging site) and started to share my feelings there. I went through some tough times in my teen years, and Tumblr was one of my outlets. I connected with so many people who were struggling, and they would always convey how much they appreciated the fact that I was open and raw about everything I was going through. I built up a following of over 30,000 on Tumblr in just a few years and that’s when I realized that my voice matters. This is really where my passion for authenticity stems from.
I decided to start Coffee With Summer in the summer of 2014 with the intention of creating a community that was rooted in authenticity and transparency. I wanted to echo my voice that I had on Tumblr to the rest of the world. When I started Coffee With Summer, I didn’t really understand what a “niche” was or anything like that, so I wrote about whatever I wanted to - devotions, encouragement, and the occasional casual outfit. I was really inspired by larger bloggers, and I remember thinking to myself, “I can do this. I’m going to stick with blogging this time.” So I did. The past few years have been years of refining and refocusing not only for my blog, but also for my heart and voice. I am very secure with my blog’s mission, and I am so excited to see what lies ahead for Coffee With Summer!
The hardest part for many aspiring influencers is choosing a niche. You are all things self-care, fashion and affordable lifestyle. How did you hone in on these three things?
Choosing a niche is very difficult for many aspiring bloggers and even some seasoned bloggers. For me, it wasn’t too difficult when I was starting out because I knew I wanted to blog about whatever I wanted, which labeled me a lifestyle blogger. I sat in that niche for a while until I realized that I needed something more to attract those I wanted to reach. I dove into learning how to create a focus for my blog, as well as defining my target audience and mission statement. I think it’s very important to note that you don’t have to choose a niche to be a successful blogger, but what you do need to choose is a focus and overall mission for your blog. After I hammered out my focus and mission for Coffee With Summer, everything just fell right into place. I chose the main categories that I was most passionate about (self-care, fashion, and affordable lifestyle), surveyed my readers on them, and after learning their desire to see all of those categories confirmed my focus and mission all the more.
It’s not always an easy process. If you’re struggling to figure out what to blog about, try to establish your blog’s focus, target audience and overall mission. Don’t force it. Let it come naturally to you.
When did you make the transition into full-time blogging? Was this a smooth transition or was it quite uncomfortable?
I made the official transition into full-time blogging a year ago, when my husband and I moved. A new job opportunity presented itself to my husband, and that’s when we decided that we were in a financially stable spot, and I could give full-time blogging a go. Up until this point, I was putting in full-time hours to my blog, but I was also working as a nanny. The transition was quite smooth for me since I had been anticipating this transition for a really long time. Knowing that we were financially ready for the transition was the biggest comfort for me. I am very glad that we were wise in holding off on my full-time blogging dreams until we were ready.
Many people don’t understand what it takes to be a full-time blogger. Can you shed some light on this topic? What are some of the “unglamorous” truths of being a full-time blogger?
Oh goodness, this is a topic I could go on and on about for days, haha! There are two common misconceptions that people have about full-time blogging. First, many people think that all we do is sit on our computers all day, and that’s it. Secondly, people often think that blogging is always a blissful dream filled with perfect lighting and PR packages. The truth? Both of these misconceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth! Blogging is extremely hard work, especially when it’s your full-time gig. That’s when the pressure really sets in to make the dream work. As a blogger, I’m not just a writer. I’m also a content creator, photographer, social media strategist, digital marketer, and I’m also a blog coach. As a full-time blogger, I wear many hats and that’s what it takes to keep my dream going. Blogging full-time has many ups and downs, just like any other job.
As much as I love blogging and I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing, I still have days (and seasons) where I question everything I’m doing. This typically happens when the paid work isn’t coming in or when my page views tank for a while. Sometimes I let the thought of quitting slip into my head because blogging can be hard some days.
You have done such a beautiful job of building a dedicated and engaged online following. What are some tips you may have for building real, authentic relationships with your audience?
I love this question because building an engaged and real relationship with your audience is key to success. You can’t expect to grow just from writing good content and posting pretty photos. Those are important factors in building your brand, but growing a community is one of the best things you can do for your blog.
Know your voice and own it!
Ask your readers questions, and when they respond, respond back!
Answer questions that your readers have.
Get vulnerable. Share stories that have truly impacted you.
Engage with your readers on social media.
Be consistent with your content
One of your biggest passions is self-care. What are some ways you intentionally implement self-care into your everyday life?
One of the greatest ways that I incorporate self-care into my everyday life is by maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Working from home has its perks, but it can be hard learning how/when to end your work day. I went through a season where I worked myself into the ground, and it wasn’t healthy at all. You need life outside of your work in order to flourish in both areas - work and life. Aside from keeping a healthy work/life balance, I have recently been unplugging from social media when I’m not working. I’ll hop on for a few minutes here and there but not spending all my free time on social media has been really freeing for me.
Many women struggle with body-confidence. For someone who is constantly in front of the camera, how do you combat those feelings? You always look so fierce and confident!
Like many women, I have always struggled with my appearance, and being completely transparent, it’s still hard for me some days. As someone who fashion blogs, it can be a real challenge as I’m over here encouraging others to embrace all that they are, and yet I’m struggling to do that myself. One thing I’ll say about fashion blogging, at least for me, is that it’s really helped me grow in not only my body-confidence, but also my self-confidence! Another huge key for me has been positive self-talk, especially in the moments where choosing to be positive about my body isn’t easy. I’m very reserved and introverted so it took a long time for me to get comfortable in front of the camera, but somewhere along the way, I had a breakthrough. Now, I am so glad that I can express myself and encourage others through fashion and style.
Lastly, what are you most passionate about changing in the world? How do you hope to create this impact through your story, life and blog?
I want to encourage others to take up and live out full lives of authenticity. In a world where social media is so prevalent and only shows the good in people’s lives, it can be very, very dangerous, especially for the upcoming generations. I want to help others realize that imperfection is beautiful and that it adds so much character to their story. I want others to know that they are valuable and that they deserved to be loved (by others and themselves). I want to help others discover that being honest with themselves and vulnerable with others are two of the keys to unlocking a free life. I want to challenge others to live more intentionally and overall, more authentically. I want to teach others that shame has no place in their lives and that being transparent is the way to true growth. There is still so much to be done in the world, and I will be a part of those who change it.
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Summer is a full-time blogger who’s fueled by strong coffee, grace, athleisure, and all things cozy. She’s all about having authentic and intentional conversations about personal growth and life, the joys and the sorrows. Summer believes that being vulnerable with yourself and others is one of the most freeing superpowers that you can unlock during your life. She loves Chick-Fil-A sauce, indie tunes, and long drives alone with the windows down. Summer is after a life full of authenticity and truth, and she hopes you’ll join her in this journey.