I feel like this is a blog post that I need to write. Some people have the misconception that everything great in my life comes so easily! I try my best to show my normal/not so glamorous side on my Instagram stories hah. My Instagram post from earlier this morning really inspired me. For those of you who don’t know, I grew up in a Vietnamese household where success wasn’t an option. My mother had me at the young age of 16 and sacrificed her youth to take care of me. She always expected the best from me so it was a pretty strict household. I wasn’t allowed to really have sleepovers, go hang out with friends, or really do anything outside haha. It was always “come to work with me,” “why do you hang out with your friends so much” and “why did you get a B?!” Lord, it was so hard pleasing my family! Don’t get me wrong… I was spoiled, had nice clothes and toy, I was given everything I wanted, and more! But as a kid, all I wanted was to like boys (totally unacceptable), go hang out with friends, and have sleepovers! This really pushed me to finish school early and move out. I felt really restricted so this pushed me to finish school early. Plus, my mother and I just got along way better when we weren’t living together.
With that being said, I finished high school early and graduated in three years. My counselor really objected against it and said that I was going to regret it later in life. Even on the day of my graduation he handed me my diploma and shook his head at me! Flash forward almost 10 years later and I can honestly say it was the BEST decision of my life. In college, I struggled the first semester figuring out what I wanted to do. I made the mistake of just doing General Education and not having a plan in college. I really just wanted the independence and to get out of the house. After some discussion with my best friend Kim, we decided we wanted to take on Speech-Pathology. My college years were rather interesting to say the least haha… I met a man twice my age and we dated for nearly three years. He was patient, successful, and caring. People always asked me “how do you date someone so much older?” or “does the age difference bother you?” I’m not going to lie… The age thing was so weird the first two weeks but we were crazy about each other so I didn’t really care. I moved in with him after about two month of dating and things were going great! We never fought, we went to nice places, and he was just the calm and zen influence I needed at the time. But that never stopped me from working. I worked six days a week to pay off school each semester and never asked him to pay for anything. He understood that and respected me for it. Something about saying “I was able to pay off college on my own” felt so freaking good! We were so crazy each other but towards the end I had my doubts and eventually things just sizzled out and we decided we didn’t have much in common anymore. I’m a pretty intense individual and I needed someone who understood me. He was just so zen, it didn’t mesh well with me anymore.
Fast forward two years of graduate school and 40k later (WHY I decided to go to a private University is beyond me). It wasn’t until I started clinic that I figured out I didn’t really love what I was doing. I worked with children that bit, peed, and pinched me for four hours a day. Then I worked with adults that either loved or hated me. I tried so hard to love it. As rewarding as it was to help people, the restricted schedules and paperwork wasn’t so fun. It just wasn’t the career path for me and I was starting to panic. I had spent six years of my life pursuing something that I thought was going to be so rewarding for me! But I had to keep pushing because I wanted to make my family proud. But I was suppressing my creative side so that made me so unhappy. I met Mike during graduate school after a short/unfortunate relationship. Mike was seriously a Godsend. He made me feel things that I’ve never felt before. He made me laugh until I cried and he was the most patient/loving man. We not only had fun together but he was just so incredibly loving. We fell for each other and we fell HARD. Ten months later he shows up in Paris at the Eiffel Tower and got down on one knee. I have a picture of that moment (that my best friend took) and it seriously makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
We eventually moved to San Diego for his work and I started to panic. I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work anymore. I wanted so badly to find something that was going to make me happy and a lot of money at the same time. Some people are content with making a minimal amount of money… I’m not one of those people. I like nice things, and I don’t mind working for it. Is money the most important thing ever? Absolutely not. I would choose love, health, and happiness over being wealthy any day. However, I’m not going to lie and say that i’m not driven to make money either. So when we came here, I took a few months off to really figure things out. Mike was so sweet and knew that I was struggling with that and also homesick so he was EXTRA supportive. So several months after moving to San Diego, I was inspired by a friend from back home that is a successful blogger. She always had me taking pictures for her and I learned that she was actually making money from it! I was completely clueless in the blogging world and didn’t realize that these girls were actually monetizing their Instagrams and blogs! That’s when I decided I was going to give “blogging” a go. I didn’t think much was going to come from it. I wanted to do it a a creative outlet. I loved clothes and fashion and I wanted to share that with my friends and followers.
As far as blogging goes, I stuck with only Instagram. I didn’t have an actual website and I didn’t have anyone to help me. I didn’t really know how to utilize hashtags nor did I know what kind of direction I was going in. I was an Instagram noob! I still feel like I am sometimes haha. After several months of playing around with my Instagram, I noticed that I was gaining a lot of followers and people were actually liking my pictures! I received so much amazing feedback and it was so heartwarming. People ask me all the time… “How did you start blogging?” Well my answer is GOOGLE. The internet is an amazing place and it really helped me figure out the ins and outs of starting a blog.
5 things I did to get to 10k Followers:
1. I posted consistently everyday
2. I utilized all of my hashtags
3. I reached out to professional photographers to see if they wanted to collaborate. Those professional photos mixed with my iPhone camera photos really made my page pop and stand out.
4. I had spent several hours a day engaging with the blogging community. So constantly following, liking, and responding to my followers. I genuinely loved responding to all the sweet comments on my pictures. I loved that people were loving my photos.
5. I reached out to companies that I want to work with. YES, this isn’t the worst thing you can do. I didn’t expect to get paid but I just wanted to have products to shoot with without spending all the money to do so.
When I got to 10k followers, I had spent over two hours a day constantly commenting and liking other peoples post. I focused on a lot of people in the California area because that where I was living. I remember meeting my first friend on Instagram and I talked to her about my “hobby.” A year and a half later and now it’s my career! I remember the day I got my first free package. It was a teeth whitening kit and I was so freaking stoked! Just the fact that someone wanted to send me something to post a picture made me so happy. I went from accepting products for posts, charging $50, $100, $150, to being offered $1000.00. What was a hobby turned into something a little more serious and so I started to really take my brand more seriously. (FYI, the number of followers is not the most important thing to blogging. Brands don’t care if you have 2,000 followers or if you have 200,000. They look at the engagement level and YES, there is software that tells them all of that)
5 things I’ve learned at 24K Followers:
1. You will gain a lot of supporters but you’ll also gain just as many haters. I don’t even let the haters bother me anymore because lets be honest… They hate you because they ain’t you. HAH.
2. Know your worth. Companies will try to get you to do things for free or they’ll make you think that you’re getting a deal when you’re really not.
3. DON’T say yes to every deal that comes your way. Stick to your brand. I can’t emphasize that enough! STICK TO YOUR BRAND. I mean… If you REALLY REALLY love a product and believe in it whole-heartedly then by all means. But don’t go advertising everything because then your followers will start to thing “hmm…. this is odd.”
4. So important to engage with your loyal followers. They’ve stuck with you all this time so show them the occasional love! Comment on their pictures, respond to their stories! Something that doesn’t take any effort at all can really make someone’s day.
5. Most importantly… LEARN TO SAY NO. If there’s something that you’re questioning, don’t leave the brand on “seen” or say yes because you feel obligated to. It’s so important to know your limits and to stand by what you believe in. Learn to say NO. I had to learn this the hard way. I thought I was freaking Super Woman and thought I could juggle more that I really could.
Even with the sponsored posts, something wasn’t feeling right. I felt like I could do more. So one day I thought well… Why don’t I start helping other people with their Instagrams? I realized that so many businesses in the area didn’t even have an Instagram or Facebook and that was just crazy to me! How are people going to see your products or services! After several weeks of spitting ideas and talking about names, I talked to Ruby and quit my job and Lemon Life Social was born! I wanted to fully invest in this and we got so lucky. We pitched our idea to a few friends and we had our first THREE clients within a matter of days! Did we know what the heck we were doing? Hell no. We took on more that we thought we could, we learned things the hard way, and better yet we improved on it. Building our clients brands is so so so incredibly important for us and for them. We want these small businesses to succeed and we want to be a part of it every step of the way. We wanted our clients to be proud and happy with what we were doing for them. I understand how important my brand is to me so I wanted to create a brand for each of our clients that was going to help them gain more traffic and sales.
5 things we do at Lemon Life Social:
1. Grow our clienteles following
2. We create/curate content including pictures and videos
3. We focus on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest
4. Plan fun-filled events for bloggers and nonbloggers to bring the community together
5. We bring businesses and bloggers together and create amazing networking opportunities
Social Media is a volatile/amazing thing. I’ve met so many amazing people through there and i’ve been given the opportunity to work with brands i’ve loved every since I was in high school. I never thought in my dreams that I would be creating content that would be good enough for them. Depending on what route you take, you can either let Social media help you or you can let it destroy you. Don’t let it get the best of you. You’ll gain thousands of followers but keep in mind that you’ll lose a ton of them as well. THAT’S OK. If you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut and don’t know what you’re doing wrong in terms of your social media account, reach out to your friends. Heck, reach out to me! Feedback is so important in the world of social media. What you think is great, might not be that great. This is YOUR online virtual diary. You should be experimenting what works for you… But always ask for feedback. Rather than letting the green monster taking over you, reach out to your friends that are doing well and ask for advice. I’m constantly reevaluating what I’m doing well and what I can improve on. Everyone can always improve on something… Just don’t ever let it get the best of you. My good friend Lauren told me something so important the other day. She said “I blog for my followers. Not for other bloggers. They don’t care about algorithms and stats.” I was like holy s***! You are so right. I get so caught up on what other bloggers are doing that I forget why I started doing it on the first place. That really humbled me and so now I’m really focusing on Lemon Life Social. This business is our baby and I’m really putting my all into it. I can honestly say that i’m so exhausted every single day but if you want something that badly, you’re going to have to work hard for it. My mother instilled that motivation inside me. She always told me not to depend on others for something that you want in life. I was blessed to have found an amazing support system. However, that makes me want to just work harder. My plan is to retire my future husband in a few years and to give us the extravagant life that we deserve. The hustle is real you guys. Sometimes you need to give up those extra hours of sleep to succeed. More importantly, you’re going to come across a lot of negative people and hear a ton of “No’s.” Be polite and move on to the next task. The road to success is not an easy one y’all.
Five Things to Remember About Blogging:
1. Remember to stay true to yourself. This is so cliché I know! But hear me out… When you stay true to who you are, you end up loving what you do at the end of the day, week, month, and years to come. LISTEN to your gut feeling.
2. Remember who your audience is and why you started blogging in the first place. We have the tendency to want to impress other bloggers but they’re not the ones who you need to worry about. Your followers are! They followed you for a reason to continue on that path.
3. You will receive hate. But let’s be honest here.. The amount of hate versus love is minuscule in comparison. So don’t let the one or two mean comments break you. People tend to feel way bigger than they really are when they’re hiding behind a computer screen.
4. You will gain followers and you will lose followers. Don’t let this break you. Take it as a learning experience and let this fuel you. Reach out to successful friends/bloggers, research, and change your feed around to what works for you and your brand.
5. Creating a successful blog takes time and dedication. Trust me on this… for 99.9% of us, it takes time and hard work. Whether you want to create a successful blog or business of some sort, it’s going to take organization, time, dedication, and tears. Sometimes those are tears of sadness and sometimes their tears of joy.
My eye bags are ridiculous, I’m tired all the time, but i’m determined. That determination is what’s going to help me succeed. I hope this story inspires you to work hard for what you want in life. Know what it won’t be easy… But it’s going to be so worth it when you finally reach those goals! I’m here to help in anyway I can. That’s why we created Lemon Life Social. We wanted to create events that will bring a group of positive people together and pass along our knowledge in anyway possible. Feel free to comment/DM/email me if you ever want some sort of feedback!