Another year another anniversary and today Gentleman Within turns 2.
In this article, I’m speaking my mind. It’ll read more like a journal entry and might get a little long winded, but it’s how I’m feeling on the eve of this milestone.
REFLECTING ON HOW I’VE BEEN FEELING
Gentleman Within is now 2 years old, which doesn’t seem all that long, but in blogging years I’m sort of a veteran. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I’m pretty sure most bloggers end up quitting well before the year mark because they either lose interest or lose patience.
I had no idea when I first started my blog, but it’s a lot of hard work. You spend countless hours, even days creating a single piece of content, researching SEO, growing and nurturing an email list, promoting said content and hoping that it resonates with your audience. You go a very long time without getting much feedback or meaningful results.
It’s no wonder most people quit. If you don’t have a passion for the topic you’ve chosen, you’re gonna give up when things get hard and with growing a blog (especially in the early stages) it’s a struggle most days. But for me it’s not an option. I decided long ago that I’m in it for the long haul.
THOUGHTS ON YOUTUBE
I started off as a style blogger in the summer of 2016. And by spring 2017, I surprised myself by leaping into the big, bad, scary world of YouTube. So I guess I’m a style vlogger, too. Little did I know that I was jumping into yet another platform that most people end up quitting before they make it.
YouTube is harsh. People are mean. People are haters. People troll. People want to see you fail. But when you start growing an audience, you also find that a majority are pretty supportive and want for you to win. It’s the combination of haters and fans that gives me fuel to keep on pushing. Just like blogging, tremendous growth on YouTube doesn’t happen overnight, unless you’re one of the lucky ones whose video/s go viral or get shoutouts from bigger, established channels. Being a YouTuber is a tough job. It basically doubles the amount of work that I have to do has a blogger.
Even so, I have a ton of fun on YouTube. I love the video editing process, learning and experimenting with new techniques. After getting over the fear of putting myself out there on camera, it’s no longer all that scary to me anymore. I’ve gotten much more comfortable in front of the camera and I have my YouTube journey to thank for that. I’m still a baby on YT, wishing I had started back in 2006 when I was a freshman in college. I was a decade late to the party. But hey, at least I started and there’s no turning back now. I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring.
THOUGHTS ON INSTAGRAM
And then there’s Instagram. The 3rd platform that I focus most of my attention on beyond the blog/email list, and YouTube channel. How I love to hate Instagram. But it’s a love/hate relationship and a necessary evil. That’s where the attention is and growing as a social media influencer depends on IG success. Honestly, I think it’s such a fake platform where people present the perfect version of themselves to the world. So much vanity. So many big names who have bought their way to where they are now (there are tools out there to check this), which is a shame that their audience is built on lies. And then you have people who relentlessly follow and unfollow to further pad their stats. I’ve been followed an unfollowed by the same people a handful of times. I don’t care who they are, I’ll never support someone who employs sketchy tactics such as follow/unfollow. But that’s the nature of the game. People are so caught up in appearances and appearing to be popular or famous that they will do anything to gain that attention. Hard to fault them.
But for me it’s a slow grind, it’s been that way since day one and as with blogging and my YouTube channel, I’m learning that being patient pays off. I relish the moments of obscurity. Instagram is tough because it’s a completely different audience from a blog or YouTube audience. No one reads, people just scroll, scroll, scroll some more. It’s more about inspiration rather than information. There’s no depth on IG. Honestly, I try to get on and off IG as quickly as possible. I’ll scroll through my feed, like everyone’s photos and leave comments because I want to support the people I follow, but I don’t strive for IG fame. I seem pretty jaded, maybe I am. I imagine what would happen if Instagram disappeared tomorrow. With so many people’s self-worth wrapped up in this app, I don’t think it would be pretty. I’m thankful to have platforms beyond Instagram. If it were my only platform to reach my audience, I’d be really worried.
Ultimately, I love Instagram for the inspiration that it provides, but the very nature of the app is the definition of an ego trip. This just about sums up my love/hate with the app.
BACK TO THE BLOG
Year 1 I was just trying to make a name for myself and to prove my worth, getting through the struggles of growing an audience from scatch. Getting on people’s radar. Being consistent. Putting out quality content on a regular basis without much feedback or anyone taking notice of what I was doing. But in a sense I like the feeling being hidden and not well known, there’s less pressure.
Year 2 I had a chip on my shoulder, in fact I still do. There’s a lot that I have to prove to myself. To get better, to keep growing and put out the best content I can and add as much value to my readers as possible.
It’s still very much a struggle as glamorous as it may seem from afar, but it’s hard as hell. As I mentioned above, spending countless hours and even days on creating a piece of content, putting it out there and then crickets. It sucks when you put so much time and effort into something that goes unnoticed. But that builds resiliency within me.
Entering year 3 it’s still a struggle. I know people are watching, but it’s hard when you put out work and it doesn’t get the attention you think it deserves. But then again it’s all about earning it, and that’s something I’m willing to do. It takes time. And I’m willing to work for it.
ON TROLLS & HATERS
And then there’s the trolls and haters. YouTube I’ve found is the most toxic as I am sure you are aware of the comments section can be a cesspool of human stupidity and ignorance. It sucks having people talk shit about you and your work and try to tear you down. I spend all this time trying to create valuable content for my audience and then a small handful want to diminish what I’m doing. But in the end, I love the haters and trolls, they give me motivation to continue growing even bigger. And so I thank them for pushing me. Keep it up haters, I love the fuel you give me.
ON WORKING WITH BRANDS & COLLABORATIONS
I get collaboration proposals from brands everyday, but I decline over 90% of them. Why? Because they’re all looking for a feature in exchange for a review or exposure on my blog or YT. I only work with brands I know and and love and use myself or have extensively researched. Most brands don’t care about establishing a relationship, but for me it’s that relationship that matters most. And many of them just seem in-genuine, especially in the approach. I appreciate brands that genuinely want to work with me and send product without expectation of a feature. They understand that it takes time. I like to test the products that are sent my way and if I determine it’s a good fit for my audience, I’ll gladly feature them.
And then there’s other bloggers who cold pitch, and offer to pay me to get their link on my website, but that’s not the kind of blog I want to run here. Sure I can make a quick buck if I said yes to every person who offered to pay me to get a feature on the blog, but it will devalue what I’m trying to build here.
ON MY GOALS FOR LAST YEAR
Last year, I said that I wanted to partner and collaborate with brands. Well I did plenty of collaborations which has been amazing. I’m so thankful for all the amazing brands I’ve been able to work with. And I’m even thankful for the brand (shall not be mentioned) that gave me my first true ‘paid sponsorship’ and then ghosted on me, pretty much screwing me over. I learned a big lesson from that one. Always have a contract. I’m not mad at the brand that screwed me over and didn’t stay true to their word, that’s on them. But I’m mad at myself for not having a contract. I should know better being a designer and all. But I trusted the guy. He was the founder and seemed like a very nice, friendly person. And so I took his word for it. But I guess a man’s word doesn’t mean much these days, which is a shame really. All I know is that it’s a huge learning experience for me. I took the loss, but really it’s a win because it’s a part of my story and I learned a big lesson from it.
I also said I wanted to find my voice, but did I find my voice? Hard to say. I’ve really been focused more on my personal style when it comes to the blog and youtube channel and creating content that I want to and also what my audience asks of me. It’s all through my lens. There’s still plenty for me to find along this style blogging journey. I’m still finding my voice and I’m okay with that. I’m learning and growing every day.
I said that I wanted community engagement. I found some of that with YouTube, Instagram and my private Facebook community, albeit in a very small scale, but it’s a process and I am thankful for the small communities I’ve built on various platforms.
I wanted to reach 1,000 YouTube subscribers. I’m happy to say that I smashed past that as I’m nearing 2,000 as of this writing (1,814 to be exact).
I also wanted to focus on giving you the reader more of what you want. And I think I did that. I put out a survey last year and got some amazing feedback from you guys and so I’m going to send out another survey this year. If you’re on my email list, you’ll get it first.
LOOKING AHEAD TO YEAR 3
I’ve gone too far to quit now. The only option is to go full-steam ahead, building on this beautiful thing that I started 2 years ago. I’m growing every single day and that’s enough incentive for me to keep on going. Bit by bit. It’s slow—super slow at times—but I’ve been patient and I remain patient. I’m willing to put my head down, put in the work, take the hits—and keep hustling and grinding while I’m still relatively unknown. It’s great when no one knows you yet. As I mentioned above, there’s less pressure. Maybe someday I’ll arrive and people will say “wow, he came out of nowhere,” but for me it’s all about the ride and I know how far I have yet to go.
I still have that chip on my shoulder. I’m still hungry for more. I still feel like this is only the beginning. There’s so much to learn, so much to do. Building a community of like-minded gentlemen and trying to deliver as much value to them as possible is what I strive to do. Being more strategic all-around, especially on my big 3 platforms, blog/email list, YouTube and Instagram is a huge goal of mine in year 3.
For my blog, community engagement and continued growth is what I’m after. For YouTube, I set a goal of 10k subscribers by the end of 2018. That’s bold considering I was well under 1k when I said that. But that’s what goals are for, something worth striving towards. On Instagram I’m pushing for 10k followers (currently at 3,108) by the end of year 3. I want to continue to work with great brands and get brand deals this year. I want to collaborate with other bloggers and YouTubers in the menswear space and maybe those in other niches.
And finally, I want to open up more. Share more behind the scenes, documenting the journey and process of trying to make it as a young style blogger in this crowded market. To find my voice and carve a niche I can call my own.
That’s a lot of things, but things surely worth striving for.
Over the past 2 years as a style blogger, I’ve met so many amazing individuals. Inspiring people, whom many I’ve been able to work with. I’ve gotten advice, I’ve learned so much from them, and I’m thankful that they’re in my life. They’re my colleagues and I consider some of them friends. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m not going to single anyone out this year, but they know who they are.
And finally, this blog wouldn’t exist or be where it is today without you the readers. I want to thank you for the messages of support over these past two years. I’ll be honest, 2 years in, I still don’t get a whole lot of feedback and so when I do, I remember it.
Alright, that’s enough. I think I’ve spoken my mind. Whew, that feels good.
Special thanks to my friend Erica, for helping me pull together this last minute shoot.
AND NOW IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
I don’t blame ya if you skipped all of the above, it was a lot to read! But thanks if you took the time.
3 lucky winners will have the chance to win 3 pretty awesome prizes with a total value of $397. Scroll on down to see what you can win and how to enter.
PRIZE 1: POKER SET
- This is a playable deck of poker cards dipped in 24 karat gold.
- The deck is produced to tournament grade standards.
- These cards are used frequently throughout the world in casino high-roller rooms.
- Presented in an elegant high quality case made from cherrywood, the entire package measures 6.3″ long x 4.7″ wide x 1.8″ high and contains an authentication certificate.
PRIZE 2: GOLF & TEE SET
- This premium golf ball and tee set is dipped in 24k gold.
- Our special patented process ensures excellent durability while retaining their playability.
- Amazingly, these stunning gold-dipped golf balls can rival regular golf balls for their ability to fly equally long and straight.
- The set is ideal for mounting and display purposes.
- Wolf Clothing Co. High Brow Socks – $14
- Gentleman Collective Necktie – $29
- Modern Made Man Leather Wallet – $48
- Gentlemen Essentials Earth Bracelet – $19
- Defined Men Leather Cufflinks – $29
To enter this giveaway:
Step 1) Enter your first name and email address below. (If you already get my emails you can skip ahead to step 2)
Step 2) After completing step 1, you must choose at least one additional method of entry below. Don’t forget! You have multiple ways to enter. The more of them you do, the better your chances are.
Deadline to enter is Friday, August 31, 2018 at 11:59PM EST. I’ll then select three random winners.
Thanks and Good luck!
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