Gentleman Within officially launched back in August of 2016. It’s unreal that I’m already 3 years in on this blogging journey. It was a last minute decision to write this up, but it is a milestone and so it’s worth reflecting. Look at it as a State of the Blog Address.
In the first two years I set goals and laid out plans for the future. I’m not going to do that this time. I’m keeping them to myself in year four. No need to shout from the rooftops anymore. The only person to hold myself accountable is me. But I do want to share some things starting with a rough 3rd year.
YEAR 3 WAS ROUGH
The first two years of Gentleman Within were relatively positive. It was all new to me. I was fresh and I had endless motivation to create and to grow my brand.
I quickly went from being a style blogger to a wantrepreneur. Early on, I wasn’t making any money and didn’t really have any sense of direction with the blog. I was just creating content without a clear plan of monetization. But somewhere along the way, I made my first buck. And from then on, I realized the possibilities. And so I kept going. The entrepreneurial spirit within me was awakened.
And though I found a way, it hasn’t been smooth sailing, in fact, the entrepreneurial journey isn’t nearly as fancy or exciting as it may seem. Just like in life, there are ordinary and many mundane moments. One thing is for certain, it takes a special kind of grit to keep pushing forward, especially when things aren’t going the way you think they should.
There’s no getting around it, but the work is the work and if I’m being honest for the past several months — heck, even the vast majority of 2019, I’ve been feeling pretty down and haven’t been doing the work I know I’m capable of. There’s been this resistance to create and do what I know needs to be done. I’ve been pushing back articles and videos on my content calendar again and again, week after week, month after month.
And I have my reasons for falling off. Life happens. I’m not seeking attention or shouting out woe is me. I just wanted to share a small bit of where my headspace has been at, and that I haven’t been doing nearly as much as I know I’m capable of.
2019 has seen many ebbs and flows. I’ve shut off from creating any type of new content for weeks, even months at a time. Binge watching Netflix and TV hasn’t been helping. Only recently have I begun to pull myself out of the rut I put myself in. I’m putting it on myself to maintain and be more consistent moving into my 4th year. No excuses.
LEVELING UP PRODUCTION
A big win for me is that I recently picked up some new equipment to level up the quality of my photography and videos. I spent months researching the right camera and audio equipment that would be the best options for my needs.
I’m happy with the investment and have already been putting them to good use. It took me so long to upgrade from my smartphone because I felt that it did a good enough job. And it did. People weren’t complaining about low quality content and I felt content with my level of production.
I never wanted lack of tools or equipment to hold me back, because you can create good content with just your mobile device and a computer. I always tell people who are starting to just get started with what you have. You’ll learn and make upgrades along the way. Don’t let not having the latest and greatest production tools slow you down or prevent you from creating. The tools help for sure, but quality content is possible with basic and affordable equipment.
But, ultimately there comes a time that new equipment becomes necessary and I feel that I’m at the right stage along the journey to make that investment. And so I’m glad that I made the upgrades, and I’m so ready to take things up a notch in year 4.
DID I REACH MY GOALS?
Last year I wanted to be more strategic all-around on my big 3 platforms, the blog/email list, YouTube and Instagram.
I’m proud to say that I was much more strategic in year 3, especially with the content I created, brands that I partnered with and where I allocated my time. I said no on a daily basis and only said yes to what I feel like would be great brand partners.
I still am not a big fan of Instagram and so I’ve posted much less in year 3, especially since the start of 2019. IG just hasn’t been much of a priority for me. It just doesn’t bring much ROI and too many people are engaged in these massive 100+ “influencer” pods where they like, comment and engage on each other’s posts.
Sure, it may help with the appearance of an engaged audience, but in reality it’s deceiving and even worse for brands because they’re not getting an accurate representation of a person’s true value and engagement. It’s a shame really. I choose not to partake because it dilutes your brand and is a short-term play, while I’m in it for the long haul.
As down as I seem on Instagram, it’s still an integral part of the overall brand and I look to continue growing on the platform, because it’s still a great way to engage with my audience. Plus IG Stories is my favorite part of Instagram because of how much engagement goes on in the DMs. That’s where the real value is.
I don’t really care for the numbers, but I was at 3,108 followers last year and had a goal of 10k. I’m currently at 8,883 short of my goal by 1,117.
I missed my goal of 10k subscribers by the end of 2018. I’m currently at 8,566 and it’s August 19, 2019. I’m getting close, but not there yet.
I feel like 10k will be a big one. Just as big as 100 and 1k, two other milestones that took a while to reach. But I feel that at 10k, I’ll have a tight knit community that has been following along my journey for a while. I feel that YouTube communities are much stronger than my other platforms. My most loyal fans actively engage in the comments, unlike on the blog or on Instagram comments.
YouTube is going to play a big role moving forward and I’m looking to be more consistent and post more frequently.
This is a new one for me. Little did I know Pinterest would be my fastest growing platform this past blog year. It’s become an important driver of social traffic to the blog. I took the time to learn the platform and it’s slowly starting to pay off.
Pinterest will continue to play a big role in the growth of the blog. Shameless plug, check out GW’s Pinterest for some dope men’s style inspiration.
Traffic to the blog grew the most it ever has from August of last year to December, but then sort of flatlined since then. In fact, traffic has been steadily declining since January, which is concerning. This means that I haven’t been doing the best job that I could do in terms of writing content that gets found and content that people are interested in reading and sharing. I’m working on it though.
The thing with blogging is that it really is a long game, more so than any other platform. Often times if you’re trying to rank for competitive search terms, you won’t see any significant traffic on content you create for up to 6-9 months later. It’s like planting seeds in a garden you never get to see! (Hamilton fans, anyone?)
Blogging is definitely not for those who seek immediate gratification. It’s the platform for those who understand that good things can come to those who wait. And I’m willing to wait for it. (Another Hamilton reference, heh)
DECLARATIONS MOVING FORWARD
The only thing I want to say here is that I have plans moving forward. As for what they are. I’d rather let my actions do the talking.
There comes a point in every man’s entrepreneurial journey that he can no longer wear all the hats, and he must seek help from the outside. There’s just way too much responsibility and honestly, I feel in over my head most of the time. There have been times that answering emails and phone call meetings have taken up most of the day.
And so I’m seeking contributors for the blog so I can focus growing the brand in other areas. If you are on my email list or follow my Instagram stories then you may already know about this.
But for those hearing about it for the first time this is what I’m looking for:
Gentleman Within would love to have contributors on a myriad of men’s fashion topics as well as reviewers. Reviewers must be able to produce his/her own original high-quality photography of reviewed products (preferred) and or source photos from the brand.
In addition to men’s style & fashion, I’m interested in finding expert contributors on various lifestyle topics, fitness, dating/confidence, grooming/fragrance, personal finance, mixology/drinks, and horology.
For most of 2019, I’ve stopped consuming other men’s style related content. I just don’t have time for it, plus I’m laser focused on taking things up a notch and building this brand. Everything else is just a distraction from achieving my goals.
Collectively, Gentleman Within has grown the most in its third year and I’m as excited and motivated as ever going into my 4th year with the blog. I’m not at all excited about taxes, but I am ready to take GW to the next level.
Year 4, BRING IT. 😏
PS. The 3rd Annual Gentleman Within Reader’s Questionnaire is out. I’m seeking feedback from you, my readers. Thanks in advance!