So, I have something kind of big to announce…
This year – for my Christmassy series of blog posts (known as Blogmas) – I’ll be collaborating with Pretty Perfect Products (PPP)!Originally, the plan was to make this announcement on December 1st and to continue talking about the brand and in particular, their Christmas Planner (which you can buy here) throughout the entire Blogmas series. However, after some talks with the PPP team, it turns out that the Planner kind of comes into play a month or so prior to December; and so, to ensure that any prospective buyers get the full benefit of it, I’m announcing the collaboration now!
And, as an early Christmas
present, I’m giving you all a 10% discount code exclusive to I’m NOT Disordered
readers; just type in ‘AIMEE10’ at the checkout on either the PPP website, or their Etsy store.
Since I wrote a post last year about planning Blogmas early, I put some thought into what I could blog about for this piece. Then I was speaking to a friend about securing the collaboration and after a ‘wow’ she asked how I’d ‘managed’ to do ‘that’ and I realised that this was something I hadn’t blogged about for a fair while – tips, insight, and advice on collaborations…
Learn about it before you do it
Honestly, I didn’t have any interest or curiosity around the blogging industry and individual bloggers in general until I joined the industry and became a blogger! And from the very beginning of my blogging career, that lack of prior knowledge, meant that I really had no idea what I was in for when I created, I’m NOT Disordered!
On the one hand, this naivety gave me the opportunity to really make my blog into a way which it may not have done if I’d began blogging with expectations or standards. Like, it meant that I didn’t have a concern with my readership in thinking ‘I should have had this many readers by now, because other blogs did!’ It meant I have never felt or thought that my blog was a failure or inadequate in any way.
On the other hand, not having any insight into the world of blogging meant that I was completely unprepared for the difficulties and challenges you may face as a blogger. I always felt as though I’ve had to learn things the hard way – and it’s one reason why I blog about my experiences and give advice; I don’t want others to have to learn something through that hardships I’ve experienced. Although, I’m very aware that some people – I’m one of them – need to learn things by doing it, or through the hardest way possible because it makes the lesson you learnt more trustworthy and therefore, more persuasive, and concrete or stable.So, one huge learning curve I’ve experienced in my blogging career, is around collaborations. After I created, I’m NOT Disordered and finally began to see it as a long-term ‘thing,’ I started to look to other bloggers for inspiration and influence; and I quickly discovered that collaborating with others could be of huge importance in the blogging world. Like, it could literally have the potential to absolutely make or break your blog! And that realisation and acknowledgement was a big help in my early collaborations because I felt that it led to me choosing my partners carefully and giving them the amount of respect and support, they were deserving of if they were going to have such a huge impact the future of, I’m NOT Disordered.
Learning about the ins and outs of collaborating isn’t the only research you should do before collaborating; there’s also a lot to learn about your collaboration partner – whether that be a brand, a company, a charity, a person… They will have a history – a beginning, a growth, a purpose; and it’s important that you have an understanding of these things either before approaching the person/organisation, or before responding to their suggestion of a collaboration.
The appreciation in doing this research, for me, has largely stemmed from the thought that I’m putting my name – my blog’s name – to this partner and so I need them to be the perfect fit. I need them to match and to compliment my own purposes, goals, interests, passions etc because our reputations will be forever connected and if they were to support something controversial, I’d have to be prepared for spiteful messages from people on social media who knew I’d affiliated myself and my blog with the person or organisation.
Carefully consider the pros and cons
Be creative from the offset
The creativity of your collaboration should start from the beginning where the partnership has been your own idea and you’ve emailed a proposal for/about it. I say this because now that the blogging world is so overly saturated (even just within mental health blogs), it is likely that the person or organisation you’re contacting receives many emails or letters etc from bloggers asking for collaborations too. So, your proposal really needs to stand out and have a special element to it which makes it more appealing than all those other ideas.
I think that this is something
which I’ve managed to use for a long time now; just because I’ve been creative
since I was little and so I won’t say it comes naturally… But perhaps it’s easier
for me than others may find it. I mean, when I was little, I used to write
short stories all the time and would use my animal-centred imagination to write
about puppies and horses going on adventures. I also enjoyed the arts and
crafts element to creativity and was always creating collages of my dream toys
and things I’d torn from catalogues with my Nana. I think that a huge influence
on my creativity, has been that I’ve always received support for it. I’ve never
been told to stop being ‘silly’ and until my teenage years, the projects I’ve
produced were never criticized or dismissed.
It saddens me that after all those years of that huge interest and passion for creativity, just two years with an Art and Design teacher during my GCSE qualifications, completely undermined any confidence I had or enjoyment I experienced! Her comments on my work definitely weren’t even constructive criticism and so I felt undermined and belittled so often that I rarely committed much time or effort to my projects for her class because I was so convinced that she would only disregard them or destroy their meaning and leave me feelings that I’d wasted my time in even doing them.
The creativity, strangely, came back when I reported the abuse I’d experienced when I was younger to the Police; I had to give a written statement for it. Seeing what had happened to me in words like that? Well, firstly I felt kind of ‘free’ as though now that they were on the paper, they were no longer in my head. And then I had the startling feeling of a real need to make those words – that statement – so much more creative, and so much less formal, clinical, and raw. To see the words on there which still make me cringe; felt brutal, almost. Violent. They sadly, perfectly summed up exactly everything the abuse had been and everything he had done to me.
The unbearable thought of this cold and cruel statement has really contributed to my writing becoming more creative and – hopefully – a bit more different. My need and impulse to talk about the abuse in a lighter, less upsetting way, has definitely influenced any blog content on that subject. I think a part of this, is that talking about the abuse is never ‘enjoyable’ or ‘easy’ and so it’s kind of natural to want to change that. And it feels like the only way to do this, is by adding a bit of creativity to the way it is written and the way it is presented.
I like to think that this change and – in my opinion – improvement might also make it a little less challenging to read. It’s really important to me that we raise awareness of abuse and rape, and that other survivors feel encouraged to speak out about their own experiences. In doing this – in sharing experiences – it can really help others to feel less alone, and even less blameworthy because, for me, it was important to be asked what I would say to someone else in my position – would I hold them accountable in the way I was myself?
And I think that this unique sense
of creativity has probably been an essential trait and huge contributor the
popularity and success of my blog because it helps is to stand out and to be
different. Of course, that can take some confidence, but fortunately I feel
that I have found my own confidence within my enjoyment of creativity, my passion
for writing, and my determination to make something of I’m NOT Disordered. It’s
a huge reason why I try to think ‘outside the box’ in my collaborations. I like
to consider how I can make an unusual partnership relevant to my experiences
and my blog’s typical content. In doing something surprising, it attracts
readers because they want to know how you’ve made it applicable and appropriate.
It’s such a good tool for building your audience.
Don’t be afraid to submit a collaboration request
So, often in collaboration – particularly in the early days of your blogging career, you might find that you actually need to approach organisations, companies, charities etc with your idea of a collaboration. Honestly? I think this is a great thing!
There are a number of people who begin blogging with the expectation that collaboration opportunities will be brought to them on a silver platter. As though all the bloggers who no longer have to request a collaboration, didn’t work their butt of to get to that point! And whilst I’m often one of those bloggers who doesn’t need to request collaborations, I really enjoy when I have to!
I think that my happiness with writing collaboration requests, mostly stems from the fact they’re an opportunity to be creative and to write persuasively… But then there’s a bit of an adrenaline rush – which is something I really enjoy! I think it’s similar to applying for a job; you know? Like, you get that nervous, fluttering feeling in your tummy with the hope and excitement of knowing you’re attempting to achieve something.
And you know, sometimes; it’s actually about recognising the achievement of just putting the request or proposal together and having the confidence to submit it. A lot of companies, organisations, charities, and individuals can receive a vast amount of collaboration ideas from bloggers every day; so there can very often be a ‘no’ in response to your idea. I once got an ‘absolutely not’ response and I remember feeling so deflated, embarrassed, and also; a little bit angry because saying ‘no’ is understandable, but to phrase it like that?! It actually felt kind of rude! And the best thing that can come from a ‘no’ is when the collaboration partner explains the reason for their response. If they tell you it’s purely the number of requests they get, or that as a rule they don’t collaborate, or that there was a particular fault or error in your request. All of those responses can aid you in learning from the experience. And doing that – learning from it – can mean it wasn’t pointless or a complete waste of time.
Stay grateful and grounded
You know when you advise someone to be a certain way, and it’s actually something which you’d like to think others would use to describe you? That’s how I feel about ‘grateful’ and ‘grounded’ – I hope the people who know me best would consider me to be that way too.
I think a large contributing factor to cause a challenge in you maintaining these two qualities, is where either the number of collaborations or the quality of them, comes to a level which could easily lead to someone feeling a bit too big for their boots! It’s ironic that sometimes, ‘succeeding’ and ‘achieving’ great things, can end up turning a person into someone they may not really be, and it has led to them (and their blog) becoming thought less of and actually reducing in popularity, opportunities etc.
I think that whilst I’ve had some amazing experiences through my collaborations, I will never forget where I started. How I started. How I’m NOT Disordered started. I won’t ever lose sight of all the time and effort it has taken to make my blog into what it is today. I mean, I still get kind of overwhelmed and shocked with the thought that almost one million people read the words I write! And when I receive emails from organisations and people I really respect, appreciate, and admire, discussing collaborations? Well, that just… takes my breath away. I mean, I’m speechless – I literally don’t know what to say because it feels as though there are no words good enough to illustrate the gratitude I hold towards those emails. Towards those opportunities and collaborations.
Having spent so many years feeling suicidal and wanting to cause harm to myself in some way, meant that I often had to say ‘no’ to a lot of things to come up. I mean, from anything to do with education, weekend employment, nights out with friends, holidays… There felt as though there was an endless list of things which I couldn’t do for some reason related to my mental illness. Either I was hallucinating, or I had been admitted to hospital, or I’d run away. There were so many terrible things in my life that were, ironically, preventing me from taking on opportunities which would aid me in being happy and increase the chances of me actually enjoying life.
So, after years of that, how could anyone expect me to say ‘no’ to anything every again? And so, I say ‘yes’ to so many projects, collaborations, partnerships, opportunities, experiences, and more; that people check I haven’t ‘taken on too much!’ And it is probably this shift in my life which really aids me in being more grounded and grateful because it’s meant that I’ve seen life without all of the magically special things my blogging has brought to me.
ALL THE LINKS:
10% Discount Code on either the PPP website or their Etsy store: ‘AIMEE10’