A couple of days ago, I asked my followers on Instagram what kind of content they’d like to read on my upcoming blog posts. I mentioned having a somewhat bad case of writer’s block in my last post, and I thought the easiest way to start planning future posts was to ask you, my readers. Some of the more popular responses were “How you became a _____” (since I have multiple occupations),  which I was happily surprised about. I’ll sometimes write about how I’ve achieved what I have in bits and pieces on the blog, but never in full. So read on to know how I got into blogging plus a few blogging tips I learned along the way.

数日前に、インスタグラムで私のブログでどういうコンテンツを読んでみたいか写真のキャプション問いかけてみました。前回の記事にも書いていた通り、ちょっとしたライターズブロックになってしまったので、次回のコンテンツをまとめるにあたって読者やフォロワー達に直接聞いてみた方が速いかなと思いました。一番人気なレスポンスは「どうやって○○になったか」だったので、素直に嬉しかったです。記事内に一、二行程度の長さでそういう感じの内容はたまに書きますが、未だにフルで文章にしたことがなかったです。なので、私がどうやってブロガーになったのか、そしてブロガーとしてのアドバイスも最後にまとめてみたので是非読んでみて下さい。

6 years ago when I was a junior attending UCLA, my then-boyfriend randomly found out about a fashion event happening on Melrose. As he showed me the details of the event, he pulled up the event host’s website, Fashion Toast. This was the first time I learned about blogging and who Rumi Neely was – before this I didn’t even know blogging even existed. Since I already had an appetite for fashion, I was immediately intrigued by this ultra-chic LA girl, who also happened to be a hapa like me. Well of course we went to said event, but since I had no experience attending fashionable parties in LA and I didn’t know anything about blogging, I watched Rumi having her photos taken from afar, not knowing what I would even say to her if I approached her. When I’ve mentioned before that I used to be extremely shy, I was not joking because I ended up leaving the event without exchanging a single word with her. Stupid me.

私がまだUCLAに通っていた6年前に、当時の彼が偶然ネットでメルローズで開催されるとあるファッションイベントをみつけました。イベントの詳細を確認していたら、イベントのホストのホームページ、Fashion Toastも掲載されていました。その時初めて「ブログ」というプラトフォームのこととルミ・ニーリーさんの存在を知りました。ファッションには興味があったので、この超お洒落で、しかも私と同じ日本とアメリカのハーフのLAガールにすぐ興味と憧れを抱きました。彼とはそのイベントに足を運んでみましたが、当時はファッションパーティーなどに行く機会はほとんどなかったし、ブログの世界の知識もなかったので、目の前にいるルミさんにどう声を掛けていいか分かりませんでした。私が昔ものすごくシャイだということは、本当に冗談ではありません(笑)。一言もことばを交わさず、パーティーを後にしてしまいました。

Despite disappointing myself like that, my interest in her blog and blogging in general kept growing, and my boyfriend suggested I start my own and see where it would take me. I first started my blog as “Samantha Mariko” on WordPress.com, but immediately switched over to Blogger, changing my blog name to “Letters Impromptu” – I wanted to write my blog posts in the style of a letter to my readers in an impromptu manner, hence the name. Also, an “Impromptu” is a kind of musical piece, and as a piano major I thought incorporating something about classical music would make sense.

後悔するようなことをしてしまいましたが、ルミさんのブログやブログの世界への興味はどんどん湧きました。当時の彼にも薦められて、私も思い切って自分のブログを立ち上げることにしました。当初はWordpress.comで「Samantha Mariko」としてスタートしましたが、すぐにBloggerへ移動し、「Letters Impromptu」にブログ名を変更しました。ブログの記事を読者宛の即興に書ける手紙スタイルにしたいという意味を込めて。あと、「即興曲」はクラシックの曲のひとつであり、大学でピアノを勉強していたのでクラシックの要素も取り入れたいなと思いました。

I honestly didn’t know what I was doing at first, but I started my posting personal style posts, beauty products I was using, activities I did and sometimes about music because I was studying piano at the time. I would ask my boyfriend, my brothers, my friends to take photos for me, and since I started modeling around the same time, I’d post photos from my photo shoots as well. It was difficult for a beginner like me to create quality content from the beginning (I didn’t learn how to use Photoshop until a year later), but I made sure to post something at least once or twice a week to keep the flow going. I continued doing that after moving to Japan, and after about 2 years I was offered my first brand collaboration and that’s where the blog really started growing. I also asked photographers to take my photos about once a week, so the quality of my posts increased as well, which led to more paid opportunities and collaboration offers. And late last year, I did a major blog renewal with the help of my friend who is a talented engineer. It’s been a long journey with a lot of baby steps, but I’m happy with where my blog is now and I’m always looking for ways to make it better.

当初自分は何をしようとしていたのか全く分かっていなかったのですが、とりあえず私服の写真を載せたり、好きな美容グッズやお出かけした時の写真、そしてたまに音楽のことについて書いていました。彼や弟達、周りの友達に写真を撮ってもらったり、その頃からモデルも始めていたのでカメラマンに撮ってもらった写真も載せたりしていました。初心者の私に最初からクオリティーの高いコンテンツを載せていくのは難しかったですが(Photoshopもブログ始めてから一年後やっとつかえるようになりました)、週に1〜2回はブログ記事を書いて、あまり途切れのないように続けました。日本に着てからもそのまま続けて、2年後ぐらいに初めてブランドからコラボレーションのオファーがきて、そこからブログが成長し始めたと思います。周りのカメラマンにも協力してもらい、私服の画像のクオリティも上がり、更にコラボレーションや仕事のオファーが増えました。そして去年の末、エンジニアの力を借りて、念願だったブログリニューアルをすることができました。6年という長い月日でしたが、ここまで来れたことに満足しているし、でも常にブロガーとしてレベルアップしたいと思っています。

 

I think the biggest factor for my blog growth is that not many Japanese bloggers or influencers have self-hosted blogs like bloggers in the US and Europe do, for instance. This is a big reason why many brands in Japan reach out for collaborations even though my blog is still in the process of growing and reaching a bigger audience – they acknowledge the quality of my posts, the way I execute the sponsored items, and also my unique look. And now, I’d like to offer some simple blogging tips I’ve learned over the years:

海外ではセルフホストのブログを持っているブロガーが多いのですが、そういうブロガーはまだ日本では少ないのです。私のブログはまだまだ成長しつつありますが、ブログやSNSのプレゼンテーションに凄くこだわっているからこそ、色んなブランドや企業に声を掛けてもらっているのだと思います。そこで、私がこの6年間ブログをやっていて学んだことを以下のようにまとめてみました。

  1. Figure out your interests and what you want to blog about. (興味があること/書きたいトピックを探してみて)You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what you’ll be blogging about in the beginning because I most definitely didn’t. Many bloggers rebrand once they figure out their niche, so it’s always a work in progress.
  2. Invest in a good camera. (高くても画質の良いカメラはマスト)It doesn’t have to be a DSLR. I use the Canon d7x which is an amazing compact camera with DSLR capabilities, WiFi and a flip screen.
  3. Learn how to use Photoshop and/or Lightroom. (PhotoshopとLightroomを使えるようにする)It changed my life. I’ve been using Photoshop for at least 5 years now and recently included Lightroom in my editing process. Photoshop is also a great tool for making collages or inspiration boards.
  4. Know your photographers.(カメラマンを探す!)As a model and blogger, it’s so important for me to know as many photographers as possible. And it’s just so different when a professional takes your photo compared to an amateur photographer.
  5. Reach out to brands or companies you want to work with, and make it easy for them to reach out to you. (コラボレーションしたいブランドや企業に自分から積極的に連絡する)Be proactive and contact brands you are interested in, and also make sure your contact information is very visible on your website. I know some bloggers have media kits and that is one thing I’m working on myself.
  6. Learn how to say “no.”(時には断るのも大事)When I first started collaborating with brands, I would say yes to every single opportunity. But now that I have a clearer image of how I want my blog to be, I will say no sometimes if a brand doesn’t fit that.
  7. Be genuine to your audience. (読者には正直でいることを心がける)This is actually something I’m still working on, but I love it when a blogger shares personal experiences or honest thoughts about certain topics. It’s good to be relatable, at least to a certain degree.
  8. Know how to use social media. (SNSも使えるようにする)Instagram is my main social media channel – whenever I post a new blog post, I always make sure to mention it on Instagram. Twitter and Lookbook are also other platforms I use.
  9. Meet other bloggers. (他のブロガーと仲良くなる)Ever since I started blogging, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many amazing bloggers from around the world, and it’s great that we’re all supportive of each other. If you ever travel, there’s a chance you’ll already have a friend at your next destination 🙂
  10. Love and enjoy what you do. (楽しんでやることが大事)This is the hardest, but it’s also the most important. Blogging is a journey, and you can learn so many things about it and also yourself along the way. And it will show when you don’t like what you’re doing.

If you’re a blogger, what kind of things have you learned during your journey? If you’re planning to start a blog or just started one, did this post help at all? I would love to read about your thoughts and experiences in the comment section!

ブロガーの方で、ブログをやっていて学んだことは何ですか?ブログを始めようと思っている方へ:この記事は役に経ちましたか?是非コメント欄に感想を残して下さい!

 

Bershka cardigan (similar here), Zara top (similar here), Magic Stick cap, zeroUV sunglasses, Asos choker (similar here), Charles & Keith bag, Urban Outfitters jeans (similar here), Kendall + Kylie boots

All photos by Jason Mordeno, edited by Samantha Mariko.

38 comments

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Thank you for writing this post because I genuinely appreciated getting to know your blogging history and tips. I am happy that you found that a self hosted website was the best route for you as I think that’s an important step to blogging as well. Also loved all your tips especially knowing when to say no.

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Hey Sam, these are such great tips. I enjoying reading other people’s blogging experiences. I have been blogging for nearly 3 years and I am still learning. I love your blog.

http://www.stephylately.com

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Sam I love reading people’s blogging stories! I love how you were inspired by Rumi, she’s got such a great style! Your blogging story is great and I love it!
Jordan xx
http://thehatlogic.com

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Your tips are so helpful! I especially agree with tip #1 & #7.
Amazing post as always. 🙂

Reply

Having read your blog for almost a year now it’s hard to imagine you actually once were as shy as you say you were, but that’s one of the good things that has come out of this all (and I’m talking about ALL things you’re up to, not just blogging) as you’re really out there in every single way. I mean just look at you doing that fashion show a few weeks ago. I know I wouldn’t dare to do that. It’s also interesting to read that you’re quite unique in Japan by having your own platform. I don’t know about the US, but I don’t think it’s that common in Europe on your own platform either as I’ve never ran into anyone but myself who does that, but then again, I’ve only been around for not even a year. I do, however, experience the same as you are. That brands are reaching out to me as I’m a pro on my own 🙂 Best decision ever. So this was about blogging. Now I want to hear all about how you became a model and a DJ and just an awesome person in general 🙂
xoxo
Thomas

http://thomasfalkenstedt.com

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I love hearing about your journey into blogging. That is so cool that you started years ago before it became such a thing! You are so talented in many areas and it shows in your photos and your writing. This post is extremely helpful for those starting out a blog and not knowing where to begin but I also like that we learn more about you. I started my blog about a year ago and I agree that it takes many changes and what you started out with will definitely evolve. But that is the fun part! Thanks for sharing these tips! xoxo, Christine
http://dailykongfidence.com/

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I love reading about other bloggers journeys and their experiences with blogging! This was definitely helpful, thank you for sharing! I would definitely agree with the quality content as for it can be a huge game changer in the long run and staying consistent and at this point in time authentic – there is so much out there in the blogging field these days!

http://Www.Stylnova.net

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This was such a great read! 🙂 Thank you for the tips! I still haven’t bought a DSLR because I am on a student budget! But I will buy one soon! 🙂 Have a great week! Glad to have found your blog!
xx
Shivangi
http://www.outoncatwalk.com

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Your outfits look great on you! Loving this whole look!!!!
http://www.gelbermd.com/child-psychiatrist

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ahhh i always love reading about other blogger’s journeys to blogging. it’s so fascinating to see how they got from point a to point b. i can’t believe you had the chance to meet rumi and were too shy! i bet you wouldn’t do that now 😉 it’s amazing how much you’ve grown and how you’re still expanding your blog to share new things. your content is amazing and i’m so glad to have e-met you!

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I would definitely say your tips were helpful! When I first started blogging, I used to say yes to every single thing, due to being excited about receiving free products. Now I find myself saying no a lot more often since I’ve matured and learned what works best for my content. I would have never guessed you were shy either, haha!

http://www.thebeautybeau.com

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You are stunning. I love your outfit and your blog. I found this post very inspiring. It’s always great to find out how other bloggers…especially the ones that I admire the most…got their start. You went from asking friends and family to take your images to having “wowza” looking images on each post.

The Girl on the Tamarind Hill

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You inspire me! Your style, your blog….everything about you inspires me! You’re right, blogging is a journey and you learn as you go. Thank you for sharing tips and helping those who are just starting out. And I really relates to the part where you said we have to learn how to say no. That’s so true. I will not accept every offer because I want to protect my brand. Loved this post!

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I started my blog about two years ago. With the help of my Mom as my photographer, I was able to start posting a lot. I was still in high school and trying to keep up my studies, exercise, blogging – it was a little stressful but a passion I wanted to pursue. I am graduating this week and heading to LA to school in the fall. So excited. Loved all your tips – it certainly helps to hear other experienced bloggers.

Xxgracie

snappedbygracie.com

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Awww…. I love how you blog in 2 languages!!!! Should do the same with English and German but you’re much luckier to have a seperate alphabet! 😀
x finja | http://www.effcaa.com

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these are all wonderful tips babe, and i can resonate to just about all of them! i started my blog 3 years ago and at first i thought it’d just be a passive hobby so i’m a little surprised to see it grow to where it is now! i totally agree that it’s so important to stay true to yourself because your audience will totally know if you don’t… and also learning to say no to brands that either don’t align well with your brand/image or don’t pay enough. knowing your worth is so important! thanks for sharing this babe xo, sharon

http://www.stylelullaby.com/beauty/clarins-lip-comfort-oil-plump-pout-repeat/

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Great tips babe. I love your look. The best part about blogging to me is meeting genuine girls who enjoy or have simiar interests as I do all around the world. It really makes it feel like the world is such a small place! I honestly wish I knew more photographers in my area. Moving around a lot isn’t he easiest or quickest for finding photographers lol

Xo,
Miki
http://mikialamode.com

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Congrats for your experience and your tips. We need always to learn . I’m blogging from 1 year and half but I would like to get payed and not just free products. I’m think for me is the best question . It’s not always easy to be accepted depends on the brand, but I would like to go forward on my way.
I’m interested too how you begins and when the DJ job and the model.
Xx
Eva
http://www.themermaidfashion.com

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Wow thank you for these tips lovely! It is always so interesting to see how bloggers got started. I might do a post like this myself. Also, thanks for all the helpful tips!

katetik.com

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You are a true Diva <3 <3
https://outfitsandmakeupblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/summer-essentials/

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So neat to hear your story on how you started blogging. 🙂 I’ve been doing it for about 2 years now as well and thanks for sharing with us your tips. Contacting brands that I love is something I’m still working on myself. 🙂 So curious how receiving sponsorships in Japan is different. Where/how do they usually find you?

BLOG | YOUTUBE | INSTAGRAM

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As for brands in Japan, they usually find my blog and email me or brands contact my agency and my agency lets me know 🙂

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Great post, Mariko san!!
Your blog inspires me always<3
ブロガーになって学んだことは、自信をもつことの大切さです。
このことは、まりこさんのブログからたくさん学びました!
まりこさん、いつもありがとう♡
他にもたくさんあるので、私もいつか記事にしてみたいです。

akiko

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I would’ve semi kicked myself too for not saying hi to Rumi, but would have also been just as shy! 😛
Thanks for sharing these amazing tips. I had no idea it was different than how it is in the states, but quality over quantity any day! That’s how a brand grows.

Sweet as Fiction xx
http://www.sweetasfiction.com

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Thank you so much, I’ve just started my own blog and each story like that is so inspiring. I will try to follow all your tips and be patient, cuz it is a long way and a lot of work.

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I so enjoy reading your blog and seeing what content you come up with next! Your style is so unique and your photos are always amazing! These are really great tips on blogging. Keep up the amazing work, babe!

xo, Jo
http://www.cutandchic.com

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That’s so good that your engineer friend helped you and that your whole blogging experience started out just stumbling onto an event! I totally agree that a good camera is a must as well as a good variety of lenses. Working in agencies and brand-side we really do prefer when bloggers actually make an effort in producing high quality photos that has had post production instead of just iPhone images especially with the fees paid out! Loved reading this xx

https://www.bunnybernice.com/single-post/2017/06/01/Clear-Frame-Glasses-Yes-or-No

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Everyone has a story of how they started their blog and I find all of them so interesting. The common theme is the love for fashion and a creative outlet. You are doing an amazing job overseas, LA is a very saturated city for new bloggers, you must have a very specific niche and audience. But in Japan, I guess everything goes and with such a diverse fashion scene and culture, it is the best place to perfect and craft your skills. Loved all the tips too!

~ xo Sheree
Posh Classy Mom
Instagram

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When I look back on my own blogging history, it’s amazing how I’ve come to where I am now.
This is interesting and fun to read. Look at how successful your blog is now! You go events and that’s wonderful because you’re doing what you love most.

Keep rocking the blogging world!

Reply

Such a great post on how you started blogging in the first place! I didn’t know you have been blogging for this time! No wonder you totally have everything under the control! Thanks for sharing all the great tips.

xx, Jessie
http://4evajessie.com/back-to-the-basics/

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Thank you so much for sharing your journey on blogging! I actually got inspired by another blogger too!
btw looooove those sunnies!

xo | Cindy Elena
http://www.boringclothes.com

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Thank you so much for these amazing tips! I really admire your work and I actually needed to hear all of this. I just bought a new camera over the weekend and I can’t wait to use it. I also have started reaching out to brands. I definitely need to learn more about the editing apps and just need more time. I’m glad to know all of this and you are truly outstanding!

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This is so interesting to read! It’s funny how different yet similar all of our paths are when it comes to blogging. And you look STUNNING in those photos!

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Thanks for the tips! You are right, it is SO important to be genuine. Love your style.
xx
Courtney // https://courtneylivin.com

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I always love hearing about how other people got their start or became interested in blogging! Thanks for sharing =)

xoxo – Meredith

http://www.nobasisinreality.com/grand-fiesta-americana-los-cabos/

Reply

So interesting to read your story and how you started babe!! Its always so interesting to know and thanks for sharing your story. I have to say I share with you all these tips they are so important for any beginning a blog 🙂

xoxo
Marcy

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This was great to read about how you got started. I used to read Rumi’s blog back in the day as well. Not for a while now, but old Rumi was cool. I think having a media kit helps, and you are right about going after what kind of content you want to produce. I reach out to companies that I want to share with my audience and who fit in with my brand, it works for me! Great tips!!
xx Jenelle
http://www.inspiringwit.com

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I wanted to blog so I made my husband learn photography. Lol, it’s worked out and I’m glad I did! It’s been quite the journey and I’m really thankful for all the bloggers I’ve met and all the collabs. I’m still trying to grow, but my teaching has gotten in the way over the past few months. Looking to get back to it this summer.

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