I’m back with another Essence Interview, and this is where I sit down and discuss tips and tricks with people, I find motivational, inspirational and people who have a different outlook on how they live their life. It’s been a while since I sat down with my good family friend Desiree, an Olympic athlete who so happened to be staying at my uni at the time (see how God works ey?) and it was such a great interview, if you haven’t already you can read it here.
So, for today’s post, I have sat down with former blogger Tisha, founder and editor of blog behindtheschmile.com. A blog filled with amazing and relatable posts to do with lifestyle, top tips about friendships and life, and of course her personal experiences that keep us intrigued with joy as we realise, we all go through similar paths in life, isn’t it weird that social media reminds us that we are all the same, like really, really similar in person. Food for thought…
Funny story is, I didn’t realise I had known Tisha from way back, like secondary school times, until a fateful day at a church we both attended during my first year at Uni, and then I saw her, a face too familiar to forget, so I had to approach her, and my assumptions were correct, we had attended the same secondary school and ended up at the same university ! (Really is such a small world) I instantly had to ask her to feature on my blog!
So, Tisha, thank you for taking time out to talk about blogging, so I guess I’ll start with the blog itself, the backstory; why did you start and what made you decide on the name?
So, I started blogging in Year 13; wasn’t anything too exciting and honestly, I didn’t have anything to put on my UCAS lool, so I thought, why not do something that no one else is doing? People have been blogging for a while, but at that time it wasn’t really a big thing. I got with a group of friends and we decided that we should all blog together, covering a range of things from fashion, beauty, makeup etc. At the time I used to get a Glossy Box which was a monthly beauty subscription box, so that was my section I covered every month. So that was how it started, the blog was called ‘Our Thoughts, Your Eyes’ however I never understood the name lool, out of 8 of us, I was the only one that didn’t like the name, but we just went with it.
As you can imagine, trying to get 8 people to run 1 blog- it wasn’t working out well! So, after 3 months, it was only me and one other girl that was writing. By the time I got to Uni, I decided that it was my blog and I was going to handle it on my own. So, I did a series about packing for uni, budgeting, settling into uni. And then I did a post about freshers; because my freshers was a bad experience and it was about relationships during freshers, although I didn’t have one, a lot of older guys were trying to take advantage, so I wrote a post about it- and it did really well. Then I thought, okay why don’t I write about relationships in general. I spoke about networking and being insecure and friendships, which turned into a whole series and did really well- so I thought maybe I can write about something that’s not a Glossy Box, so that is when I started to write more lifestyle/development posts. I then went on a placement year and I had this blog- which technically at this point was only mine, but I still hated the name, I just didn’t understand it, so I decided I can’t keep writing under a name that I didn’t understand, and ‘Schmile’ was something I’d been saying for a long time, when I was in school everyone just wanted to take an ordinary word and make it sound interesting, additionally people were always telling me to smile because I frown a lot, so I turned the word smile into something more interesting- Schmile
At the time, the blog was completely anonymous- I wasn’t associated with it at all, therefore I named it ‘behindtheschmile’ as I was the person behind it writing- so that’s how I came up with the name!
Why blogging, why not YouTube or Instagram, and giving how popular it is today would you have changed it to these platforms if you never started blogging?
Funny story- I actually had YouTube, I’ve never been one to do things by myself and after year 11 had finished that was the longest summer that we had, so me and a friend began a YouTube channel, and she was really into fashion and style, not so much me, but I still wanted to be a part of it, however collaborating with friends isn’t always the best option, so I set out myself and bought a camera and got my siblings to record me doing skincare videos, hauls, OOTD’s when they used to be popular , D.I.Y videos, as these were the most popular videos to film-they would get like 5000 views, and that was a lot back then!
However, I realised, I wasn’t doing the videos out of interest, I was just doing it as those were the videos I had seen. But with blogging, I didn’t see or read any other blogs like the ones that I had written, so it was different.
I stopped the channel because everything felt forced- I would literally make videos on how to bendy roll your hair- meanwhile I’m questioning myself like am I even a hair stylist? So, these things weren’t of any interest to me.
Instagram was never a platform for me to be honest- I took pictures but I never thought of me being someone big on Instagram- so I guess blogging was for me as I like writing posts. Also, I feel like blogging is easy in not becoming famous. With YouTube, if nobody watches your videos- everyone else can see that, same for Instagram. With blogging as I first started, nobody knew I was doing it, and nobody could tell whether it was doing well or not. If I wrote something and it went really well then, I was excited. If I wrote something and it did really badly- oh well nobody needs to know! I think that’s the main reason I stuck with it, if it did badly then nobody knew, but most of the time it did really well.
What did you love and hate the most about blogging?
Love- so many things. When I started blogging and writing things that I cared about, I loved that I was able to articulate my feelings, I felt like I was going through a lot of things and I felt as if people didn’t understand what I was going through, so when I wrote things down it became a lot clearer and complete strangers were able to relate to what I was saying for a long time. Until 2016, I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it, so all the views that I had were from random people on the internet that I had never met, and God bless them all as they made me so happy. I was able to connect with people that understood what I was dealing with and could offer advice to. That was really encouraging as I went through a lot personally, I guess from year 13 to Christmas of last year.
Now hate is a strong word, and it’s the word I’m going to use as when I revealed my identity and was no longer anonymous, a lot of people started to make judgements. People that I know and didn’t know, a lot of people had the need to tell me what I should and shouldn’t write and what not to expose about myself, a lot of people were very judgemental as I like to write in a style that was very informative- so I say what I had been through then how I dealt with it, almost as if I was teaching and I knew better than everyone else, so a lot of my personal relationships became very tense, as all of a sudden they had a lot to say about this girl who 5 months ago never even knew was writing this blog. The reason why this was so challenging was because I started this blog when I was figuring out who I was and while I was figuring that out a lot of people had things to say, so I’ve decided to still write things, but keep it to myself.
How did you balance blogging alongside your personal life e.g friends, university, work etc?
When I first started blogging, it was just for UCAS, so I saw it as another homework assignment to write about, I guess I’m not a social person, so when I got to Uni, freshers wasn’t that fun, I wasn’t involved. So, whilst everyone was out, I was writing blog posts, I guess it was something to fill up the time. Whilst I was on my placement year, I was so isolated, in the middle of nowhere, didn’t know anyone, I was the only person that looked like me ( I worked in engineering), so blogging gave me something to look forward to, so instead of binging on Netflix, I would spend 6 hours a day writing blog posts- and I had like 50 blog posts to go and I was just rolling them out and rolling them out. So, I had a lot of posts backed up that were ready to go each week. In terms of balancing it wasn’t a struggle as it was the only thing that I was doing outside of school/work. The blog became my life. The only thing that was difficult to balance was relationships, as if I would write something and somebody would read it, they could take it the wrong way- and that that didn’t end too well.
What would be your top tips for someone considering starting a blog/website?
Write about something you enjoy- don’t do it because everyone else is doing it, if you have something passionate that you want to write about then write.
Be able to write about something you enjoy so much, you don’t care if nobody reads it. Love it to the point that you couldn’t care if anybody else noticed it
Be consistent on your niche. If your niche is makeup, keep up with the latest beauty trends and products so people are updated, if it’s music keep up with the latest songs being released. However, if you are writing a self-development/lifestyle blog then take your time, making sure to take regular breaks.
- Always put out good quality work- never rush anything. There are posts that I’ve looked at and after I’ve thought to myself- why did you upload this? Just because I had rushed it. It got to the point that I was writing just to upload something every week It’s nice to see improvement though after a while, so its optional if you want to keep those posts up
- Do your homework, blogging is not as easy as people may think it is. Before you write something, you have to do your research, after you write a post you have to edit it and decide on a good structure. You then have to promote your blog, not just your Instagram page, this includes responding to emails and comments left after each post – it can be a full-time job, similar to a social-media marketing job.
- If you are self-hosted, you have to learn how to run a website securely, this includes protecting it from viruses and hackers, sometimes you have to invest good time, and well time is money
Any last comments?
Starting the blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, I’ve met a lot of really nice people and learnt a lot about myself by gaining these new skills. So even if you start a blog and it doesn’t come out as successful, make sure you find something you can learn from it, as there is always something that you can learn.
Thank you for reading !