Buckle up, buttercup! It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to share some of the lessons that I have learned along the “social media highway”, whether it be about hair, social media, experiences with brands, or just regular life experiences. I was going to wait until later this year to share it. However, I decided that the time is now. There’s no better time than the present! Tomorrow is not promised. If I have the motivation and the inspiration (and the time) to share something now, then why not!? Why wait?! This is all part of my growth.
Although the following tips are mostly for those actively involved in the curly hair community, they can easily be applied to other aspects of ANYONE’S life. Take notes if you must, but don’t plagiarize my work or else I’m coming after you (haha, I’m not kidding):
1) It’s never too late to follow your dreams - I know, I know, that’s super cliché, but it’s true. I’m in my mid-forties and I often think about all of the things that I, as a little girl, dreamt of becoming, but was too afraid to pursue or to afraid to bring to my parents’ attention. I think that in my mind I expected their answer to always be “no” or “we can’t afford it” and it held me back from doing so many things that were embedded (and still are) in my heart. I may not currently be all of the things that I once dreamt of becoming, but I know that I can still become some (if not all) of those things, IF I still want to. The choice is truly mine.
2) It’s okay to change your mind – Changing your mind is not wrong, especially when it’s for the better. Sometimes we make commitments and decisions that we feel we cannot walk away from ever. Someone in an abusive relationship should not feel as though they need to remain in that relationship because they committed to it once before and feel as though they are in it for the long haul (no matter what). It’s okay to walk away, if you must. Changing your mind about your hairstyle, which products you like, and styling techniques is also okay. We are supposed to grow in our journeys. Live and learn.
3) People are watching you –
Although it’s okay to change your mind (as mentioned in tip #2), you need to remember that people are watching you 👀 . People will want to know why you changed your mind, especially if you are open about sharing your hair journey (or any other journey, for that matter). Don’t sleep on the fact that people may not engage with you as much on social media. They-are-watching and will even try to hold you accountable for your inconsistencies. While they watch you, you better watch yourself!
4) You can’t expect others to respect you if you don’t respect yourself – I could write a book about this one. To elaborate on this tip, I’ll have to share a personal experience without mentioning the party involved by name. This is good so go grab the popcorn or tea if you must:
Earlier this year I had a BIG hair brand reach out to me about a potential collaboration that they wanted to hire me for. Although I had never tried any of this brand’s products before, I was excited to collaborate with them because I’ve heard good things about them. In the midst of lots of back & forth via email in regards to negotiations (let me mention that they willingly were offering me more money & we had agree to a final rate), they asked me for my address. Then, a couple of days later I received two complete hair product lines from this brand (one being a new line that had not even launched, yet). The presentation of the boxes were gorgeous. I was very impressed…BUT then, it happened.
The brand ghosted me.
Yes. That happened.
My last email to them was asking if they were going to send me a contract or whether they were going to provide me with publication dates for the content that we had discussed.
My thought at this point was, “Why did you even reach out to me to begin with?”.
After I sent them two more follow-up emails & received no reply back from them, I knew it wasn’t happening; the collab was over and done with. Finito.
Honestly, I thought that something bad had happened to the brand rep that I was in communication with. I was thinking to myself, “This person croaked and is dead in a ditch.” I didn’t want to think that they just dropped me so unprofessionally. I mean, who does that? Ha! You’d be surprised !
Well, a month later I received an email from the brand rep. The email pretty much was an apology for not getting back to me sooner using the “I was traveling” excuse & asking if I was still interested in working with them. HOWEVER, the content deliverables & rate had slightly changed; not drastically, but It wasn’t what they had mentioned originally. . I couldn’t believe the nonchalant attitude from the brand rep. I mean, here I was thinking this person had dropped dead or something with the way they had treated me & then they pulled this?! Well, I gave them a taste of their own medicine. I ignored their email. I honestly had no words for them. I didn’t care about the money they were offering me or the collab. I just didn’t want to have anything to do with them at that point.
Here’s my assessment about that entire situation:
I think that they tried to entice me with their beautifully packaged boxes full of hair products. I believe that they tried to get away with not properly compensating me (even though they are the ones who approached me initially) & held on to the possibility that I still may have shouted them out. I also believe that they truly thought that I would still post the products and share my results even though they ghosted me. YET, it backfired on them because I didn’t even mention this brand on any of my platforms (not even on my Instagram stories). I went about my business as if nothing happened. Why ? First, because I never had any intentions of putting them on blast. It’s not my style. Second, I refused to allow them to get one over on me. A few free products are not going to make me compromise my talent or self-worth. Not happening, kiddo! Also, what this brand (& their representative) didn’t realize is that I saw other bloggers posting content for them (prior to them getting back to me a month later) with the same exact “gifts” that I had received. It made me wonder if the brand had pulled this same number on other bloggers & whether those bloggers still posted the products without proper compensation OR if the brand simply decided to drop me like a hat and hire someone else. I’m fully aware that they could have gone with someone better and trust me when I say that my ego was not hurt at that possibility, BUT when they reached out to me a month later, trying to pick up where they left off, I was both annoyed and insulted. I felt as though they believed that I would be at their mercy. They messed with the wrong Jersey Girl. I was done.
Either way, I’m glad that I handled it the way that I did. Although I am sharing my experience here, I will not be sharing the name of the brand, even though their behavior was extremely unprofessional (even though a lot of “curlies” use this brand today). The brand disrespected me in a major way, but that was my own experience with them. I don’t feel that I need to “influence” anyone to boycott this brand over my bad experience with them. I value my work and know my worth and that is what matters to me.
5) You don’t have to speak about everything that happens to you behind the scenes –
It’s okay to not over share. Never let anyone make you feel as though you must share every single aspect of your private life. Quite often I’ve seen people clap really hard when other people open themselves up about feeling down or having bad days, disguised with “You’re so real! We need more of this!” type of reaction. Did it ever occur to anyone that misery loves company and that some people just love seeing others down? Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to share your imperfections or to share that you had a crappy day (especially since many people on social media only aim for perfection), but also remember that giving others such easy access to your life means that people will feel entitled to tell you what to do and how to do it. When that happens, you can’t really get ticked off because you pretty much invited that behavior. Set those boundaries before you get burned.
6) It’s okay to do things just for fun – Not every single piece of content that I create is an ad or promotion and THAT IS OKAY. Also, I don’t get monetary compensation for every collaboration that I agree to do. Yes, free products don’t pay the bills, but sometimes brands send me free products for me to try them without further compensation and I may be okay with that (it all depends on several factors). Any type of commitment in exchange for free products or monetary compensation is to be discussed beforehand & I try to always disclose that info to my audience. Usually brands will be clear about their intentions in their initial email. If not, you need to ask the right questions before you commit to anything.
It’s nice to have brands notice me and reach out to me to work with me, but when I began doing all of this, I did it because I felt like I had ideas that I wanted to share with the world. If I am motivated to create a hair tutorial and I tag a brand and I not get paid for it, I’m good with that because ultimately, this is all part of my personal journey and part of my journey to help others.
In addition to that, there are brands that I wholeheartedly love and share with my followers (even though I don’t get paid to speak about them), because I truly love them and that, too, is OKAY.
Lastly, If the experience in tip #4 doesn’t prove that my integrity means more to me than money, then I don’t know what to tell you. I would rather shut down my social media accounts before I decide to compromise my integrity. You can take that to the bank!
7) It’s not okay to ask another blogger what they charge for their collaborations – Nope. Don’t do it. I’ve had people do this to me and I just don’t share that information. I realize that some people feel comfortable approaching me, but that is crossing the line. Sometimes you have to take the time to do your own research and figure out what you think you are worth. If you are totally clueless, there are people you can hire to assist you. Google is your friend. Also keep in mind that no two influencers are created equal.
8) Not everything requires a response from you –
Oh the shade and the drama and the arguments….it’s a non-stop daily crap show on social media. I don’t have time for any of it, but sometimes people bring certain things to my attention; some of the things that I’ve seen make me wonder how much time people truly dedicate to trash-talking & bringing other people down. There’s a blogger who calls herself an “award-winning blogger” who pretty much tried to drag other bloggers recently and imply as if she is on a whole other much superior level of “bloggism”. Sweet Lawd, get off your high horse, lady. What I find amusing is how this person followed me first a while back and shortly before going on her “I’m better than everyone else” escapade, she unfollowed me, which to me is an indication that some of the shade she threw was meant for me. I wasn’t worthy enough to be in her presence (*insert chuckle*). This wasn’t the first time this person expressed how dope she is (full of yourself much?). She does this type of boasting regularly and I just shake my head like “Dude, I still don’t know who the heck you are.” I could have easily commented on this person’s posts or blogs or what not, but for what? This person is a narcissist. No, thanks. I’ll pass. I have more important things to do with my time. My time and energy are precious to me and I refuse to waste it on someone who will have a response before they even try to understand the common sense I’m trying to deliver. No gracias. (I wasted too much time on them just on this tip alone).
9) Not everyone on social media is as nice as they ”post” to be -
I know. Shocker. Listen, I’m not nice all the time. I have my bad days where I’m in crappy moods or just don’t want to be bothered, but one thing that I try not to be is rude (I said I try, okay? LOL). I had an encounter with a big “influencer” a while back where I sent her a private direct message to address a term that she had used that I felt was inappropriate. I felt as though I was doing the right thing by approaching her and thought that she would appreciate it. Boy, was I wrong. She dismissed me very coldly and then went on a rant in her stories and said that “people” need to stop DMing her with silly things. I knew her story was in reference to me because her story was immediately posted after she had replied to my message. The thing is that many who follow this person know how rude she can be and how she has done other questionable things that have put her followers in bad positions and yet people accept this behavior & even applaud her. Newsflash: I don’t have to accept anything that I feel it not right. Period.
(Again, not mentioning names here because that is irrelevant. I’m simply sharing my experience so that you see what I have dealt with and to let you know that you don’t have to put up with things that you don’t want to).
10) When people show you who they are, believe them the first time – That’s a quote attributed to Maya Angelou and it’s true on so many levels. There was someone in my life that I admired and loved tremendously. Even during my admiration stage, I saw red flags, but I felt as though the good outweighed the bad. Then the bad began to outweigh the good; boy, did that escalate quickly. Everything this person said or did began to bother me because I saw them in a different light now. I realized how they used me, how they used others, how they were clout-chasing opportunists, how they were inconsistent with the very values that they claimed they had, and how they even lied. I grew to dislike them and it was hard for me to deal with because again, this was someone who I admired. Yet, I should have paid attention to those red flags early on. I should have not easily dismissed those things they said or did that made me scratch my head. Sometimes we are blinded by other people’s gifts, talents or false promises, so much so that we end up doing more for them than they would ever do for us, all for the sake of being associated with those people. Remember that it’s okay to change your mind, even about people. Sometimes we give more chances than we should.
I leave you with this: to be a blogger & to be an active member on a social media platform, you need to be vulnerable. You really do. It’s a risk, but sometimes the reward is far bigger than the risks and the heartaches that we face. I cannot promise you that every day will be great or that people will not be mean to you because they may be (especially on social media), but you have to know that you are much more than what anyone thinks of you. You have to understand that to do what you do, means that you are brave. It takes a great deal of courage to simply get out of bed. If you are getting out of bed every morning and walking out your door every day to face the world AND putting yourself out there by sharing part of your journey on social media, then you are to be admired. You deserve a cape!
Here are my credentials for kicks & giggles (in case anyone is curious): I’ve been life/beauty blogger since 2011 had a previous blog & Instagram account that I’ve since deactivated). I’ve been featured on several platforms such as Naturally Curly & Latina Made Not Maid, I currently have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree and I am just one assignment away from obtaining my Master of Science in Psychology degree with a concentration in Behavioral Health. I’m a full-time working mother & wife. I’m also an introvert who on occasion transforms in a daring extrovert, especially if it involves a karaoke machine and some good music. Oh and I’m Puerto Rican. 🇵🇷.