— The growth of a blog —

If I look back on the evolution of Hashtag by Lily, there are so many lessons learned. It’s already 3 years ago that I started this journey and I can never regret the decision to give this platform my all. When I started, I had no clue how this might work out and how I should earn my money with it. I am still working on this journey of becoming a successful influencer. I always like to read about blog tips related topics from others. So, I thought I’d share my story so far with you today.

Of course, every blog has their own path but I think in the big lines it’s the same. My blog growth went very gradually. It really was a step by step achievement process every month. I spent all my free time, obsessing about my blog. I had never felt this passion and urge to work for anything this hard before. I was addicted!

Maybe this article can inspire you. If you have a blog too, do you recognize any of these these phases? Or are you in one of these phases right now? I hope this can help you in any way :)

— 1st year —


– Acquire blog visitors
– Gain social media followers
– Make blogger friends
– Go to blog events
– Attend Amsterdam Fashion Week
– Barter collaborations

– Blog URL
– Camera
– Laptop
– Clothes

1st year is the hardest in my opinion. You have to figure out EVERYTHING and invest a lot. When you’ve figured out how to name your blog, I can advise everyone to buy the URL instead of a free WordPress account.

Starting from scratch you need to do research on what hardware you want to invest in for years to come. I bought a DSLR Canon camera and later that year I bought the 50mm lens that made all the differences in my outfit photos. Suddenly every shoot looked so professional with a blurry background.

I started primarily as a fashion blogger. I wanted to show my audience different outfit looks in every single post. That was my excuse to keep buying clothes every week, which is somewhat ridiculous when I think back. I mean, you can combine certain items differently to create a new look. But, when I was out of money I was looking for other ways, like borrowing clothes and bags from my friends and mother.

I remember my first invitation to a press event 3 months later. I was so excited and nervous! What should I wear? Who will I meet? What is a press event? What should I do at an event like that?
Well, they are hoping you would post something about the event and I didn’t even bring my camera with me (lesson learned)!

This was the first time that I met fellow bloggers that I still call my friends today. We were from the same generation, going through the same insecurities. We stayed in touch and saw each other more regularly. I even contacted a blogger to have a coffee and have endless chats about blogging. I was determined to figure out how this all works.

Then Fashion Week started. Of course I didn’t get any invites, but I won tickets to the Super Trash show. I sat there on the last row. I barely saw the clothes, checking out famous editors, bloggers and of course the show. I had the time of my life!!

Then I realized that it’s gold to have blog conversations with bloggers. Everyone has their own strategy, their own tips and tricks. I wanted to meet more bloggers! So, I organized a networking event for starting bloggers like myself. Around 30 bloggers applied and I hosted my first successful event with zero money. Everything was sponsored.

I guess I created a little buzz with the event, putting myself in the picture. Brands were contacting me for barter deal collaborations. They would sponsor some clothes in exchange for visibility on my blog and Instagram.
I said yes too all free stuff (luckily there wasn’t anything I didn’t like). I mean, I didn’t have to spend so much money on clothes anymore.

A big adventure was the first year. Everything was a first time. I gained a lot of blogger knowledge.

— 2nd year —


– Paid collaborations
– International Fashion Weeks
– Hotel barter deals
– Instagram grow

– Travel

I wrote to PR agencies to be part of press lists and there were more events for me to attend. I showed up to every event to network with as many as I could. This is how I improved my social skills, by just going to events by myself and talk to people.
I put more time to focus on Instagram. I spent hours liking other pictures under certain hashtags like #fashion #bloggers and commenting under photos. This way I attracted new followers as they get curious who just commented on their account and when they see my account they often follow when they like what they see.

After lots of received clothes, you wonder what the next steps are. It came to a point that I thought it was too superficial to only post about clothes and myself. Also, I felt a little bit used by brands, as no one was paying anything at that point and I was working my ass off. I needed more than the regular outfit posts.

My biggest passion has always been traveling. I followed a few big travel Instagrammers and was dreaming about a career like that. I wanted to make that happen and invested a lot in travels and took every opportunity to write about destinations and hotel reviews. My goal was traveling to an other country every month. Mini trips.
Nothing was sponsored back then, I paid for the hotels and my tickets. You have to work on a portfolio in order to pitch yourself to other hotels or travel agencies.

During my travels I started to earn some money with fashion collaborations. I promised the brands that I would make awesome content during my trips. And my first 100€ paid post was a fact.
I also wanted to aim for more international experiences. I planned a trip to Japan and Singapore to attend their Fashion Weeks. Funny thing was that I was a nobody in The Netherlands, but in Japan and Singapore they put me front row.

So the second year was a bit easier, yet it still cost me a fortune to travel. The investment paid off though. By the end of the year, I got invited to my very first press trip to Indonesia.

— Year 3 —


– Travel
– Premium brands
– Vlog camera
– (drone)

– Long term collaborations
– Travel more
– Lifestyle content
– On tv
– Working with professional photographers

And then this year feels like a dream to me. I have been away twice or three times per month, mostly press trips. I extended my portfolio with beauty and lifestyle content. My USP is creating an experience. I started to work with professional photographers. I definitely see the quality difference, taking the content to the next level. Lastly, last week I even had my first appearance on national television! How cool is that?!

My follower’s growth is steady. So my rates went up from €100 to €1000. Also, I am focusing on long term collaborations. As I believe this is more natural and more effective.

How beautiful the story might sounds, of course, it doesn’t always go my way. When I pitch my request to brands I think 80% of the times I get a “no“. It’s like auditioning. It gets easier by time though, but you definitely shouldn’t feel discouraged by this (sometimes easier said than done). The ones who keep fighting gets there. I am still fighting!

So what’s next?
I always think about this question, finding creative ways to make it all happen. Well, I want to continue in this great flow that I am in right now. I want to do bigger campaigns, travel further, more videos and maybe hire someone to help me out. I want to upgrade the quality, which means more investments, like a drone for example. I can’t wait to make another post like this in a few years and see what have changed overtime. First, I enjoy my 3rd blog anniversary now and then let’s see what the next anniversary will bring ;)

Happy birthday Hashtag by Lily!! :D

x Lily