It’s insane to say the words “10 years”. These days seems like nothing last that long…relationships, jobs, where you live; it’s certainly a long time. And a VERY long time of blogging for me. What an accomplishment and I have to say im extremely proud of myself. Looking back to where I started from and where I am now, so much has happened, so many doors opened for me, and so much changed. So i want to reflect on my decade of blogging and take you down memory lane with me!
My very first photoshoot was at Penn State University so how fitting that 10 years later, i shoot my photos in the exact location where it all began!
Where it all started
It all began in 2012 – i was working in the engineering industry but realized it’s not for me. I had so much creativity and passion for style and fashion, and the career route i had planned originally felt so limiting. Besides always dressing stylish and consistently receiving compliments on my outfits, I didn’t know there was a world where someone like me could fit in. So one day I decided to start a blog as an outlet and a platform to document my daily looks and share fashion finds. It actually started as a fashion and dessert blog (remember Posh to Ganache?) combining my love for fashion and dessert. And that was it…i was in love. I immersed myself in the blogging world, back when people actually wrote blog posts and read them, back before social media really played a huge part in it all. I observed and learned from the big bloggers at the time, and grew inspiration to find my own niche.
Shortly after that I moved to Philadelphia where my blog really took off. I started networking and meeting other bloggers in the fashion and food scene. And slowly integrated myself in that community of influencers, got invited to events and started growing a following.
I also took advantage of Instagram and started using it as a tool to grow a following and provide exposure to my blog. Again, this was a time when being “instafamous” and “social media influencers” wasn’t a thing yet.
Of course many around me had their doubts and with growing success always comes those who don’t support what you’re doing, but i never let any negativity phase me. I kept focusing on what i was doing because the word “passion” never had meaning till now and I couldn’t imagine life without it.
Once brands started reaching out to me to partner, i realized im doing something right and that despite there being many bloggers doing the same thing, i belonged in the club as well. And i started partnering with smaller brands at first but then they became bigger. And having my photos get featured on their platforms was so humbling for me.
Then came the opportunity to attend NYFW, a dream ive had all my life and never thought it could come true. And it was incredible…i attended various shows, met celebrities, wrote articles and published in several fashion magazines. I was in heaven and in the world i wad meant to be in. It only made more driven to keep growing, keep creating, keep moving forward.
Working with LTK
Soon after that, i joined LTK where we could actually monetize our content. A photo i posted on IG was no longer just a picture, it was a source of income which was amazing given the amount of time and effort i was putting into my content. And LTK has grown immensely in the last decade and they have continued keeping up with current tech and providing bloggers with easier ways of making commission off of our content.
Advancement in California
After a few years in Philly, I moved to San Francisco. It was a huge move for me and being there provided a lot of advancement opportunities for my blogging life. I again had to integrate into the blogging community there and start networking again. I was fortunate to make friends who were also bloggers and would shoot photos and attend events together.
Then came the unbelievable opportunity to walk in my first fashion show during SFFW. I was certainly no real model and by the modeling world standards, i was 1-2” too short, 1 size too big, and definitely much older haha. But years of watching ANTM and fashion shows online taught me well and no words will ever explain what i felt walking a runway…but i can say it felt like i was home. That led to another show and soon local designers were putting me in their shows.
My blog and my following were really growing and there was no stopping this train i was on. I had created something out of nothing and i was incredibly proud of it.
After a few years in California, i decided it was time to move back east. I missed my family and I had done what i needed to do in SF. So i moved back home to PA and soon after moved to DC, which has always been my favorite city.
Why I rebranded
As i grew and evolved, so did my blog and what i wanted to do with it. I realized i like the fashion side more and was also incorporating other things like travel, beauty, home decor…essentially lifestyle. So it was time to rebrand. And it was during that time that many bloggers were rebranding as well…many including myself had creative IG handle names and rebranded to our actual names. The timing was perfect as my blog was becoming a fashion and lifestyle blog, and the “ganache” wasn’t reflecting that. So i rebranded to ZohaMemari and gave my website a much needed makeover.
How social media changed the game
Instagram has always been my top social media tool to market myself, my brand and drive traffic to my website. And initially brands were looking at the aesthetics of your feed, so creating a well-thought out feed was important. Using a preset allowed us to create a more visually cohesive look. It was easy choosing one, mine is bright and brings out colors, reflects the person i am.
Then IG uped the ante by allowing content creators to monetize what they were posting. And then they introduced stories which was a total game changer…bloggers and influencers could post videos on a daily basis and their followers could essentially stay up to date. It was more than just a photo now, it allowed us to let our followers into our daily life such as our morning routine, what we eat, running errands, home life, relationships, everything. And Highlights allowed us to save selected stories and categorize them.
Despite the amazingness of IG, i learned early on to never rely on a social media tool as my main platform, and that it was important to always maintain a blog/website. Social media changes, comes and goes, but a website is yours. So that’s what i did, even though “reading blogs” was no longer a thing, i’ve done my best to maintain it and post every once in awhile.
Fast forward to 2020 and Tiktok blew up and changed the game again! Of course as a result of everyone being in quarantine during Covid (which i’ll get into next). Influencers had yet another social media tool to add to their arsenal. But Tiktok was everything IG wasn’t…creating content no matter who you are, without that “picture-perfect” look that IG was, and a window into the personality of us bloggers. It was the raw, unfiltered, realistic content creation.
For me personally, it allowed me to create fashion and outfit-related videos, but also videos that showed a different side of who i am, my personality. People started preferring tiktok over IG. And to counter that, IG introduced Reels, short videos similar to Tiktok, and encouraged content creators to create Reels and make money that way.
The effects of a global pandemic
March 2020 the world came to a halt and we went into quarantine. Life would never be the same again and suddenly no matter who you were, we were all in the same boat. Of course the pandemic effected everyone differently. As far as blogging and creating content, it changed everything. What was once a life where we planned and coordinated photoshoots (styled outfits and chose a location), attended industry events and parties both locally and nationally, traveled or dined out and posted about it, became home life. And us content creators had to improvise, adjust, and somehow maintain our influencer life while privately dealing with the implications of covid. People were losing their jobs, unable to work, and not spending money, therefore a decrease in revenue for us.
I was never a homebody, in fact the opposite. Always out and about meeting people, attending events, going to different spots in the city, constantly having plans. And all of a sudden i was home all the time, by myself. No more creating content the way i was used to. So i made the best of it. I started using Tiktok and created video after video, afterall, what else was there to do! And had to approach my IG content differently, focusing on loungewear as it became the only fashion people cared about, home furnishing and decor, and daily “at home” life. The pandemic also forced me to slow WAY down. In the beginning, i was creating and posting content daily, then it became every other day, and by covid time, it became once a week, if even that. The level of importance to post constantly decreased.
It forced content creators and bloggers who ive been following to re-evaluate their content and reformat what they’re posting. Some starting focusing on certain styles such as athleisure, workwear, every day casuals. Others started focusing on certain affordable brands like Walmart, Amazon, Target. While others changed their focus all together to food, decor, etc.
There’s really no going back. It’s certainly true for me. Ive slowed down and putting my time and effort into other aspects of my life, and im not going back. Which brings me to…
Where I’m at now
Well, 10 years, 4 major cities, a global pandemic, a website rebrand and a new website all together, and all that life had brought in between. It’s been a stellar ride so far and ive accomplished so much. Through all the ups and downs, everything in between and all the changes, one thing has remained a constant, and that’s my blog. I wholeheartedly love what i do and grateful every day.
Obviously i have slowed down a lot since 2020, and it has actually been very good. Quality has become more important to me than quantity. I don’t feel the need to post all the time, in fact ive been taking breaks often, and disconnecting from social media. It allows me to recharge.
Photoshoots are no longer a huge production, rather incorporated in my daily life. My feed is no longer picture-perfect, it has become more natural and laid back. Heck there was a time I wouldn’t dare show my face on storied without full makeup and hair done, but now i hop on messy hair and bare face!
Brand partnerships have slowed down, mainly because of the pandemic. Marketing budgets are low and deliverable demands are high. Not to mention the fact that within this past 10 years, the number of “influencers” has skyrocketed, especially with Tiktok. ANYONE who has a smartphone can be and IS an influencer. I am happy that i started when i did though.
I have also lost a lot of followers due to various reasons which happens and it’s fine.
So since 2020 ive been focusing less on creating what others want, what i think would appeal to brands, what i think i “should”, and more on what I want, what i find intriguing or inspiring, content that makes ME happy. And it may not be for everyone but im sure it’s for someone.
The future of my blogging life
Honestly when i first started, i was never aiming to become insta-famous, or gain a million followers or even do the things i wound up doing. It was never any of that for me, it was simply a platform to share my love for fashion and to inspire young women to pursue their dreams. And given everything that has come about since the pandemic, it’s hard to say where im headed.
I would be lying if i said sometimes i think about hanging my hat and giving it up. But then i post a photo or talk to my audience on stories, and am reminded of just how much i love it. So what’s next? Well im going to continue doing this and see where it takes me. It may not be as much as before, as glamorous as it once was, or as interesting because we get older and life happens. But as long as i have my support system and an audience, well I’ll keep on keeping on!
What I’ve learned
dreams are just that, a dream. If you don’t chase it, work hard, put in the time, effort and dedication, they turn into “something i once wanted to do”. No one hands you opportunities, sometimes you have to create them. You may have doubts and fears, but let them pass through, DO NOT allow them to anchor you down and hold you back because they easily will. And then you will regret it. Turn your “what ifs” into “let’s try it and see what happens”. And no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, find a support system and surround yourself with people who uplift you and cheer you on.