Menu Search

Fashion, Inspiration

Lessons in Blogging

 

Time for another ‘lessons’ post, this time dedicated to all things blogging and to all of you who send me questions on email and instagram about getting started or in need of advice, plus a few random things I’ve learnt along the way… As always, I by no means know everything (who does?!) but this is what I’ve learnt so far and if it can help you guys, or just give you more of an insight into the weird and wonderful world of blogging, then that’s just great. Plus, loads of these are relevant for all kinds of self-employed careers, not just blogging so do let me know in the comments if you’re working on something totally unrelated but still find something of use in here!

Sidenote, this isn’t about gaining followers rapidly or ‘getting noticed’ (mainly because I have no clue about how to use hashtags). But hopefully the below can help if you’re figuring out where to start or how to keep going in an industry that can feel like a tough cookie at times. I refer to the fashion and beauty side of blogging mostly, but hopefully this can translate to whatever kind of site you’re running.

Blogger Isn’t a Dirty Word (but You’ll Feel Like It Is at Times)

Try as we might, ‘blogger’ still has negative connotations. While I now have plenty of other strings to my bow, blogging remains my professional backbone and I’m  proud and contented one at that. However, I still find myself making self-deprecating excuses for what I do or telling print journalists in jest that I’m ‘from the dark side’, so I’m as guilty as the next person for not sticking up for the B-word. I’m not sure where or why ‘bloggers’ as a whole got such a bad rep either. I think it might have something to do with the fact anyone can be one and no-one but your readers has to give you the seal of approval for you to have a job. To me, that’s what I admire the most in other bloggers; the ability to create something from nothing. Even if you don’t like someone’s style or aesthetic, the fact they’ve carved out a corner of the internet for themselves is worth something I think. But self-made roles are incredibly easy to dismiss as the lack of a structured, step-by-step career ladder can make people uneasy at best, angry at worst. At the start, I was so paranoid about friends from university finding out what I was doing and thinking I was a clinical narcissist or that I saw myself as some kind of oracle of style, when in fact I had no idea what I was doing and doubted myself relentlessly. It was only when I went full-time that I decided I had to put those fears to bed, back myself and generally give less f*cks in order to create the kind of content I wanted to and grow my site. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with blogging over the years with my trusty imposter syndrome and fear of judgement making me doubt myself to the core, but I feel like I’ve now found my place in the industry that works for me.

In the last year or so I’ve reconnected with writing more, stopped feeling the need to document just about everything, started a Book Club and generally figured out how to balance ‘blogger’ me and ‘normal’ me. To me, being a blogger involves, amongst other things, being a writer, a stylist, a photographer, a book keeper, an executive assistant, a creative director, a website designer, a social media manager, a travel agent, a brand director and a business manager. Not everyday, somedays I’m just an email-opener, but sometimes I’m all of those things all at once. So I for one am proud to be a blogger as to me, it’s just the simplest way to sum up the many, many hats we’re lucky enough to don on a daily basis.

Money, Money, Money

One thing you’ll notice being a blogger is people are suddenly very comfortable asking very upfront questions about money. Unlike other career choices or freelance career paths, blogging and more to the point, bloggers incomes, remain something of a mystery, and people outside of the industry will struggle to know where to place you. The press are equally fascinated with the amount bloggers/instagrammers are paid, so it makes sense that much of the rest of world also want to known how you pay the bills and how much you’re making a year. The amount of times I’ve sat next to someone at a wedding who has been angling for some kind of figure in terms of how much I earn is pretty crazy. It used to drive me mad, but now I kind of get it as it comes from a place of ‘how’ rather than direct rudeness or confrontation. That said, it still kind of pisses me off in all honesty. The art of smiling, nodding and posing the same questions back to them comes into play here I’ve learnt!

On the other side of the coin, you’re suddenly asked to value yourself like a commodity and this takes time to get comfortable with. I’ve had an agent for the last two years which has been a huge help, mainly in terms of time and accounting to be honest, but before that I had to get used to pricing myself and figuring out what I’m ‘worth’. This is really, really tough but the sooner you get comfortable with it, the sooner other people will too. While it might be tempting, don’t try and ask other bloggers what they’re charging (this stuff is anything but regulated or textbook) as everyone’s engagement, aesthetic, reach and positioning is different, all of which are taken into account when brands want to hire people. It’s a balancing act but practise makes perfect and you have to make a few mistakes along the way to work out what you’re comfortable with. Know what you and your content is worth, don’t be greedy but don’t be taken advantage of either.

Style Within Your Means

When I first started out many moons ago, I had one second-hand, vintage designer bag. A Louis Vuitton bucket bag that I got for about £150 on a designer resale site. Other than that, my entire wardrobe was high street and vintage. I’d trawl the The Outnet for Isabel Marant Etoile bargains and sites equivalent to Vestiaire Collective for brands like Alexander Wang and Acne (habits I still have now). The online world is granted a different beast these days, but I firmly believe you don’t need a wardrobe full of current season ready-to-wear to be a success. If you’re starting out, please don’t feel like you need to beg, borrow or steal a Gucci bag in order to be respected or gain followers. If you yourself wouldn’t or couldn’t buy one (yet!), be the person that sources the best bags on the high street or discovers vintage treasures and old baskets instead. Likewise, don’t start asking PRs for gifts as soon as you have a few thousands followers. Shop within your means and show the brands you love that you’re a fan regardless of freebies and who knows, next time they might reach out to you instead. If you like something, wear it over and over because that’s how people dress. No one wears a different outfit everyday of the week in real life so don’t succumb to that pressure online either.

The Power of Saying No

Not to sound massively negative, but saying no is more powerful than yes in the blogging world at times. When you first start out, every opportunity that comes your way feels like like an amazing gift and it’s tempting to gobble up every project or approach. But whether you’re just starting out or been doing this for years and at a point where it’s easier to turn down projects financially, saying no occasionally is a great skill to hone. For me, saying no to certain things gives extra value to the things I do say yes to and allows me to feel confident about each, individual project. There’s nothing worse than working on something that makes you cringe or feel uncomfortable so I now make a point of only working with product and brands I feel excited to add something to. An ‘amazing project’ is only amazing if it’s right for you and vice versa; one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure after all. It also means that I feel confident declaring something is sponsored on instagram and my blog because I know I would wear or use the products I’m featuring regardless. ‘#Ad’ used to be an almost shameful inclusion but it really shouldn’t be, as long as you’re in line with what you’re promoting. All it’s doing is declaring money has changed hands but to me, it should in no way negate your content or turn people off. It’s honest about the business of blogging, and as long as you have integrity about it and you’re making room for content that isn’t sponsored, it’s all good in my mind.

Saying no to certain things that don’t feel like quite the right fit, or simply because the timings doesn’t work, means I can give the right amount of time and attention to the things I do say yes to. The thing that makes me more stressed than anything else is not liking the content I’m producing because it’s created in a bit of rush, so I now know not to spread myself too thinly. It’s hard at first to not feel guilty for turning down a project (‘what if I never get approached again and I turned down that pay cheque and end up impoverished?! your irrational brain cries’), but you quickly learn there is always another opportunity, another chance and as long as you don’t burn bridges and are polite, kind and conscientious, that exact same job might come back to you full circle.

Work Between The Jobs

It’s important to keep up your enthusiasm for blogging because as soon as you’re bored or lacking in inspiration, your readers are going to pick up on that so I always make sure I have time to create non-sponsored, totally autonomous content. Sounds like such a small thing, but it’s amazing how many people let this slip and then wonder why they’re lacking in ideas. The creative brain is like a muscle and has to be worked to stay fit, so if you’re only ever working on content that’s been laid out by a third party, that muscle ain’t going to be getting much exercise is it. Rather than simply chasing projects or dollar signs, keep plugging away at your content even if there’s nothing on the horizon so you’re constantly offering new stuff for people to engage with and showing everyone the great stuff you can create.

Blocking Out The Noise

Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte goes for fertility acupuncture and Dr.Mao tells her to ‘block out the noise’, namely of other women’s ‘miracle’ post-treatment baby stories. Well, the same goes for working in the blogging world; living your life online requires blinkers. We have all had moments of comparing and despairing in this industry but I’ve learnt it’s worth ignoring the noise. From instagram stories entirely dedicated to box after box of freebies and gifts (don’t even get me started on that one), to girls working on seemingly dream projects, learning to ignore others’ online hype is key. Remember none of us knows what goes on behind closed doors or behind those ‘perfect’ social media feeds and keeping that horrible green-eyed monster at bay is key to keeping your head above water. And remember another woman’s success doesn’t diminish your own; if anything, it helps the whole blogging community keep rising. So be outwardly supportive of those women you aspire to be like, say you’re jealous when you’re jealous and keep treading your own path without letting others’ noise crowd you.

 

Be Inspired, Be Yourself

It’s harder than ever to find something individual online these days but it’s more important than ever to find your own place in the digital world. I’m as guilty as the next person for coveting items I’ve seen on another girl and thanks to the endless scrolling of instagram, inspiration often seeps in like osmosis. But do your absolute best to keep doing you. What do you want to see on the internet that isn’t there already? What are you passionate about? From designing your website, coming up with ideas and composing instagrams, to what you want to wear or talk about, be brave and do it before others rather than after. Even if you love someone’s site, find a way to make it your own for you and out of respect for them. Plus, you might have a cease and desist letter coming your way if you don’t! No one is saying you need to dress like Gaga to offer something different; if you want to wear jeans, t-shirts and little else (yes please), do just that. Be inspired and enjoy the internet, just don’t strive to be anyone but you. Harder than it sounds at times but so important.

Invest To Get Ahead

I would never suggest you rush out and buy all the gear before you’ve even written a word, but if you’re looking to up the ante, sometimes you need to throw a bit of money at the situation. I spent years editing my photos in iPhoto (which now doesn’t even exist) and now realise how much better Adobe Lightroom is for example. Cameras don’t have to cost the earth but the right one can make a huge difference to the kind of photos you’re producing, equally getting a good accountant and/or book keeper is 100% worth it if numbers aren’t your friend. Are you always roping in a grumpy boyfriend with a full-time job to take iphone pictures of you at the weekend? Think about finding an up-and-coming photographer or connecting with someone whose aesthetic you like on instagram to help you take photos instead. You reclaim your free time and can produce twice the amount you were before. Win win. Sometimes spending a little more can help take your blog to the next level, even if that’s just because it frees up more of your time to dedicate to it. Work out what you can afford and recognise the value in that spend. A new piece of tech or some administrative help is worth so much more than that new pair of shoes in the long run.

Keep Growing

It’s hard sometimes to keep evolving, especially when you’ve found a happy place that works. But doing things that scare you, finding new mediums to play with or new projects to get your teeth stuck into is key to keeping the momentum going. I have a few things I’m wanting to work on in the future, but yet again, the thing that’s stopping me is just good old fashioned fear. You know that ‘fear of judgment’ I spoke about earlier? Turns out it hasn’t totally evaporated as there are definitely things I want to do but haven’t done yet as I’m scared of getting it wrong… But I also know I’ll do them eventually when the time is right. Whether it’s hosting events, doing an Instagram Live or starting a new series of some sort, keep moving forward rather than staying still in your comfort zone.

Patience Is A Virtue

Lastly, be patient and expect to work damn hard. It might look easy from the outside, seemingly posting the odd instagram and travelling the world. But from my experience at least, is it takes time to build something. Don’t lose heart if you’re not growing at an exponential rate but equally look into why that might be and what you can do about it. And remember numbers aren’t everything. If you have 10K super engaged followers that you interact with and who love what you do, that’s way stronger than someone who has 100K followers who couldn’t care less about anything other than what they’re posting online. Post what you like rather than chasing those followers and the right people will come. If you have a full-time job, get ready to roll up your sleeves and work evenings and weekends to help you blog love-child grow.

 

If you have any more questions about specifics or anything at all really, drop them below and I’ll get back to you.
If you like this, check out some of my other lessons posts below too.

 

Ph. from various sources including YanYanChan, Jeanne Damas, Always Judging and numerous tumblrs. 

Share

Comments

  • Rebecca

    I don’t blog but loved this post, love your writing style too, very easy reading but informative at the same time x

  • Claudine

    I love your honesty and the deep insights. The facts are not new to me, but how you have written them is inspiring and informative.
    Thank you for sharing Lucy ♥

    xo
    Claudine / http://www.claudinesroom.com

  • Eva

    Really enjoyed reading this post – super helpful for those of us who are still newbies to the blogging world!

    http://whatevawears.co.uk

  • Emily

    Thank you! I found this so helpful and reassuring as I just stated my blog.
    xo,
    Em
    http://www.organicallyemily.com

  • Lizzie

    I love how open you are about the blogging world and how you are so happy to help others! The point about not striving to be someone who is already out there is so key, yet can be quite difficult as they are your inspiration…it’s finding that balance between inspiration but adding yourself to it.

    theButter.co.uk

  • Lucy

    an amazing read so interesting!!! i can’t believe people wanted to know actual figures. ( i guess everyone to their own..!) not about this post but i would love to see your top 20 basics or something, or how you find highstreet clothes. i always seem to struggle to find basics. or things you regret buying x

  • Ailidh MacLean

    such a good read that’s brought on a new-found motivation, certainly a lot of points I’m going to apply to my own blog!
    http://www.ubercultured.com

  • I loved this post, it was incredibly reassuring to smaller bloggers like myself and you really hit some good points.

    Dalal
    monochromedaisies.blogspot.com

  • Absolutely love it!

  • I feel so motivated to go do some work on my blog now. Such a great post. x

    E. / http://www.brooklynisburning.co

  • It’s always so interesting to get your perspective on things within this crazy industry and beyond. You come across as someone that has their head screwed on and their feet still firmly on the ground not matter how successful you’ve become. I loved reading this and will definitely send some questions over soon.

    Vikki xx
    http://www.styleandminimalism.com

  • Amazing post! Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.gloryofthesnow.com

  • The Gold Lipstick

    Absolutely love it!

    Mireia from TGL
    https://thegoldlipstick.com/

  • Really enjoyed reading this post, lots of really spot-on advice. I’ve been listening to Me & Orla’s Instagram podcasts and she used this term ‘comparisonitis’, I’m always comparing myself to other bloggers and wondering if what I’m doing is good enough! But what you said about putting on blinkers is so true, you need to focus on you, if you stay true to yourself and share what you’re really passionate about no matter what everyone else is posting about, the readers, followers, likes, comments and success will come because people will see that you’re genuine. xxx

  • I love reading your perspective, especially since you are successful in this industry.

    http://www.berkleysboutique.com

  • Sian Hunter

    such a great post!

  • Thank you so much for posting this, it’s so easy to get discouraged when you are just starting out as a blogger, and it’s precious when someone tells you she felt the same!
    xx Alisa
    chloefrancis.org

  • Becca Hilliard

    This is such a great post about getting into blogging, thank you so much for sharing. x

  • Pandora Sykes

    Oh my gadddddd I remember those days of trawling The Outnet for Etoile! In fact, still bloody love Etoile x

  • Great helpful post, i think i need to invest in now, also would love if you do a post on collaborations, how to approach brands and PR.
    http://www.thestyletune.com

  • Love these posts from you, Lucy! xx

  • Jovita Antanovich

    So agree with you Lucy… It takes so much time to build a blog, and many thinks it’s just one big piece of cake…

    Jovita from Black Vanilla
    http://www.b-vanilla.com

  • Judith Crawford

    Thank for sharing Lucy! I always appreciate your honest approach and solid advice. Plus it’s great to hear internal fear and self doubt affects established bloggers as well as those of us starting out! Thanks, Judith x
    http://www.talesofjude.com

  • Sorry to hear you’re disheartened :(

    Obviously time and patience isn’t the only recipe to blogging success. It’s just one thing you often have to bear on the road to success really. But let’s redefine what a ‘successfull’ blog is. Obviously money and number of followers is one version of success, but another version can be having something you love to do as a creative outlet outside of your day job. Even if fashion/beauty/travel is your passion, it doesn’t necessarily have to be your full-time job for it to be a success. It can just be something you really enjoy and give you a place to share what you like. As long as it gives you joy, that to me is a success. I know it sounds cheesy, but maybe try thinking about your blog in a different way and see if that makes a difference. The fact you’ve had a space on the internet for 6 years that you’ve kept up and maintained deserves some accolade and you should feel proud of that. Don’t forget that.

    One of my points was also about numbers not being everything and while I know it can feel like you’re shouting into an empty void if you feel like no one is listening, it really is worth remembering that. Try and come at your blog from a place of personal joy and once you start doing it for you above all else (and that’s ok!), maybe things will start feeling more positive.

    Good luck and thanks for commenting. xx

  • Valerie Faulkner

    Great post. Just wondered what colour your kitchen cupboards are and where the brass handles are from please?

  • Laura Rose

    I’ve found this post really helpful! I have a teeny blogger following but still enjoy making content… even though it’s only once a week or two! I think the next step for me is to invest a little more in my camera or find an upcoming photographer like you suggested…! I currently feel so full of ideas and outfits to post but find it hard to find someone I know who has time to shoot with me! haha

    Laura | roseandweston.blogspot.co.uk x

  • Jessica Harris

    I love how different you are to so many of the fashion bloggers. Braggy freebie posts are my bugbear and it happens so much now. I feel like my comfort zone is on the horizon for my blog and I can’t wait to feel the fear and do it anyway!

    http://www.twentysixstyle.com

  • Nico

    IMO, the “money thing” prob comes from a place of curiosity for most people like you acknowledged, but I can also see how the nosey approach some people might take when asking you about it could be unwelcome. Truth is, it does remain a mystery to a majority of people since blogging is such a relatively new career path.

    People like myself are probably curious to know how a regular rotation of designer items, freebie gifts, and “seemingly” non-stop travel is a feasible reality. I’m not referring to you, Lucy, bc I do view your style as more accessible and I appreciate your uniform basics. I also appreciate how you explained your approach to style when you were just starting out. :)

    However there are bloggers/social media darlings out there that appear to have come from money (but won’t say so), have all the newest things all the time, travel luxuriously and constantly (posting travel photos when they aren’t actually still traveling), but yet don’t ever disclose some of the reality of how they maintain that lifestyle.

    Maybe some have a spouse that can supplement their combined income and allow for the unpredictability of blogging? Maybe some are actually living paycheck to paycheck and acting like everything is ok? But we wouldn’t know because the reality they choose to present makes it seem like money grows on trees and isn’t even a thing. You know what I mean? That is what rubs me the wrong way and why I’d be curious about a more accurate explanation of where their money comes from. I can acknowledge that a lot of bloggers take it super seriously just like any freelance worker might to ensure their next paycheck. But the charade of pretending like it’s not actually work is off-putting. If someone is wanting to get into it as a career, it’s not crazy that they would want a ballpark number as to what their potential salary could be. Just like you might with any other job or career path! That’s why I would say, don’t let it piss you off when people ask about it – unless they are being straight up rude. :)

    Thanks for being open Lucy, lots of people here seem to appreciate it! Just thought I’d throw in my two cents.

  • So many good points Lucy. From those frustrations about being asked financial questions, to the noise of unboxing accounts… there is always going to be the good and the bad. I’m glad to hear that you have carved your own path and devoted time to something like the book club which I have no doubt is hugely fulfilling. Years ago I started a book club with work mates and it was so much fun to hear how everyone went each month! Also reading books that you may not other wise is so interesting.

    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

  • Jecky Lebid

    I have never read a ‘Blogger Tips’ post which sounded that much honest and from the bottom of someone’s heart!! I’d like to hear more from where that came from :)

    XX from Germany
    Jecky
    http://www.wantgetrepeat.com