Not only is today the start of 2016, it also marks three years of Fashion Slave! That's as many years as it took me to get my first degree, and older than anything I probably still own in my wardrobe (shopaholism is directly related to blogging don't you know) and significantly longer than any of my significant relationships have lasted for. What can I say, I get bored easily? My blog has become the longest reigning commitment that I've managed to keep in my life, which I suppose is a bit awkward as my blog is about me. Relationship Status = married to myself. So to mark its third birthday, I purchased a giant pointless balloon to take some utterly narcissistic photos and share with you the highs, lows, and what I've learnt from blogging.
What I've learnt whilst blogging
1. In the battle of quality vs quantity, they both rate pretty similarly.
Everywhere I go people seem to have differing opinions on this. Some preach that quality content prevails over quantity of content you push out. Others think that a consistently pushing out anything is the best way forward. Well my friends, I'll tell you now that it's both. If you constantly push out content that is dull, repetitive, and disengaging, it feels utterly spammy. Whereas if you throw out an incredible feature with gripping words and engaging editorial once a month, sure, it'll captivate, but it won't keep and build an engaged, loyal audience. Find the balance, get it right, and make it work for you.
2. Don’t be judgemental
Last year (ooh, feels weird saying that already!) I wrote about being a bit of a bitch to people. Through blogging I've found that I've looked at others bloggers photo's and made way harsh judgements on their character based on an image. There have been people I have genuinely thought just "looked a little bit bitchy." Although this never stopped me from treating anyone differently, it gave me incorrect preconceptions, and upon meeting these bloggers I've found that not only are they the sweetest, most inspiring girls, but also I'm a huge dick for thinking they could be anything other than that just because they know how to pull a shady blue steel look in their outfit photos. So take it from me, don't judge before you know.
3. Instagram Aesthetics are important
On the topic of judgement... PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME! I'm so judging myself for writing this (along with saying aesthetiiiiiccccccssss in a really whiney american voiceover in my head) BUT it does matter. Social media is so important to blogging now and Instagram has become not just a tool but a total portal for your blog. Yes, that flat lay does look totally posed and yes, my food was cold by the time I ate it because I took so long getting that photo (what are microwaves for though hey?) but at the end of the day, it'll be a lot of your potential audiences first port of call when scoping you out. Capture them and impress them with something that looks pretty. Just don't go overboard editing all of your photos too much ok...
4. It’s Okay to Take a Break
Losing your blogging mojo is tough, and whilst personally I've always found that breaks usually get me into bad habits, they can be good for you. Don't beat yourself up if you're not feeling it. At the end of the day, it goes back to quality and quantity.
5. Comparing Yourself to Others is a Trap!
... But is inevitable, so try and avoid and deal with it better. It's so easy to get stuck on your faults and hangups when comparing yourself to a more successful blogger. They may have more followers, you may think they are prettier, they might be richer and more successful. But what does that really matter to you? I used to think "well what's the point in blogging I'll never be as good as X, Y or Z" but thank god I didn't quit! Stop comparing yourself and looking at your shortcomings, focus instead on your journey, skills, and how far you have come.
6. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions
My most successful posts are usually opinion-based lifestyle ones. Whether I'm talking about contraception making me crazy, the pitfalls of Instagram, or being a psycho girlfriend, these posts always seem to strike a chord with girls who share the same opinions as me. Share yours, and start a conversation.
7. Do what feels right for you, not what others are doing
There are so many people doing the same thing at the same time, but succeeding for it. If it doesn't feel right for you then just don't do it. It may seem like a recipe for success for others, but I guarantee that dressing a certain way, posting certain things, and acting a certain way on social media will not make you stand out or succeed.
8. Know your worth
Blogging can be somewhat cannibalistic. A brand wants to work with us, great! But if you have a loyal and strong audience, then of course you should be charging them for working with you. It's so easy to get roped into doing work for free because of the much wanted/needed exposure, and we don't want to lose some exciting collaboration to another blogger with a cheaper fee or who works for free. That's why it's important to be transparent and honest about charging for collaborations. The worst they will say is that they don't have the budget - which of course, they might not. If you don't ask, you don't get!
9. Reaching out, connecting and inspiring people is more rewarding than any freebie
Freebies are a great perk of being a blogger, but what really keeps me doing this is when someone reaches out to say that what I've written has inspired them, given them some new form of confidence, or even really made them laugh. My lifestyle posts usually get a great rapport, and at the end of the day they are focused on empowering women. And that's worth more than any free handbag or shoes.
10. Scheduling and planning ahead is super important
Super boring, but true. If I don't spend at least one day of the weekend scheduling, then I simply won't have enough content for the week! Dedicate some time, I promise it'll get the ball rolling and you'll be throwing out work consistently.
Having an orange thrown at me - lol
As if I already don’t feel enough of a dick whilst having my picture taken of me prancing about in public (to passers by, I might as well be holding a sign that says I’M IN LOVE WITH MYSELF) some guys decided to mock me whilst we were shooting a close up of my top with me holding my phone by yelling “OH MY GOD, HASHTAAAAAAAAAG” out their window. Shit happens. But then as we then went to walk off, they threw an orange full pelt from the third floor of their flat at me. Which narrowly missed my head and smashed on the floor. My photographer aka oh-so dedicated boyfriend lost it a bit and threw it back through their open window. That’ll show them (?) And although this is all really quite laughable now – I mean someone actually threw an orange at me lol – it seriously unnerved me, taking me way back to being bullied in school when I was younger.
What bothered me was I couldn’t get my head around how what I was doing was clearly so very annoying to these people that they felt the need to act out like that. Had it hit me it would have caused serious damage (my nose already has a bump, so I really don’t fancy anymore crooks) but why did they feel so very compelled to try hurt someone for having their photo taken? It knocked my confidence for a few days, and had me really questioning what I was doing. But I was thinking, why should I feel bad, or guilty, for taking a photograph of an outfit that may encourage someone to try a new trend that'll bring them confidence? What difference is there between that, and then perhaps someone waiting until the right moment at sunset on a beach to shoot the image they want? It's funny how people are so quick to hit the like button on an image, but as soon as they know what went into constructing it they are the first to hit out and mock it. There's a lot of backlash going on about how social media and bloggers lives aren't 'real' etc, but would these people who mock bloggers for taking such images prefer to see everyone without makeup all the time? When they are ill? To see a close up of them getting teeth cleaned at the dentists? Hmmm, I think they'd rather see a picture of a pretty coffee cup and some nice magazines, if I'm honest.
Getting an Instagram Husband
Oh the boyfriend photographer cliche. It was always going to happen, wasn't it? My dad used to take my photos as he is a photographer, but it got too difficult with us living in different cities. So after I roped my boyfriend into taking my photos, and he started his own blog, we became a little duo of blogger/photographers. Couples that blog together stay together, right? Of course they do – they have to! Because if we break up who the hell will wake up at the crack of dawn to take all of our photographs - for free? All jokes aside, it’s great blogging with my boyfriend Carl Thompson. We’re both pretty dedicated and he’s incredibly flexible and selfless, putting getting my shots before his every time, especially when I forget to charge my camera battery even though he told me to about 3 times.
Collaborating with Amazing Brands
When a brand that I've been obsessed with for years pops up in my inbox asking to collaborate, I still get that "oh my god, no? Really? You mean, me?????" moment. Over the three years I've got the chance to work with so many, and I can only hope it's just a taste of what's yet to come.
There's so so many more things I could have included in this post, but here's hopefully to another bright three years!
Love, Sophie x