When I asked if anyone had questions about blogging, I got a lot of them — so I had to break it up into sections. This is Part 2 of answering your questions about blogging, and I’m happy to answer any other questions you have (Click here to read Part 1!). If you have any additional questions, the easiest way to reach me is by DMing me on instagram or leave a comment on this post.
Q: How old were you when you started blogging?
A: If you count my Open Diary, I was 15. At 17 or 18, I moved to LiveJournal — that’s really where it all began!
Q: How did you turn blogging/social media into a career?
A: The truth is that it kind of just happened. Nowadays, people know that you can make it into a career, so they can come in with a plan. I think that’s amazing. But back then, it was all about that tripod and self timer life. We had to learn it all as we went along. It was different than it is now; having a career in blogging/social media wasn’t a thing. We just did it for fun — because we could do it for fun. We were young and didn’t have careers or families and blogging was a social outlet.
Here’s how it started: I had been using my blog as a marketing tool for my clothing line for a long time, so it didn’t seem all that weird when other small businesses started inquiring about buying ads on my site or sponsoring posts. But my first job actually came from my LiveJournal. Before it was acquired by AT&T, I was a style blogger for Cingular. That must have been back in 2004. They were way ahead of the curve: they had a tech blogger, style blogger (me), a celebrity gossip blogger, and celebrity style (it was Go Fug Yourself). I remember I got paid $200 a month and they paid for my internet and cell phone. I basically felt like I was *RICH* and on top of the world. The idea that I could get paid for what I was already doing was a dream come true.
Once I moved from LiveJournal to this current blog (2008, I believe?) things started to take off. The rise of other fashion centric social networks like Lookbook, Chictopia, Weardrobe, Flickr groups like Wardrobe_Remix, and Lucky Mag (I can’t remember what their thing was called) gave us more visibility, and there weren’t that many of us, back then. Many people followed me over from LiveJournal. Lucky Magazine and Bust both featured me, which helped a lot — and then Coach put me in a campaign. It all stemmed from there. It just takes that one right person seeing you and giving you a chance, and then it can snowball from there. But I’ll be 100% honest: I think a lot of it was luck. I was lucky that I started when I did.
Q: Is blogging your main source of income?
A: The short answer: yes. But I have a second source of income, from my photo studio Brooklyn Brigade. We produce photo shoots there for myself and many brands, and also rent it out to other photographers and companies.
Q: How long did that take for you to start blogging full time? Do you have thoughts for anyone who has thought to start a blog or other online entrepreneurship?
A: This one is a little tricky for me to pinpoint, because there was a long overlap where my clothing line was supplemented by my blog income, and then it flipped. I was blogging for years before it became a career, but just keep in mind that it was back when making it a career didn’t even seem like an option. I’d say 2009 or 2010 is about the time when things started to take off, and it grew from there.
I would encourage anyone who wants to start a blog to start a blog. There is nothing to lose. But I have a rule of thumb, and it’s something a lot of people don’t like to hear: don’t make it your full time job until it is a full time job. Treat it as your second job. You’ll need a primary source of income and as a new blogger, that’s not going to come right away. You have to be willing to put in a lot of work for very little reward for as long as it takes. Come in with a plan. Make yourself an editorial calendar, learn SEO (SO valuable), utilize and cross promote through social media (insta, fb, twitter, pinterest, etc), and network! Always network. Build yourself a blogger support group and help one another out.
Q: I would love to be more confident in posting on social media and in life. How do you keep confident?
A: Fake it till you make it. Truthfully, I’m not always the most confident person. But I remind myself that I’m possibly my harshest critic, that people are generally kind (save for the occasional not-so-nice commenter) and then say “eff it.” I’m not going to lie: I can get 100 nice comments and that one mean comment will be the one that stands out. It’s human nature. But I try to remind myself that not everyone is going to like me, and that’s okay. And that no matter how much of myself I put out on the internet, the only people who really know me and can judge me are the ones I know in real life. As long as they’re still on my side, it’s all good. Everything else is just the surface.
Q: Do you ever get sick of social media? Do you have a private account? And if you weren’t a blogger what would you be doing?
A: Absolutely. It’s a love/hate relationship. The power of social media can be inspiring or terrifying. I like to focus on the former. It’s important to keep a balance in life. I don’t document every moment of my day. I stay present in the moment. There’s time for work, there’s time for social media, and then there’s my time. I don’t want to feel like my whole life is about getting that picture or doing an insta story. There’s a time and a place.
I don’t have a private account, but my friends and I are forever sending each other photos over group chats and DMs. That’s enough for me 🙂
If I weren’t a blogger, I’d probably go back to designing my own line. Maybe accessories, since the margin for small scale clothing production is not so great. Orrr I might just expand Brooklyn Brigade into a full time production.
Q: Is the blogging community open to someone that doesn’t fit into the mold? I’ve been blogging for 6 years and although I always think there’s room for growth and improvement, I’ve often wondered if there’s a place of me out there.
A: Absolutely. That’s what blogging has always been about: carving out a space for yourself, no permission needed. For example, look at the power of the plus size community (and the #bodypositive movement in general). Fashion has excluded them for so long, and brands only catered to so-called “straight sizes,” because apparently only people up to size 12 care about fashion? Wrong, of course — and a bunch of amazing women set out to prove that fashion is for everyone. All it took was for a few bold women to step up and put themselves on display, and so many people were able to relate. Sometimes you just have to be the trailblazer for whatever your niche may be. To quote Field Of Dreams (yep, that’s happening), “If you build it, they will come.”
Q: Is blogging a dying art? Are there too many bloggers? I want to post more of my outfits and have a creative outlet, but feel self conscious and embarrassed and come off as being full of myself.
A: I don’t think so. I do think a lot of people put more focus on social media apps like Instagram, but the thing about blogs is that they’re [mostly] independent. Though Instagram seems to reign supreme for the time being, you never know when the next big thing will come along. Never forget MySpace, Friendster, etc. So, keep those social media outlets going, but don’t neglect your blog. If any of those apps go under, you’ll always have your personal site to fall back on.
As for it being oversaturated, sure — bloggers are a dime a dozen. But that does not mean there isn’t room for more. People are always looking for something new. Come on in and shake things up. If you’re looking for a creative outlet, a blog is a great place for that. Don’t worry about it coming off as being full of yourself. Just focus on doing what makes you happy!
Q: I’m 31 and want to start blogging. I can’t help feeling like I’m “too old” to barely be starting now. I’m know we’re pretty close in age but you’ve been doing this for so long! Is there a such thing as it being too late?
A: You’re not too old, and it’s never too late. There are plenty of people in our age bracket who are looking for inspiration, and they’re much more likely to relate to someone close in age, rather than the younger generation of instagrammers and bloggers. And FYI, if you ever feel too old, watch the “Advanced Style” documentary and be inspired. You are never too old!
Q: I imagine you often have people asking you to follow them on social media and you have zero interest in what they’re pushing. How do you handle situations like that?
A: I get a lot of pitches for things I’m not interested in, and I’m just completely honest with them. I’ll respond with, “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but unfortunately this isn’t a good fit for me,” or “Thank you for contacting me, but I’m not covering x at this time,” etc. Honesty is the easiest way to handle it, and it gets straight to the point.
Q: Hi! I’m 17 years old and want to start a blog of my own but I don’t even know where to begin.
A: We’ll be doing a beginner’s guide to starting a blog, so I’ll have more details for you soon. But in the meantime, start by figuring out what your focus is, think of a name, and make sure that URL and corresponding social handles are available. I use and recommend WordPress for blogs, but you can also build a great site with SquareSpace.
Q: I have a website where I blog, but I also write two columns where I discuss living with a rare/fatal illness that I was diagnosed with a few years ago. I’m trying to raise awareness in hopes of bringing more attention to the disease, so patients can gain access to better treatment options. How would you recommend I increase or improve my online presence? Part of my problem is I don’t want to focus just on the disease either. I like makeup, fashion, tea etc and don’t want to be known for just having a disease.
A: Your knowledge and experience can be so valuable for your audience, and I’m sure many people who share your illness will find comfort in your blog. I think they can all coexist in a personal blog. Your interests in makeup, fashion, and tea (I love that you included tea! I feel you on that!) don’t just go away when you’re diagnosed. I imagine your blog being so empowering for other women in your shoes — whether they’re struggling with the same illness or something else — to know that you’re living with your illness and still living. And having a platform to spread awareness is everything. Personally, I think it would be perfect for a YouTube channel so you can speak directly to your audience:)