Entrepreneurship

Answering Your Questions About Blogging and Business

Written by: Zanita Whittington

 

I’ve landed back in Stockholm after a weekend away in Amsterdam, back into work mode. Firstly here I just wanna thank everyone who gave me feedback about the site from the Amsterdam post, we are constantly working towards making the best site for you all – one of my biggest inspiration sources of inspiration, the drive to improve and innovate over the years has been the comments and support I get from all of you.

This post is a little overdue – but I really wanted to sit down and dedicate a good chunk of time to answering these questions fully, extra thanks to the ladies who asked them!

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So here goes…  

What lens do you use when taking your shots usually? I have a 50mm but am struggling to get myself fully in focus while still achieving good bokeh. What settings did you use for the photos above for example?  Anea Duratovic

I’m usually working with an 85mm 1.2 – and sometimes a 35mm 1.4 lens. The 85 is the lens that gives great bokeh and it’s the one I used in the post mentioned (bokeh is the dreamy blurred background effect). I feel like the 50mm could work in a similar way – but you would want to be using quite a low f-stop, probably below a 4 – and have your subject with alot of empty space behind them, quite a good distance from the background.  I can’t remember the exact settings I had on my camera for that shot but to guess I’d say it was about F-stop 4 – shutter speed 1/1000 – ISO 100. It was pretty sunny on this day so maybe the shutter speed was even higher… Anyway, I’d advise you experiment with getting the f-stop as low as possible without compromising the depth of focus in your image. If you’re shooting up close then you won’t have as much flexibility but further away shouldn’t be so bad. I know some bloggers who keep their settings on F1.8 and still seem to produce clear images!  Sounds obvious, but the more you use your camera the better you’ll understand the functions so get snapping 🙂

Outfit-118c-683x1024My question for you is how you gained so much traction. The key to being able to blog for a living is having a very strong readership; beyond being able to cultivate great content, gaining exposure can be a big difficulty for someone just starting out. Your content is fantastic; how did you get it in front of so many people? How did you expose yourself to a great number of readers in spite of all the competition? Stephanie

I wish there was a black and white answer I could give for this one! I initially started gaining traction from just participating in the community of blogging – so through making friends and exchanging links on sidebars. Upstart bloggers don’t seem to have this on their sidebars anymore… but used to work so well! I also was an active Chictopia and Lookbook.nu user – but I can’t really vouch for their efficiency today.  A lot of bloggers seem to post all over the place, leaving their links in comment sections – but I think instead of gunning for the most popular bloggers, aim for those with similar reach as yourself and connect, collaborate and share. Building together is always a good idea.

I don’t really believe there is any true catalyst for success either, it’s really about a long race. Even if you score a feature on one of the biggest sites out there, like Refinery29 or WhoWhatWear, that success will be short lived. The key to captivating an audience is regular, great content and being patient with steady growth.

Social media is one of the keys for driving new traffic, so finding a niche within that is essential. No one can really tell you how to create a voice that’s uniquely yours… I guess this article is how I can express it best.

Though it might sound a little depressing to those starting out – getting your content exposure takes time and hard work. You need to be very interesting to maintain an audience – and you need to be proactive to find that audience. The key is to just get started and don’t continue to persevere for too long on an idea if it isn’t working.

How do you blog and travel? Can you share some of your tips for capturing moments while living in the moment? Alexandra Puffer 

It can be pretty challenging to live in the moment, trying to blog while travelling. I don’t think I’m particularly talented at taking the right opportunities to get content… though I have some friends who, particularly Jess (@tuulavintage) and Nicole (@garypeppergirl) who both do a killer job of capturing a location through their instagram accounts.  I guess a big part of it is having some equipment  you’re willing to carry around with you. I find it really stressful to carry a photo kit worth 5k around with me on touristic excursions – but my phone is much simpler (and better for security).

I guess it’s really about being aware – so whenever you think ‘Oh wow, isn’t that beautiful?’ you’re ready to take a snap and share that memory. I think it takes quite a bit of practise and tenacity to create good content, you really need to think of work when you’re travelling to collect a really beautiful story. It’s alot easier if you’re passionate and excited about it – so considering the rewards of sharing is a great motivator.

Outfit-111bMy question for you will be what advice and tips will you give someone who is thinking to take their blog to a full time job? –Adeola Naomi Aderemi 

Heading into blogging full-time can be pretty scary, taking that leap is the hardest part. For myself and most of the girls I know, it simply was that blogging became too much work to continue working in another field, so financial security was pretty much guaranteed by the time they took the leap. I’d absolutely recommend you wait until you get to this point before setting out, because the money can fluctuate throughout the course of the year and you don’t want to be left in the lurch.

Throughout the earlier stages of my blogging career, I really just used my site as an outlet and a source of fun. When you’re going full-time and investing in a future – suddenly ‘fun’ isn’t so much a factor when it comes to work criteria. I’m working long days and constantly having to press myself further and further to come up with original and engaging articles. If you were responsible for a newspaper, do you think the readers would be so forgiving if you suddenly only produced a few pages of content? The same is true with blogs – don’t deliver and eventually people won’t return. A full-time blog is a hungry beast – but it’s also a very wonderful beast that will take you on magical adventures if you feed it well.

You also need to have a pretty clear mission statement that you can utilise when it comes to taking on clients, so you can stay true to your brand. While early on, promoting “Susie’s Slim Fast Diet Miracle Tea” might seem like a good way to monetise, consider whether this client will help support you to the long term goal, a beautiful blog you can be proud of. There’s going to be compromises early on – but there’s always ways to make things work for you. Just be really clear on your brand values so that you can still reach that long term goal, without alienating your audience before you get there.

How to get yourself out there and eventually get gigs especially when you live in a city that works with nepotism and will not embrace a girl of color? – Adeola Naomi Aderemi 

I guess this is a challenging question for me because I’ve never been to Greece, so I couldn’t fully comprehend what it’s like facing the challenges you’re experiencing. My advice would be, look to those who really standing out from the crowd, whether it be in sports or music or any kind of field – and take your queues from those people. Never underestimate the value of role models – there’s some incredible women of colour throughout history who’ve been real game changers and we can all learn so much from them.  Be confident in who you are and what you’re representing  – and be positive because good energy will always appeal to clients and readers better than negative.

One of the best parts of being a fashion blogger is your ability to connect with audiences around the entire world – which also means, you can connect with clients around the world. I know it would be wonderful to work with the Greek clients at home – other clients in Europe are also right on your doorstep and only an email away.  Be as proactive as you possibly can and send emails constantly introducing yourself. It could even be as simple as offering to do some instagram takeovers for upcoming brands, when you start out you need to give some to get it back.

I’m sorry I couldn’t help more on this front! If anyone else reading this has further advice for Adeola I’d (we!) love to hear it.

How did you first start? How did you get people to take pictures of you? Did you first start with friends and what about now? Do you have to pay a photographer? Anna

I started small, like most bloggers, with no ambitions to make a career or to go full time. I was taking self portrait photos with a tiny point and shoot camera, which would snap one image at a time. I had a long way to go! Later I had just anyone take my images, whoever was around. I would set up the shot and they would act under my instruction – and thats what I’m doing till this day with my outfit photos. Gustav is taking most of them now – but I have paid  a photographer a few times with working on advertorials. I don’t really invest lots of time into my outfit photos because I’m still quite uncomfortable about bossing someone around to get the right shot.

I really want to get into the business of fashion and blogging how do you suggest to start and what is the key to being successful in what you do? Jess

There’s no such thing as overnight success – it’s going to be hard work. It’s taken me seven years to get to this point! I’ve evolved and learnt as I’ve gone along, really through trial and error more than anything else. Thankfully these days – there’s plenty of examples of what to do and what not to do. You have to have a clear idea what your blog is about, you have to develop your skills to the point where you’re professionally competitive and you have to learn how to captivate an audience with that skill set. I guess this question doesn’t really have a simple answer because there’s so many methods to create a great blog, and so much of that is really learning what your talents are and using them to maximise engagement.

Gustav and I are actually working on a course right now, detailing everything we know about creating success in the business… there’s simply too much to put into this post right here!

Thanks so much for all your questions xx

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PHOTOGRAPHY WITH ZANITA BRANDING WITH MARGO & ME YOUTUBE WITH SONYA ESMAN YOUTUBE WITH CHLOE MORELLO

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