Dogs and Dresses blew out its third candle this year – and there are plenty more to come! I first dipped my toes into the blogging pool back in early 2008: as a fresh student in the capital of fashion I kept on discovering cool things in Antwerp, Tumblr was the latest rage and I had stumbled upon the few fashion blogs the internet held back then; all of this was the inspiration to create my own fashion minded spot on the web. I went back and forth between different platforms, with different names and different levels of self-exposure. Until 2010, when I decided to focus on one thing and pour my heart into it completely. You are looking at the end result as we speak! The drive to thrive at blogging wasn’t always as strong, and it took a while for me to see the blog as a professional outlet besides a creative one. But when I did, things started happening. Inspiring things, challenging things, frustrating things, but most of all amazing things! Let me guide you through my personal joys of blogging.
A helicopter ride over Antwerp, five-star hotels that cost half my pay check for one night, chatting up celebrities and enjoying life as a local in London. The list of perks goes on and on, and I have had some amazing opportunities and moments thanks to my blog. I often have to pinch myself when I’m attending a press launch that exudes luxury, when I get flown over to another country for an event report or when I get a tweet from a person or an email from a brand I really admire. But it’s the best feeling, to know that the hard work you put into your blog gets noticed and rewarded.
Blogging gets you places. I for one met a substantial amount of interesting, passionate and captivating people through my blog. I might even say that my blog empowered me to become an even more social and confident person. The first blog-related event I attended was lonely and uncomfortable, and I can still see myself tiptoeing around the cupcake-table, eagerly wanting to talk to people but not really knowing how to start a conversation. I can wholeheartedly state that I since evolved into a state of being able to talk to everyone and everything. Sure, most of it is small talk, but in some cases the most trivial conversations lead to great friend- or partnerships. My advice for a beginning blogger? Don’t wait and see! Instead, put on your big girl pants and get the word out. Don’t hide behind the champagne glasses, but use the opportunity to talk to like-minded people. There’s surely common ground, you guys are at the same event. So talk about the product or brand presented and introduce yourself – but don’t be all work and no play, find a balance between professional topics and personal affairs. Haven’t been invited to an event yet? Send out an e-mail to PR agencies in which you present you and your blog (or even make an introductory movie, creativity is key!) and get yourself a media kit with all the ins and outs of your blog (background, main themes, visitors and demographics, different social media channels, future goals…). Besides creativity, it’s all about professionalism. Stand out – it’s the only way people will notice your little fish in the blog sea.
There’s no denying it, bloggers get a lot of freebies – and those come in all shapes and sizes. From gift vouchers and press releases over completely styled outfits, food packages and shopping trips to weekends abroad, boxes-delivered-by-topless-male-models and hard liquor. Most of it is of use to your blog, some of it is crap. But all of it is fun to receive – it might give you the feeling of running a PR-valuable blog, and it might even work as an incentive for your hard work. I deal with goodies in the following way: if I really like the product, I’ll use it, document it and probably blog about it. But more than once mr. postman delivers something I don’t really need or can’t use because it isn’t my size, it isn’t my colour or it just isn’t my thing. In that case, I’ll try to work something out with the company, give it to my mommy or stock it in the big box of celebratory goodness, a box that comes in handy whenever I need to attend a last-minute birthday party. Main thing to keep in mind when dealing with gifts: stay true to your own style and thoughts. But beware that, when dealing with brands, you shouldn’t always hang on to your initial idea or perception of a brand – I’ve witnessed more than once that a brand can turn the full 180°, go from not to hot or cannot live up to a particular status it used to have. Whichever the way, try to start out with the most objective view as possible, and work from there. Blogs are subjective, but don’t let your love or hate for a certain brand take the upper hand.
The virtual transformation / the diary
Four years of personal style blogging is undoubtedly confrontational. That weird hairstyle you once had, the awkward poses and terrifying camera quality that comes with an early-stage blog and the inevitable style mistakes we all go through are just one click away. And they’re out for the world to see! But much like flipping through old photo albums, going through your blog’s archives brings back memories. And while toddler pics and bad style decisions are both embarrassing, they’re good for a pleasant walk down memory lane. The way you present content, appeal to your readers and portray yourself on photos is constantly evolving, and it’s a truly educational thing to look into. I’m not saying you should all scroll back to my first ever published posts (really – don’t do it!), but it can be very instructive and eye-opening to look back at how you handled things in the beginning – even if it’s only to learn from your mistakes.
The main joy of blogging for me, besides the great people I’ve met, is the creative outlet it creates. I often describe my blog as my online playground, a place on the internet where I can do, say and share whatever the hell I want. Of course I always operate with you in the back of my mind, because creating inspiring pieces, be it articles or outfit posts, is the main thing that brings me joy! ;)
So what are the upsides to blogging from your point of view? Have a great anecdote to tell? Do share below!