A reader emailed me a few weeks ago saying they thought it would be interesting to share what goes into blogging, and creating this content. I thought it was such a good idea, and one I was more than happy to share with you all. One thing I am always grateful for is how many comments I get from you guys acknowledging that so much work goes into my blog and YouTube. I think everyone wants to be recognised for their hard work from time to time, and I consider myself very lucky indeed to have readers and viewers who understand that. So this post isn't meant to be a 'oh look how hard I work' sort of post, but hopefully an insight into the thought process behind it all. Maybe it will be helpful if you are a blogger yourself, or thinking you might like to be one.
For me, being a blogger means I simultaneously work 24/7, and also not a day in my life. The old saying of loving what you do negates it becoming work could not be more true here, and the job is more of a lifestyle than actual work. I never get the Sunday dread, I never have a Friday feeling. I shoot content every day, but I find not shooting things more stressful than putting the camera down for the day. In the time that this has been my full time job I have learnt more than I imagined I would; from invoicing to how to use photoshop, I have taught myself so many different skills. How to be my own boss, to have a business mindset when needed, and even how to use a film camera.
These photos are of me on any given work day (shot on that very film camera), which are completely what my working day looks like. Messy desk with lots of tea and coffee, not quite enough water and no less than 10829110 notepads. I have split everything that goes into being a blogger (for me) into five very broad categories. Of course this is just my experience, and I also want to point you all in the direction of Lucy William's post on blogging for even more (and a more eloquent) insight.
Content is Everything
Content is always at the forefront of my mind. It's the foundation of everything I do. From building up a following of people who want to read the content, to creating what is essentially an ever growing portfolio that brands can see and choose to collaborate with. I spend more time creating content than I do anything else, and I really like the term 'content creator' to describe what blogging involves. The process of creating content differs for each post, and there is no set time I spend on it each week. As a general rule I would say the time I spend on content splits 60/40 to my blog and YouTube, with my blog being the most time consuming aspect. The actual creation of a video takes a lot longer, but as I do less of those a week overall YouTube gets a little less focus. For my blog posts I don't have a set way I create them. Sometimes I find a location first, then plan an outfit around that. Often it's the other way around. My Mum usually shoots my photos, and we meet up once a week and shoot a few looks in one go. I then edit them all throughout the week, and normally try to be around one week ahead on my content. I love being able to use my Mum as my photographer because it allows me to be the ultimate bossy boots, and editing through the photos is one of my favourite things to do.
You do have a rely on others when it comes to photos. I shoot my outfit for Instagram everyday, which means dragging Harry away from his desk too. It's a huge ask all of the time, and when Harry is no longer a student and is in work, he won't be at home to do that for me. It's easy to find excuses when things like that get in the way, but it's essential to find a way to make it work. Even if that means I will be lurking outside someone's office every lunch time (Harry, I promise I won't do that really)...
Keeping inspired can be hard
Obviously all that content means lots of ideas too, and when inspiration dries up it can be tricky. I share these moments with you all too; from being in a rut with my style, to feeling like my photography needs a refresh. These moments come relatively often for me and are seriously frustrating. I do have little breakthroughs from time to time which make it all worth it. Things like starting to work on film and writing on my images came from those moments, and I am always hopefully I will have another 'AHA' moment at any given time! As this blog is my income more than my YouTube is, I spend more time brainstorming for here. Because I weekly vlog that is one video a week sorted (granted, there are ideas within that, but the bigger picture is sorted), and with Testing Basics being a fortnightly thing it leaves me with one video a fortnight to think up, much more manageable than twice a week!
Be realistic in understanding that you will need something to help you refresh sometimes. Often this can just be a change in location, or some new jeans I love, but it's unrealistic to expect yourself to be brimming with inspiration everyday of the week.
BEING A ONE MAN SHOW
Sometimes the best and worst thing about blogging is being a one man show. No blogger is entirely a one man show, as a photographer is an essential and they are obviously going to have a big part in your work life. My Mum also helps me with my accounts, and generally with whatever question I think up on a daily basis. Some bloggers will also have management, assistants, editors, even a full team!! Given the opportunity I would 100% hire an assistant at some point, but learning how to be someones boss rather than just my own isn't something I have got my head around yet.
Blogging is very well suited to being a one man show. Everything if of course about me on here, and someone else's input in that could be confusing. Over time I have learnt more and more what my readers want, trusting my instincts when needed and also how to prioritise things. Sometimes I do need to split myself in two when I have to be in London to meet someone while also need to be signing for a parcel I need for a project (parcels have become a ridiculously big factor of my life, I have planned entire weeks around deliveries before now!) But, things all get sorted, and feeling like you need to split yourself in two is something I am sure everyone feels in whatever job they are in.
WORKING FROM HOME
If you are thinking blogging is a dream job, you are right depending on one thing; how do you find working from home, and often on your own? This sort of goes hand in hand with my previous point, but you have to be prepared to spend most of your time on your own. And be self motivated enough to work from home when no one is going to drag you out of bed.
There are so many positives from working from home that you don't even realise until you do it. Zero commute it hands down the best bit, I am at my desk for 7:3o everyday, and can do that by getting up at 7:20 if needs be (with a wee and cuppa in between). Small things become really enjoyable, I love the fact I can drink out of my own mugs all day. That I can light candles, and have my slippers on at my desk. These are tiny things which all add up to make it a treat to get to work at home. I know lots of people would think that working in your PJS from bed would be the best bit, but I don't really think many people do that. Getting up and getting dressed is an important part of being your most productive, the only time I am working in bed is late at night!
The downside of working from home is that you might go insane. Literally. If I have a solid week at home with no meetings or trips in there, I am bouncing off the walls by Thursday. It's important to find a balance so you don't turn into a monster and take it out on people around you. The big thing to get used to is relaxing and working in the same space. It means your life and work bleed into one, and you have to be just as disciplined with making yourself not work as you do with actually getting stuff done. More than ever before in my life do I want to go out for one night on a weekend, because it completely tears me away from my work mindset , more than when I sit on the sofa seeing my laptop from the corner of my eye. Finding the balance and what will work for you is hard and takes trial and error, and I have a long way to go before I make working from home as rewarding as it could be!
I can't really write a blog post about what goes into being a blogger without going through the process of the creation of this content. This will vary from blogger to blogger, some bloggers will have photographers who also edit their photos, some will work closely with other bloggers on their content. There is no right or wrong way, so it's best to dabble in it all to work out what is the best option for you. For me, my blog content is split into two categories; film and digital.
I shoot one roll of 24 exposures a week for my 'Week On Film' posts. On Monday or Tuesday I get them developed (usually at Jessops), which takes an hour. Come hell or high water I try to find a way to get this done for Wednesday every week, even if I am travelling. I then use my iPad pro to doodle all over the images. I don't edit them at all; no changes in lighting, no filters, just writing and drawings on them. This is probably the most time consuming post I share, considering the time it takes during the week to get the images all done. I also work with a film photographer, Paul. Paul and I will discuss plans before hand, locations we have in mind. It will be input from both sides, and we often create Pinterest boards to share what we have in mind for the imagery. We then usually take a full day to shoot 3-4 looks, on god only knows how many rolls of film. Paul will then send them off the be developed and send them back to me. Again, they are unedited, so the process of creating those images always feels more time efficient.
The bulk of my content is still digital, where the process is very different. Mum and I shoot those images, and I will always choose the location. Admittedly sometimes I am not well prepared on this one, but it's something I am working on! We will spend a day shooting looks in various spots; sometimes I will have something specific in mind as my inspiration, but often it's more spontaneous than that. For each post on here I look through anywhere between 100-200 images that we have taken, pick my favourites then edit them all in photoshop. As I said editing photos is one of my favourite things on my to do list, and one post probably takes me 45 minutes to select and edit photos for.
Then comes the writing part! Often my least favourite bit! I can find myself so stuck on what to say. There is a definitely a theme with blogging at the moment to write big, personal posts alongside your outfit photos. I do love to read these posts, but they're not my favourites out here. Unless there is something I really want to share, I stick to talking about my outfit. Letting you all know why I chose to wear something, how I styled it, and where it's all from. The fashion blogs I first fell in love with all did this, and it always makes for some light reading!
If it's a sponsored post then you need to factor in the time spent on emails organising everything, the inevitable cat and mouse chase with the postman, and given deadlines and approval needed. But how that all works warrants a completely separate post at another time!
WELL that was a long one!! I hope you enjoyed and found it informative - thank you so much for the suggestion of this post too, it was actually really rewarding for me to create this one. For reference, these photos are shot on my Olympus XA film camera, took about 20 mins to shoot, 1 hour to develop, no editing, then 1hour 30 to write this post.