Thursday, October 25, 2012

Behind the Blog: Along the Lines of Style

I've been blogging for about 6 months now, and have been reading blogs for over a year. Many personal style/fashion bloggers talk about their clothes, their closets and their shopping, but no one really talks about the actual blogging. Behind the Blog will be about bloggers discussing their motivations, experiences (good and bad),  and advice about blogging. I wanted one of my personal favorites, Whitney from Along the Lines of Style, to be the first featured. Whitney is a teacher and coach who is prepping for her first half marathon. She blogs about her style in and out of the classroom, as well as featuring Women Who Work (see my feature here!)
Tell us what motivate you to start blogging. Were you following a lot of personal style/fashion blogs before hand, or did you go in blind?

Before I began my blog, I followed blogs like Academichic, What Would a Nerd Wear, and of course, Kendi Everyday. When the first two closed their blogs, I started my own to fill the void in my own life and keep the community alive. Okay, that last part is totally aspirational, but I definitely wanted to reach out to the readers who loved those blogs and form relationships with women with similar sartorial challenges as myself. I started my blog primarily for myself; I hoped that my blog would force me to dress better and use my wardrobe more efficiently. I didn’t know what to expect and I’m still surprised that anyone (other than my husband and best friend) reads my blog. Here’s my very first post where I outline why I started my blog!

Which blogs do you read every day? 

I read so many blogs! I read Franishh everyday, of course, but I tend to go out of my way to read professional style blogs. Mix and Match Fashion, Putting Me Together, and Literately Stylish are three of my absolute favorites. 

You take your outfit pictures in several locations, including your classroom. Who takes your pictures? Have you ever been "caught in the act" of taking these pictures?

I’m one of those lame people who set a timer, hit the button, and scurry to pose before the flash goes off. I take anywhere between one picture to ten, depending on how much time I have—and the likelihood of getting caught!
I have been caught in the act by another teacher rather recently! It was a little awkward, but she knew about my blog already, so she laughed it off. We’re pretty good friends anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’m really anxious about the day that my boss catches me or a student walks in before they’re allowed in the building.

What programs do you use to edit and upload your pictures? Have you always used these methods?

I use Picasa by Google to crop and place a border around my pictures. Occasionally, I’ll use it to change the lighting, but I never edit anything else. So, every lump, wrinkle, and misplaced hair is the real deal. When I first started, I used a smaller program to crop them, but I’ve always used Picasa to organize and store my pictures. (I highly recommend it!)

Do people in real life know about your blog? What were their reactions when they found out about your blog?

I think to a lot of people, taking pictures of yourself and posting them online with analysis of your clothes can come across as a little vapid and vain. I’m very picky about who I let into my trust circle as far as my blog goes. A few teachers I work with know about it, along with my husband, closest friends, and a few family members. I tend to keep it under wraps because even after over a year of blogging, I don’t want to explain my hobby to someone who isn’t aware of what style blogs are or what they do.
When I do tell someone, the reactions have varied from “what exactly is a personal style blog?” to “whoa, that’s so cool!” However, because I’ve only told people that I trust (and hopefully like me enough not to judge me), the former question tends to end in the latter. (which is awesome!)

Do you ever find yourself dressing for the blog, or do you think that because you will be photographing your outfit, you make more of an effort in real life which translates to dressing for the blog?

If anything, having a blog motivates me to be on my game at all times. I don’t think I solely get dressed for the blog, which I think is pretty obvious by the fact that I don’t iron my clothes (or my hair) as much as I should. I spend more time putting together and preparing outfits together, but nothing has changed on the hair or ironing front. I think that having a blog has helped me dress better and find more uses for my clothes, but impressing people isn’t the main driving factor behind getting dressed.

Many fashion bloggers hop from one trend to the next. How do you try to stay on trend while working within your budget and closet?

Honestly, I don’t think I would describe my style as “trendy.” I tend to buy and wear what I like, regardless of what’s “in style” or “on trend.” Regardless of how much I pay for an item, I always make sure that I can wear it multiple ways for a long time.
I incorporate a few key trends every now and then, but only if I got a good deal on it. Target is my obvious go-to for anything and everything, but Target has amazing clearance prices on trendy items – all I have to do is wait it out!

Putting yourself on the internet comes with the expectation that not everyone will always love what you are wearing and writing. How do you deal with these criticisms?

Oh man. I’ve been really lucky as far as this goes. I can count on one hand the number of snarky or mean comments that I’ve gotten – but they haven’t even necessarily been outright offensive, and possibly fueled by “good intentions” on the part of the commenter to leave me “constructive criticism.”

However, earlier this year I participated in a “bloggers wear stripes” challenge on a company’s Facebook page. The comments really got me down – one woman even called me out for “looking fat”! I immediately sought advice and validation in the people around me. I’m so lucky to have such supportive (and honest!) friends and co-workers. I mean, I knew I had to have a tough skin, but that was the first time I experienced some woman-on-woman hate…and I didn’t like it.

Negative comments would have really bothered me several years ago to a point of anxiety and loss of sleep, but I’m at a point in my life now where I know myself. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses. I know that my thighs don’t separate at the top, but I also know that my thighs have helped me run hundreds of miles. Self confidence and self-awareness is really key. Honestly, I never thought I’d be able to shrug off body criticism, but I truly feel better for it.

What has been the best thing to come out of blogging? 

There are so many things that come with blogging that I value. Obviously, I LOVE the relationships and communication I have with other women. I really enjoy having an outlet and a hobby that allows me a brief escape.

I think, overall, I have discovered a lot about myself. I know this sounds so cliché and contrived, but I really think that I’ve gained a lot of confidence through blogging and I know myself, my tastes, and my preferences so much better. I’m always trying to become my “best self,” and dressing well is just one aspect of showing yourself and others that you take yourself seriously and take care of yourself.

What tips or suggestions do you have for your fellow bloggers?

Biggest Do: Work to build relationships and network – blogging is so much more fun if you find a blogging friend (or more!). Join in on Everybody Everywear and participate in other blogger’s link-ups! When I first started my blog, I spent a lot of time commenting on other blogs, meeting other bloggers, and I joined FBFF. Seriously – don’t blog alone! Blogging is such a better experience when you get to know other bloggers and consider them your friends.

Biggest Don’t: Don’t force your blog on yourself or others – don’t make it a job! Honestly, if your main goal for your blog is to have a huge readership and get a lot of sponsors, I don’t think you’ll get very much out of your blog, personally or monetarily. So, I guess this is actually a “do” -- Be yourself and keep it fun.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Behind the Blog. Next week Kimmie from Blue Paper Lanterns will be featured - I'm so excited to hear her answers!