Thursday, January 24, 2013

behind the blog: bedknobs & baubles

This week on Behind the Blog we have a local Madison girl with an out of this world taste in jewelry. Jessica blogs at Bedknobs and Baubles about her love of the perfect cocktail ring, classic closet pieces, and vintage jewelry.

Tell us what motivate you to start blogging. Were you following a lot of personal style/fashion blogs before you started blogging?

It actually started with LiveJournal years ago. Before Facebook’s infiltration - and probably before the word “blogging” even became part of our vernacular - my cousin convinced me to start an online journal as a way to keep in touch. There was a lot of emo clutter on LiveJournal, but there were also fashion communities (Keiko was a member). It was fascinating to see what was inside the closets of like-minded girls and discover new ways to style everyday clothes. I was hooked.

I didn’t have fashion-loving friends at the time, so I started a Blogger account and began writing a very style-focused blog for nearly three years.  As the years passed and my interests evolved, the blog didn’t give me the flexibility to write about what really inspired me. (Traffic plummeted when I posted recipes or vacation photos.) Soon after, I was disenchanted. The thing that was supposed to be a creative outlet was a chore.

In November 2011, my boyfriend Dave introduced me to Tumblr and suggested that I just needed a fresh start. Bedknobs & Baubles (a playful nod to Disney’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks) gives me the opportunity to write about fashion and the flexibility to write about whatever tickles my fancy. (Heck, Klout even tells me that I’m influential in beer. Need a recommendation?)

Which blogs do you read every day? 

I may not be able to comment on everything, but I am reading!  There are hundreds of blogs in my Google Reader – more than I could scroll through every day – but synching it to Flipboard on the iPad was a huge time saver.

A couple of recommendations:
·      Laura Bear - Laura is a photographer and graphic designer, which transform her blog into a charming escape
·      This Free Bird - Carrie keeps it hilariously real

When you do take outfit pictures, who takes your pictures? Have you ever been caught in the act of taking these?

Dave is my in-house photographer for outfit pictures. He's unbelievably patient when I review the images and notice my dress is askew or a piece of hair curled under my chin and looks suspiciously like a goatee.

I'm pretty skittish about taking outfit photos in public, unless we're downtown. Then I just act like a tourist ... a tourist who really likes to take photos of her purse artfully perched on a bench.

What programs do you use to edit your pictures?

I shoot with a Nikon D3100 with a 35mm prime lens. I do minimal editing in Photoshop to adjust light fill, saturation, and lens curvature, but I try not to tinker with it too much. I'd rather retake photos than post a heavily edited picture.

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

There’s a stigma involved with fashion blogging that makes it feel inferior to other hobbies. I’ve tried to keep Bedknobs & Baubles secret, but it’s impossible when social media becomes more tightly integrated. The response has been positive, but I do get a little embarrassed by it.

My favorite reaction was from my dad: “What’s a blog? You make money on that thing? How do I make money? I want a blog.” Alright, Dad, let’s put that Google account to good use.

The small amount of money I’ve earned wasn’t enough to convince Dad to actually start a blog.

A major part of your blog is about finding those special pieces of jewelry - what draws you to these pieces, and what is your  #1 favorite piece of jewelry?

This must be how a mother feels when asked who her favorite child is! I honestly can't single out a favorite gem. One of my favorites is a Diane von Furstenberg bangle bracelet Dave surprised me with for no particular reason. He sent me on a scavenger hunt through the apartment (starting with the mailbox) to find it nestled in the dryer. Another beloved piece is a pair of opal earrings from my parents. (The opals were originally part of a ring that belonged to my grandmother.)

I don’t think you need to spend a lot on a great piece of jewelry, but you do need to spend time sifting through the cheap thrills to find a treasure (or, better yet, head to an antique store for a real beauty). The best thing you can do to judge the quality of costume pieces is to touch it. Are all of the rhinestones secure and intact? That’s a good start. Is it surprisingly light? The rhinestones are probably plastic. Pass on it, unless it’s truly a showstopper.  

When I’m ready to spend some serious money on a piece, it needs to be iconic, made of real stones, something I’ve been daydreaming about for months and an item I can’t just find anywhere. I’ll know it when I see it.

Putting yourself on the Internet comes with the expectation that not everyone will always love what you are wearing and writing. Have you encountered any of these criticisms, and if so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t run into this yet. I’d be hurt, but ultimately let it roll off my back. You can’t please everyone.

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

There’s an amazing amount of self-awareness that comes with blogging. I’ve become more aware of what I purchase. I understand what motivated a shopping excursion. I’m conscious of what is flattering on me. I’m better at identifying the missing links in my wardrobe (although I’m still prone to an impulse purchase).

I’m most grateful for the sense of community and the friends I’ve made along the way. I’m amazed at how much blog friendships mean to me, even if we haven’t met yet! (I was lucky enough to meet Lisa, one of my first blog friends, when I went to D.C. in November.)

When it comes to promotion of your blog, what methods do you use? Do you spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs, pinning your looks, doing link ups?

Here’s the rundown:  
·      Twitter: Post a link to the new post at least once during the day.
·      Pinterest: Pin at least one photo from the post.
·      Facebook: announce the new post on my wall.
·      If it’s an outfit post, I’ll post to Chictopia (but I’ve never generated traffic here) and add a photo to Instagram.

I joined the Lucky Community in hopes that it would drive traffic. I get the impression that the other bloggers featured are doing it for self-promotion rather than discovering new blogs. It hasn’t impacted my traffic.

I wish I had more time in the day to comment on blogs. It really is the best way to create a community of readers.

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

You’ll be disappointed if you’re doing it for the money.

It’s easy to be jealous of other bloggers. Someone will always have the newest Celine bag or Tibi skirt. Blogging is not worth going into debt over. Stay within your budget and appreciate what you already own.

Get rid of the CAPTCHA comment verification. Pretty please?

Above all else, write about what you love and what inspires you. Don’t ever let blogging feel like an obligation. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

Thank you for the great pieces of advice Jessica, and all of your insights into blogging! Please make sure you go be inspired by Bedknobs and Baubles, and then come back next week to read about Maria from Dainty and Decadent!