Thursday, April 18, 2013

behind the blog: franish

This coming Monday will mark the one year anniversary of me starting my blog so I figured it would be fitting for today's Behind the Blog to be So here I am...interviewing myself.
Tell us what motivated you to start blogging. Were you following a lot of personal style/fashion blogs before you started blogging?
I started reading fashion blogs over Thanksgiving break of 2010. I had stumbled upon (literally) a post by Keiko Lynn, and it just went from there. I couldn't believe that "real people" took pictures of themselves and posted them on the internet for us to look at! I started following a lot of the bigger bloggers, and then with the emergence of Pinterest my list grew and grew. I started my blog on a whim. I liked my outfit one day so I took a picture of it with my macbook in my bathroom. From there it just kind of...developed. I started taking torso shots in the bathroom (secretely - I turned up the volume of the music playing so Chris wouldn't hear the shutter snap), and then started taking them in my backyard before work (at this point I had told Chris about this little venture), and now outside on creepy back roads. It definitely happened in baby steps!

Which blogs do you read every day? 

I read so many blogs. Whenever I feel any kind of connection with a blog I add it to my list, which is also why I don't regularly read any of the "bigger" blogs. The ladies on my "blog love" page are the blogs where I read every single post they put up, but I have about 200 that I follow and read semi regularly. 
Who takes your pictures? What camera and lens do you use? Have you ever been caught in the act of taking these?

I take my own pictures using a tripod (this one) and a remote (this one). I purchased a DSLR, a Sony a390, back in 2010 and recently upgraded the lens to a 55mm. I almost always take my pictures before work, on the side of a back road. It's a side road that runs with a bigger road, so cars are always driving by. I wonder sometimes if someone from work ever drives by and sees me standing in the road - turns out they do. One of the higher ups that I'm close with asked me the other day "what I'm doing out there every morning". Thankfully he thought it was really cool, but it was still kind of embarrassing! In the colder months I've had several people stop to ask if my car broke down and I need help. Nope, just standing here in the freezing weather taking selfies on the side of the road! :/

Walk us through the set up of writing a blog post.

I take my pictures in the morning right before work. Then I go to my job all day. Then when I get home I upload the pictures, figure out which ~5 to use (which takes some time, figuring out which one my face looks least fat in or where I don't have crazy fingers), adjust the coloring, and then upload to Flickr. Then I start to figure out what I should even say, and put the pictures into the post. Then I look for the links to the same/similar items. Finally I label it with the items I'm wearing (kind of OCD but also really helpful) and schedule the post. All in all, it probably takes me like 1.5 hours for everything but I'm also usually chatting with Kimmie online or playing around with my dogs.
Do people in real life know about your blog? What were their reactions when they found out about your blog?

Most people know about it now just because my twitter and instagram are my "personal" twitter/instagram, so people from my real life know about it, but I don't think many really read it except my close friends. Everyone's just kind of "oh, cool!...moving on" about it which is how I prefer it. The act of taking selfies and sharing them on the internet can be seen/is incredibly vain so I don't go around announcing it to people but it's not something I'm ashamed of either. I love this silly little hobby!
Many fashion bloggers hop from one trend to the next. How do you manage to stay on trend without breaking the bank and just blindly following each trend?

I don't think I'm a huge trend follower (or am I and I don't know it?!), and never really have been, so it isn't too difficult for me to stay away from trends. It takes me a really long time to warm up to certain trends, so by the time that does happen, they may already be over and then I don't feel the need to participate! Things like wedge sneakers and neon just aren't something I would feel comfortable in, so I just don't. I hate to say "I dress for me" because LOL, but what I wear on the blog is what I really wear in my real life. Blogging has helped me polish my look, but it hasn't changed it. If there is something I want to try out I hit up Target / Old Navy / DSW and try to find a cheap alternative because...I'm cheap. Overall, I try to make sure whatever I buy is practical and something I'll feel comfortable in wearing more than just once for a blog post. That isn't the point of my blog.

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 think the internet has become so intertwined with our daily lives that we come to expect to be treated on there as we are in real life. Not everyone is going to like you on the internet, just like in real life. I think the best you can do is try not to be too abrassive or annoying, and then whatever happens happens. Putting yourself out there can be intimidating but I think the positives greatly outweigh any negatives.

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

After I graduated from college, all of my friends moved away. I stayed in Madison because Chris was still in school, but I felt very lost and alone. I went to my job that I didn't love every day, and then went home and sat around watching TV. I was just bored and...alone. Starting to blog has brought all of these amazing women into my life. I talk to them more than I really talk to almost anyone, which..sounds so strange to type out, but it's true! Blogging has given me something to do, someone to connect with, and something to look forward to every day. I really don't want to gush, but I think you guys are all wonderful and really do bring me so much joy :)

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?

I do a lot of the typical things - promoting once on twitter and on facebook. I also pin one picture onto a "Blogged" board on Pinterest. I do a few link-ups a week which brings in a bit of traffic, and I spend time visiting others who also link-up. All pretty typical "promotions" I think. I don't want to be too pushy about my blog post, and I want people to see me for more than just someone who pushes their posts onto them on social media so I make sure to use those means to do other things like promoting other blogs and just being able to connect with others.

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

Tips! I've been thinking about what I was going to type here for months now and so now I'm scared I'm going to forget the things I wanted to say. I'll just run through the process:

- Pictures: I am the last person you would want photography tips from. My camara is set on non-flash auto at all times. I'm so ashamed (but not really). My tips for pictures is don't do direct sunlight - take pictures during the "magic hour" and you'll pretty much be set. Unfortunately for me this isn't working as well anymore now that the sun is up early in the morning so I have to revise my way of taking pictures. Show your outfit, don't be a weirdo (unless you are a weirdo. then embrace that)

- Uploading: if you use Blogger, don't upload your pictures directly into blogger. They are compressed and get weirdly blurry/not the same color. I use flickr to upload all of my pictures and then copy them into the HTML. If you are looking for more info about this, I learned this from Catherine - she sets it up nicely here

- Affiliate Linking: If you want to use affiliate linking, great! It's a wonderful way to bring in a bit of an income for things you are already recommending anyway. I think the biggest thing about affiliate linking is being open about. Make sure you have a disclosure section somewhere on your blog. The worst thing your readers can feel is cheated by you, and by not being open about the fact that their clicks put money in your pockets, they'll feel you are somehow cheating them. My second recommendation is figuring out which of the affiliates to use. Think about what kind of blogger you are, what you are recommending, and who your readers are. I'm a pretty "budget" blogger and I feel you ladies probably are too. We're window shoppers, so we like to click around and see what's out there, so for me, shopstyle makes the most sense. Although you can't figure out what is being clicked like you can on rewardstyle, you can make them a and then you can track your clicks that way. Don't get greedy with clicks (it can be hard I know) and remember that your readers trust you so don't abuse that.

- DON'T BE A SPAMMER. If you visit other people's blogs, make an effort to get to know them and see what they have to say. Don't just write "cute outfit! check out my blog, facebook, twitter, instagram, bloglovin, RSS feed HERE!" and move on. I'm always tempted to delete those comments. Follow the bloggers you like on social media and interact with them! For me, Instagram is my favorite because you can type more and everyone can join in on the conversation. You can get to know people so much better this way.

- Don't feel you need to do what is popular or what everyone else does. There are a lot of "blogging trends" out there that you don't need to participate in if you don't want to. For example, doing instagram recaps or participating in very large group giveaways is pretty common now, but I feel that isn't that right fit for my blog so I don't do them. Find out what is right for you and don't feel you need to do everything everyone else does.

- Have fun! 

Thank you to everyone who has made my first year of blogging wonderful - thank you for the kind words, giggles, and love you've shown. My heart is full when I think about how many amazing ladies (and a few gentlemen!) I've met.