Thursday, May 23, 2013

behind the blog: aj wears clothes

I am so excited for today's Behind the Blog. AJ blogs at the aptly titled AJ Wears Clothes. Yes, she's adorable, has really cute fun clothes, and looks gorgeous with both long and short hair (brat), but she's like...really funny. If you aren't following her on twitter, you need to. She tells it how it is, and if you are a blogger, you'll find yourself nodding and giggling at the same time about everything she tweets. AJ has also recently started a new Friday link up called Friday Favorites - basically you just show how you've re-worn something that you've worn recently which I think is awesome because it really shows you how versatile clothes can be. And now, the questions!
Tell us what motivate you to start blogging. Were you following a lot of personal style/fashion blogs before you started blogging?

This is actually the 3rd or 4th style blog I started - I started following a ton of the big bloggers back in 2007 and wanted to document my own style, but nothing ever STUCK. It's probably a good thing, considering some of the outfits that did make those first few blog drafts several years ago. I think AJ Wears Clothes finally stuck because I had invested in a nice camera earlier that year and because I forced myself to actually start something after buying a domain (for a dollar).

Which blogs do you read every day? 

I'm an RSS junkie so I follow 100+ there. Mostly I just like pretty pictures, but there are a few that are a "Must Read" for me because I actually read them. Usually because they're snarky, funny, or just interesting. A few blogs I actually READ include Sarah's Real Life (her sarcasm is fresh!), Sabrina Says (she's just so darn cute), and Pretty Ugly (and I laugh until I cry). I also love bloggers who sew, so Mimi G and Erica B are fab girls to follow if you like that sort of thing. 

And Franish because I think she might be reading this.

Who takes your pictures? What camera and lens do you use? Have you ever been caught in the act of taking these?

My husband takes my pictures about 60% of the time - the other times I'm rocking a tripod and remote. I have a Nikon D3100 with a 1.8/f 35mm prime (which I love) but plan on upgrading to the D5000 series in the next few months because of the auxiliary mic capabilities and twisty screen (because I like looking at myself). I've TOTALLY been caught in the act before. I was taking photos downtown and this woman was like…"What are you doing?" and I had to laugh and pretend like I heard my phone ringing while I ran down the street crying. (Actually, I just said…"Uh I have a blog" and awkwardly slunk away) It's less awkward when someone takes my pictures for me, because I just look like a weird tourist.

Run us through how you put a blog post together.

After I've decided I look acceptable for the day, I take about 20 pictures or so and sit down and have a look at them, opening the ones I like in PS. I shoot raw, so I can manipulate the exposure and clarity a little, then crop them to my liking and add a curve layer so it pops a little. I narrow it all down to about 5-7 photos, at least two full body, one "header" image, and a few detail shots depending on how interesting I think my outfit is (you can always tell when I'm bored with an outfit bc you only get two pictures). I basically throw them all in a blogger post and then write around them in a style I can only call "stream of consciousness". After I go through and edit and preview, I usually schedule the post for the next morning. You can tell if I've been drinking by the amount of exclamation points I use. Hurrah!!!!!!!

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

My friend Sandra and I started blogs around the same time together, so unfortunately for our friends, they not only know, it's almost all they hear about. My mom is responsible for a majority of my page views. She says people who know me in real life constantly ask her "how I get to do things like this". So, I'd say people's reactions are, "Is this your job?". People who don't know me are like, "what's a blog?"

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 LOVE trends. They're fun. I like experimenting with my fashion - but I also know I get bored with things very, very easily so if I'm going to buy into a trend, I'm going to do it on the cheap. That's why they invented Forever 21. I have no problem with fast fashion. I think it's important to find some key, classic pieces though to go around the trends and fill in the gaps when ostrich feather skirts are SO OUT but you haven't found the perfect floral headdress yet.

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 will always be the first to admit when something isn't working for me. Sometimes, I post it anyway and talk about why I thought the outfit was a disaster, because I think it's helpful to learn from mistakes - I also think it's cool when bloggers are real and don't feign perfection all of the time. It's fine if people don't like a certain outfit or my face, because I hate mustard and french toast. Not everything is for everyone. If I feel the need to respond to something, I usually type out a long tweet and delete it instead of posting it…it's therapeutic and no one gets hurt.

When it comes to promotion of your blog, what methods do you use? 

I'm pretty lazy, I usually post a (ONE) link on facebook and twitter, and upload it to Pose. If I'm doing a sponsored post or giveaway, I'll often shell out the extra $5 to FB to promote it. I tag brands or post to their FB page for some extra traffic. I'll pin the stuff too if I'm feeling good about it. I'd said earlier this year that this was the year I started promoting and advertising, but so far I just can't be bothered. I like the idea of people finding it organically, whatever that means. #lazybloggerprobs

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

1. Buy a domain if you can't get serious about blogging. It'll help it stick better.

2. Never lose sight of the community aspect. It's the best part.

3. Don't be afraid to photoshop toenail polish onto a sad pedicure (or learn how…it's worth it)

4. Figure out what you care about, and work on that. For me, I am always trying to make my photography better, so upgrading to a prime lens was huge for me. I'm constantly reading tips and tutorials on photo editing and shooting.

5. Never take yourself too seriously. I love my blogging personality because it's my REAL personality. If I were trying too hard to be serious and fashion-y, it would come off as inauthentic. But since I embraced the whole, "Hey! I'm a dork who loves clothes and here's a picture of me making a fart face" persona, everyone embraced it with me. Personality is awesome. If you have one. If not, maybe consider baking instead of blogging.

6. When you pick a name, google it first to make sure no one else has it or it's not some weird stripper name. And maybe it's time to move on from the "Something & Something" model.

7. Don't be afraid to ask for help! I love doing what I can to help other bloggers with layouts, photos, whatever. 

8. I also think it's really nice when bloggers embrace what makes them different.

9. Don't make a video of yourself dancing around in a bustier and put it on YouTube. The creepy men WILL FIND YOU (I learned this the hard way).

10. Take a lot of photos. You'll have a better chance of getting a good one. And you'll get WAY better outtakes.

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

I said it up there - but seriously, it's community. I continually meet the coolest people that I wish I were friends with in real life! It's something we should all celebrate.

And I also really like it when brands send me free things. It's great, you know you all love it too, so just give in. Free stuff is awesome. Except this one time when I got these neon blue leggings and matching dress. That was not cute.

Best Behind the Blog of all time? Possibly. Make sure you go give AJ a high five and a slap on the ass for me.