Monday, August 3, 2015

"how much do you make from blogging" and other questions

Blouse: Banana Republic [similar short sleeved version]
Pants: The Limited [exact]
Necklace: J.Crew Factory [similar for < $10!]
Purse: Tory Burch c/o Shopbop [exact]
Shoes: Tory Burch [exact]
Watch: c/o Daniel Wellington [exact]

How much do you really bring in via affiliate links every month?

I don't feel comfortable saying the exact amount, but lets just say that if I wasn't in school, I could make blogging be my full time job in the sense that it could pay the bills (but not much else). But, I am in school and I have loans because blogging income is not consistent, so the money I do make now has been used to pay off credit card debt (all gone now!), pay for Invisalign, and now is being saved up for a down payment for a house in two years. I always say that the money I make from blogging is a blessing and not a necessity, and I think that helps keep me in check a lot of the time when it comes to being too pushy with links.

I'm just starting out... and trying to work up the courage to take my outfit pics and post them online. What gave you the courage to start posting your own pics and do you have someone that takes your pictures or do you do it yourself?

I really worked up to it! My first pictures were just snaps from my computer. Then I eventually took more on my camera in my bathroom, then a few out in my back yard, and gradually worked up the courage to go more out in the public with the pictures. If I'm taking my own pictures (with a tripod and remote), I go to very secluded places where no one sees me, just because I would feel so silly explaining what I was doing. When CR takes my pictures, we do it more out in the open and just pretend we are tourists :) My advice is to work up to the place you want to be, and just eventually not care anymore. The few times in the past that people have asked me what I was doing, I used to claim it was for a photography class (yeah, right!) but now I just tell people it's for my blog if they ask. They usually just say "huh, cool!" and move on.

Please tell me you're not leaving blogland anytime soon! I just got here. Hoping that when your current schooling shifts to the next stage you'll still have time for us. :)

I don't plan on going anywhere! I love this space, the creative outlet it has been for me, and getting to know all of you over the years. I plan on sticking around for a while :)

I'd love to know how much time you invest in blogging (taking pictures, writing, setting up links, etc.) each week.

In total, each post probably takes me around 2 hours to write. Taking pictures is usually around 10 minutes, editing pictures is about 20 minutes, writing is probably 10-45 minutes depending on the length of the post, and setting up the whole post is probably another 20-45 minutes depending on how many links and collages are in it. These steps are usually broken up over many days though, just because I don't always have the time to do it all at once.


How do you deal with your online presence?

Very carefully. I talked a bit about this before, but I am very conscious about what I put on the internet because of my future career. I'm a very playful person, and pretty outspoken, but I try to reel that back a bit when it comes to my blog and my social media posts. I would love to be 100% "myself", but I think a certain amount of professionalism is warranted.

How you work on collaborations with brands?

I don't do a lot of collaborations with brands - I just don't think my blog is big enough to have a ton of companies approach me, which is fine. I love the brands I have worked with though! 

If I ever write a sponsored post, it almost always has been through ShopStyle, who approaches me a few times a year with an offer to write a post about a brand. That usually involves receiving a gift card from that store, plus I am paid for the post. These situations are obviously awesome because not only do I get to own something I love without paying for it, but I am also paid for my time to write the post. These don't happen often, maybe 5 times a year, but I'm very thankful for those opportunities.

The other times I work with brands, I usually receive an item for free. I always pick out which item I would like, because I only accept things I actually want and would be willing to pay money for. I am not paid to wear these items, but I always do because I just like them. There are certain items, like my Daniel Wellington watch, that I wear constantly, even two years later.

I know that c/o and paid posts are a pretty controversial topic when it comes to blogging. I have always tried my hardest to stay authentic to myself, my style, and this blog.

How do you find the time to blog while going to medical school?

You just make time - it's like any hobby. I have friends in school who go horse back riding several times a week, who love to get together with friends to play the guitar, or who are training for races. This is just my hobby, so I make time for it. Sometimes I have less time for it, like when I was studying for boards or during my general surgery rotation, and other months I have more time for it.

I also try to plan ahead a lot. I knew I was going to be in scrubs for my whole surgery rotation, so I took pictures every single day during my family medicine rotation so that I could stretch one month's pictures into two months of posts. Like I said above, I also usually work on posts a little bit at a time. I work on my Sunday post throughout the week, so that it doesn't take up a whole afternoon on Saturday (although I would be lying if I said I haven't spent more than one evening working on it late!).

Do you plan to continue blogging after finishing medical school?

As of now, yes! Who knows how I feel while I'm working 80+ hours as a resident though ;)

Through your blogging adventures, what's your favorite thing you've done/participated in and one thing you would do differently?

The best part of blogging so far has definitely been meeting some of my closest blog friends - I met up with Whitney really early in blogging, and we still follow each other now. Visiting Seattle and staying with Bri, and then meeting Katrina and Lindsey was amazing too.

A thing I would have done differently is I would have been a little bit more selective about paid posts earlier in blogging. I didn't do a lot of weirder paid posts, but I should have just said no to them.

Do you ever feel like you can't keep going w the blog--that it's just too much work? (my one suggestion is you start posting 7 days a week, but i know that would lead to burnout for sure!)

Not really? I always have a few ideas saved on my phone when I'm blanking on what to write about, so I don't really feel like I'm grasping for something to say. I also only post at most 4 times a week, so that gives me a bit of breathing room. I know I could never post 7 days a week - I would hate being tied to my computer every night after coming home from work. I think the schedule I have right now is working really well for me!

How do you stay grounded even when so many other bloggers are becoming more "commercial"?

I know the feeling of when one of your favorite blogs turns into this fake, only for the money, only wears c/o clothes, blog. I don't want anyone to feel that way about my blog, so I try really hard to write a blog I would want to read, and be a person I would want to relate to. Like I mentioned above, another huge part of that is that I don't blog full time. Going to medical school and eventually becoming a doctor is what my full time job is, so I don't need to hustle as much when it comes to making money off of my blog. That keeps me from being as commercial as blogs the same size, and smaller, than mine.

What inspired you to start your own blog? Is there one thing you would change about it?

During my first year of working after I graduated from college, I read a ton of blogs. It was right around the time Pinterest became super popular, and I always loved looking at pictures, so I just became hooked. After about a year, I just liked my outfit one day, and took a picture of it with my computer. It just kind of went from there!

I don't think I would change a lot about my blog, because if there was something, I would have changed it already! I'm always working on improving my "blogging" self in the sense that I want to take better pictures, edit them better, and make it all look more cohesive, but there isn't one thing or another I can think of that I would really want to change.

In your early days of blogging, how did you initially drive traffic to your blog?

I spent a lot of time reading and commenting on other blogs! I still follow many of those blogs I was reading three years ago, so it really was about building a relationship with other bloggers. I also did a lot of link ups.

How you took photos without someone's help?

I got really luck last year because my boyfriend was willing to take my pictures for me. It was great because it took a lot less time, it was less awkward to take pictures in more public places, and I felt it really helped improve my blog overall.

Now that we aren't doing the exact same thing every day, and our schedules change every month, CR only takes the pictures on the weekend. I am back to using a tripod and remote to take my pictures. The way I do it is that I set up my camera and focus on an area where I think my body fits into. Then I mark the bottom of that field with a leaf or something small that I can stand on, so I know where I am supposed to stand. Then I snap a picture, and check to make sure I'm completely in the picture. If not, I do this until I am, and if I'm right, I snap about 10 pictures at a time before checking to make sure everything is still right. Sometimes my camera focuses on the background or I moved, so I like to check just so I'm not wasting my time. It really sounds a lot more involved than it is - I probably take like 10 minutes total from the time I get out of my car to the time I get back in!

What are the pros and cons of having your boyfriend take your pictures?

Pros: it saves so much time, we take them in better locations, he lets me know if something is off (like if my hair looks weird or if my necklace is crooked), much better bloopers

Cons: I hate bothering him to do it, even though he is more than willing to do it.

How do you edit your outfit posts?

I'm still just using iPhoto to edit my pictures because it's the easiest route right now. I still really want to get into using Photoshop to edit them as I think I could definitely improve on my editing, but for now (and for the last three years), iPhoto is all I use. I always resize my pictures to the same size, and then I generally use these settings (before and after)

Before you blogged did you shop at the same stores or do you get a lot of "deals" or sponsorships from companies now. I am finding the cost of clothing (nice stuff) is making it difficult for me to work on improving my wardrobe.

I have generally shopped at the same mall stores I always have. I would say like 98% of the clothes in my closet are clothes I bought with my own money, and the other 2% I received through blogging are things I would have purchased anyway. I try very hard to be transparent about what I receive for free (c/o) from companies, and will always mark those items as c/o, no matter how often I wear them (even though that's not required, and something I know many bloggers don't do).

Do you have any advice for a new blogger? I feel like you found just the perfect middle ground between a "professional-fashion-blogger" type blog and an "Everyday-person-I'm-just-writing-about-my-life" type of blog. What was your process for getting your blog to that point? (I know that's probably a hard question to answer haha)

That is a bit of a tough question, but I tried to answer some of them in this post I wrote a few months ago!

Where do you see yourself going with blogging? Will it end as you get busier? Do you want it to become a bigger venture?

I have been doing pretty much the same thing on this blog for 3.5 years, so I don't really see it changing too much. Over the years I have included more review posts because people seem to really enjoy them, and I now do my top three posts on Sunday, which I love putting together, but at the heart of it, this has always been a style blog. I don't see myself getting a professional photographer or really getting into youtube, or anything like that. I don't know how long I'll do this because I just don't know what my life will be like when I graduate, maybe get married, maybe have kids. It will end some day, I just don't currently have any plans of stopping :)

How on earth do you find time to blog?!

In small increments ;) Like I said, this is a hobby, and it's a hobby I make time for.

I've wondered about starting my own blog but I try to keep a low online profile because of my job. Do you have any ideas about how (or if) your blogging would change once you start your professional career?

I'm currently looking into changing my blogging email address and social media handles so it's a bit harder to find me on the internet (since I have such a unique name), but I will never try to hide this space. From the beginning I've always tried to be very professional on here, so I don't see much changing once I'm a practicing physician.

What advice do you have for someone getting into Instagram? I've been thinking for awhile about using it--any tips would be appreciated.

I love Instagram, it's absolutely my social media of choice. Just like with blogging, you just have to start! My instagram has definitely evolved over the years (as I can see daily on the Time Machine app!), and I now know what I'm looking for when I upload pictures. I have a consistent style of editing, and I try to use at least 3-5 hashtags in each pictures. In the end, it really all is just for fun, so don't take it too seriously :)

How do you edit your instagram pictures?

I wrote a post about this last September, and not much has changed since then. On VSCOcam I use HB1 as my filter most of the time, then I adjust the settings in Snapseed, and then may add a bit of light flare in Afterlight.

How do you handle creepy or rude comments? Do you just ignore them?

I haven't really received a ton of rude comments over the years, and the few constructive criticisms I've received I've definitely taken to heart and changed if I felt it was appropriate. Having a thread on GOMI has also made me aware of certain things that annoyed people that I didn't even realize I was doing, so while it stings at first to see someone call you boring or annoying, you learn from it and move on.

I'd like to know more about the blogs YOU read!

All my absolute favorites are on this page - I've been reading these blogs for years and years and just love them. I love that in my top three posts every week I can send them a bit of blog love too just because I think they all deserve even more attention

Why are there so few "one year ago today" posts? That's also a kind of post I really like! ;)

I'm just really bad at planning! I will try to incorporate a few more now that you've asked :D

Anything I haven't answered? Let me know in the comments :) You can find previous "ask me anything" posts here!