J.Crew Pleat Front Skirt | The Style Scribe

Welcome to the last post in my blogging miniseries! Here I’ll be answering all of the questions I’ve received over the last few weeks that weren’t covered in my past three posts. If you still have questions, let me know and I’ll update this page with more answers! Click here to check out the other posts in this series – enjoy!

Question: Where do you see the blogging world going? Has it hit a plateau?

Answer: As long as there are readers who enjoy following along and brands excited to partner with bloggers to promote their products, I only see blogging going up from here. As more and more people (brands included) become more familiar with e-commerce, online marketing and the power of the digital influencer, the more money they will put into it. For example, back when I started my blog, my mom NEVER shopped online. There wasn’t trust established in the online marketplace yet. But as more and more companies she loved (Neiman Marcus, for example) launched e-commerce, she became more comfortable with taking some of her shopping online. Now she does about half of her shopping online – and there is a whole generation (my mom aside) that is still learning and joining in on the fun.

Question: Has the blogging market gotten too saturated? Is there a way to still distinguish yourself among the thousands of other bloggers out there?

Answer: In my opinion, yes, it has gotten very oversaturated. Because there is no barrier to entry, anyone (literally) can create and write a blog. Just because the market is saturated, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start one. If you feel you have a unique perspective or something new to offer, go for it! As far as distinguishing yourself, I think it all comes down to you – do some research and see if there are any holes in the market that aren’t being tapped, whether that’s doing a specific type of content, using a different medium, etc. What makes your angle more interesting than what’s already out there?

Question: What software do you use to create your collages?

Answer: I use Adobe Photoshop.

Question: I bought a professional camera but always seem to be experimenting with different angles, different parts of my house for the best lighting, etc. Do you have a “rule of thumb” for taking photos?

Answer: For the best lighting, I recommend heading outside. If you must shoot inside (for a beauty post, interior shot, etc) shoot in an area of your house that has a ton of natural light. Interior lighting has a yellow tone to it, which in my opinion, ruins photos. You can certainly edit that out in Lightroom by adjusting the Temp slider for a cooler hue, but the more natural light you can use, the better! I shoot in Manual mode on my camera, and adjust the Shutter Speed, Aperture and White Balance as needed depending on where and when I’m shooting to get the right lighting.

As far as angles and getting the right shot, I think it just takes some time and experimentation! My photos were TERRIBLE when I first started my blog, and I wished I had taken the time to try out different settings, layouts, etc earlier on. These days when I’m shooting (beauty products, for example), I always shoot from a multitude of different angles, move the products around and shoot them again. It’s all about trial and error!

Question: How did you determine your price range niche for your blog? I’m sure as your blog has evolved over the past five years you have adjusted on clothes you wear and the price of the items?

Answer: That may be the case for other bloggers (starting at a lower budget, and incorporating more designer items the more money they make), but I’ve always had a luxury niche since day one! I grew up around designer labels – I used to try on all my grandmother’s shoes in fifth grade (the only time they fit me – I now outsize her by FOUR sizes!), and she had the best collection of Ferragamo and Chanel flats. My mom has always been a fan of contemporary and luxury designers as well, so you can say it’s in the family ;) Instead of buying a ton of cheap, trendy clothes, I’ve always been someone who invests in quality, classic pieces. There are certainly plenty of examples of me wearing budget-friendly pieces, but I would say the majority of my wardrobe was not purchased because it was “budget friendly”.

Question: How did you come up with your blog/brand name? Any tips or suggestions for picking the right one?

Answer: This one totally fell in my lap. After decided to rebrand my site (formerly known as Manolos & Martinis – gasp!), I spent weeks writing down every name I could think of, but none of them sounded right. One morning (six weeks into my search), I was reading an article that used the word “scribe” in it, which means “writer” in ancient terms. I put it together with “style” and thought it sounded pretty good! I did a domain name search and found The Style Scribe to be open, so I grabbed it!

Pick a name that reflects your brand – for me, I feel like The Style Scribe sounds a little sophisticated (sorta?)… at least compared to Manolos & Martinis. Since I have more of a luxury niche, I felt it made sense. Some people incorporate some part of their real name into their blog name, which I always like – I just couldn’t do anything with mine! Make sure your name reflects the image you want to portray – there are so many tacky, cheesy names out there!

Question: How do you make the background blurry in photos and just have the camera focus on you?

Answer: I wish there was someone who answered this question for ME when I started doing outfit posts five years ago!! There are three things to consider when achieving the right bokeh (background blur): your lens, your aperture setting, and the distance between your background and your subject. If you are shooting portrait photography (i.e. outfit photos, headshots, etc), I recommend picking up a fixed-width lens like a 50mm 1.4 or an 85mm 1.4 (those are the Nikon ones I have!). These are perfect for portraiture and have great bokeh possibilities.

I shoot on Manual as I mentioned above, but you can also choose the Aperture setting on your DSLR – with this particular setting, you can select an Aperture (2.8 or 3.0, for example), and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed and ISO for you. This is a great option if you are just getting started! Once you are more familiar with the various settings on your camera, I recommend using Manual to get the perfect lighting in every situation.

As far as what to put your Aperture on, the lower the number, the more blurry your background will be. For full-length body shots for outfit posts, I usually hang around 2.8, 3.0 or 3.2. Just for reference, if you have a 50mm 1.4 lens, the lowest number your Aperture can go to is 1.4.

Question: What are the biggest frustrations you have with maintaining a blog?

Answer: I would be lying if I said the comparison game didn’t get to me! I’ve worked my ass off for five and a half years on my blog, and yet new bloggers pop up out of nowhere and become Instagram famous within months of launching. If you’re a competitive, Type-A personality like me, it would bother you too! With that said, I have the best readers out there and wouldn’t trade that for anything!

Question: What are some of the worst and best experiences you’ve had as a blogger?

Answer: The best experiences are definitely tied to the fact that I can work from anywhere. My adventures abroad last fall would not have been possible had I not been able to work while I was over there and continue to earn an income. I’ve also made some amazing friends through blogging, both with people working at brands and other style bloggers. I’ve had a few negative experiences tied to offering advice to people wanting to start a blog, who then totally rip me off. I’m all about sharing advice (I’m doing it here, aren’t I?), but don’t come to me saying you’re going to start a fitness and beauty blog, and then only do outfit posts. Just be honest in the first place! The blogging world can be very clique-y too, so that’s a negative – there are some very rude people in this industry, like in every other one!

Question: How old is too old to be a blogger?

Answer: Never! As long as you’re computer and social media savvy, you can do it! There aren’t nearly enough bloggers tapping into the more mature market!

Question: How do you determine what to charge brands for sponsorships?

Answer: Having rewardStyle data on my performance has helped me secure a higher rate, simply because there’s proof that I can convert well. If you are already on an affiliate network, look at your numbers and calculate how much money you are sending to your top retailers on an average post. If you are on rS, depending on the retailer, you are earning 7-20% on each sale. If you are sending Nordstrom $500 each time you post, I would recommend charging around $500. The better you perform, the more you can charge.

Question: How did you structure your internship?

Answer: Before I decided to hire someone, I made a comprehensive list of the things I wanted to start doing, improving on or growing, and what I needed an extra set of hands for. I created multiple onboarding documents to go over with her when she started, including my top-line goals for the year, a list of things for her to do on a regular basis, etc. It’s pretty relaxed – when there are very specific things I need her help with (like doing research on a new city we are visiting soon), I’ll send her a prioritized list that day/week. My intern is in college, but she isn’t doing this for college credit (I’m paying her), so I didn’t need to work anything out with the school.

Question: How do you schedule your Instagram posts? Do you use an app?

Answer: The only time I really schedule things for Instagram is when there’s a sponsored post I need to do an Instagram for. I don’t have an app to plan it out, but I do have an editorial calendar for my blog which allows me to see far in advance when I’ll need to do something specific on my social channels. I usually post early in the morning around 7:30am CST, around lunchtime and then again at night. Those are the times that perform best for me, but it will be different for everyone! To get some insight into your Instagram analytics, check out Iconosquare.

Question: Do you mentor or help people with creating blogs?

Answer: When I had more time on my hands, I definitely offered advice to people who asked, however because of some negative experiences I had with it, I stopped doing it. I also just don’t have the time anymore!

Question: Do you use WordPress for your site or do you have a site designed exclusively for The Style Scribe?

Answer: I’m on WordPress! It’s got great built-in SEO and is super easy to use. I would not recommend creating a custom site unless you are very familiar with editing the backend of things on your own. You will likely want the design of your site to evolve with the changing trends in technology and styles out there, so you’ll need a site that is easy to update and edit without the help of a designer who will definitely charge you for it. I highly recommend WordPress!!

Question: How long did it take you to become a more well-known blogger?

Answer: I think it depends on what you think of as “well-known” – I feel like I still have so much room to grow! I have blogger friends who are closing in on 1 million Instagram followers and I have just over 62,000. But I will say that I had strangers start coming up to me about two years after I started the blog, telling me they read my blog/follow me. It’s happened at football games, at the mall, on the plane (coming back from Hawaii!), etc. It’s so much fun!

Question: How long should it take someone before they start making money off their blog?

Answer: I think this all depends on your audience, not timing necessarily. Obviously having a large following on social channels will bring in the money, but as far as earning money organically through rewardStyle, it totally depends on how engaged your audience is. When I started my blog in 2011, I didn’t have any sort of following aside from friends and family (except for on Twitter, which I’d already had for two years), but started making money through my blog content almost right away when I started on rewardStyle. The sooner you’re able to identify the needs of your readers, the better! You can read more about how to monetize here!

Question: Is there a standard scale that photographers usually charge bloggers? Maybe per outfit or session length? And what should you look for before hiring/contacting someone?

Answer: It depends on where you live! In Dallas there are several photographers who shoot bloggers, and they charge per outfit – anywhere between $25-40 is pretty typical. In New York, the photographers charge more because the cost of living is higher. In London I paid even more, and there weren’t many photographers to choose from! I would look at their portfolios, and if they have worked with bloggers, ask for examples. I would also find out how they get the photos to you, how they edit (if at all), and how many photos you get.

Question: How do you get invited to shows at fashion week?

Answer: The shows I get invited to at fashion week are directly related to what designers/brands I post about on my site – Tory Burch, Tibi, Milly, Zimmermann, Kate Spade, etc. If you want to be invited to shows, start posting about the brands who show at the fashion week! If you’re posting about Zara and Forever21 exclusively (or other budget-friendly brands), don’t expect to be invited to contemporary or designer shows (unless you have an enormous following). I also have established relationships with people working at PR companies who sometimes throw me on a list or two each season.

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