Being a full-time fashion blogger, to those who are either hobby or non-bloggers, may appear (on the surface) to be an endless round of attending fashion events and receiving free designer clothes. However, nothing could be further from the truth for me.
It wasn't until I received a comment on my Bloopers and Outtakes post a few weeks back that I was inspired to explain what it's really like being a full time fashion blogger (who's not a super blogger). I'm pretty certain my life is nothing like Chiara Ferragni's or Nicole Warne's so I was taken aback a little when I read this comment:
"...I hesitate to click through to your blog sometimes when I see your posts popping up in Bloglovin, as I class it under one of my "uuurrrrggghhhh life is so perfect there, I can't be bothered to look at that perfect version of life now" blogs. I think you may just have gained a loyal reader in me with this post. You are normal... your body is not stick thin (you do have curves)! You obviously do laugh at yourself! Wonderful post. Loved it."What struck me was that a reader had actually thought (before seeing the bloopers) that my life was "perfect" and that I had a "stick thin body". I was taken aback by the comment because I have never, ever thought either of those two things about myself, neither before nor after becoming a full time fashion blogger.
I gave a lengthy reply explaining what my life is really like - and this post is basically an extension of what I said there.
The thing to remember is that my outfit photos aren't an actual representation of my life - they're staged photos showing off what I'm wearing only. Photo shoots done on holiday are different - as are those done when we've gone out somewhere for the day - but 80% of the time they're just taken outside my parents' or sister's house, or along the country lane just down the road from where we live, or on the path along the river down to to the local supermarket. Nothing at all glamorous about any of those places!
The thing to remember is that my outfit photos aren't an actual representation of my life - they're staged photos showing off what I'm wearingSecondly, I am quite, quite normal - but this of course depends on your definition of the word. We all come in all shapes and sizes, and truthfully we all know there isn't a right or wrong size. I also don't have a 'perfect' life at all (but then what does that mean anyway)? I might think that Living in LA = Perfect Life, simply because the weather is so great all year round... I'm sitting in cold and rainy England writing this. To me, that's not in the slightest bit perfect or ideal. Yet I'm sure my humdrum tales of travelling up to The Big Smoke will make many a non-Brit go all misty-eyed and long for the adventure of a few days in London; it's all relative.
So I've broken down what - for me - life is really like. I may be a full time fashion blogger but unlike the Chiaras and Nicoles of the blogging world I don't constantly jet around the world and design collections with top brands. Here it is: The good, the bad, and the ugly (but in reverse)...!
If you're thinking it's all glamour - nothing could be further from the truth. For example...
- I work from home. Some days what I'm wearing is so utterly uncoordinated that I'm ashamed to answer the door.
- I have as many bad hair days, bad skin days, feeling-fat-because-my-skinny-jeans-are-so-tight days as the next girl.
- Much of the time I'm in my onesie all morning and then finally get dressed at 1pm - just jeans and a sweatshirt - because I'm not leaving the house. Or I'll put my workout gear on in the morning even though I'm not exercising till the evening, but I can't be arsed to change later (or I want to save on washing). So not glamorous.
- My bedroom is nearly always a tip because I'm trying on everything to wear and don't have time to put it all away immediately because I have to get out the door and catch the last light to get a photo shoot in. My dressing table is a bombsite.
- I work past midnight most evenings to "try and get it all done" before the next day then wake up feeling absolutely shattered. I never feel like a glamorous fashion blogger in the mornings. Or the afternoon. Maybe a little when I've done my hair and make up and I'm off out in the evening.
- I can easily put on 7lbs in a week (it's happened before) if I eat too much and stop exercising - having a sedentary job means I have to be really careful about my diet and fitness routine.
- Most Instagrams of bloggers' work areas would have you believe we all have beautiful white gloss desks with only peonies in a vase and a laptop (completely wireless) on it. I have a dusty desk with a PC and huge widescreen monitor, leads coming out out of everywhere and piles of notebooks and nail files/nail polishes all over the place. I'm not going to Instagram that.
- Standing outside in the winter in a party dress is no fun when it's only a few degrees above freezing. I long for the summer months when the days are longer and the temperatures are higher and I'm not biting off my husband's head while he fiddles with the camera's settings and prolongs my freezing agony.
- Keeping accounts, creating invoices, doing your tax return and chasing payment is no-one's idea of glamour. I don't have an accountant or an assistant, much as I'd like both.
- Trying to budget for anything is hard when you don't have a regular income. If clients delay their payments you may receive hardly any money at all coming into your account one month, and then a mini windfall the next.
Then there are the things that seem bad, or annoying, or a chore, but they're actually pretty great if I stop and think about it because they wouldn't happen if it wasn't for the blogging. Moaning about it to other people makes it sound like you're ungrateful. For example...
- Some days I can receive up to five deliveries: 1. Things I've ordered because I keep seeing great-stuff-I-can't-stop-myself-buying on other blogs; 2. Things my husband has ordered because he now has a blog too; 3. Freebies from brands (yay). Constantly jumping up to answer the doorbell does get a little testing when you're trying to work from home, however.
- As a result of all the deliveries and parcels we get, there is almost always a mountain of packaging that needs to be sorted in the middle of the living room floor and I never seem to be able to keep on top of it.
- If I'm doing something for a brand or magazine and I need to go to London (95% of things are in London), I often have to catch the stupid-o'clock train to get there (the 06:51). Over two hours on the train getting a cricked neck and bemoaning my lack of sleep and dark circles under my eyes is not fun - then I have to do it all again in reverse to come home the same day.
- I get a constant stream of emails offering me "the best deal ever": Pick something from a brand that sells $15 dresses and write all about in a blog post and follow up on social media. If $15 dresses were edible I'd never have to buy food again. Or I could burn them and save on heating bills....?
- Haggling over fees with brands and PRs isn't exactly ideal and sometimes I wish for a fixed salary again - then I remember that I am in control of my earning power, and no one else.
- I had a look at the posts I published in December and January and counted how many outfit posts I published: it was 16 in total. So out of 62 days, I only featured what I wore on 16 of them. That's roughly 1 in 4 days. But it's nice to look back and see that I did make an effort on some days at least.
Now these things do sound more glamorous, though these opportunities take up a very small percentage of my time. Working for myself is also a huge benefit. For example...
- I won a competition last year with Fever London last year to model their SS14 collection with four other bloggers. We all had a vintage makeover and there were about six outfit changes - we were shooting in the street in central London. But it was February and it was really, really cold.
- I've done photo shoots for three magazines now: with Rachel the Hat for Woman & Home, for Good Housekeeping (April 2015 issue), and for the Sunday Times Style (coming out 1st March). Getting your hair and make up done and trying on fabulous clothes never gets tiring.
- I won a competition to become a brand ambassador for La Redoute for a year and got to go to Paris for three days. Need I explain more...?!
- As a freelancer I have complete freedom to do with my time whatever I feel like doing and when. In the summer I can spend the day outside relaxing and then work in the evening when it's cooler. In the winter I can snuggle up in my home office wearing three pairs of socks, a blanket over my legs and keep a hot water bottle on standby without looking unprofessional or like a bag lady (to my colleagues, if I had them).
- No two days are ever the same, and you never know what you may be offered next. I'm totally addicted to checking my emails because I am so excited about what the day could bring in terms of brands to work with or a "fan letter" (for want of a better expression) from a reader. Those days are the absolute best.
Above left: Getting my hair done for the Francesco Group photo shoot; Above right: Good Housekeeping photo shoot. If only this were a "normal" day for me...!
So when I say I'm just as 'normal' as the next person hopefully you see what I mean. The outfits I publish are the slightly more dressed up times, but that's because I want to give inspiration to those who may not dress up ever, or to those who want to change things up a bit, or to those who are afraid of wearing bright colours and in their forties and are looking for 'permission' to do so. As Amber wrote in her post Are Fashion Bloggers Fake?:
"...Most bloggers (myself included) carefully select which aspects of their lives they want to share with the internet."Me, too. In order to make women feel positive about themselves I feel a responsibility to be as positive as I can be, whilst retaining a sense of normality and a touch of honesty about the whole thing.
In order to make women feel positive about themselves I feel a responsibility to be as positive as I can be, whilst retaining a sense of normality and a touch of honestyI hope that I do that... I have enough loyal (and brutally honest!) readers who would definitely tell me if I was losing my touch on reality.
I'm basically very lucky to be doing something that I love, and to love what I'm doing (which isn't too much to ask from a job, is it). I never, ever thought I'd be one of those people who does a job that they absolute adore doing - it can just be a bit crazy sometimes and not really make sense. Take photos of yourself and put them on the internet? As a job?! That's just bonkers.
The thing that tickles me most about being a full time fashion blogger is that as I don't have a 9-5 any more I work from home rather than going to an office every day (like I used to). So that means I have more excuses to stay in my onesie all day. And in turn that means I have to make much more of an effort now to dress up in order to have non-pyjama outfits to feature on the blog.
How ironic is that...??
P.S. Like this post? You might enjoy reading how I created my own at-home glamour: How To Star In Your Very Own Luxury Brand Advertising Campaign
Linking up to: Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites, Sunday Funday