As a creative, I’m constantly trying to feed my passions and find the energy to engage in as many of them as possible. On occasion it becomes difficult to find new outlets and sources of motivation. Thankfully, sometimes I find it really close to home. My sister Marie Elliott is an amazing wealth of inspiration and encouragement to me. Her style blog, So What if I Like Pretty Things, is always full of interesting ways to put outfits together, inspired music playlists, and even tasty drink recipes.
Given that she has a full-time job, I’m so impressed with how much devotion she has to keep it fresh and relevant. I picked her brain to try and channel some of her success tools for blogging so that I can try and implement in my own pursuits.
When did you start blogging?
I began So What If I Like Pretty Things in February 2010. I had just graduated from college and the economy was in shambles all around me, so I was working a frustrating job that left me unfulfilled. I knew I needed a creative outlet so I decided to just start writing about my obsessions – style & music.
When did you first become interested in style/fashion?
It’s been a hobby ever since I discovered rainbow headbands & mary janes in Pre-K, but I think the obsession began when I realized what a powerful, pervasive, real-life artistic tool fashion can be. I studied art history & architecture in school, and though I loved it I never felt that it related to the average person’s day-to-day life. I love that style is a form of communication that millions of people use every day – every item you put on can be an artistic choice, even if that choice is to throw on an old sweatshirt that belonged to your high school boyfriend. Personal style is a way to reflect, and speak to the world about who you are, or what you feel, without using any words.
What is your favorite part about blogging?
So much is awesome about blogging – the amazing people you get to meet (sometimes IRL!), discovering your own idiosyncrasies as you write, and finding ways to make the process fun. I often blog from my favorite coffee shop, or make myself a fancy cocktail while I write at home. When I lived in Chicago I used to take my laptop to Winnemac Park and lay in the grass to get inspired. But even better than all that is looking back on what I wrote or wore 3 or 4 years ago – laughing at the goofy clothes I chose, or getting re-inspired by old outfits, or remembering the joys and storms I experienced and how they influenced what I wore. It’s so cheesy to say, but it really does become a visual diary.
How have you grown your audience over the years?
Without a doubt, the strongest traffic driver on earth is collaboration with other cool cats on the internet. The more talented, interesting, successful people you interact with and collaborate with, the more eyes will be drawn to your blog! Look into doing guest posting with another blogger, or see if your city has a local bloggers network that you could join. It’s a great way to grow your audience and you often end up making awesome new friends.
What are the 5 things you would recommend to people to make their blog stand out from the crowd?
1.) It is crucial to be yourself. There are zillions of blogs in the world, and what is it you have that they don’t? YOU. Your ideas, your thoughts, your opinions, your taste, your style. Do everything you can to not just be a copy of someone else’s blog – – the blogs that I want to read every day all have an individualistic spark that keeps them exciting and makes me relate.
2.) Know your niche. Who are you writing to? What does that person like to do on the weekends? What’s her favorite album? Favorite flavor of ice cream? You get the idea. If you know who your target audience is, you’ll know what they look forward to reading on a blog, and will therefore know what kind of content you should be writing. (This is excellent advice I learned from April Bowles Olin, from her CreativeLive class Build A Successful Creative Blog!)
3.) Be brave. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by blogging, and to be afraid of what a stranger (or worse, an internet troll) might think or say about you. After all, once you click “publish” your words & photos will be out there in the universe, for anyone to see or judge. It used to make me terrified to say anything that could be controversial/uncomfortably honest/flammable. But as Ms. Swift eloquently says, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. If what you’re publishing is positive for you and makes you feel inspired, more power to you.
4.) Make your blog design a reflection of your aesthetic. If you like black & white, clean lines, and geometric patterns, your blog should reflect that. If you love pink, florals, sequins and polka dots, your blog should reflect that. It’s amazing how much we infer from looking at a screen from only a 2 second glance – make sure that glance gives your reader an idea of who you are. This is advice I need to take myself – I’d love to give my blog a facelift to make it feel more like me! Which brings me to my last piece of advice…
5.) Make a mess, have a laugh. Sidestories: once I accidentally turned my blog layout neon yellow and couldn’t figure out how to fix it for days. I have no problem posting outfit pictures even if they’re not straight or have bad lighting. I can’t use Photoshop, so –GASP — I don’t. If there’s cellulite showing on my legs, its staying there. I abuse exclamation marks constantly. Some people might find any/all of this weird, and some successful bloggers might tell you that any/all of those issues are totally embarrassing and need to be fixed ASAP, but you know what? The little imperfections in the blogs I read are often my favorite part – they make bloggers real, and make me want to read more.
Your blog doesn’t need to be perfect, or massively serious! Have fun with it.