Alright guys, it’s time for Q&A #2! These are the most fun. I was so thrilled by the response last time around. I felt like you guys got to know me a little bit better, and I got to know you a little better via the comments! So, I asked you to snap me more questions (I’m grace.atwood!) and once again, you did not disappoint. A few of these were a little hard to answer but I did my best. Once again, we will start with an easy one… and in the meantime, feel free to snap me any other questions you may have – I will do another one next week if you still have things you’d like to know.
What brush do you use to apply all those face masks?
So, it’s this brush, which was sent to me in a random mailing… I thought it was available online and can not find anywhere!!!! In doing a bit of research, this one looks very similar, but I wouldn’t spend that much money on a brush to put masks on with. As you don’t need a super high quality brush to put on a mask, I would just do something like this… it’s only $2.60, so you won’t feel badly getting it dirty/messy. You don’t need a fancy brush for face masks, but it does make for a nicer application process.
Where do you keep Tyrion’s litter box?
Ha! I get asked this a lot actually. In the shower. It’s the easiest spot. It’s a pain to move it every time I shower, but it also keeps things nice and clean… the shower water rinses away any litter that he might track out of the box.
When are you going to move to Charleston?
Haha. I really don’t know when, or if I will at all. I love Charleston and will always visit a lot, but I don’t know if I’m ready to fully commit to it. Charleston is my favorite little escape, and has become a second home of sorts. I have made so many friends there that this year I’m actually having a Charleston birthday party with one of my close girlfriends! That being said, I also love the hustle and bustle of the city, and a lot of what I do depends upon me being based in New York. To be perfectly honest, my dream scenario would be to buy something small there, and keep a studio apartment here. That’s not financially realistic just yet but I am saving. Of course, by the time I’m finished saving, I might have an entirely different plan. I fantasize about moving there for a month this winter… maybe I will!
What’s your favorite thing to do in Charleston?
My favorite thing to do in Charleston is to eat… Charleston has the best food scene.. possibly better than New York! (All my fave spots are listed here.) And my second favorite thing to do is to go for a long walk and/or run through the historic district (The Battery!) and look at all of the beautiful architecture. I could (literally) spend all day walking in circles throughout the historic district, iced coffee in hand. It is the prettiest city ever, and possibly my favorite place in the world.
How long do you plan on living in NYC? Where else would you move to and why?
You know, I can’t honestly answer that as I have no idea! I’m sort of just seeing where life takes me and how my plan unfolds. I love New York, I love Charleston, and could see myself in either place. I also really love both Chicago and LA. Or maybe I’d move back to Boston! (I went to college there and lived there for 3.5 years after graduation). The one thing I do know is that I don’t think I would want to raise kids in New York City, so if I have them, I will probably move… but the truth is, I don’t know what’s going to happen. We will just have to see. Life is funny like that. After all, I never thought I would live in New York for more than a year or two, but I’m still here ten years later.
How did you become a blogger?
I started my blog on a whim in January 2010. I was uninspired at a very corporate job and just wanted a place to share the things that were inspiring me… and a place to write. I was always that girl that was recommending new beauty products to my girlfriends, tracking down items from Forever 21 that looked designer, or creating DIY versions of my favorite high-end jewelry. Starting a blog gave me a way to share that stuff to a broader audience. In the beginning it was only my friends + family that read it. I never dreamed I could make a living at it.
I’d like to know more about how you grew your blog. Now you’re like famous. I’m just starting my blog. I’m not looking to reach platinum influencer status like you but I do want to grow my audience
So, I will give you my best advice, but keep in mind… things are so different today! You’d probably be better off asking this question to someone successful who started their blog a year or two ago. I started so long ago… back then, it was a lot easier. Everyone read blogs, and everyone was looking for new blog readers. As long as you posted consistent, quality content, it was fairly easy to build up an audience. These days, the entire game has changed. Here’s some random advice. Be different! You need to be doing something different than what is already out there. And be yourself! If you start a blog just to make money/get famous, you will never succeed. It takes a long time for both of those things to happen.. but if you do it from a place of passion, they will come!
From a tactical perspective, I would recommend being really active on social media, especially on Instagram. I know many up & coming bloggers have had a lot of success commenting on Instagram. It will get your account more exposure (other users will see you leaving thoughtful comments and may become curious about your account/click over to your profile. It’s also really important to make sure the first nine photos of your Instagram feed look pretty and cohesive. That way, when potential followers click over and see your feed, they will be more inclined to follow. Using a service like Planoly can help with that. I use it and really love it.
On the blog front, commenting on other blogs really helps… as does learning SEO, and spending time paying attention to your analytics. General Assembly teaches SEO classes pretty regularly… I’d also recommend taking a Google Analytics class. Lastly, and you may hate me for saying this… if you can afford it, consider hiring a publicist. I don’t currently work with a publicist, but I have a handful of blogger friends who do – they’ve managed to secure some really amazing features which have helped grow their blog’s awareness. (If this is something you want to try, email me and I will happily refer you to a few good ones).
Also, I don’t consider myself famous/”platinum-level” but thank you for making my day!! (Everyone else – I promise I did not inflate this question to make myself sound cool.)
What’s your skin routine? Night and day? You have the best skin!
That is so nice! I detail my “holy grail” beauty products in this post, and my core routine hasn’t changed much. I take really good care of my skin and I’m consistent about it. The three things I swear by are: 1) SK-II every day in between cleansing and moisturizing, 2) Sunscreen every day. 3) Regular face masks, and semi-regular facials! Good genes probably help too. I know I’m lucky… my mom, sisters, and aunts all have incredible skin. That being said, if I gain a pound, it usually goes straight to my face or stomach and takes me FOREVER to lose. So, don’t be too jealous. 😉
I just moved to NYC, and I was wondering what are your favorite things to do by yourself in the city!
Museums!!! I love, love, love going to museums. Like, I’m really nerdy about it. I am a member at The Met, The MoMA, and the downtown Whitney Museum. My favorite thing ever is to clear a few hours from my calendar and just wander. I always end up so much more inspired than when I got there. If I am feeling overwhelmed by the idea of a big museum, I’ll do gallery hopping in Chelsea. I used to make it a point to see a new art show/exhibit every week. I haven’t been to one in a solid month and my soul is craving it. After fashion week! I also love going for long walks in Central Park. I’ll grab an iced coffee and wear my sneakers and just wander until I have to find the nearest subway and go home. Lastly, I’m a big reader. Sometimes I’ll just read in my apartment, but I also love going to the park and finding a bench in the shade.. or I’ll bring a blanket and lay down and read.
This may be gauche but since you’re always asking for questions… I always wonder when I see the big ticket items like Chanel and Chloe bags, do you straight up buy them at price? Is there a blogger discount? Are they tax write offs? I have a hard time imagining spending thousands on a bag, just financially. And do you ever feel like you are a slave to the labels that will pay you vs. just buying stuff you like and would have bought before there was a chance to make money doing it?
Oh man – what a question. I will try to answer this as best + honestly I can… in several parts, as it’s a long one. This question could actually be a whole blog post.
Sadly (for me) there is no discount on the bags. I’m sure other bigger bloggers have discounts and are gifted high-end designer bags, but I am not at that level just yet. 😉 That being said, one of the key ways that I monetize my site is through affiliate links. I’d never buy or wear anything that I don’t actually love… but I always link to everything I’m wearing (I try for exact, but provide similar links if the product is old or sold out). If you click most of the links in my blog posts, I will earn a small commission. (I think it is somewhere between $.05 to $.15 depending on the retailer but don’t quote me on that – I actually don’t know… based on my performance, that number goes up and down.) So I’m not paid by the brand or given a discount, but I can make quite a bit of money by linking to the bags that I purchase.
From a pure business perspective, (as I always try to be able to give you guys the exact links to what I’m wearing), it makes far more sense for me to purchase “evergreen styles,” aka items that retailers will stock year round (like my Rag & Bone Skinny Jeans, my Chloe bag + Manolo Blahnik heels)… that way I can continue linking to them every season. It also makes more sense from a wardrobe perspective… I like buying classic, quality things that I can keep wearing year after year.
As for tax write-offs, the short answer is that no, I cannot write those big ticket items off. My accountant would laugh at me in the face if I submitted a receipt from Chanel. That being said, I can write off a percentage of my clothing + shoes that appear on the blog. Not the crazy expensive bags, but the rest of the stuff (as I can prove that a significant portion of my blogging income comes from those affiliate links).
I will be honest, I buy the bags because (right now), I can. I don’t have a husband to get angry that I spent all that money, I don’t have kids, I don’t have a car… and I rent a small, affordable (by NYC standards) studio apartment. My only real responsibility is my cat. I love having great bags + shoes… and I also recognize that this is not going to be forever. I am saving to buy property, and I really hope that someday I am married with kids and know that I won’t be able to shop like this. Luckily, by then, I’ll already have all my classic investment pieces so I won’t need any more. 😉
As for the second part of the question, I don’t feel like a slave to the labels that pay me… but it can be really hard, especially with affiliate links. I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now and a big thing has been learning to straddle the line between (always!) being authentic to my audience, and also running a successful business that pays the bill. Here are my rules, if you will.
- I only feature the things I truly love here, sponsored or not.
- I take a magazine style approach to working with advertisers. Advertisers can purchase a dedicated post on my blog or instagram (like a magazine’s advertorial), but it will always be clearly marked as sponsored. Advertisers don’t receive preferential treatment in editorial content + round-ups. I also don’t accept product placement fees (some bloggers do this, I think? I’m not throwing shade, but brand have asked me) for editorial posts. There is no gray area. It’s either sponsored or it’s not, and if it is sponsored, it’s disclosed.
- When I can, I use affiliate links. But if I can’t find one, I don’t sweat it. Most of my favorite brands are available at Nordstrom and Shopbop (the retailers you guys shop at most, according to my analytics), but if I find something really cool and there is no affiliate link, I will still feature it.
- I say no to most gifted product. Honestly, I’d just rather buy what I want. But if a brand reaches out that I would shop at anyway (Banana Republic just sent me a few things) and I can pick out the item myself, I will accept.
- For beauty products (including sponsorships) I request at least a week to fully test the product and make sure I love it. Beauty is something I take very seriously. I feel as though my reputation and credibility are on the line… if I don’t truly love it, I won’t write about it. Sometimes I’ll put the reaaaallly bad products on my Snapchat but I don’t really like doing that.
- Everything gets disclosed. Everything. The FTC is cracking down on bloggers in a major way… It’s illegal not to disclose and I don’t really feel like going to jail.
I think the “feeling like a slave part” is hardest with affiliate links. That’s where you have to be really careful. It’s easy to put your business hat and say, “Oh! Well, I should only shop at Nordstrom and Shopbop as those are my top-performing retailers.” And I felt like that for a while but have started to get away from that this year. It will always be tricky, but I guess what it comes down to is asking yourself, “Would I be buying this/wearing this/talking about this if I didn’t have a blog?” If the answer is yes, then there you go. If it’s no, then I say no.
photography by Lydia Hudgens.