Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Why Your Own Platform Is Your Most Powerful Channel As A Content Creator


Back in 2008, I started this blog and began to call myself a blogger in a somewhat sheepish manner - this was in the early days of blogging when no one really knew what a blog was. Explaining that you had a website where you wrote about fashion and took pictures of yourself with a self-timer in your bedroom felt a bit weird but over time, blogging started becoming mainstream and "acceptable". What started as a few dozen people carving out a little corner of the internet for themselves quickly turned into a blogging army of thousands in the UK. 

It's been incredible to see the industry evolve over the years. What started off as a little hobby or passion project has evolved into fully formed businesses and a profitable industry. In turn, the term blogger has filtered out and was replaced with influencer or content creator. I prefer the latter as we are now creating content across multiple platforms - full posts on the blog with horizontal images, square images and witty captions for Instagram, snippets of everyday life for Twitter, engaging videos for YouTube and inspo/mood boards for Pinterest. A stark contrast to the days of self-shooting in your bedroom with bad lighting and zero editing! 


Instagram is undoubtedly one of the key channels for creators, so much so that many have either given up their blog to focus on Instagram or completely skipped starting a blog in fave of IG. As longer captions and galleries started to become popular, blogs started so seem a little redundant - what's the point in creating long read content when Instagram posts are quicker and easier? IG is also the first port of call for everything, from doing a quick background check on a potential Bumble date to discovering a new brand; your Instagram profile is your new business card

However, focusing solely on Instagram puts all of your eggs in one basket and you're limited to the whims of the algorithm, which we all know is as fickle as the weather. I was an early adopter of Instagram, back in the days when it was a fun channel full of Valencia-filtered snapshots of real life. As it evolved into a super important, super filtered channel, I was slow to react and grow my following. I'm now stuck in a weird IG void, full of creators who are putting out good content, using hashtags and engaging with their audience but seeing zero pay off. Growth is slow or non-existent and I'm constantly having to chop and change my strategy as the algorithm changes all while watching people who I know use bots to grow. It's a little disheartening, to say the least! 

Last year, I wrote a post on why I've decided to ignore the numbers and enjoy Instagram as a platform. It was liberating. And in the 12 months since I wrote that post, I've accepted that I'm never going to be a super influencer...and that's totally fine with me. I don't want to give up my life just to have a high number of followers. I want to enjoy my life and live it while sharing some moments online rather than planning my life around creating content to fit a certain aesthetic. 

Take travel for example, I'm super passionate about travelling to exciting destinations and sharing that with my audience but I'd rather enjoy where I am, immerse myself in the culture and create memories rather than slavishly trying to create the perfect moment. Recently, I visited Paris and while I dressed down in kicks, oversized tees and cycling shorts I saw other influencers in tutus clutching a bunch of helium balloons by the banks of the Seine. It seemed ludicrous to go to an incredibly beautiful city with an impractical wardrobe just to capture a shot and filter in a pink sky and Photoshop out all of the people in the background. That's when I realised that I just don't care enough to devote my entire life to a platform that makes me jump through ridiculous hoops and doesn't reward my hard work. 


Rather than being discouraged completely, I decided to reframe and focus on what I can impact - my own platform. The beauty of having your own platform is that you are in control. No one can tell me what content to put together, what I can write or what I can wear. I can do what I like on my platform and the work I put in pays off because the goal posts aren't constantly shifting. 

As a weekend creator, I have had to prioritise where I spend my time and while I've been posting weekly content to my blog consistently for over a year and posting to Instagram nearly daily, I've ignored the maintenance and upkeep of my blog. I'm not 100% happy with my blog platform and branding and I've totally neglected the SEO side. In hindsight, it seems crazy that I've ignored the nuts and bolts of a platform that I have control and ownership over! If I'm not happy with the performance, I can work at it and my changes make a difference, I'm not a slave to bi-weekly algorithm changes. Any tweaks I make to the site or copy is evident immediately while any SEO effects will be seen within weeks. 

So what am I actually working on? 

Have a blog-first mentality

I touched on this when I shared my blogging goals for the rest of 2018. I'm concentrating on creating authentic, meaningful content which resonates with my audience. I'm shifting my focus so that my blog is at the core of my content creation strategy and other channels follow the message and content of my blog. This means creating the content I want to and carving out my own aesthetic rather than following social media trends - you certainly won't catch me posing outside of Peggy Porschen!

I'm working on creating an editorial calendar I actually want to stick to. I've created several in the past but my renewed focus has crystalised that I need to put my blog at the centre of my plans. I'm hoping planning my content further out will help evolve my blog content and create a consistent voice. 

Optimising my blog's SEO

In the short-term, I'm working on SEO to help more people find my blog. I have already set up Google Analytics and Search Console to make sure Google knows my site exists. But SEO is more than just ticking a couple of boxes, you need to continually optimise your site and content to ensure you rank for the relevant keywords. 

As I neglected my blog maintenance for so long, I started with a deadlink audit and discovered I had over 500 dead links on my blog! Dead links are essentially sites that I have referenced and linked to in old posts which now do not work - this is usually where I've linked to an old product, brand, site or blog which no longer exists. This negatively impacts SEO as one of the ways Google rank websites is by crawling their links, a high number of dead links can stop search engine spiders from crawling your site and indexing it...which is bad. 

I have now removed the dead links and archived some very out of date posts. The next step is to make sure my existing posts are optimised for the correct keywords. Tools like Moz Keyword Explorer and KeywordTool.IO are invaluable for researching keywords which have high search volumes but little competition - it's much more effective to go after these longtail keywords rather than broad keywords which have high competition. These keyword terms need to be worked into the title of my posts as well as the first paragraph. They also need to be factored into images, which need to have descriptive alt tags and keywords. 

Rebranding my blog

I started my blog a decade ago and I've tweaked the branding over the years but I've been itching to completely overhaul my blog for a long time. The name and current look and feel don't really resonate with me anymore, I've grown so much as a person over the last ten years and it feels like there is a disconnect between me and my blog. I've started this task in earnest but metaphorically stripping my blog back to its bare bones to put it back together is a process that is taking time and I want to get it right. I can't wait to finalise my plans and share the brand new blog with you soon! 

Are you shifting your focus onto your own platform? Is blogging relevant still? What content do you like to see? 


Dress - ASOS | Heels - Nicholas Kirkwood

Photography by Adorngirl
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Monday, 17 July 2017

Outfit Post: Let's Talk About The 'Gram


I think it's time we settled down with a cup of tea and talked about Instagram. As one of the blogging elders, I've been on Instagram for more than half a decade and I've seen it evolve from a sea of Valencia-filtered snaps documenting the ordinary to its current airbrushed and editorial. Change is good, particularly when it means no more blurry Starbucks pics in your feed but Instagram has changed so much over the last few years, I can’t help thinking its current landscape is problematic for a few reasons. 

As a blogger/influencer/content creator (what are we calling ourselves these days?!), Instagram is arguably the most important channel to promote your work. Despite not being able to include links in posts, it offers influencers the opportunity to visually communicate who they are - after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. A quick scroll of someone's feed gives you a snapshot into their style, lifestyle choices last holiday and even what they had for breakfast. This is why its’ such a key form of social media for content creators, it's invaluable to promote who you are and who you stand for.

This is particularly important for fashion bloggers. Fashion is a visual form of self-expression, so of course, Instagram is vital for the entire industry, not just fashion bloggers. I work for a brand that uses Instagram to establish a visual identity, using obscure art references or archive imagery alongside current product images. This helps to build substance behind the brand, establishing a personality and point of difference - which is exactly what influencers seek to do on the ‘gram. 


Learning about Instagram and how to harness it to build an audience is all well and good until Instagram decides to rewrite the rules. This happened last year; the infamous algorithm change which saw the feed change from simply displaying images in chronological order to a feed which uses an ever-changing algorithm to determine which content is displayed and to how many people. The upshot is brands and influencers alike have struggled with plummeting visibility and engagement ever since. For people who make a living from Instagram, it’s been disastrous. 

Influencers have had to start taking Instagram "seriously". By that I mean the fun has gone and it's now become increasingly strategic, laborious and stressful to maintain a decent presence on IG, both in terms of engagement on individual posts and to grow your audience. For brands and agencies, it’s all about the numbers. First and foremost, they judge influencers on how many followers they have. Engagement on posts in a secondary consideration, mainly to ensure there’s no discrepancy to indicate that an influencer has bought their followers. 

From hashtagging to comment pods, influencers have tried various different tactics to increase engagement and attract new followers. Perhaps the most extreme act is to engage bots to comment, like and follow/unfollow people in a bid to grow your audience. This is problematic, as brands will engage and pay for bloggers' services based on false inflated figures it essentially boils down to fraud. But I think it’s important to ask why people resort to such lengths for social media.


The pressure on influencers is insane. When I started blogging there were a few dozen fashion bloggers, we all knew each other pretty well. Nowadays, there are literally thousands. Everyone is vying to be the best and partner with brands or agencies, who only see the numbers. Instead of valuing micro-influencers, who have smaller but much more engaged audiences, it’s only ever the huge bloggers who are selected by brands - which is exactly why there’s so much pressure on numbers Bloggers also perpetuate this issue by judging other bloggers on the number of followers. We’ve all become obsessed with chasing a number which ultimately means nothing in the grand scheme of things. And Instagram keeps changing the goalposts make it harder and harder to reach that number. Isn’t that crazy?! 

For a while, I was obsessive about the number of followers and likes each picture got. I was invited to a couple of comment pods, I focused on making my Instagram look prettier. And honestly, I was adding a bunch of needless stress and worry to my life. Instagram began to rule my life, it was ridiculous. I've now given up chasing numbers, trying to keep up with comment pods, being a slave to a theme and all the other needless stress. I'm so much happier for it. It's liberating to take a step back and not put unnecessary pressure on yourself to live up to someone's expectations. 


Tshirt - Theyksens' Theory
Jeans - Zara
Belt - Off White
Heels - Aquazzura

Photography by Adorn Girl
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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Why blogger awards don't matter...



Dust off your finest gown and drop that gorgeous cocktail dress off at the dry-cleaners, it’s that time of year again – awards season! The awards season is definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, with the Globes, SAG, Oscars and BAFTAs coming up in short succession. All eyes are on the red carpet to dissect the attendees sartorial choice and decide whether they were a hit or miss. Over the last couple of weeks though, the spotlight has been on bloggers. Two major weekly glossies have announced their shortlist for fashion and/or beauty bloggers. How exciting for those who have made the cut; time to rally up the troops (readers) and get your hard earned community to vote and spread the word, right? Actually, you might want to think twice about that.

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