Photos by Tara
Happy Monday everyone! I’m really enjoying doing these more chatty posts on Mondays – it’s a nice way to start the week for sure. Last week, I had a quick chat about new tricks that have really helped me to stop time-wasting & the week before, I talked through some reasons I’m really feeling more determined than ever right now. You seem to be enjoying them and I guess, it’s a way for you to get to know me even more so I’ll definitely continue doing them as long as you’re liking them too :) I’m back in the office today after a really nice weekend here in the city. I love weekends that are the perfect balance of work and play and that’s exactly what this one was. I still haven’t got to the stage where I can take a full weekend off but I’m definitely getting better. I used Saturday to get ahead on some photo/video shoots and then the rest of the weekend was spent out with Tommy & my friends. There’s just something about Summer in New York that makes everything so fun! Oh and Tommy & I are also still hooked on Breaking Bad (very late to the game I know, but better late than never) so we squeezed in a good few episodes over the weekend too. We’re already on season 3 and wow, it’s getting intense!! I literally had to leave the room during one episode last night, haha!
But anyway, before I get into the main part of today’s post, let’s talk quickly about my outfit….& more importantly, the bags’ first debut here on the blog! Ah I’m so excited to finally have it!! If you watched the reveal video, you’ll already know all the details but just incase you missed it, I want to introduce you to the newest member of my bag collection – The Chloe Nile. I searched high & low for this bag (in this particular colour & size) and FINALLY found it last week. I’ve literally nearly worn it with every outfit since then, so I just know it’s going to be a winner. It’s such a versatile little bag and I absolutely love it with this blue dress. I love the muted tones together.. The dress is still available online (I have it in white too) so be sure to check it out and I also found a similar pair of nude heels too. Oh and if you want a little more info & backstory about my decision to go for this bag, be sure to check out my video.
So speaking of videos, tomorrow’s is going to be a big Career Q&A as part of the #shemeansbusiness series I do on my channel. It’s one I’ve been meaning to do for ages, so I had you send me questions on Snapchat (@retroflame1) and then answered 10 in the video. I chat about the biggest sacrifice I’ve made for the sake of my career, why I chose to move to New York for work, how I see my career evolving and more! I think you’re going to like this one – so keep an eye out tomorrow. While I was going through all the questions, one really caught my attention & I guess, struck a chord. Somebody asked me if I ever have experiences where people belittle what I do. So for example, after I tell them what I do for a living, they reply, “Oh cute, you have a blog.” or “No, but what is your actual ‘real‘ job??”. And the honest answer: yes, it happens. It happens quite a lot actually. But it’s ok, I’ve always been one to like doing things a little differently so I’m well used to defending what I do. Plus, when I do actually explain things, more often or not, I get a new follower. So win win ;) Blogging is definitely still a new profession and I guess, a lot of people still don’t fully understand how us bloggers make money or don’t respect it as a career, so I do have to explain myself quite a lot. I touch on it a little more in tomorrow’s video but it actually gave me the idea for today’s post. I felt like this would be a good time to share some of the real truths about blogging as a career. It’s definitely something people are ‘catching onto’ more & more nowadays, but I’m sure you may still have questions about certain aspects, so hopefully I can shed some light for you. It may look extremely glamorous from the outset but just like everything, there’s always more than meets the eye….
1. You really CAN earn a valid living by being a blogger.
I’m honestly full sure that people still wonder how on earth I make a living from a website. And I get it, it’s confusing if you don’t fully understand the online world. I’ve mentioned it loads before, but I started Retro Flame as a hobby 6 years ago while I was in college. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what lay ahead, I just did it because I was passionate about it. I loved fashion, I loved writing and I wanted a place to share both. Fast forward 6 years, it’s now my full-time career here in New York and my sister, Kaelin, works full-time with me. I fully support myself, pay tax, pay rent in Manhattan, pay photographers, graphic designers, accountants etc. so in short yes, I turned my passion into a fully-functional business. Just like so many other amazing bloggers out there. It didn’t happen overnight, it took A LOT of work and persistence (and doing things for free) but it’s a career I’ve built for myself that I’m very proud of. How bloggers make money is probably a topic for a whole seperate post but in short, we make our living through sponsored content on our blogs, youtube & social media channels, through event-hosting, through affiliation links (we earn a small commission if you end up buying something through a link we provide) and through product collaborations with brands. Just to name a few! If you’re a blogger who has spent time and effort building an online audience who truly trust you and your recommendations, then brands will want to work with you. I’m a still quite a small fish in a big sea of bloggers, but still continue to grow my business each year which is something I’m very proud of. There are big bloggers out there making 7-figure salaries a year (yes!!) and personally, I think it’s fantastic. Women/Men who’ve built businesses from absolute scratch, out of pure passion and are now hugely successful business-people. It’s an industry that amazes me more & more every day.
2. We do actually do other things besides dressing up & taking photos.
The pictures you see in this post were taken over an hour on Saturday & made up a tiny tiny part of my total work-week. I promise you it’s not this glamorous even half the time. Just like every other business out there, the main work is done in the background. When I’m not shooting for my blog or youtube channels, I’m at my laptop replying to emails, setting up new brand collaborations, doing my accounts, working on strategy for the year ahead, editing & more. I think a lot of people look past it, but there’s a hell of a lot of work behind running a website. Luckily, I really do love every minute of it and I’m very fortunate to be able to have a job I love, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t quite a bit of stress involved too. Just like any other job, there are good & bad days and quite a bit of pressure to be always ‘on’. I suppose you could say that I’m the ‘face’ of the brand but that doesn’t mean I don’t do everything else too. When you’re a blogger, you’re also the marketing manager, the finance director, the photographer (most of the time), the PR director…the list goes on. Of course, some of the really big bloggers have huge teams behind them but right now at Retro Flame, it’s just Kaelin & I full-time. So everyday is jam-packed and as Kaelin always jokes, she’s convinced she’ll be able for any kind of job position after working with me. So just incase you’re ever close to assuming that a successful blogger you follow seems to do nothing but pose for pictures, keep in mind all the work that goes on behind the scenes.
3. It’s not a typical 9-5 job.
Sort of tying in with the point above, people seem to have a hard time believing us when we tell them we’re actually really busy. But the truth about being a blogger is that you can always do MORE. You can always write another post, film another video, reply to another comment…it’s profession with an infinite to-do list. So as a result, there isn’t always a set start or finish time and weekends are just as good a time as any to get some work done. But being honest, this is the main reason I love my job. I love the flexibility. I love making my own hours and working on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday if I need to. If I wasn’t a blogger, I definitely would have aimed to be my own boss at something else anyway so I’m very grateful for the way things turned out. You may know that I worked full-time here in New York with a fashion brand before I went full-time with Retro Flame and my main motivation every day while I was in that job was to keep building Retro Flame on the side so I could eventually have flexibility. Now I totally know that everyone is different but personally, it’s the type of routine I need. Blogging is a 24/7 type of profession and although there are days I would just love to fully switch off (I do take these days every now and again), the pro’s always out-win the con’s. We work when we travel, we work during Christmas but it’s all part of it.
4. Bloggers do actually have qualifications….& a brain.
This is a point I’m particularly passionate about. For some reason, a lot of people seem to assume that bloggers don’t have anything behind them. But the truth is, many of those big bloggers you follow online have some pretty impressive credentials. Now of course, there are the ‘lucky’ ones who have more or less faked it to the top (did you read my post about the follower-buying fiasco?) but I always think you can see through them ones a mile away so let’s not dwell. But I’m talking about the smart, driven & persistent bloggers who have truly earned their way to the top. I truly believe that you don’t need to go to college in order to ‘make’ it, but I have to say, it taught me a lot. I’ve always been very business-minded (both my parents were an amazing influence) so I studied Business & Marketing for 3 years and in between I actually took a year out to study Fashion Business. Then throughout the four years of college, I spent my Summers interning for free at different fashion companies here in New York so overall, I guess what I’m trying to say it that nothing happens overnight. Often when you see bloggers travelling the world, receiving a free gift or working on a major brand campaign…they’re doing all these things because they’ve worked for them. Hours and hours of work have got them to this place. A follower actually messaged me recently saying that she’s getting so tired & frustrated seeing bloggers she follows get free things & trips. My reply was to unfollow. You should ONLY be following bloggers who you’re happy to see be successful. You should only be following the ones you know (and see) have worked hard to get to where they are and you’re proud of them for doing so. Anyone else has to go. Be fussy about who you follow.
5. Yes, we see those mean comments.
We see all the comments – both good & bad. And although you learn to be strong about things, having hateful comments pop up in your notifications is and never will be pleasant. Thankfully, my parents raised me in a way that I really am able to ignore the majority of them. I know when it’s the right time to step in and defend myself and I also know when it’s the right time to completely ignore. I will say, putting yourself out there online for everyone to judge has given me more strength and confidence than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned that you’ll NEVER please everyone, that there’ll always be someone that doesn’t like you and that’s 110% OK. That’s life. But as readers/followers, please do always keep in mind that not everyone is as strong. There are bloggers who get very effected by the mean/spiteful comments and you really do never know what people are going through. So be nice, always.
6. Bloggers CAN actually be friends.
Ok there’s a lot of questionable ones out there but believe it or not, some blogger friendships you see are 100% real. I promise. Of course, it’s a competitive industry but it’s also an industry where you have so many opportunities to meet like-minded people so naturally, friendships will blossom. I’ve met some of my best friends here in New York through blogging and I’m honestly so grateful. If you’re a new blogger, you’ll learn to spot the ‘real’ friends after a while and may get burned here & there along the way, but you’ll figure it out sooner than later. I swear, I actually think it’s a talent of mine after the years, haha! I can see through people SO easily and I’m nearly always right. Remember, it is a business at the end of the day and a lot of people will be thinking about themselves, but you’ll always attract the good ones once you’re a good person too.
7. You have to be YOU & add value.
…& finally, the big truth about blogging as a career in a crazy saturated environment is that if you don’t add value in an authentic way, it won’t be long before you get the cut. My aim here at Retro Flame has always been the same. To create and deliver content in an inspirational but relatable way. I’ll never be that blogger who spends their whole time travelling around the world, or that blogger who constantly looks flawless but that’s OK because that wouldn’t be me or the reason I want you to follow me. I’m guessing some of you follow me for fashion, some for interiors inspiration, some for my motivational chats and some for a glimpse into my attempt at making it here in New York. From the day I started my blog in my bedroom in Kerry, all I ever wanted was for Retro Flame to be a place to share my outfits, thoughts & inspirations and I’m really proud to say that that’s exactly what it still is today. It’s very easy to spot the bloggers who’ve ‘sold out’, the bloggers who don’t bother with trying to add value anymore or those bloggers who’re just so caught up in getting the ‘perfect’ instagram. To me, it seems like they’ve forgotten why they started. So if you’re a blogger, always ask yourself your reasons for doing it and if you find yourself straying from these, it’s time to get back on track. Of course, I’ve grown up over the years and there’s been a few changes in my life along the way (& I’m sure many more to come) but you can always be sure that when you click onto Retro Flame, I’ll still be that girl trying to provide even the tiniest bit of inspiration in a way that’s 110% true to who I am. We’re on a journey together & I genuinely love every minute.
Blogging is a career that may seem like an easy option from the outside but I hope this post has provided a little more insight. I touch on lots more topics in tomorrow’s video so if you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll definitely like that too.
Hope you’ve all had a great start to the week and as always, a HUGE thank you for reading.
Post update: Video is now live, watch below!