I have to say, I’m having so much fun with our 25 Days of Winter Fashion series. I’m not ready for it to be over. I really enjoy putting outfits together and getting your feedback. I don’t love them all, but I learn something new with each one, and hopefully we’re all learning together! Maybe now that our winter fashion series is over, we’ll actually get some winter weather. Ha!
I thought I’d follow Cyndi’s lead and do a recap post so you can see all of my outfits in one post, and then I’m going to have a little Q&A at the end, based on questions I get asked a lot. I hope you enjoy getting some insight into the inner workings of the blog.
Phew!!! That took some time. But super fun, yes??
You can also see all of my 25 winter outfits here. Click on the images or the titles to get to the full post.
So now, on to your questions!
#1. Who takes your photos?
Have you seen this video making the rounds? When I saw this, I laughed until I cried.
So yeah, my husband takes my pictures. I used to take my own pictures with a camera timer and occasionally cajoled my kids into taking them, but over the past year, my husband has begun taking a serious interest in photography. We’ve been working together to improve the quality of my blog photographs. He’s done quite a bit of online research and a lot of practicing, and we recently upgraded our camera equipment. Now he’s pretty much doing 100% of my outfit photographs. It’s become a fun way for us to bond, and I’m grateful for his interest. Blogging is largely an isolated job, and having him involved makes it more fun.
The ironic part is, our relationship is pretty much the opposite of the Instagram Husband video. Usually I’m the impatient one, wanting to get it over with, and he’s the one urging me to be patient while he experiments with different angles and camera settings. Ah, the digital age. Ain’t it grand!?
#2. Do you keep all the clothes that you buy?
The short answer is no. I don’t usually order things intending to return them, but reality is that I simply don’t need as many clothes in my closet as I want to feature on the blog. Plus I’m often trying new trends, and they don’t always work for me. The only way to find out is to try them on, and ordering online is much more efficient than going to the mall. Once they’re here, I might as well photograph them, and oftentimes it’s not until I see the pictures that I really know if something is worth keeping or not.
I’m getting better at knowing what works for me and what doesn’t, but I still have a lot to learn, and I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not 25 anymore and can’t wear everything I see on the models. Sometimes it takes the reality check of the photographs to get it through my thick head. I also think it’s helpful to show the less than perfect outfits so we can all learn how fit and proportion work for different body types.
P.S. I sent the red boyfriend sweater back.
#3. Do you really dress like this every day?
Hahaha… No. I used to take pictures each day of what I was truly wearing — back when I was basically just posting what I wear on a daily basis and summarizing my weekly outfits in one weekly blog post. But since I’ve switched to primarily fashion-related content on the blog, my purpose in posting outfits has changed. Rather than showing what I’m actually wearing each day in a meager attempt to stay out of the yoga pant rut, now I’m trying to provide a service to women our age by sharing what is trending and how to wear the current styles in a way that is practical and age appropriate. That means trying a lot more styles and creating a lot more outfits. I’d get worn out if I dressed up and photographed a new outfit every day, so with these daily outfit challenges, I’ve had to become much more strategic about making the most of the days I do get fixed up.
We usually try to get 2 or 3 outfits photographed in each session, and I like to have a few in my draft folder so I don’t get caught one day with nothing to post — especially during these challenges. It’s tricky because my husband does have a day job, and we try to pay attention to the time of day and the lighting to get the best quality pictures. It was easier in the summertime, but now that it gets dark so early, we have to take advantage of weekends and the before-work morning hours. Sometimes I actually get up in the morning, put on makeup and pull my hair back, and take pictures when the light is good before my husband leaves for work. Then I’ll change into workout clothes and go for a run. It’s a pain because then I usually have to redo my makeup after my shower, but we do what we have to do, right!?!
Weekends are also a good time to bang out a few outfits because my husband isn’t working and is available during the “golden hours”. Of course, the “golden hours” change with the seasons, so we’re always adapting to that as well.
I will say this, I am MUCH better about getting fixed up on a daily basis than I was before I started doing these challenges. I was really in a bad yoga pant rut before, despite my weekly daily mom style posts, and this has gotten me in the habit of actually putting some thought into what I wear on a daily basis.
It also helps that I post my daily outfits on Instagram — usually just a quick top-down selfie shot as I’m running out the door. So even if I don’t do a full out photo shoot for the blog, I make an attempt to put on a cute outfit. That said, I am a HUGE proponent of a “grace day” once a week. I usually spend one day a week in sweatpants with no makeup. It is refreshing if you allow yourself a day like that every so often, as long as it doesn’t become a habit.
#4. How do you make money doing this?
Ah, the million dollar question! I make money on this blog in three main ways — ads, affiliates, and sponsored posts.
Ads are what you see on the sidebar and at the top of my site. With these ads, I’m paid based on impressions — basically how many times my blog is viewed. So the more people who visit, the more ad revenue I make. That means that in addition to researching, shopping, putting outfits together, taking pictures, editing pictures, and writing posts, I also have to spend time on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, making sure my posts get out there where people can find them.
I am a part of an ad network that manages my ads. I don’t sell ads directly to the brands, therefore, I don’t have a lot of control over what is advertised. In fact, a lot of what you see in the ads on my site is based on what you are shopping for and searching for — that is because Google runs the ads and they tailor the ads you see to your search habits. Pretty clever, huh? And a little bit creepy, I’ll admit, but that’s the way ads work in this digital age.
Affiliates are basically a commissions-based revenue model. When I link to products that I’m wearing at Nordstrom and other websites, I get a small percentage of the sales made when you click on those links — anywhere from 2% – 15%. Rest assured, you don’t pay a penny more when you shop through my affiliate links than you would otherwise, and I also cannot see what you actually purchase; I only see what products are purchased. This is very helpful to me because (besides helping to support my website) it shows me what types of products resonate with my readers and what I should show more of.
I also use the LIKEtoKNOW.it app, which allows you to shop through my affiliate links on Instagram. If you sign up with them, every time you “like” one of my Instagram posts with a LIKEtoKNOW.it link, you will get an email with affiliate links to the products on the website where I found them. Pretty nifty!
Sponsored posts are when I partner with a brand and write a post about their product or service — or sometimes just a related topic. I am paid a flat rate that we agree upon. I always tell you within the post that I am partnering with a brand, and I try to tell you towards the beginning so no one feels duped. Not that you should, because I only partner with brands that I actually use and trust, but I do understand that feeling and try to be up-front so I don’t lose your trust.
Besides the time that I put into my blog posts and the behind-the-scenes running of the website, it is very costly to run a site the size of mine. There are hosting costs and apps and plugins that I need to keep it running smoothly. Plus it’s necessary to redesign every few years to keep it current. All of these expenses add up quickly, and without revenue from ads, affiliates, and sponsored posts, I wouldn’t be able to provide all of this for free. I do try to keep my ads from over-powering my content, and I only take on affiliate partners and sponsors that I can wholeheartedly endorse, but they are necessary to keeping everything running smoothly.
I hope this helps unveil a bit of the mystery around the running of ye olde blawg! I’m always happy to answer any questions, or hear your suggestions. My email is always open. Haha!!
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Well, now that our 25 days of winter fashion are over, WHAT ever will we do with ourselves??
Just kidding. Cyndi and I still have a few tricks up our sleeves, so stay tuned for another fun challenge after the holidays. Meanwhile, stop over and see Cyndi’s 25 Days of Winter Fashion Recap. And to make sure you don’t miss anything, sign up to get my blog in your email. Stay stylish!