We sit down with Annmarie O’Connor, pre-eminent stylist, fashion heroine, former blogger and #IMAGEblogawards jusdge to talk about what it takes to blog successfully…
What inspired you to begin blogging?
I began guest blogging for ChicToday.com in 2005. I then decided to launch I Blog Fashion in 2008 when I started freelancing full-time as a fashion journalist. Blogging became a way of finding an outlet for the fashion miscellany filling my brain. The instant gratification was palpable.
Did you have a clear vision of where you wanted it to go?
In a word no: Blogging was a relative neologism when I started. Publishing formats were basic (no fancy plug-ins) and monetising was a divisive topic. The landscape of blogging has changed immeasurably since then. I do believe we were all, to a degree, winging it. Given this, my only vision for the blog was to keep it tethered to the name: I Blog Fashion. By keeping the tone informal and the format diary-style; I was able to commit to a voice while the song was still being decided.
How has your blog developed from your initial idea?
I retired my blog in 2012 once I hit 1,000 posts. I now guest blog for Image.ie.
Why do you think your blog took off in the way that it did?
I think it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Fashion blogging was in its infancy and as one of Ireland’s first fashion bloggers, I was frequently called upon to discuss blogging in general and my own personal journey in the field. I had also started a monthly event – The Fashion Bloggers’ Brunch – with a view to connecting with fellow bloggers. There were about 12 of us that would regularly meet. If the same event were happening today, I’d say it would be more like 120. How times have changed!
What would you say is the most common pitfall when it comes to blogging, where do people go wrong?
The most common pitfall when it comes to blogging is assuming it is ‘easy’. Sure, there are millions of blogs out there but how many do you actually read? Exactly. Blogging requires 24-7 commitment to make it work. What’s more, the expectations are higher now that it has found its groove. My advice? Establish your voice. If in doubt, write as you would speak and never ever try and co-opt someone’s patois. Establish boundaries; you can’t be all things to all people. Decide who you are (a personal style blog; a ‘top tips’ expert) and stick with that. Most importantly, get the basics right. There’s no point crafting a fancy pants business plan if you don’t spell check your posts or commit to a regular writing schedule. Lastly, don’t get hung up on making a fast buck. Monetising can only fall into place once you’ve got decent traffic and that’s simply not going to happen unless you put in the work. Word.
What were your peaks and pitfalls?
My peak was being headhunted by LVMH to edit the Louis Vuitton City Guide, Dublin for 2010. Pitfalls were few bar the odd internet troll along the blogging trail.
You’ve become a blogging inspiration to many a novice, but who were your blogging idols when you started out?
The now retired GranPaparazzi – a precursor to Advanced Style.
What in your opinion are the three most important things to keep in mind when blogging?
1) Keep an authentic voice – i.e. be you.
2) Keep a regular writing schedule.
3) Keep posts short and sweet – not haiku-short but not the Magna Carta either. 300-500 words tops.
What has made you happiest/most fulfilled throughout the whole experience so far?
Self-expression, committing to a regular writing schedule, enjoying the process
What pearl of wisdom (advice) would you pass on to newbie bloggers?
To quote Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” Know who you are and blog accordingly. Also, commit to love before leverage. It’s the cornerstone to commitment. And when the spark simply isn’t there anymore, know when to bow out gracefully. Never put a brave face on your writing: even forced smiles show through words.
Follow Annmarie on Twitter @aocdotme