Following on from chatting to one of my favourite bloggers last week, I thought I’d follow suit with this edition of The Inspirations and speak to another incredibly inspiring blogger. Although calling Elsie Larson mearly a ‘blogger’ is doing her a huge disservice and is an understatement of epic proportions! She is a multifaceted business woman with mad skills. A master of multi-tasking she, alongside her sister and business partner Emma, runs a hugely successful blog (which current gets over 170,000 views a day!), owns a vintage clothing boutique, an online shop (where they sell their own line of dresses!)..oh she’s also currently writing her first book! Way to make us feel lazy superwoman.
It was really interesting to rummage around in the mind of Elsie. I hope you enjoy reading our chat as well.
Hi Elsie, I’m so excited to have you in the Green Room today! Could you introduce yourself?
I’m Elsie from A Beautiful Mess. My sister, Emma, and I own a local vintage boutique and run our blog as our full time job. I also design dress lines a few times each year… never a dull moment!
I started my blog five years ago with no particular aspirations, except to share the random photos I was taking each day. If I could go back in time and give myself a little advice I’d say to keep an open mind and try anything once! Currently, I’m wrapping up work on the very first A Beautiful Mess book, due out in 2013.
Your blog is only one part of your business but its exceptionally popular. How do you feel it compliments the other areas of your business and do you have any tips or advice for people with businesses that want to use blogging and social media to enhance their brand?
Great question! I really believe that blogging has to come from it’s own creative place. Blogs that are based solely on promoting a business can be one dimensional and often lack a strong voice. My advice for business owners who want to start a blog is to explore all your options. Just because you want to promote your business doesn’t mean that’s all you can do. Try anything that interests you! For example I follow the brand Fossil’s blog and it is a fun read. They blog about so much more than just their own products and I think that’s something that I enjoy in any brand’s blog.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes business owners who blog make and how would you encourage them to remedy this?
I think that blogging about their own goods too much is the biggest mistake I see. Any business is wise to create a lifestyle resource that their target customers can enjoy, not just a feed of new products. There are so many ways to educate customers about your products without just “selling” them. For example, each time we launch a dress collection I spend a couple weeks creating “3 Ways To Wear It” features for each dress. These features work because they do sell my designs, but readers who aren’t interested in buying can enjoy them still while learning little styling tips!
What do you think makes a good blogger? Do you see any emerging trends in what makes some bloggers phenomenally well read and successful while others struggle to attract readers? What do you think separates the successes from the mediocre?
I think being original is really important. I could talk all day about that but the bottom line is that blogs that imitate other blogs are really only selling themselves short.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I love a photography workshop. No, I know, I’m not a professional photographer but I find them so inspiring! I’ve also been lucky enough to be involved with organising, speaking at and generally sharing the love for so many of them. So, today I thought I’d put together a comprehensive list of some of the ones that are coming up soon. There is a workshop out there for you, the hardest part is picking the right one!
The Photography Farm – Lisa Devlin
Where: The Photography Farm, Sussex, UK
When: 16th-18th July 2012
Duration: 3 days
Included: Food (breakfast, lunch & dinner for 2 days, breakfast on the 3rd) & accommodation for 2 nights. Goodie bag & discounts.
Maximum Number of Attendees: 10
Syllabus: Planning of engagement shoots and wedding photography. Styled bridal shoot and engagement shoot. Post-Production. Blogging (guest speaker Kat Williams of Rock n Roll Bride – how to improve your own blogs and get featured on professional wedding blogs). Business School. One-to-one session with Lisa. After-support via a private, closed facebook group. Access to swimming pool & hot tub (!)
For Enquires & Bookings: Email Lisa on email@example.com or call 01273231047. More info via the Photography Farm website.
Win a place at the Photography Farm: For you chance to win a spot at the July Photography Farm tweet @photographyfarm or leave a message on the wall of the Photography Farm facebook page and let Lisa know why you think yuo should be there!
Film is not Dead – Jonathan Canalas
Where: Surrey, UK
When: May 28th-30th (Workshops also taking place in Boston – June 11th-13th and Charleston SC – Oct 15th-17th)
Duration: 3 days
Included: Breakfast & lunch on all 3 days. Goodie bag & discounts.
Maximum Number of Attendees: 15
Syllabus: FILM – who, what, when, where, why and how? Getting published. The Power of a blog. On and off camera flash with film. Storytelling through details. Loving Family Formals. Instaproofs : how it will change your life. Refining your vision.
For Enquires & Bookings: Email Jonathan on firstname.lastname@example.org. More info via the Film is not Dead website.
Feet First – Our Labor of Love & Max Wanger
Where: New York City
When: 1st & 2nd August 2012
Duration: 2 days
Included: Breakfast & Lunch on both days. Goodie bag & discounts.
Maximum Number of Attendees: 20
Syllabus: You will learn about our ideas & philosophies. Marketing. Client relations. Technical concepts. Packaging. The gear we use. Pricing. Lighting. Editing. Albums. Finding ways to stay inspired. Styled shoot.
It’s that time again…time to announce a brand new School of Rock date and venue!
The next event will be taking place on Thursday 28th June 2012 at Curradine Barns in Shrawley, Worcestershire (about 50 minutes drive from Birmingham). The 4 hour workshop will be from 1.30pm-5.30pm (no early mornings thank you very much!) and afterwards you’re all invited to have food, drinks and more blogging chats with Gareth & me over a complementary meal being put on by the Curradine Barns team!
The workshop is all about the art of blogging. Most of the topics discussed will have relevance for anyone who has a blog, whether you’re wanting to be a professional blogger, someone who blogs to support their business (i.e. you’re a wedding photographer/stationer/caterer with a blog) or you just want to blog for fun! The course isn’t specifically aimed at people with wedding-related blogs although most of the examples (and secrets!) I share will probably be related to the wedding industry.
The course will cover the following topics:
♥ How I started Rock n Roll Bride and built readership (and tips on how you can do the same) ♥ Finding your own voice and showcasing your personality ♥ Knowing what to blog about and finding inspiration ♥ Leveraging social media ♥ How I turned my blog into a full time business, advertising and how to make money from your blog ♥ Branding and thinking about yourself as a brand ♥ How to get featured on professional wedding blogs ♥ Dealing with the not so nice bits of blogging ♥ Plenty of time for your questions…
Photography Credit: Laura Michelle Photography
As a wedding photographer, are you including an album with every package that you offer clients? I didn’t used to but I have recently changed this so that I do.
It’s been a huge few years for wedding photography. The arrival of affordable digital SLRs have of course impacted massively on how many people now offer their services as wedding photographers. It feels like a buyers market a lot of the time as anyone looking to book a wedding photographer in the UK has a huge amount of us to choose from. Potential clients are often putting their demands in at the initial enquiry stage instead of waiting to see what you offer. As an extreme example, I had this in my inbox a while back…
I am writing to you regarding a wedding taking place on XX of XXXXXX 2012.
If you are available for this date, I have a bride and groom looking for a photographer to capture a full day. They are, however, on an extremely tight budget. The absolute maximum they may be able to stretch to, would be £400 for the total costings. The wedding is in XXXX Church with the reception to follow, down the road. It was originally planned that a friend would be photographing the events of the day, but it has recently come to light that this may not now be possible.
Ideally they are looking for the following:
Coverage from preparation to first dance
Full copyright of all pictures
Needless to say I responded with ‘Dear Sir/Madam, thanks for your truly delightful email but I am busy for that day, in fact that whole year.’ I have also had lots of enquiries that state “We don’t need an album as we will be doing our own”. Of course if you are including the high resolution files in their package then they are very welcome to. But check up on those clients a year or even two down the line and see if they ever made that album. Or go back through your weddings and look at who was definitely going to order an album from you and see if they ever did. In the planning stages of a wedding, a few hundred pounds on an album to proudly display your wedding day can seem perfectly reasonable in the grand scheme of things. However after the wedding, when maybe the washing machine breaks down or they start to think about having a family, that chunk of money on a wedding album can now seem like quite a lot to find. Two thirds of couples overspend significantly on their wedding budget and often take quite some time to pay it all off. As photographers you will find that more often than not you will be missing the window of opportunity on providing a wedding album.
Photography Credit: Carissa Gallo
I discovered Naomi’s blog, The Rockstar Diaries, in early 2009, when she published her wedding photographs. I immediately fell in love with her and her husband Josh’s effortless style and achingly cool attitude. I loved the way they shared cute little stories about their life as newlyweds – getting married, setting up home, moving from New York to DC, getting their dog Kingsley, having their first child, Eleanor… It was all very unpretentious and honest and I felt connected with them instantly.
So I thought Naomi would be the perfect person to interview today. If you have a blog and you worry about what to share about yourself, then Naomi and her family are the perfect role models to inspire you.
Hi Naomi, I’ve followed your blog for years and I’m so excited to have you in the Green Room today. For those readers that might not know who you are, could you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Naomi (also known as Taza in the blogging world) and I live in Washington DC with my husband, Josh, and 16 month old baby girl, Eleanor. In 2 or 3 weeks, we’ll be adding a new member to the family as I’m due with our second child, a boy, in early June! We also have an English bulldog named Kingsley who is sort of our world. We love him dearly.
My husband and I met while attending school in New York City (him, Columbia, me, Juilliard). We were married in NYC and lived there for a few years before making our way to DC about 3 years ago. I started our little blog shortly after we were married as a way to share our wedding photos with family and friends. After I posted our wedding photos, I continued to update here and there about our newly wed lives in NYC and it sort of just took on a life of its own from there. I never started my blog with the intention or desire to gain a large following or make money from it. We never advertised our blog or pushed it out there… I remember when we first started receiving comments from people we didn’t know… It made me terribly nervous and I almost made it private. But it’s been a wonderful experience (for the most part, ha!) and I’m thankful for it. I’ve met some of my best friends through blogging, find constant inspiration and support from fellow bloggers and feel fortunate for the opportunities and experiences that have come our way because of it.
Is your blog your full time job and what role does your husband Josh play in the business?
I got my BFA in dance at Juilliard and was teaching up until Eleanor’s birth. At the moment, I find motherhood to be my full time job. Although I’ll admit that our blog could definitely be considered a full time gig if we allowed it.
I was struggling this week with what to talk about. I sat starting at a blank page for what felt like hours begging for the inspiration to come. I started to look through my draft articles hoping that a past explored idea might jump out at me and evoke a new article of genius…and then it hit me. I’ve written a lot of articles that I’ve never published. For various reasons really, but when I looked at them all as a collective group I realised something striking – that in every single instance the unpublished works are ones that have been written more for myself than the benefit of others. There isn’t really an overall message or lesson within them, but I find writing writing very cathartic, and the time I’ve spent writing these articles has actually been time spent working through certain ideas or problems in my mind.
Some of the articles have gone on to build the foundations of other ideas (workshop topics, things for the print magazine, the beginnings of other posts) while the rest have just sat there, for no one else to see. It’s also probably no coincidence that the majority of these unpublished works tend to be my way of dealing with negative experiences or feelings. I guess it’s been a little like writing a diary. No one else needs to read it for it to serve it’s purpose.
So I started wondering if any of you ever do the same with whatever line of work you’re in. Photographers, do you ever do shoots and never share them? Designers, do you ever draw up concepts that never make your final collections? I would imagine some of you do, but for the rest of you, if not I’d encourage you to do it. Sometimes when I decide it’s best not to publish something I feel deflated, like I’ve wasted hours on something that no one else is going to see. This is entirely flawed thinking as to explore and experiment without the constant need to share is actually completely freeing. It enables you to be honest with yourself and explore ideas you otherwise wouldn’t for fear of of judgement. Maybe it’s something dark, or scary, or just simply irrelevant to your line of work. That doesn’t mean that spending some time exploring it is time wasted.