1. Tell us a little bit about Pretty Shiny Sparkly.
Pretty Shiny Sparkly is a primarily a personal style blog. But there are also equal parts fashion and beauty as well. It started off as a blog just for myself, to post the things I wanted to buy, or things online that I loved (sparkly things, naturally), but couldn't afford. For me the thought was, instead of buying it, I'll post it for others to see and love, and live vicariously. It has since morphed into a style blog in which I am continuously challenging myself to work with my wardrobe. And of course, indulging in a little (okay, a lot of) online shopping! My posts consist of my outfits, DIY projects, design inspiration, video tutorials, beauty picks, shopping, and of course, my favorite finds across the web.
2. How did you monetize Pretty Shiny Sparkly? (ie. consulting, ads, product sales, etc.)
When PSS first started out I knew that one day I wanted to have sponsors. I mean, it seemed like every other blog I read had tons of sponsors, it should be easy, right? Wrong. I went about it all wrong. I focused so many hours on getting sponsors, right from the beginning, but instead I should have focused on the three things we bloggers now preach about: 1. Content (quality content) 2. Networking (community participation) and 3. Traffic (don't bother reaching out to brands until you have solid traffic under your belt – you'll look as foolish as I did!).
Eventually I switched gears after realizing my mistakes, and not long after, the offers slowly came rolling in. First a trickle, then a stream, and it just grew from there. For the last 1.5 years I've been sponsored by some wonderful, wonderful brands. Now, however, it's not the primary way I make my quasi-living on Pretty Shiny Sparkly. That mainly comes from collaborations with bigger name brands and companies that are focused on more than just banner advertising. And, aside from being a little bit more lucrative, it's WAY more fun!
3. How has blogging affected your career?
My career has been touched in every aspect by my blog. As a medical student just 1 year shy of obtaining my MD, the line between my medical career and my blogging career is getting more and more tenuous, blurred. Colleagues hear about it, professors hear about it, and eventually it spreads and spreads and it is impossible to keep it separate sometimes. At first, I tried to keep it a secret, so that it wouldn't be an issue with future bosses, just in case. Now, I just let the cards fall where they may–I don't talk about it at work, but if someone brings it up, I'm happy to talk about it, because I love all things blog-related! It's been a slow and steady journey, but I've accepted that my two sides (medicine and blogging) make me whole – I love blogging because I'm a very creative person and I need that outlet. I love medicine because I am a healer, and love working with my hands and my mind. The two keep me balanced, whole, and sane! I can't imagine my life without Pretty Shiny Sparkly – something I never would have believed you if you'd told me that 2 years ago. It's absolutely wonderful.
4. What are you working on now?
Right now I'm working on tweaking my blog's design aesthetics to make the reading experience better – more legible, and more cohesive (limiting colors and fonts to a certain palette and consistency). I'm also in the now-two-year process of creating a permanent logo for Pretty Shiny Sparkly. The banner image has been many different things in the past 2 years, and every time it changes I'm hurting my brand's image. So a recognizable, usable logo is definitely a top goal for me at the moment. I'm also working with brands and website companies on some upcoming projects, and I'm trying to wade through hundreds of emails that I receive each day and trying to answer as many as possible–which is proving pretty darn difficult, and that totally bugs me. I think it's really important to connect with your readers and respond (to comments, to emails) as much as possible. I've got to figure out a better system for getting back to everyone!
5. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to aspiring bloggers?
I recommend checking out my Secrets to Successful Fashion Blogging. I think (hope!) you will find it useful in at least one aspect. Follow the rules of creating great content first, then working on quality networking and friendships with other bloggers. Next, tackle social media with grace and good timing. Then, and only then, should you begin to navigate the waters of sponsorship. You'll cut through the bullsh*t and forge long-lasting, solid relationships with companies you wouldn't have been able to do without first doing the steps above. Above all, have fun with it! If you don't have passion, you can't get far. After all, what will you run on at 2:30 in the morning when you're trying out new site plugins and editing your blog template? Okay, that last line was totally me, for the first 6 months of Pretty Shiny Sparkly. But seriously, passion is key. You have to love what you do, but when you do, it's like a roller-coaster ride: ups and downs for sure, but a blast for the whole ride!