Welcome to Part 2 of my Interview with Whitney Valverde, author of Whitney’s Wonderland Blog.
Whitney won the Best Fashion Blogger Category of my Women are B.E.S.T awards earlier this year. One of the prizes for each of the category winners was the opportunity to work with me.
Whitney and I have some great ideas on how we’re going to work together. But to launch our collaboration, I wanted you to meet Whitney and share her story.
In Part 1 of this interview we looked back at what it was like to grow up in the exotic environment of Costa Rica. In this post we will look at how Whitney arrived in a new country and set up her blog to integrate herself into life in London.
Fashion bloggers love to share their passions with both their readers and their peer group. They ask their peer group for advice, share problems and have fun. As bloggers hang out online a lot of this takes place via social media. There are events for bloggers hosted by brands, media or other bloggers. It was at one of these amazing events where Whitney and I first met at the Paramount Restaurant overlooking London.
For anyone thinking about starting a blog, Whitney is also kindly sharing her five top blogging tips.
1. When you arrived in the UK in April 2013 did you know you were going to settle here?
My parents worked for a company based in Norwich for many years so I had been to the UK a lot and had friends and contacts in Norwich.
In September 2012, I came and stayed for 3 months solid to see how I really felt about it. I actually started a blog that doesn’t exist anymore.
It was a mess, there was no consistency, and I didn’t know how to code or anything remotely technical. In 2013, I started Whitney’s Wonderland.
I had no idea about anything, I didn’t know if I was going to stay or not, all I knew is that I loved London, fashion, and I wanted to travel.
All the dots slowly eventually connected but we live in a fluid world and a friend of mine always says “If you want to make God laugh…tell him your plans”.
I believe that you never know what the future holds so I just stay positive and push forward.
2. How did you find settling in London? I really admire anyone moving to a different country as I’ve always lived close to where I was born.
First of all, I must say, I’ve spoken English since I was a baby, so that definitely helps!
However, our cultures are quite different. Costa Rica is very laid back, people are often helpful and friendly. It is most of the times very hot and humid, so this makes people “less productive”. It is also a very small country with only 4 million people and 2 million in the city.
At the beginning I was shocked at London’s uber fast pace and couldn’t understand why it was so hard to talk to people let alone make friends with someone!
I’ve been here for over 3 years now, and although I’m friendly with a lot of people, I have few close friends. I’ve made some good friends thanks to blogging as we all go to so many events and see each other all the time and now I’m fast paced as well, lol!
I adore everything about the UK, especially London. First of all, I love the fact that I can find anything from anywhere… Even Costa Rican food!
The fact that the city is so cosmopolitan and you can meet people from all over the world is such a unique cultural experience not offered by any other big city! I love that there’s not only an acceptance but also a celebration of all kinds of culture and counter cultures… London, to me, is the greatest most cosmopolitan city on Earth! Finally I don’t settle!
3. Your blog is so successful that you are able to dedicate yourself to it full time, but for anyone starting a fashion blog what are the five hot tops you would give them?
Blogging is much more than simply sitting down at your laptop and pouring out your thoughts. High quality photos are needed for each post. No one wants a product review with a few snaps!
Fashion bloggers model the clothes that they are writing about, so that means taking a lot of time over your appearance every time you need some images.
It doesn’t stop with writing and adding a few images.
As a blogger you need to be on several social media platforms and build a real presence. This is to both drive traffic to your blog and to encourage brands.
Brands are only interested in working with bloggers who have an extensive reach to the audience they want to attract. You need to attend a lot of events to be seen and build your credibility.
I want to make it clear it is NOT easy and that you should never start blogging if you are thinking of making money.
You should do it because you really love what you are blogging about and are extremely passionate about sharing your thoughts and ideas with others. Otherwise, don’t bother.
It requires a lot of time, patience and consistency to actually make a blog “successful” in a commercial sense. Unless you’re already blessed by having economic support from parents or whoever, you can’t just start a blog and dedicate yourself to it full-time at the expense of making money.
Whitney’s 5 top tips for starting a blog
- Find something you’re passionate about: Your readers will spot insincerity as they really do love the topic (that why they read the blogs!). So if you’re going to write about something “for the rest of your life”, it better be something you truly love and are willing to share with others. There are blogs about everything and anything, but find your own voice in those things you love (from cleaning, to babies and pets… Or quantum physics, there is an audience for everyone!)
- Stay true to yourself: If and when your blog starts to become successful and generate some money, A LOT of brands will reach out to you and offer you money and/or gifted products to review. We have all been tempted to say yes to cash and a product we don’t like or believe in. You’re not kidding anyone by accepting a product like this. Only recommend that which you would recommend to your bestie and everything will be fine!
- Be consistent: Whether you blog once a month or everyday (this is btw super difficult for one person!!), do it consistently. You’re building an audience who expects to see a post on, for example, every other Monday. So be loyal to them. Even if at the beginning your public is 1 reader.
- Motivate yourself: It is a competitive industry and being a freelancer is not easy. Just like anyone else, sometimes I wonder if I’m using my time well, if it’s worth it, etc. But then I remember I love what I do and I’d do it for free (if I didn’t need to pay the bills!), so just remember that! Also, google other known, well respected blogger’s stories and see how hard they had to work to get where they are!
- You’re a blogger, not a celebrity or a model. Do remind yourself of this when you go big! I believe blogging got successful, especially in fashion, because people were tired of looking at ultra skinny, tall women who (duh!) looked amazing wearing anything. A blogger was a breath of fresh air, a woman you could relate to and see how clothes looked in real life on real people. Don’t forget to interact with your readers, be friendly, and always say yes to a pic!
So the take away from this post is while you can make money from blogging it’s not the reason you should start a blog. It’s easy to look at successful bloggers and say ‘I could do that’ but remember they have not become a success overnight.
Many bloggers start when they are at University. For anyone who is studying journalism they are encouraged to blog as a way of building their credibility and experience.
There are also fashion bloggers who start their blog out of frustration, as Whitney mentions above, reading blogs is great for the audience fed up with the unrealistic image of women favoured by the fashion industry. Bloggers too get fed up with this idealistic imagery and want to show the world that real women wear clothes too!
Check out Whitney’s Blog here.