The Biggest Lessons Blogging Has Taught Me So Far

* This post is in collaboration with NA-KD *

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post on my own personal site. 

It’s also been a long time since I shot these photos…

But, honestly, I wanted to wait until the time was right, until the inspiration really hit and I could give this collaboration the time and the moment that it truly deserves – a process that in itself ended up being the inspiration for this post. 

When I first started this blog I never could have imagined the opportunities that have emerged from it. The collaborations I’ve ben incredibly lucky to be part of, the people I’ve met and the lessons I’ve learned – none of those were part of the plan but pleasant little surprises nonetheless. 

The biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way have – in a rather self-absorbed manner – mostly been about myself. I’ve learned various fashion lessons the hard way and unfortunately have chosen to share them on the big bad world of the internet meaning they’re there to haunt me for years to come (and provide plenty of entertainment). 

I’ve learned just how big a passion writing truly is for me – to the point that good or bad day, lifting a pen and taking time to write in my journal feels like a luxury. Writing is something that allows me to express myself in a way I wouldn’t feel as comfortable doing through any other media and referring to myself as a good writer is something I can say with pride and with confidence, without fear of sounding cocky. 

Following on from this lesson, I’ve learned that when it comes to creating content, I really value a good story. While I am fortunate to have been able to work on various different collaborations, I’m still very much in the early days of brands knocking on my (vitrual) door to work together. So, when they do come knocking, you better believe I plan to do everything in my power to create the kind of content I’m proud to share with them.

The word authenticity is preached so often within the blogging industry that it almost feels like a bit of a dirty word. One we roll our eyes at, sometimes even cringe at a little. However, as we’ve been told soooo many times before, authenticity is so incredibly important within the consumer focused world of blogging. I’m very much appreciative of the fact that out of the collaborations I’ve worked on so far, brands have given me freedom in terms of creative direction and in terms of deadline. Throwing together an outfit post, listing the items, prices and brands – that kind of content doesn’t sit right with me. Some people take that in their stride and do a great job of it but it doesn’t match my voice, niche or quite frankly, my reality as someone living on a tight budget and unable to shop as often as she might like. 

Another thing I take into account with collaborations – does it fit well within my reality? In this case, NA-KD couldn’t fit better. It’s clothes are affordable while still on trend, it’s delivery time is impeccable and these high waisted straight-leg jeans passed the squat test with flying colours. 

My point is to try and get creative with your content when a brand has taken the time, effort and/or money to pitch a collaborative project to you. Sometimes that creative idea will appear instantly, the second the email lands in your inbox. Other times you have to leave it be for a while, let your creativity do its thing and trust that when that idea does arrive it will have been worth every second of the wait. 

I’m aware taking this time isn’t a luxury afforded to everyone and adhering to deadlines set by brands is very important. To be clear, I’m by no means suggesting you should disrespect brands when they’ve set clear deadlines for a project. This is their business after all and more than likely part of a marketing strategy that they’re rolling out immediately if not in the foreseeable future. 

In my opinion, to get people to resonate with your content you’ve got to give them some value and for me, the value I try to deliver both to those that read my blog and to the brand I’m working with is and will always be an honest, friendly voice, one that wants to share how a product, brand or service truly made me feel. One that talks about real human experience and shares stories that others can relate to and hopefully enjoy.

How did this collaboration with NA-KD make me feel?

Lucky.

Grateful.

Pretty damn proud. 

It’s a real compliment when a brand wants to collaborate with you. I still get butterflies when an email about a collaboration lands in my inbox. I 110% still call my mum/sister instantly and obviously, a frantic, excited and often misspelled announcement goes straight into the WhatsApp group with my best friends. I hope that magic never fades.

For one reason or another, looking over the photos from this collaboration made me feel reflective of how far I’ve come, not just in terms of blogging but in general. The opportunities that have presented themselves in the last few days have truly blown me away. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and your current frustrations when all it takes is a few steps back from the immediate situation to appreciate the progress you’ve made. Doesn’t seem so hard when you’ve got gorgeous pink mules from NA-KD to take those steps in. And yes, I did choose them because they remind me of Carrie Bradshaw. As for the white wrap shirt and statement earrings – Sarah, my photography hero, said they made me look like Rihanna and I will definitely be pocketing that compliment. 

Massive thank you to NA-KD for collaborating with me on this post.

Photos by Sarah Ellis of Here’s To: Photography
Check out her full (and fabulous) portfolio here.

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Niamh ♥

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