deer stalking on new year's day

LAST year, that is. Another rule in my head, broken: I took these photos with a group of friends (and Mr. Dot) walking through Richmond Park on the most glorious January 1st, 2010. We had had the most perfect New Year's Eve party: four couples, two unrelated little boys, one of the wives' sister's fabulous huge house somewhere near Richmond, and we dressed up and ate in the dining room like grownups and everyone made a course. The neighbours even gave us a firework display.

My rule was: do the New Year's Day post in the first week. A year went by. I couldn't even fit it into the first week of THIS year. And then on Friday I forgot to do my FBFF questions - I don't even know if we're allowed to post them on Sunday. And yesterday was Mr. Dot and my anniversary - which deserves a post in itself - and I just haven't been online much.

Anyway, here goes:

January 7th's Fashion Beauty Friendly Friday (FBFF) topic: Success and our Perception of It.

1. Have you ever looked at someone's blog and thought yours will never measure up?

Of course. I mean, I must have when I started two years ago. I don't feel that way now. Just as each human being is unique, so is each blog.

I didn't worry about measuring up in terms of content, but in terms of 'success' - fame, yes. I never thought I'd get as many followers as, say, The Sartorlalist. But Sabine of Psynopsis put it so well: I wouldn't want the stress of that kind of exposure, either.

Yeah, I definitely looked at bloggers like Rumi, or Susie Bubble and said to myself, I will never be as famous as them. But I also knew didn't want to be them, or do my blog like them, so it was a moot point. I actually used to go to the 'big blogs' in the early days and see all those comments, just to torture myself. No one commented on my blog. I couldn't even get my friends or family to comment. My husband - bless him - would leave comments like 'Love her shoes! xx', with fake girls' names, just so I wouldn't feel like such a loser.

2. Do you (did you) feel pressure to meet some kind of undefined standard for fashion bloggers?

Not standards, no. But I did go through a phase when I stopped doing strictly street style, when I lost followers and had several disgruntled customers. I even offered to give them their money back. (Joke). (Pretty Lame Joke, at that).

3. Many established fashion bloggers are also extraordinary DIYers, bakers, and crafty people. Do you think you need to combine all of these things to be successful at blogging?

Oh god no! I hope not. I can't DIY: I have a morbid fear of cutting or altering clothing - I start thinking of a jumper or a dress as a living entity and I wouldn't want to hurt it or permanently disfigure it. I'd make a crap surgeon. I admire the courage of people who can DIY. I'm a fabulous baker (she says modestly) but I'm afraid if I started posting my food shots - I'd just get more irate letters.

My first job, in NY, was as a junior graphic designer for Push Pin Studios, the most 'famous', successful studio of that time. One of the founders, Milton Glaser, said the secret of success is to focus on one thing, and do it well. After you're successful, you can basically do whatever the hell you want.

That is, if your idea of success is of a lot of people coming to your blog, which I'm really ambivalent about anyway. So if you want to bake a cake and post about it, do it! But once you're famous for your culinary skills, don't come crying to me if people expect you to bake yummy things all the time.

4. The most successful blogs are the ones that have their own personal voice - how are you developing your voice or how did you find yours?

I started out with an idea that my voice would be kind of Fifties Housewife Tips for the Modern Woman: squeaky clean, yet ironic. I soon discovered that it's easier to post in my own voice. You just can't fake an alternative personality day in, day out. It's too much hard work.

5. Toot your own horn... what's one thing you do that is unique to you and your blog? What gives your blog an edge?

Okay, if you insist (sigh).

I can write, and I can take pictures. And my background as a graphic designer and photoshop artist means I can crop, edit, etc. I'm always in awe of people who have beautifully designed blogs with no 'formal training'. It's all a question of taste anyway.

Granted, when I started in February 2009, I thought the idea of a 'street style' blog was unique. I had never heard of The Sartorialist: my inspiration was Bill Cunningham of the NY Times, who I grew up fascinated with as a child. I liked the anthropological aspect of trend spotting. There were already a bunch back then and there are even more now, and I am so not unique.

But the one thing that might be unique is I talk with my subjects about their lives. I give them a chance to get in touch and, I'll send them the shots in higher res. Some have become close friends. So perhaps it's the stories that I tell about the people I meet on the street that's unique.

Altho: anyone out there is welcome to steal that idea! Depends on how much time you've got on your hands.

Thank you to Katy Rose of Modly Chic for putting together this fabulous FBFF community. Anyone interested in learning more about it, click here.

Thank you to Brook's Italian girlfriend for the shots of me. She saw me shooting the deer and thought that I looked like some kind of prey, so she said 'give me the camera'. In her lilting Italian accent, of course!


she'll bartend your party said...

that bit about your husband leaving comments under girls names literally made me go "awww!" out loud. very sweet. i really love your blog and follow it - but rarely comment. it's so lovely to hear your thoughts along with the pictures.. different anecdotes that you give often change the way i see your pictures!

Unknown said...

I loved what you said about posting in your own voice and not faking an alternative personality. When I first started blogging last year I was really concious of the fact that people might not like who I am or how I come across on the internet so I predominantly stuck to the whole "photo a day" concept and spent very little time writing anything for the posts. Then I did a couple of slightly longer posts and just decided to write however I felt like writing and they were some of the best received posts I did. It taught me that I shouldn't put so much on what other people MIGHT think and that being yourself is never a bad thing :)
Jules x

Leia said...

Very interesting to read your responses! I find it so interesting that you started a street style blog without knowing that others existed. I'm glad you moved away from *solely* street style, though; personally I prefer more varied, personal blogs! Although I do love the fact that you interacted with the subject & became friends with some - that's so sweet.

Style At Every Age said...

It is an interesting subject, I left a comment on a blog earlier about this, I think it was Leia's. I do sometimes wonder how some bloggers get so much recognition and free stuff and become media darlings, they obviously know something I don't! Oh well good luck to them! I would like my blog to look nicer but can't afford someone to design something for me but never mind!

The Photodiarist said...

Cool post. You know what I think? You have a unique voice and unique photographs. So you've created a world of friends who have come to rely on that voice and photographs. But we all grow and change. In real life, some friends let you grow and change and come along for the ride. Other friends resent or fear the change and call you on it. Those people still love you. It's just that they don't recognize you. Hence the dilemma. The quandary. The conundrum. Either you grow and change as you should or you become stunted for the sake of others. I think you know my answer. You must grow and change as you need to. You may lose one portion of your audience as a result but you will almost certainly gain another. So now you aren't as taken with street-style. I get that. Everyone does it. I love it. I follow it. But I only get into it if and when I want to get into it. I also worry that I am posting too much fashion week or not enough portraits or whatever. But at the end of the day, I post what I am interested in. So do me a favor, Jill. Remind me of this response when I start worrying about my posts, would you?

Style At Every Age said...

Re your comment, I am by the seaside but on the North Kent Coast Hun, I'll let you know when I am next in Town xxx

the nyanzi report said...

Great topic Jill. This blogging thing is like canvasing for votes on a political campaign trail. One feels the need to satisfy everybody's taste but at the end of the day, if there's no authenticity, people do pick up on that and desert you. Others will stay as a matter of courtesy but won't be interested in whatever your on about.

But once you find your voice, and become famous, it's a wrap! They will run to you like you've discovered the cure for AIDS.

Unknown said...

It is amazing to see how your blog has grown since you sent me an e-mail when you just started, I don't know if you remember it? I'm glad your blog has grown into a mix of things, with stories written around the pictures you post. I'm definitely a fan of more writing on blogs, I could never really post a picture and a few words of text as it's not me. I love that blogging is all about being yourself.

Matthew Spade said...

this was really interesting, esp to hear your answers. i didn't think of much when i started my blog, around 3 years ago now. my traffic isn't high but the people that do visit do seem to talk to me so i;m very grateful. your blog has changed quite a lot since i started visiting i think, more about life that just street style. culture lets say?

Shopgirl said...

Great answers.

I love that your husband used to leave comments - that is sooo sweet and wonderful!

Like Leia, I too am glad you moved away from solely street style. And you're right, you can write, in addition to taking fabulous photos. I'm not sure I'd come back so often if it wasn't for the talented writing that always accompanies your photos :)

Happy weekend, xx

adrielleroyale said...

I love these photos, your friend was right, you do look like a predator in your leopard coat! lol!! Anyway, I love your blog and how your personality shines through. When I first started, I wanted to write my two cents worth about things but found that my voice became much more true when wrote poetry and then included photos with it. It's all a journey of self discovery really. Plus you get to meet fabulous people along the way! Great post :)

ediot said...

i absolutely loved this post and your honesty. and these pics are amazing and so fun!
i too find it so cute that your hubby left sweet comments- did you know about it then? or did you hear about it later?

hope you'll have a great week ahed
take care


SabinePsynopsis said...

Like always my brain went into racing mode reading your wonderful answers...
1. Oh, I had the same. I was so frustrated about the lack of comments from friends and family that I wrote about it. And loo-and-behold Susie Bubble wrote the sweetest comment that I shouldn’t give up and do my thing… That really kept me going.
2. A girl’s got to do what she’s gotta do…
3. You’re an amazing communicator and I think a great cook. How many skills can one person have?

Love your blog every day, Jill! Keep it going. xoxo

Abimarvel said...

just lovely! I totally relate to this post, especially the first few points.

It's always re-assuring knowing you're not alone and that well; your blog is simply awesome!

I'm looking forward to this year :) & defo getting to know you better.


cecylia.com said...

You look so chic but are you scaring the deers? :)

Anonymous said...

Haha, yes, Cecylia, I was trying to! But they were basically ignoring me. They roam free in Richmond park and they're pretty much used to people being around.. they're shy but it's like with pigeons. Actually I took the photo of the deer first, and then we kind of mockingly did the shots with Brook's girlfriend using my camera.

Kristabel, I finally put together how I knew you: I found your blog in my early days! That's why that day I was trying to piece together how I knew you, and it wasn't just fashion week.. I had your blog on my roll all this time.

Thanks all! Can't address you each personally as falling asleep. Oh it's JIll btw. xx

Phyllisa said...

I've only recently found your blog and in general very rarely leave comments for people - I enjoy their posts, some more than others, but don't feel compelled to post something. I think I've left two or even three comments to your blog already (and I've only been reading a couple of weeks)! I enjoy your sardonic wit and your photos. I've thought about writing my own blog, from my own perspective and IF I do, I hope to follow your advice. It's great, refreshing, enchanting! As, is your blog, regardless of what you decide to post!


I did laugh about Mr. Dot commenting under fake girls' names, what a babe. Jill, I totally agree with enjoying not having the extreme pressure of fame. I was really keen to make my blog a huge name when I first started, but now I actually enjoy that is a small sideline activity to my daily life and takes up very little of my time. I couldn't imagine the pressure of an extreme following, expecting greatness and inspiration to be posted every day, especially when a blogger has a full-time job or a full-time university degree to manage as well, and a social life AND hobbies and etc etc.

Although my readership grows, I actually get fewer comments than I used to, but they're more personal and insightful than the 30 'love this!'s' (which I still appreciate of course) comments I used to get.

Besides, i'm far too badly behaved to be famous. You know what I'm like; I never take myself seriously and my humour is far too dry. I enjoy the anonymity of being able to say outrageous things and pull ridiculous joke poses at LFW without too many people caring about it.

I always come back to your blog because you have the courage to post what the rest of us are all thinking. The blogging world is amazing, but because it's so new, it's totally bizarre. But we have to remember that we all started so we could have a voice, and that's what's the most important: individual voices.

love, Imogen.

daisychain said...

I have nothing deep or insightful to say, other than DEER. I love Deer!

Fashion Limbo said...

Are you taunting the deer? or are they taunting you? they must have been VERY confused by that stunning leopard print coat you were wearing :)

Lovely pictures, and it must be nice to let others take the pictures, we get to see you! or at least the back of a stunning coat (you can see I like leopard print right?)

I love your site, but you know that already xxx

Veshoevius said...

Agree with the Photodiarist's comment above - couldn't say it better myself - like that you are in a leopard coat stalking the deer - like Safari on Richmond Park.

Style At Every Age said...

Jill, I need to find you on Facebook can you add me as a friend please the name is Sharron Granger, I just want to ask your opinion on something my daughter has done for her portfolio for her application to Fashion Courses at Uni x

Style Odyssey said...

very interesting subject matter...
i think the longer one keeps a blog going, the less the concept of its "success" comes to mind. but when you do think on it, defining success is a dynamic thing, as clearly indicated in your post.
anyway, it's a great post, and the photos- how amazing those deer stuck around for as long as they did!

Volga said...

I just wanted to tell that much more people read your blog than leave messages. Sometimes I don't have time to leave a message, sometimes I don't want to repeat already spoken opinion. But I read your posts almost every day. I like that posts are usually long.
Even just to learn about life of women like me in the another country/another city inintresting.
Thanks you.

classiq said...

Great post, it's inspiring and reassuring to hear your insight on those points.

Anonymous said...

To Volga, whoever you are - I just found this in my emails but no on the post - thank you it is so lovely! I hope to hear from you again - or email me privately if you'd like:

Volga has left a new comment on your post "deer stalking on new year's day":

I just wanted to tell that much more people read your blog than leave messages. Sometimes I don't have time to leave a message, sometimes I don't want to repeat already spoken opinion. But I read your posts almost every day. I like that posts are usually long.
Even just to learn about life of women like me in the another country/another city inintresting.
Thanks you.

Volga said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your message and for copying my comment here. That is my problem with leaving a comment – no time to figure out how it works, no time for correcting the typing errors, etc. But message is clear.
Of course, I will come again and maybe sometimes post a badly written comment.

Anonymous said...

Just don't know why my comments don't come to life. They don't appear on the screen.

jill said...

I don't know why either! I just saw your previous one so I'm posting it again but that's so strange - my mom and other friends have had that problem, too. They do show up on my email inbox - I only today had a chance for the first time to read it, which is why I re-posted it. If you get stuck again if you don't mind, please email me directly: jill@haybooks.com thanks Volga for sticking with it! Do you have a blog?

. . .

Volga has left a new comment on your post "deer stalking on new year's day":

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your message and for copying my comment here. That is my problem with leaving a comment – no time to figure out how it works, no time for correcting the typing errors, etc. But message is clear.
Of course, I will come again and maybe sometimes post a badly written comment.

The Social Mediatrix said...

Is that Richmond Park? I LOVE it there - went there for a solitary walk on my birthday, just before Christmas http://www.redhead-fashionista.com/2010/12/drivin-home-for-christmas.html
PS Love the blog, just discovered it via a retweet after Elle-gate. I'll be back, and hoping to get street style spotted :)