The OG Bloggers: Four Irish Women On How They Got Started
Lorna Weightman, Karen Constantine, Emma Henderson and Leanne Woodfull share their stories.
In a world where media is changing rapidly, it can be hard to keep up. STELLAR speaks to some of the women who have been blogging on their respective sites since before Instagram even existed
Lorna Weightman of StyleIsle.ie
“My decision to start blogging was very much borne from a need for change.
I was working as an accountant and consultant and I felt my heart wasn’t in it; I had been diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder and I had to start putting myself and my mental health first. I’ve always had an interest in fashion having modeled as a teen, and come from a long line of stylish ladies!
My blog has grown with me; I’ve changed its look several times to align with my personal style and tastes, and also to make sure my followers see something they like in an easy to read, and aesthetically pleasing way. And I’ve changed a lot since 2009, I’m a content person with more self confidence.
I still have followers who comment on my images and blog posts who have been there from the beginning. When I started, Instagram didn’t exist so gaining and holding onto followers was much harder. I do wonder occasionally why I don’t have a larger following on social media but I reassure myself that I’m very lucky having a loyal audience that I’ve brought along with me on the adventure! I’ve never felt so driven as I have this past year.
What I will always be grateful for is how my blog became a platform for me to do other things. There I am, with no journalistic or fashion qualifications, working alongside some of the world’s most well known luxury and high street brands because they see me as an authority. I never thought I could say that. TV has been the biggest blessing. I am in my element styling and talking fashion on Xposé, and that team are like family now.
In the next five years I think we’ll see a levelling; blogging is a new profession in a changing media landscape. I see more blogs and print publications working together, and that’s amazing. We can all follow the same path and help each other. I think it’s important for any up and coming bloggers to know that it’s hard work and not all about being sent lovely beauty products. No one tells you that sometimes it takes six months to be paid from a job so you need to plan for those moments. Do I still love blogging as much as day one? Hopelessly.”
Karen Constantine of lovelygirliebits.com
“I started blogging back in September 2010 after discovering the world of blogs and YouTube videos via Panacea81 (who remembers her?!). Then I discovered beaut.ie and thought it was amazing that Irish women had set up their own site and were writing about makeup and beauty and I thought I’d give it a go myself. I’d a load of makeup and beauty products, so I just started writing! I googled how to do everything and set up my little corner of the internet. I didn’t have any master plan when I started, I just wanted to focus on something lovely and distract me from what was going on in my life at the time.
I’d had a rough couple of years with the end of my marriage followed by the death of my dad, and I was just going through the motions. I think I was lost, not having a focus outside of work and each evening I’d come home and watch YouTube videos and read blogs. Lovelygirliebits gave me something to look forward to as I learned new skills, experimented and enjoyed every minute of it.
When I first started the blog, I was too embarrassed and nervous to post photos of my face and I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it for fear they’d slag me! I’ve grown in confidence in my abilities over the last seven years and while parts of my life are the same (I still work in the same job full time), other parts are so different. After being an underachiever my whole life, I’ve found something I’m actually good at!
My audience has remained very much the same, gas women who don’t take themselves, or me, seriously at all. They love their beauty bargains but also love treating themselves to a bit of luxury and that’s where I come in. I feel this loyalty to them because without them, I’d be talking to myself, so for every review I do, it’s with them in mind.
I can’t imagine not blogging! I wish it was my main job, but I’m hoping to make a change soon which will allow me to create more content and take the pressure off a bit. I’m hoping for more of an emphasis on video content.
I’ve had my moments when I’ve needed a break from blogging and I’ve had a few episodes of burning out, but I love testing out products, creating lovely photos and recommending products for all budgets. I love that it’s opened up this new world for me, I’ve made some true friends and have done my best to do it all without mad notions!”
Emma Henderson of FluffandFripperies
“I created my blog because I wanted to challenge myself and connect with people who fangirl over the same stuff that I do. I love to write and I wanted a place where I could do that but in a relaxed and fun way – and I wanted an excuse to buy a lot of makeup.
I was inspired by the way the McDermott sisters (former STELLAR editor Kirstie, woop!) ran their blog, beaut.ie, and the camaraderie around the site. There were a few of us who read and commented there and branched out into our own blogs around the same time. It felt like a lovely and supportive little community. And when they later asked me to contribute to their blog I almost exploded with happiness.
My blog and I are now both older and wiser, though the site has had a few face lifts over the years and unfortunately I can’t say the same! But it has changed me for the better. It has helped me to think more clearly, write better and learn a lot of new and different skills. Going to events means I’m better at networking and I’m more organised, too. But my priorities have definitely changed. Back in the day, I had more time for the site but these days, my husband and our fur babies come first.
I’m sad that social media means people don’t really comment on blogs any more – all that chat has migrated to social. For some people, watching social influencers on Snapchat or Instagram has replaced reading blogs. Social stars are like celebrities in their own right, in a way that most bloggers never wanted to be. And because of social media, the public is more aware of how people can profit through their audience. That’s led to some negativity towards bloggers and social media influencers alike. People aren’t always sure they can trust the online community to be honest and authentic. But all you can do is keep on doing you, and hope your audience can see you’re writing for passion, not profit.
Fluffandfripperies is very much a hobby, and I’m still winging it! My only plans are to keep being as authentic and consistent as I can be, to have fun and not take it or myself too seriously.The only reason I keep blogging is because I enjoy it and don’t let it take over my life. It’s a fun thing to do, and you meet lovely people while you’re doing it. I still enjoy connecting with someone over the shared love of lipstick, and I’ve made wonderful friends both online and off.”
Leanne Woodfull of Thunder and Threads
“I started blogging when I was still in school aged 16, back in 2009. I didn’t want to achieve anything as such, I just wanted my own platform to discuss my love of fashion, even if nobody read it. I was and still am, an avid magazine reader. I read an article in ELLE UK that year calling blogging the ‘next big thing’ and I decided to give it a go out of curiosity.
I’ve been through college, my teens and my early twenties whilst blogging so I’ve changed enormously since beginning, naturally. When I began, the idea of earning money or working with brands didn’t even come into my consciousness. But now blogging has changed dramatically over time; it’s a hugely profitable and professional industry
Over the years, my audience has grown older, with me, but they’ve always been attracted to anything a bit different, edgy and off the grid. That was and is my niche, still. I offer people something different to the ‘average’ Irish blogger.It has also become increasingly interested in human rights, particularly women’s rights here in Ireland.
Influencers have come to the forefront in recent years too, which is definitely social media based, as opposed to blog based. I think people get ‘bloggers’ and ‘influencers’ confused a lot of the time but they’re completely different, based on different platforms. But work-wise I do go between the two, so I can see where the confusion lies. The blog has been my main job since 2014, alongside what I call ‘social media’ work but I’m definitely considering going part-time with it though and looking for something on the side to prevent my interest waning, so we’ll see what the future brings.
I’d be lying if I said I still love blogging as much as I did at the start because back then, I was a teenager with no responsibilities. I’m 24 now and the industry has changed so much since I began so the pressure of it can definitely lead to days where I just want to pack it in. That being said, I still really enjoy it and having platforms and a voice to engage with people. There’s tough days but I’m still doing it eight years on so it couldn’t be that bad!”
This feature first appeared in the December issue of STELLAR Magazine. Our January issue is on shelves now.
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