Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012 Sydney arvo sessions

Just wanted to share how encouraging it was to attend NNB2012…even though I couldn’t make the morning sessions. I did miss out on some really useful sessions, but I also gained a lot of useful info and pointers, as well as having a great time at drinkies afterwards!

So because I landed at the Sofitel late (after lunch), I had to sneak in and find myself a chair pretty quickly. As I looked around, I knew almost no-one (that’s what 18 months out of the blogging scene does for you). The closest table at the back of the room happened to be inhabited by Fashion Hayley & her hubby Henry, as well as two stylish looking girls, so I quickly decided that was the place for me.

Look how packed it was – and that’s only HALF the room!

The first panel of the afternoon was “Finding Your Own Voice & Staying Relevant”. Having gone largely offline recently, and questioning the future direction/niche of my own blog, I was super keen to be inspired by these successful bloggers. How refreshing was it then, when Eden Riley of Edenland candidly admitted she had lost her blogging voice recently. I was actually heartened by that, as we often think it is just us, and forget that it happens to everyone at some point.

I warmed to her the most, and just found her so down-to-earth. Perhaps her humour and self-deprecation reminded me of me, where some of the other speakers of the day were more polished and professional, or strident and almost militant. To the question “what if you outgrow your niche?”, she replied that considered, thoughtful blog posts will always attract readers.

Since I have in the past alternated between almost journalistic pieces about, say Japanese fashion lines, interspersed with travel posts, event/gig reports, DIY projects, outfit of the day etc, it’s true I’m a little between genres. I’m not purely a fashion blogger by any means, and realise that I don’t want to attend every new fashion show or PR event. Since I moved into this house a year ago (yes! July 1st!), just about every mag I’ve bought is an Interior Design one. Clearly my focus has shifted a little, but neither do I want to suddenly change and become an Interiors blog.

 The only way to go to keep the various elements and add more interiors posts is to admit that TFT is largely a personal blog. Perhaps that’s OK. Both Mrs Woog and Eden, I think, said “There are no rules!”. We have to work out for ourselves how to make our blogs work, and not just believe they have to fit recognisably into a given niche – however difficult that is to do.

Anyway, back to the session. Lady Melbourne asked the question “What can you bring that isn’t already there in the blogosphere?” and that’s a tough one. I’ve seen so many blogs where people are just re-posting their fave runway shots from Vogue.com or whatever (and I’ve done this myself in the early days). She continued, “What are YOU knowledgeable about, that you can speak about with authority?”.

This made me reflect on my place in the blogophere, and my most unique characteristic is that I’m a lot older than most – 48 – and yet still travelling quite frequently, still wearing creative, edgy outfits, still going out gigging and clubbing a lot, all the while holding down a full-time job, carrying mortgages, and enjoying a happy homelife with my husband and little dog. I underestimate how inspiring that can be for others who are fearful of aging. I underestimate how much knowledge I have of travelling and of destinations. I sell that knowledge short when I write bland, boring blog posts just to get one out there, or don’t write AT ALL, as has happened frequently of late.

A small break was had before the next session,  ”Utilising Different Platforms to Optimise Your Blog & Blog Traffic”. Let’s have a small break here from all the text!  I looked up while seated in the conference room to see the amazing mirrorored ceiling – here, take a look.

I scribbled SO many notes through this next panel. I am a new convert to Pinterest (Tumblr has always left me cold), and so I was entirely wowed about the many opportunities there are within Pinterest to promote your blog and draw new traffic. I was totally inspired. The speaker was Christina of Hair Romance, so hit her up if you’d like to know more (and other people will no doubt be doing posts with the main points of each session).

Next up was Caz of Y Travel blog opening our eyes to the world of Podcasting. While most of us in the room had listened to podcasts (Gala Darling is huge in this arena), none of us were doing them ourselves. So again, it was inspiring and callenging to look into this avenue. Having done DIY videos for my blog in the past, I know how time consuming they are – you have to get the lighting right, make sure you get different angles, get visuals and sound volumes right when editing – oh, and be gorgeous and well made-up before you start. Phooey! I can look like the Wreck of the Hesperus in my jammies and socks if I want to, and do an effective podcast. 

Since I also travel a fair bit and document this on the blog, I realised I too could share a  lot of info via this medium…and do it from anywhere. Caz showed a photo of herself lounging on a cruise liner looking out on her private balcony, with laptop and microphone doing the biz. Aspirational. Caz did say that having lots of plug ins and podcasts slows your page loading time right down…and having tried to read a single post on the Y Travel blog, I have to agree. It was really painful, perhaps because I’m only running IE on my laptop. Something to be aware of.

Third up was Janice aka Chaigyaru, who spoke about Youtube and how it has helped her explode in popularity. Youtube has been around a while now, and as I have already done videos but find it mostly too time-consuming for me, I didn’t come away thinking I’d do it a lot more. Mind you, what else to do with all that amazing footage taken in India or Asia? Perhaps I need to get quicker at editing ;) Janice looked gorgeous as always, and there’s no doubt this method has worked for her. I did appreciate her reminder to put your social links in your videos, on your Channel page etc, and to ask people to hit the ‘like’ button, for example. Sometimes just asking may get results. Janice is also testimony of what putting in the hard yards can do for you… she must have very little down time some weeks when she is posting multiple videos, but she is beginning to reap the rewards financially now from Youtube.

The final panel on the State of the Aussie Blogosphere, really didn’t engage me much. There was a lot of talk about bloggers being kind to each other and not mean and backstabby – I get the feeling a lot has gone on in the media recently that I’ve totally missed. There was also talk of not giving away promotional opportunities for free, to advertisers who want to be featured on your blog. I haven’t ever worked with brands, and so this again is a bit foreign to me, although an area I should become better versed in.

However, one point I did take away, that Dave Krupp made, was that we should approach the brands we really love. Don’t wait for ones you AREN’T interested in to approach you, hone in on the ones you like, and who your readers will gain something from, and see what can be done to benefit you all. Hmm…

At the end I finally got to meet the other ladies at my table. Looking divinely Dita-like was Michelle of Ravishing Retro, and looking hot in her leather pants was the lovely Kayla from the F tangent. We got a photo together in front of the Blogopolis stand (oh dear, there’s a building sprouting from my head like a crown or somesuch!) In order, here is Michelle, Hayley, Kayla and moi. For details on what Hayley is wearing, see this post Tokyo Mixed Bag.

From there we proceeded to Quay Bar at Customs House. At first I wasn’t going to go because ‘boohoo I don’t know anyone here’. But our table just mosied on down together and had a fantastic time getting to know each other.  I was so pleased that I went, and have come away really invigorated and with fresh new ideas. If you get a chance to go to a Bloggers Conference, do it!

PS: I loved that there were girlies there with brightly coloured hair – yay for colour! My only beef is that they were all pink. Come on ladies, there are MANY other colours out there! Try blue or purple or orange or whatever…don’t just do pink cos everyone else is!  Ahem, end of tiny tirade.

The Three Inner C’s

I’m sure this comes as no surprise to regular readers, but I have been rather sluggish in the blog department lately.

On the one hand there were all those early shifts I did in early April, that necessitated getting up at 4.15am,  working 12 hours from 5.30am to 5.30pm, and leaving me so bone exhausted that I did nought before bed except eat, shower and get my clothes ready for the next day.

Then there were the delicious easter holidays that even I, a shift worker, managed to get off. What did I do with them? Watched a Buffy marathon all weekend whilst snuggled up to my beloved, then hit the town every night for clubs or gigs. All in all, very exhausting – every single night of the 5 was booked! So I guess, life itself was a little more important to me at the time.

But basically, it all knocked the blogging mojo out of me. So it was great to read “How to Recover Your Blogging Mojo” - a guest post by the fab Corinne of “Frock and Roll” .  And it got me thinking.

At the end of the day, I think it’s often about insecurity – you know, “how is my blog any different/better than any of the zillion others out there?”, or even, a vague sense of confusion - ”what am I doing this for anyway?”, and “am I writing about what I want to be writing about, or that anyone wants to read?” Ooh, weighty questions indeed….

I do think there are different personalities that influence how you behave as a blogger. There are people out there who are always quite sure of themselves, regardless of whether the work they’re producing is any good (you know, like those flat singers who audition for “You’ve Got Talent” and are indignant when they don’t get through )…and in blogging, just that cocky confidence can get you a long way. 

Then there are those of us more sensitive types who agonise over the quality of our work, who don’t just want to put out another article with “5 ways to…”, or posts comprised of a stream of pics nicked from Style.com. What we have to remember is that often our Inner Critic is the harshest one we have, and we need to tell him to shut the hell up for a bit and let us get on with it!

We need to cultivate our inner counsellor, the one that says “you CAN do it – just make a start! You’ve got lots of strengths, you know”.   Too often we don’t even realise that we are already following inner critic’s advice without question.

Things to ask yourself: What am I scared of?  What is the worst that can happen?  List them, and see what the knowledge does for you.

Sometimes, though, even answering those questions and seeing that you won’t die if the worst came true, isn’t enough to get you over the hump. Like a contestant on the Biggest Loser who lugs a 20kg backpack up a huge sand dune, you see the top as insurmountable, and cannot take another step.

Sometimes you have to take another tack.

Somewhere between Inner Critic and Inner Counsellor, there is Inner Coach. Every one of us has the ability to  challenge ourselves, and sometimes this is the only way.

Let your Inner Coach ask you :
do you know what your goal is? Are you really doing all you can to achieve it?  Really REALLY??

Or have you let yourself get blase, and still expect to see results? Like the ghost of Christmas future, let the spirit of blogging enable you to see the future, if you continue on your current course of action – or lack of it. Is it dire? Then what the bloody hell are you going to do about it? Let the fire burn in your belly, and then flow out through your pen to paper, or computer screen.

This is where the brainstorming and the lists come in. This is also where you may face some hard truths: are you willing to work hard enough for the payoff? Or not? If not, are you happy to amble along in the slow lane? It is better to face facts and adjust your expectations – you’ll be happier for it.

Wherever you or I are at now, we can achieve more  if we really mean to, and are willing to act despite our fears.  For further reading, I highly suggest you pore over the extremely helpful post from Sarah Wilson, “create and silence your doubt” - go on!

Those of us who regularly struggle with self doubt, CAN find confidence and inspiration, as we get better at shutting up our Inner Critic, gain comfort from our Inner Counsellor, and get motivation from our Inner Coach. (Even if the 3 C’s idea is naff!)

Do you have some inspirational links to add? Ways of silencing your inner critic? Let me know!

Blog Spring Cleaning

It has only just started to feel like Spring here in Sydney…but in 10 days it will be SUMMER! Anyway, I decided it was high time I did a little spring clean, as it were, on the blog. I’ve had that uneasy feeling at the back of my head that I’ve let things go on a bit long that really need fixing, and so I’ve started to rectify this.

Links

When I migrated from blogger to WordPress, a lot of my fixed pages (obviously) still had links to my blogger blog. I finally fixed this. My contact lens reviews, outfit posts, tutorials, alternative designers, Japanese nightlife posts…all were gone through so they now link to the posts in THIS blog. Good.

Then I decided I need a few more pages that showcase other things I write about…and one glaring omission was Japanese or Tokyo Fashion. I’ve now created a page for my posts in this area (which of course I’ll be adding to and keeping updated!)

Next up?

Photography

I’m very aware that the quality of  my outfit posts in particular, needs to improve.  I need to get out of the rut of standing in front of the white front door. Or, in Tokyo, the pictures-in-the-mirror with my big DSLR in front of me (it’s really hard in tiny hotel rooms to take pics, OK?)

Co-incidentally, I discovered some posts from Sidewalk Chalk dealing with this very thing.

OK, so many of the locations mentioned in her post “6 Perfect Photo Locations that are right in front of you” are laughable for a city slicker like me (the woods? a farm? railroad tracks? someone just got killed on the tracks near me recently so I won’t be trying that one!) 

However, it is the trying of new places that inspired me – a concrete parking  station could be a go, for example. Other places I thought of - the Park near my house, the lawn in my own apartment complex, graffiti’d walls nearby, Sydney university lawns and buildings, the historical hospital nearby, even the graveyard up the road - could all lend more interest visually.  Then, my problem will be getting over my fear of being seen while taking the pics.

Of course, my big problem is that my best outfits are worn out to clubs, and by definition it is night-time and my husband and I are just about to head out the door! So I don’t have an answer to that one, except we need to buy a house, and one with more rooms! (I fully intend to have a room that is purely a walk-in dressing room, so perhaps that can be something to aim for).

Posing in photographs

Again, JoAnn has tips in her post “7 steps for posing naturally in photos” that are tremendously helpful. Go read the post! It’s great!! But basically, apart from saying you should really get to know your camera, she suggests things like leaning on something or using a prop – so your hands have something normal to do, rather than just hang. Using movement was another good tip…walk away from the camera, jump, dance…or my own personal fave that I tried once was Alicia’s ‘platform booties in the air’ pose :) I also lie down on my couch or the floor sometimes…tricky but more interesting than the door shot!

Kasmira of “What I Wore Today” gave a good little rundown of camera-related tips to help with indoor shoots – another good read.  And quintessential is the post by Jennine:  ”How to take your own outfit photos

So hopefully, I’ll be taking more interesting outfit shots in future..especially once I get a remote control for the camera. Nothing beats a willing friend taking pics of you though, like this day in Shimokita with Utarou from Baal doing the creative photo angle :)

There are still a heap of things on the blog I’m working on, but I won’t bore you with them. I’ve also been trawling through my photos from Tokyo and Malaysia and beginning to write posts on them, before my memory fades too much! Especially with Tokyo, there’s more fashion & event related posts (and a few with food) coming your way.

What about you? What are the things you’ve been thinking of to spring clean your blog? (And what would you like to see more of, or less of, in this blog?)

Nuffnang Sydney Fashion Bloggers Meetup and High Tea

It was a very bright, very warm spring day for the Nuffnang sponsored SydneyFashion Bloggers meetup at the Tea Parlour in Redfern. Organised by Emily of Little Black Book and myself, it was the first time for most of us to meet our Nuffnang representatives Vanessa and Sarah – and each other!

Despite a few of us being confused by Google’s incorrect street number for the place – it is 569 Elizabeth St, not 579 – we managed to convene at the front for introductions and chatties. The big sign on the front window saying “Tea Parlour” was a bit of a giveaway :)

Since there were six ladies there to start, I ventured in to see if they might be able to squeeze us in before the 4pm time they had earlier suggested might be necessary. Lo and behold – there was room! Amelia kindly allowed us to enter and settle into the elegant parlour, which really was like stepping back in time.

                       

Duck egg blue walls were adorned with dainty china plates, a huge majestic stag’s head, shabby chic mirrors and bookshelves filled with antique tomes. Lovely old wingback chairs were paired with velvet salon chairs or faux fur covered stools, tables layered with cloths of various colours and textures. A diaphanous chiffon curtain separated the areas within the room, and lent a fairytale air to the place (seen here behind Janice of Chaigyaru and Adeline of Through Beauty Eyes).

And the tableware!! Beautiful old cake-stands stood ready to be filled with all manner of scones and cakes. Silver teapots and cruet sets fairly gleamed. The menus when they came, were gently loved old books with the menu page inserted halfway through the volume – a lovely touch.

We were spolit for choice with over 20 teas to choose from, but ordered a tea with hibiscus and lavender – and scones all round! While we waited, we did as bloggers do, and snapped our surroundings, and each other. Below is Renee of Reneevue, and Vanessa from Nuffnang.

                     

I wore a black ruffled Review blouse, Day of the Dead necklace from Nude n Rude in Koenji, skirt and belt from Munky Bizness in Newtown, and beaded beret from David Jones. My circle lenses are my favourite G&G BT02 lenses in sky blue from Pinky Paradise.

                        

But that was as nothing to the snapping frenzy when the food came out!!

                              

We joked about how bloggers (and food bloggers in particular) let their food go cold as they first set up test shots and artistic shots, close-ups and long shots, while their partners whimper and complain. I have to admit, my first Nuffnang event last December had me stunned as the foodies whipped out their DSLRs en masse when the food started to arrive.

I got the odd surreptitious unposed snap, but really, once we started eating, the cameras went down and were seen no more. Below are Ebony from The Fun In Fashion, Vanessa and Janice as before, and the lovely white hand of one Sarah Stokely from Nuffnang. Soon after we started, two more visitors dropped in – none other than Fashion Hayley and her husband Henry! But I failed to get pics of them – next time, gadget!

I had a fabulous time, and conversation ranged from how some of us met our partners, to unusual weddings (in Hayley’s and my case), to our love of doggies, to how time-consuming blogging is, to favourite food, to Tokyo (me, Henry and Hayley again), to cool places in Sydney and Melbourne to hang out. There were stories told and jokes cracked, and business cards changed hands as the afternoon wore on.

Unfortunately, the Virgin Blue saga reared its ugly head, and at 5pm Sarah and Vanessa realised they had to hightail it outta there pronto to try to get checked in before their 7pm flight. (Even more unfortunately, they were rescheduled to fly the following day – DOH!) And so we said our goodbyes and left to get our various cabs or walk home.

Thank you so much Nuffnang for picking up the tab for our delightful afternoon!

The Tea Parlour

Location: 569 Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, just next to the Surry Hotel (corner Cleveland St)
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm-8pm
Bookings: 0414 335 224  

100 Followers of The Fashionate Traveller

Aww…I got to 100 followers on my blogger blog – thank you, guys who’ve followed me from there!!!

Of course that means I’ll be commencing my giveaway in just a few days..so stay tuned!

There are a lot more posts on my recent Japanese trip coming up, but today I just wanted to share this lovely turquoise felt hat I bought recently and have been wearing while the weather is still cool. It’s got a bit of a vintage feel, and should work well with some dolly kei outfits I’ve got coming up….

 

Fantastic for when your hair needs a wash or if you have dark roots growing as, as I often do :)
Do you wear hats much? Ever?