Having started blogging (under different names) in 2011, I’m not exactly the newest to the game. Yet, as my blogs have evolved and grown, there are STILL many things I find really awkward about blogging. Here are four of them, with the ways in which I’ve tried to overcome them (including a pitching template). Plus, you get to see me show off four lovely outfits FemmeLuxe has kindly gifted me!
*FemmeLuxe gifted me these four outfits, but all opinions are, as always, my own*
1. Posing For Pictures
Don’t get me wrong, I love to have my picture taken. Especially if it’s a pole photoshoot, I somehow become a way less awks person and turn into this boudoir vixen who gives no fucks about whether you think she’s vain. She is.
Posing for pictures in restaurants however? Or to showcase an outfit? Or at an event? Worse still, while traveling solo and asking a rando to take a picture of me? No ma’am. Don’t like that. But I still have to do it, because 1) I do need content for this site; 2) I suck at landscape photography so my mug is all you get; 3) the Instagram algorithm hates pictures without faces. So posing it is.
As a broke PhD student, I can’t always pay for a photographer to bear with me during my search for something to post. So I have to ask friends, parents and, if I’m traveling solo, strangers. This can result in lovely pictures, but also in: troll faces because I feel embarrassed for asking; crap pictures cause said stranger or friend doesn’t know that you have to take 100 pictures in the hope I will be happy; friends and family getting annoyed at my dumb requests. So yeah. Sorry people. Still need my shots, but I hope the fact that I find the whole thing awkward gives you some solace.
As an example, here’s me becoming a meme as a friend tells me to “do something” as she took my picture:
Side note: if you are asking friends, it’s nice to at least offer a drink, or a coffee in exchange for their time. Unless they are your plus one on a party/holiday/Champagne tasting. Then they better werk and get that picture! For instance, for the pictures below I have say a huuuuuge thanks to the lovely @polesweetpole who dealt with me for a whole afternoon and took some lovely shots.
2. Talking About Fashion
I consider myself a fairly practical person, however weird this might seem considering that I’m doing a PhD. This means that, when it comes to clothes and fashion, I don’t like to faff around. Like Ariana Grande, I want it, I got it (with the compulsory: “Do I have money for it?” and “Do I need it?”). This is why I don’t often spend hours going on about why a certain choice of clothing OMG SO LIT.
I don’t even tend to read fashion blogs and, to my mother’s dismay, I always skip the fashion pages in magazines. Which doesn’t exactly put me in a position to write about clothes.
Still, since I’ve begun blogging about pole dancing and going to events, I have started partnering up with fashion, lingerie and shoe brands and, well… I had to start talking about fashion. Can I still do it without losing my practical, no-bs tone of voice? An attempt below (and some more here and here).
FemmeLuxe Clothing Review
For this post, I’ve partnered up with Manchester-based clothing brand FemmeLuxe, who kindly gifted me four fab outfits. I didn’t know the brand when they approached me via email, but you can bet they are on my radar now!
I chose four items on their catalogue that represent my choice of clothing at the moment: slinky jumpsuits, comfy loungewear that looks so casual you could wear it to work (if you are me, at least) and a corset as a throwback to early 00s metal Carolina.
I am officially addicted to FemmeLuxe’s slinky jumpsuits. Considering that when I perform I have to worry about clothes being tight enough that bits of me don’t just slip out, these jumpsuits are so comfortable that they’re a godsend. They are tight in the right places – flattering on the waist and thighs – but both the fabric and cut feel like a hug.
The black Nina slinky jumpsuit is meant to be worn off the shoulder, but my former swimmer shoulders got all the space they could get. It can double up as both comfortable day wear and as an outfit for a night out, while the stone Nicole jumpsuit is a tad more extra. When I was taking pictures with it in Hackney it turned quite a few heads (awks, as above), so it’s the right item to make a statement on a night out.
The Loungewear and Corset
I used to loathe loungewear and activewear before I moved to Australia and became a pole dancer. Now I’d wear nothing else – and if you think about it, when you train in nine inch heels it’s normal to want to wear clothes that feel like a hug. This is exactly what the Deanna camel loungewear set by FemmeLuxe feels like: both the trousers and the top are cut to hug your frame in the right places, flattering your tummy and legs in the process.
This is one of my favourite loungewear sets ever and I will try and wear this to work when I’m not teaching because I like to push boundaries like that.
The Amy corset top is probably my least favourite of all four items, maybe because I wore it with vinyl trousers that weren’t high waisted enough. With it being more like a corset-shaped bralette, it would look more flattering with some really high-waisted pants. Still, it’s cut in a way that makes even my pole dancer guns and my broad shoulders look classy. My teenage poser goth self would approve.
See? It wasn’t that difficult. I guess the secret here is not to try and be Chiara Ferragni, or whoever’s the hottest fashion blogger in the game right now. People read blogs because they love their authenticity, they love to read and hear from different voices. When you’re trying to be a luxury fashion blogger, but you’re posing with a trash bag… that’s when it gets awkward. Just do you, boo.
3. Pitching To Brands
Early in my blogging days I realised there is such a thing as a freebie. It turned out that, often, writing about restaurants and tagging them might get you an invite for a free dinner afterwards, either by them or by their PR company. Plus, I have a six-year experience in PR and social media management, and I have given journalists tons of freebies, from dinners to products. It’s just how the business works. So why do I find it so terribly awkward?
Maybe because it is. Especially as a mid-range blogger, you don’t know how many brands will want to work with you… and if you don’t ask you will never know. But asking is really weird: hey, I don’t suppose you give things out for free?
I only started directly pitching to brands after they began pitching to me – and let’s just say my pitching strategy wasn’t the best. I’d be super apologetic, and I cringe every time I think of those emails, sounding not too far from:
Sorry to bother you, my name is Carolina and I love your brand! No worries if not, but maybe, I was wondering, if by any chance you worked with bloggers at all? I worked with XYZ brands in the past (see here) and thought we could team up. No worries if not though! Thanks for reading! Bye!#awkwardemailpitch
This is obviously a parody (albeit not too far from the truth). The problem with this approach is that expressions like “sorry to bother you”, or “no worries if not”, “maybe”, “hopefully” etc. didn’t make me sound very assertive, drew attention to “bother” or annoyance when actually, brands work with bloggers all the time. This is how things work. If you have an average salary, chances are you won’t be eating out too often, or buying more clothes than you need, or hopping on a plane to go on holiday. Brands need to raise awareness, awareness also comes from the mainstream media (and, increasingly, from bloggers) so if you want to get someone’s attention you invite them to try your product for free.
In short, when you apologise for existing in emails, brands or whoever you’re writing to will take you less seriously. You think this makes you sound nice, polite, considerate, maybe even cute and whimsical, but nah. Not happening. Hence, zero partnerships.
Side Note: Pitching Template
Pitching is one of those occasions in which impostor syndrome kicks in for me. I am fighting to get over it, and when it happens I tend to remember every time I’ve worked with brands – whether they approached me, or I approached them. So when I find it awks, I remember that business seems to be going in this direction right now, and that even if, with my PR hat on, I don’t know how long it will be sustainable for brands and media to work like this, this is how it’s happening now. And it’s not my responsibility to put more pressure on myself for that.
I now follow a pitching template that fits my style of writing and my tone of voice, but that isn’t damaging to what I’m asking. If you’re just starting out as a blogger, try to follow this very simple, very brief pitching template – people don’t have time to read poems. There is no exact science to this, and this might work for some and not for others. But there you go.
- I introduce myself and my blog (e.g. “Hi X, my name is Carolina and I run the lifestyle, travel and fitness blog bloggeronpole.com).
- I explain why I’m writing. If it’s a PR agency, I mention clients I’m interested in and similar brands I’ve worked with. If it’s a single brand, I mention why I’m interested in them (e.g. I’m performing at X competition or venue and need some outfits for the performance and blog post).
- I explain why my blog could fit the brand’s promotional interests, mentioning what I was planning on doing with it – e.g. a “get the look” post from a performance, or a list-type post reviewing similar products.
- I share my media kit or my stats info, and thank them for their time.
The main thing you notice here is: the awkwardness is all in my head, and doesn’t transpire in the email. I’m not apologising for breathing.
4. When You Get ‘Recognised’
It’s so lovely when you work hard on something and you get recognised while out. However, me being awkward me, I always feel quite taken aback when this happens.
I have been blogging for nearly eight years and yet I only started getting recognised last year. Considering that’s when my Instagram profile started picking up, and when I adopted the “bloggeronpole” username, that could only mean one thing… that people who recognise me might be interested in my journey, in my writing, in my reviews. But also, most likely, they saw my ass on Instagram.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the one putting my ass out on the gram, so I’m aware that people do see it. But it always throws you when you’re out ordering a pizza and the pizza man is like: “OMG I have to ask… are you Blogger On Pole?” and you just go home with your pizza thinking the pizza man has seen your ass. What is life.
My Awkward Life
Blogging has given me a lot of nice things: the opportunity to find and develop my writing style; a space to share my story; the opportunity to travel; visibility for my novel. Yet, as someone who enjoys her lone time, I have a LOT of opportunities to just sit by myself and let my anxiety take over: I find the awkward in the normal.
I’m trying to fight that, but when I ask you to take a picture of me, or when you see me trying to get my picture taken somewhere, spare a thought for what’s going on inside my head. Which is most likely: UGH WHY dgfiuesgfuohdfoiehfiaewhdiopewfhowsjcospjcl.