Sunday, April 28, 2013

Seven Years Of Blogging- Three Points About The Writing Process


Last year as my blog anniversary approached I wrote a little post about lessons learned through perfume blogging. I focused on the sniffing and evaluating part of the process, not on writing, which I meant to discuss at another time. Somehow it never happened. There was also this post I wrote three years ago and was a little more beauty focused (and I still stand behind every word). This weekend marked the 7th year anniversary of The Non-Blonde, so I thought it's a good time to share some thoughts about my process  (sounds far too formal than what it is: me perching on the couch with my laptop while various cats are running around). I decided to stick to three topics: who I'm writing for, how I choose the images, and why I keep doing it.



1. My Imaginary Reader
When I first started blogging it was just me writing a blog I wanted to read. I couldn't be sure anyone else would ever be interested, so I just stuck to whatever I thought was interesting and fun. I still do. It doesn't matter if I'm covering perfume, makeup, pop-culture or the Royal Family, if I write something it's because I want to see it here. But I'm no longer alone and I am very much aware of having readers, regular and new ones. Are they new to perfume or season fragonerds? Makeup beginners or sophisticated aficionados? People I know in person? Does their virtual presence affects how I write here? Do I focus on someone specific as I type away? It varies.

For the most part I don't have anyone in mind when I blog. I know some of the people who read, but I don't write for them. I write for an abstract reader who I see as witty and sophisticated, curious and enjoys the little things. I'm vaguely aware as I blog about certain things that some people I know are likely to enjoy them-- Chanel lipstick fans vs. Armani devotees, cat lovers, a friend in Ohio who loves green perfume, those curious about the latest from Andy Tauer, my mom who loves purple eyeliner, vintage collectors, Kate Middleton fans, my scent twin... the list goes on. But there are also readers looking for answers, people who are new to this blog and still trying to figure out what all this stuff is about. I'm a teacher at heart; I need to share my knowledge. While I rarely (never? I'll need to check) write a truly beginner's guide to makeup, perfume or Kim Kardashian, I do try to be thorough and not to assume too much prior knowledge beyond basic Google skills.

I like my imaginary reader. She or he are someone whose company I'd probably enjoy. I talk to you fondly even when I'm cranky, and I always hope you'll come back the next day.



2. Blog Decor
One of my most favorite parts of blogging is the editor's role of choosing images. Obviously, makeup reviews require taking my own photos, but with almost everything else there's the freedom and responsibility for finding the right visuals for what I'm trying to say. Doing it right means enhancing the words and letting you a glimpse into the way I feel about the topic at hand. There's a magical moment when I find the perfect artwork or vintage photo that brings everything together for me. The synergy of verbiage and imagery is incredibly satisfying. More than that: I absolutely need it.

In order to reach this point I constantly collect pictures and research them. I have dozens of bookmarked sites for artists from days gone by as well as contemporary, collections of photos from different decades, old magazine covers, subscriptions to various newsletters-- anything that I find interesting and inspiring. It's like the scrapbooks I kept as a teenager, full of magazine clippings, postcards, song lyrics and occasionally my own illustrations. The two main differences are that said scrapbooks are now buried in a box in my basement while this blog is public, and there's a lot less George Michael or Robert Smith around here.



3. Discipline
You may have noticed that I write a lot. I post on Sunday night as well as three posts a day Monday-Thursday and occasionally on Fridays. I schedule articles in advance when I know I'm going to be away, and  barring a hurricane that makes everyone lose power there are no exceptions. And that's the way I want it to be. Blogging has become my happy place, a confidence booster, a distraction when I need it, and the source of enduring friendships. But more than anything I simply love doing this.

I also find that the longer I've been blogging the more disciplined about it I've become. Reviews, opinions, sharing my thoughts and stories- it flows more easily (that is, I only delete every other sentence). This is the advice I give to others. Blog and then blog some more. Don't let distractions get in the way (I mean that in a mostly-sane way. Or at least I hope I do), don't give up on yourself. I refuse to allow jet-lag, oral surgery or a pity party take away  the joy I get from The Non-Blonde, its readers and the pretty, shiny, and smelly things we share.

As always, thank you for being here, my real and imaginary friends.

Photos via Stirred, Straight Up With A Twist; Dr. Macro.

31 comments:

  1. Hi Gaia, Wise words, and well illustrated! Happy 7th blogaversary, and may there be many more!

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  2. Gaia - this reader found your blog and stayed for the makeup reviews, and eventually decided to dabble in perfume as a result of your intriguing reviews. There have been sick days where I've read your perfume review archives and fine-tuned a Perfumed Court order for longer than I'd care to admit. I really appreciate your perspective and I'm so glad you blog.

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  3. I love reading your blog! I'm way into perfume, but only semi-knowledgeable about make-up and your reviews have led to several purchases (Edward Bess!)- all of which I've been thrilled with. Thank you. Your blog is delightful. : )

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  4. Hi Gaia, a very interesting article! Thanks for sharing... & by the way, I LOVE the images you choose for your articles; as you say, they always mirror very well what you wrire, helping to really complete the message, & they're always beautifull and stylish. I think your blog has some of the best images around & the research & excellent taste behind the choices are very evident. The writing, of course, is also excellent, especially when it's about perfumes, which is my interest. Happy 7th... & please keep on bloggong :-)

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  5. Happy 7th anniversary! Am a Chanel fan, but your brush reviews are what got me hooked to your blog :D

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  6. And, I love your new layout.

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  7. You are my favorite blog. The top of my list. I know I can count on you for lots of great posts. :) Happy 7 years, and here's to many more. Sylvia

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  8. Wow! 7 years! Congratulations! :)

    I admire your discpline, I have to admit, I have none. That is, I'm only disciplined in finding time in the evenings to read a little. :)

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  9. Lucky seven! Love your fragrance reviews and the occasional snark the most. Agree that your images are the best, especially enjoying the woman typing in the water.

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  10. Congratulations Gaia! Yours is by far my favorite blog. It's whimsical, informative and above all, takes me places. I'm not the same person I was before reading your blog. I wish you many more years of happy blogging.

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  11. I love that you are a reliable companion in fragrance and beauty. Your voice is soothing and sane in the midst of so much hyper self promotion. It's a relief to come here and enjoy your treasures with you.

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  12. Thanks a lot from your not imaginary and quite really reader :)

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  13. Happy 7th blog anniversary, Gaia. I admire your dedication and love of writing, it shines through how much you enjoy it, and I aways look forward to reading your posts. Cheers to the next 7:-)

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  14. Wonderful! Your blog is one of the few blogs I keep coming back to. More power to The Non-Blonde!

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  15. Happy Birthday! I truly appreciate all the information you convey. Thanks to The Non-Blonde, I've now found the brush collection of my dreams and am enjoying many makeup lines I otherwise would not have discovered. You're on my short list of most valuable blogs.

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  16. Gaia,
    Happy 7th Year of Non-Blonde! What a huge accomplishment and I really admire how you do it with passion and consistency. Your blog is a top read for me and always look forward to your beautiful images. I love a little bit of celebrity posts, too.

    I'm not much of a perfume afficionado or connoiseur, but enjoy learning a little bit more each time I read about them here.

    Best wishes for many more years!

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  17. I greatly enjoy your blog, Gaia,and look forward to it every day. You are indeed a prolific writer: some blogs do not change in two weeks' time, and I have dropped them because they are not as serous about delivering information as you seem to be. I can see why you have it as a peaceful place; and I want you to know that I do appreciate the work you do here.

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  18. Hi Gaia, Congratulations on 7years!! I am an avid follower of your blog, sometimes poster. I began reading for the perfume reviews but have been happy to let you lead me down the makeup path sometimes too. I'm definitely in Sephora more than I used to be. And my winter skin has been saved by your suggestions, namely the best face forward oil and the dr. jardt water sleep mask.
    I always appreciate your wit and humour and fabulous choices of images, this post is a perfect example. I tend to be much too serious and I read a lot of text books and medical research for work. Thank you for reminding me to take time out of my day to think of lovely things. It's good for my soul. sujaan

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  19. Charming post Gaia! Congratulations on your discipline and exquisite taste xx

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  20. Hi Gaia, congratulations!
    I love it that when I come here every morning I find your unique voice as well as information and inspiration on a variety of fragrant and beautiful subjects.
    Your blogging discipline is not lost on your readers!!!!
    I can imagine the effort you put into this project and yet everything seems effortless.
    I happened here via your perfume reviews, but you also managed to pique my curiosity with your make up posts... In short: I've got myself out of a beauty rut, discovered new brands and flattered my brown eyes with blue and green liners!
    My make up routine has become FUN!
    While we are not scent (or beauty-product) twins, I know I can always trust your descriptions. Thank you and happy blog-birthday!!!!

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  21. I think the comment form ate my comment :)

    Wishing you much joy and happy anniversary! I love the thoughtful images you choose to go along with your posts, as it makes a big difference in how much I enjoy a piece. Here's to seven more years!!

    Amanda Feeley

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  22. I was so happy to find your blog. I have learned a lot and keep continuing to learn more. Thank you so very much, it's a beautiful thing.

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  23. Congratulations, Gaia, your blog is a treat! First thing I read every day, before the kids wake up.
    I was a teenager in the 80's too, and your pop culture references always make me smile. I came here for the perfume reviews (we have a similar fondness for Shalimar and the like), but now I'm hooked on makeup too. And brushes. By the way, I love the snark. Kat Von D and company are strong enough to take the bite. (wanted to tell you this the other day, but my computer went crazy.)
    Your image choices are great, they are perfect for the posts and create an overall aesthetics that is both consistent and appealing. Thank's for making my days more colorful!

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  24. Happy 7th Gaia! I love your blog. It is always such a treat to read and I find we have very similar tastes in perfume, makeup and fashion. Here's to the next seven years!

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  25. Congrats on 7 years! I've been reading your blog for many, many years: I came for the perfume reviews, stayed for the wonderful makeup and pop culture posts. Thank you for all the wonderful writing you've shared with us!

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  26. Congratulations on seven years--that's incredible. As a super new blogger--I really appreciate this post. It helps a lot. Thank you so much.

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  27. Happy 7th year Gaia! You have always been an inspiration to me - your blog was one of the first ones I started reading. I love reading it each week (multiple times per day actually). I wish you many more amazing years to come :)

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  28. I love your blog, and can't imagine the blog world without it - such a vast resource of knowledge and, as you said, new little things that are fun or enlightening or interesting to learn about through your posts. Thanks for keeping it up, and congratulations on 7 years!

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  29. I love this blog and I think you are a fantastic blogger with tremendous dedication to the cause. I particularly love the retro/vintage pics you choose to represent products, or else to create a visionary delight for the product or idea. I would also like to be cheeky and say that I do miss your original black layout, it was oh-so retro glam! ;)

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  30. Great post! I recently discovered your blog and I enjoy it very much. :) I was hoping you could provide more info or a link to a credit & information for the photo of the swimmer on the typewriter. I love it!

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  31. I know I'm commenting on an older post but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post. I am a big fan of The Non-Blonde and your dedication to the process is something I have always admired.

    I'm currently out of sorts with blogging, for all sorts of reason, but I can definitely put a finger on no longer feeling like I have a fit in with the changing beauty blogging landscape. I haven't done much reading in a while but I typed in your url today, intending to have a little catch up and I'm still here many pleasurable hours later. I hope you will continue to blog for your imaginary reader as I think this is what makes writing so enjoyable and your blog so enduring.

    Happy belated blog anniversary Gaia :)

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I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

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