Being a blogger today means attending tonnes of events, meeting thousands of people from colleagues to PR-managers, designers and celebrities. It means to be everywhere and to know everyone. "No problem" would have most of the bloggers said right now, but what if you’re not living in a big city, where all the businesses and activities are located? In Russia, for example, living outside Moscow (ok, sometimes also Saint-Petersburg) automatically brings you to a second position in this tough competition. Most of the smart, talented, beautiful girls don’t even try to reach Moscow partners, being convinced they are not in the same league as the metropolitan citizens. But what if it is theirs main mistake? And those who dare really win, no matter how far is the place they call home?
You can imagine, how inspired I was, when after moving to New Zealand, discovered Kate’s blog The Backroad Blog! Kate lives and works rurally, over 800 km from Tauranga and even more – from Auckland. But it never stopped her from being a guest of New Zealand Fashion Week, collaborating with Wrangler and being remarkable and successful local blogger in general. That was the moment I understood – I definitely have to find out all her secrets, that might help many girls all over the world to grow their business, be confident and constantly improve the quality of their blogs to reach the point of success, where they definitely deserve to be.
So, thank you Kate for answering my questions and being so inspiring and honest in what you do!
– Have you always lived in a rural area?
– My family has always lived rurally but I had to go to high school and university in the city. I enjoy city life and the accessibility of everything such as shops and restaurants but I think I will always like the country lifestyle more! My life is currently a pattern of seasonal agricultural work (wool handling and tractor driving) and overseas travel – The Backroad Blog as a business fits in perfectly with this lifestyle because it’s portable! I only have to work on it when I want to and I can take it everywhere with me!
– What do you especially like in your current lifestyle and would never exchange for living in a big city?
– No traffic jams, clean fresh air, easy access to mountains, rivers and lakes, amazing views and sunsets.
– How did you first come up with an idea to start a blog?
– I grew up on a high country farm in New Zealand and this is where I initially developed a love and passion for merino wool. I decided to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University after high school, graduating in 2014. Having an equal passion for both farming and fashion left me feeling rather confused about what kind of career path I should follow straight out of university – this is where The Backroad Blog was born. I set up the site (with the help of a web designer) in 2014 but kept it pretty quiet for the first 6 months until I found my feet. Two years on, I now use the blog to express my love of fashion through styling, modeling and photographing garments. I also use the blog to educate readers on the origin of wool and the benefits of wool in garments.
– How did your approach and they way you work on blog change within the years?
– Not a lot has changed; I think I’ve got fussier with image/content quality though. I’d rather post nothing than post an image/content I’m not really happy with. I read somewhere that the things you say no to define your business. I’ve been approached by businesses that I’ve said no to collaborating with because I didn’t think their brand was a good match for mine.
– What did you do to grow blog’s traffic and popularity? What are the most effective tricks?
– Brand collaborations help, especially if the brand shares your content on their socials. Using relevant/popular hashtags on Instagram can increase image engagement.
– Could you please name a few of your favorite useful web-sites, tools or other blogs?
– 1. Invest in an DSLR camera (Images need to be quality) 2. I do a lot of image editing in Instagram & Photoshop (I usually just brighten/warm up images) 3. Some of my favourite bloggers (and sources of inspiration) are: @nadiafairfax @carmenhuter @tuulavintage @brooketestoni @tezzamb @sarahellen. I’m also obsessed with hat brand accounts such as @fallenbrokenstreet @lackofcoloraus @brixtonwomens.
– How long did it take you to be noticed by the major brands?
– About 8 months – 1 year. My first collaboration was with a beautiful New Zealand merino brand/designer Christina Perriam (her brand is now known as PERRIAM). I was so excited and so nervous!
– What are the main difficulties in living far away from all the fashion events, stores and people and how do you overcome them?
– The main difficulty is sourcing garments/outfits regularly. I’m constantly trying to schedule collaborations in advance because I have to allow enough time for garments to be sent to me. The next challenge is organising a photographer. I often have to drive over an hour to meet a photographer to shoot an outfit. I’m lucky I have a lot of talented friends that can shoot images for me. Despite its limitations, I think that my rural lifestyle is a good point of difference.
– How should a strategy of a blogger living away from a big city differ from those who have everything by their hand?
– Use your surrounds/scenery to your advantage! Everyone loves scenery images and dusty back roads! Organize collaborations/outfits in advance and get them sent to you. When you go to the city, stock up on cute food snaps and pick up garments/props (magazines etc.) to use in imagery. Showcase the aspects of your life that are unique – e.g. I drive a tractor for work at the moment, not many other fashion bloggers do that (hehe).