Blog: www.lafotka.com
Who: Tatyana
Where: Glasgow, Scotland – originally from Estonia
Age: 32
Blogging Since: 2013

Name some of the brands or companies you have collaborated with. Explain how these collaborations came about, and how both sides worked to make it a success.

I’ve worked with a number of amazing brands in the past few years. Some of my favorite collaborations were with Armani, Farfetch, QVC, HOBBS, Karen Millen, Tom Ford Beauty, plus many more, and I absolutely love working with Long Tall Sally. They’re so nice! In almost all cases, brands contact me first for a quick introduction, ask my opinion about their new products/campaign, and then we start a discussion about my involvement. 99% of the time I come up with creative concept and approach, as it’s much more genuine that way.

What is the key to building long-term relationships and partnerships with brands?

All my strong long-term relationships with brands have been built on our shared vision and great compatibility, but clear and honest communication is definitely key. Friendliness and respect for both parties goes without saying, as there’s nothing worse than being disrespectful. I stay in touch with a lot of brands and PRs throughout the year, and although I’ve never met most of them in person, there’s this strong trust on the delivery from my part and fair terms and/or compensation from their part, and that kind of trust takes time to build.

Which way do you find to be the most efficient to organically grow your blog?

I focus on producing quality content and imagery, which is step one if you like. Step two is working on all the techy stuff like SEO, linking etc; stuff that my non-blogger readers probably have no idea about. Step three is all about sharing my content with the world online using social media, following and supporting other blogs, as well as offline. I always have my business cards with me – you never know who you’ll meet!
It’s important not to focus too much on the “numbers,” though, as I prefer to have a discussion on my blog (in the comment section) with three people who always come back to LAFOTKA, rather than have ten new people check out my site and never visit it again.

With the rise of Instagram and in the era of social media influencers, how does one keep their readers engaged and interested in coming back to their blog?

It’s all about how bloggers connect with their readers. Some talk about every single thing that goes in their life personally, and that works for them; others only have discussions about shoes or bags, and that also works for them, whereas for me it’s a bit of both. I have a few key followers who know more about me than my other readers, as we chat more, and I think it’s great. But I found that my readers really engage with me more when I share topics that others might be a little scared to talk about but relate to. There are a few posts on my blog that got some serious attention, and if I hadn’t spoke up, I would have lost that opportunity to connect with some amazing people who also experience similar issues.

How are you building your audience?

Working round the clock to connect with other like-minded people online, social media and various blogger online networks. All require time and effort, and many hours in front of my computer and phone, which isn’t great. I always think I should be doing more, but I think I’ll reorganize my strategy for next year, as right now it’s all about creating and sharing Christmas content, and perhaps taking a little break too. We all need those every once in a while.

Do you find it important for your business to attend fashion week, and if so, in what ways?

I personally don’t think it’s important for a blogger to attend fashion week, and I know many bloggers who don’t and refuse to. If they don’t get accreditation and access to the shows, then fashion week could still work for bloggers, but mainly for the sake of the buzz, hangouts and of course photo shoots. All shows get streamed live now, but of course it’s not the same as sitting on the front row seats next to Zaynat the Versace show. I wish!
I got to work with Toni & Guy and label.m last season, who are the main sponsors of LFW, and that was fun as I got to hang out backstage quite a lot. Organized chaos is what it’s called. Amazing experience!

What are your main revenue channels, andhow have they evolved since you began monetizing?

Mainly sponsored projects, event attendance, social media campaigns and affiliate marketing can add up too over time. It took me around a year since starting my blog before I fully established myself, and started earning money via my blog. A lot of unpaid work and long hours go into building a successful blog, and it never stops.

How do you measure your most popular posts up to date?

My Google Analytics can give me exact stats for those as well as social media business insights.

What kind of opportunities other than blogging do you see rising for you through your blog?

Someone asked me whether I can see myself designing clothes in the future and, although I never say never, I don’t think it’s time for that yet. I run my social media marketing business UNEEDIA, as well as my blog, so my two businesses and my family (I’m a mum too) are definitely keeping me busy. One thing for sure is that I’ll never stop creating and looking for new opportunities, and there are so many out there. I just need to go get them.

What are the most crucial elements to establish to take your blog to a professional level?

When I started my blog three and a half years ago, I knew I wanted to be serious about it, so I did whatever I had to in my spare time to stick to my 3-5 posts a week discipline, and work on building my readership. Having a vision helps, but discipline is crucial. I used to spend nights without sleep watching YouTube videos and reading up on SEO, WordPress coding, linking, affiliate marketing, and everything else that blogging involves. I set myself deadlines and stuck to them and I believe that was loyalty to my own self, which I’m proud to say had paid off. I can be a little bit more flexible now with an established audience, but I’m still quite strict as laziness can have a huge impact on my stats as well as inspiration in general. That being said, it’s important that I enjoy the process. I’m just one of those (weird) people who enjoy the process with some obstacles in the way.
Professionalism, friendly and respectful manners are without a doubt the most important elements when it comes to communicating with PRs, brands, readers, other bloggers… Yes, it’s important to be assertive, but do so without hurting anyone, even haters. But that’s a whole new other topic.
Investing in better photography and computer equipment were also important to me, as the quality of my content improved hugely, and I save myself more time in the long-run too. Nobody needs a super expensive camera or an iMac to be a blogger, just choose what works for you and upgrade only when you can afford to do so. My iPhone produces some amazing images and I sometimes use them in my blog posts, too.
And of course the support structure – I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my family, especially my other half. Future bloggers – keep in mind though, that not all your family members and friends will “get” what you do, but it doesn’t mean they don’t support you. It’s just that they’re really not that into so much fashion!

Images © Lafotka