Good Day friends!
I’m taking you with me behind the scenes of my Life as A Lifestyle Blogger/Content Creator.
If you’ve been following my journey for some time now, you know that I started my post-collegiate career as a Mechanical Engineer. My background is technical, but I have always had a love for art, photography and fashion.
When I was in college studying engineering, I started and developed my first blog and website (on BlogSpot), where I was a fashion blogger who created looks and shared them online. I never had aspirations to become a professional at this kind of stuff, but here we are about a decade later…
So my love for digital storytelling through fashion and blogging started many moons ago.
Now, I am the CEO/Founder of a nonprofit organization I started back in 2016, an Entrepreneur, Brand Consultant, and Lifestyle Blogger/Content Creator on Instagram (@crystalngumezi).
If you would have told me 4 years ago that this would be my life, I probably wouldn’t have believed you (LOL). But now that we are here, let’s get into the contents of this post (the reason why you are here).
I. PREP WORK
Before I create content for my blog and brand on Instagram, I always start with a creative process that goes a little something like this:
- Carve out time to go look for inspiration (fashion, art, alone time, nature, speaking to God)
- Look for fashion pieces that inspire me and get me excited to create
- Plan out time to create looks for my brand
As a creator, I think it is very important to stay inspired.
As a Brand Consultant, I find it very important to share with my clients the importance of staying creative and innovative.
The need to stay creative and inspired is so important to me because I believe you create from what makes you happy (or from what brings you terror). For me, I find great joy in my creative process. I love to take time out of my busy schedule managing multiple businesses, drafting up processes, creating events, and responding to emails, to go out and explore what the world has to offer.
I have always loved fashion, art and photography ever since I was a young girl.
I find inspiration in creative and living things, so I make it a priority to go out and find what inspires me before working on my creative brands.
Once I have found my inspiration, I then go into the creation process.
When I go out shopping for looks to use for my personal brand on Instagram, I like to first start perusing through fashion magazines. This helps me get the creative juices flowing by seeing what other creative people are creating. I prefer looking through fashion magazines like Vougue and InStyle rather than online mediums like Instagram or other blogs, because I find that more work, detail and time is spent creating catalogues and ad campaigns for luxury brands than the former, and I find that so inspiring.
I also love to look at nature (water, trees, flowers), because those things bring me joy, and then I go shopping!
Now, when I shop, I am not shopping for leisure, I am on a mission! (LOL) I typically like to draft up the ideas I have in my head on paper or in a notebook, and then I go out into the world trying to find what’s in my head.
That may sound crazy, but I find that God always backs me up (LOL). Once I find the looks and pieces I love, I plan out my schedule for the week to bring those pieces to life.
II. SHOOTING & PHOTOGRAPHY
Now for me, I have several different ways to shoot content for my brand. (I go through all of these different ways sharing with you tools, resources and strategies, in my new E-Book, “The Fundamentals to Building Your Brand Online.”)
Currently, I shoot with a friend on my creative team who uses my Nikon DSLR (that I’ve had for over 7 years) to help me create the looks for my brand you see on Instagram. Sometimes I will even self-shoot with a timer and tripod if I have an ad campaign that I can’t fit into my shooting schedule for that day.
Here are Some Shooting Equipment Recommendations:
- Phone Mount (to mount camera phone to tripod)
- Canon Camera (refurbished to save you $$$)
- Nikon Camera
- Lighting Equipment
- Mini Tripod (for traveling blogger)
- Photography Backdrop SetUp
I typically like to shoot all my content at least 1-2 weeks in advance, so it gives me time to plan out my feed and blog posts, and switch around content if I need to. My shoots typically last 1 hour, and I typically will carve out 1 day of the week to shoot.
So for me, my weekly shooting schedule looks like this:
1 DAY SHOOT :: 1 HR SHOOT :: 3 LOOKS
Once I get my content shot, it’s then time to move onto my next process: Editing!
III. SCHEDULING & PLANNING
As someone who has been creating digital content for almost a decade now, I have learned to be very efficient with my editing process.
I have always had a love for photography and digital storytelling, so I am all about picture quality!
If you are anything like me, then you are a perfectionist (LOL). As perfectionists (and excellent people), we often times will take hours (even days) to complete a thing, just to ensure it is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! (LOL). The problem with this is that time slows down for no man (or woman), and time is one thing you cannot get back. So for me, I find it more productive and efficient to find ways to cut down my editing time while still preserving the quality of a photo.
How do I do this?
By having a process, fine-tuning that process, and scaling my work.
What does that mean?
I expedite my editing process for my photos by integrating apps and presets from photographers.
Many professional photographers sell presets of their editing styles (pre-set edits for photos), and I find it much easier to buy in bulk the photography pre-sets that I like from other photographers and integrate those presets into editing apps that I can use on my phone. For me, I find editing photos on my IPhone much easier and efficient, but use what works best for you.
Once I have edited my photos in bulk, it’s then time to move on to planning out my feed and blog posts.
I like to use scheduling apps to plan out my feed (All the editing and scheduling apps I use and have used are in my new E-Book, ‘The Fundamentals to Building Your Brand Online“). In these apps, I have the opportunity to plan out my captions for each piece of content, relating to the topic at hand I want to discuss or share for my brand.
As a content creator and blogger, it’s very important for me to always create content that aligns with my brand.
I never create “random posts” or “fillers” on my Instagram feed because that is not apart of my brand.
I have curated a brand of intentionality that correlates to faith, fashion, beauty, lifestyle and business, all underneath the umbrella of my personal name and brand, Crystal Ngumezi.
As someone who is interested in starting or creating your own brand (or someone who already has a brand), it is very important to always keep in mind the focus of your brand to your target audience.
My online audience knows what to expect from my brand because I’ve taken a lot of time to creatively communicate it to them.
I never confuse my audience by posting irrelevant pieces of content or blog posts just to “fill a space” or “match an aesthetic”. Instead, I reinforce my brand’s mission and objectives by ensuring my audience knows who I am, what I stand for, and how I can help them.
So for those of you reading this, take this tip with you:
Always Remind Your Audience About What Your Brand Represents. Your Audience Should Always Know Who You Are and What You Stand For.
This will keep you relevant and at the forefront of people’s minds.
Ahh yes. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t reveal to you the TRUE behind the scenes of my life as a digital creator on the internet.
When it comes to any business in any industry, the art of marketing is key.
This is especially true in the online space, with pages full of creators, businesses, and agendas, every creative and business owner must understand the art of “selling”.
I know this sounds crazy, but you have to know how to sell yourself and your brand.
If you are not willing to get vulnerable with your audience, no one is going to find relevancy with what you’re marketing.
This is why businesses and corporations spend so much time and money on really good sales pitches, and really good marketing – because it works!
When I was an undergrad promoting my fashion blog online at my university through online forum groups and social media, I didn’t really know what I was doing (LOL).
I didn’t have a degree in marketing, but I was marketing. Everything I learned back in college (over 5 years ago), I now use today as a blogger and content creator who makes money online.
I didn’t realize what I was doing back then would help me with my career and business endeavors today. I was just simply doing what I loved – sharing and talking about the things that inspired me with like-minded individuals.
Now, as an entrepreneur who makes money online working for brands and selling products and services, I now know and understand the value that God was instilling in me long ago:
- Master What You’ve Learned
- Share What You’ve Learned
- Sell What You’ve Learned
I blogged on the side (for FREE), worked for engineering companies every summer and after I graduated, and worked my butt off during the semester as an engineering student to graduate top of my class.
As an engineering student who blogged on the side for free, worked over the summer in internships, and worked my butt off during the semester, I learned that hard work can’t be skipped. It’s all about your mentality.
I’m still juggling many things as a CEO of a growing nonprofit, business owner, brand consultant, and Lifestyle Blogger/Content Creator – but that hasn’t changed my mentality.
Every “job” that I have, I enjoy, because they are built and centered around my purpose – to Share, Create, and to Help People.
Working for brands and companies online is great, traveling for free is nice, getting free stuff is cool – but I wouldn’t be doing ANY of this if I didn’t really enjoy it.
So if you are a blogger, content creator, or someone interested in trying these things out, I must warn you: You will not see the fruits of this lifestyle in the beginning.
You have to really enjoy this thing or you will simply burn out, give up and quit.
I shared my process with you to give you some insight into how I create:
Prep Work is essential for the production of your creative work.
Know your creative process and get it established! Make your creative process a standard for your brand, not an afterthought.
Everything takes planning, including being creative. The more you plan, the better your execution will be, and the greater your opportunity to scale your work and increase your productivity.
Find creative and cost-effective ways to build your brand (All of my professional teachings about building your brand on a budget are in my new E-Book, ‘The Fundamentals to Building Your Brand Online”)
Use technology to plan out your feed, blog posts and captions in advance, this way you can spend each following day simply posting and engaging with your audience.
Promote your content! You should be talking about your brand more than everyone else in the beginning, until your brand reaches a point where it can speak for itself. When I first started blogging in college, I was the only one sharing my content online, joining blogger groups and online networks. Then, as my fashion blog started to gain speed and momentum, other people started to share and promote my blog for me. This is what everyone wants, but no one is willing to put in the work on the front end to produce the brand they want – DO THE WORK! You cannot skip this step. You must FIRST put in the work for your brand to create great content that speaks to people. Quality over quantity will always be important.
Once you have found a process and system that works for you and your brand, perfect that process and scale it. For me, I am able to create 2-3 weeks worth of content in 1-2 days. This allows me to focus on other parts of my life and business without taking away from my brand and neglecting my audience.
I always tell my clients to make sure they are “feeding their audience.”
Yes, life happens. But you should be very careful and practical when it comes to managing your brand, especially when it comes to your sanity, mental health, and well being.
I may take a day or two off social media to focus on myself, but in that time of reflection, time alone with God, and self-care, I am recharging myself so I can go back to being efficient, productive and creative.
Having Rest Days and OFF Days are built into my structure. I do not skip Off Days. I plan and prepare for them, just like with any other day. I encourage you to do the same.
This blog post was a long one, but I hope and pray that it helped you put some things into perspective when it comes to performing work for your brand and business.
Hard Work cannot be short-changed.
I am able to make a living off of the earnings I make online as a creator and entrepreneur because I treat it like a business, AND I enjoy doing what I do. I hope you will do the same.
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