Within a year, Morgan England turned her fashion blog into a business—while also going to graduate school full-time. She gave us a little peek into all she’s learned in the past 12 jam-packed months. Read on for some extra honest tips on blogging and balancing.
Name: Morgan England Location: Indianapolis, IN Title: Owner, Fashion + Beauty Blogger Company:Style On Edge What it is: Fashion & Beauty Blog Educational Background: MA in nutrition/dietetics at Ball State University
What inspired you to start Style on Edge?
I originally started Style On Edge as more of hobby/side project while I was in graduate school. I relocated to Indiana from Arkansas, and I wanted something other than graduate school to keep me busy during my free time.
I’ve always been creative, especially when it came to trying out new things with my style. I had heard about fashion/beauty blogging prior to starting one, but I didn’t realize that it could turn into a full-fledged business (which is exactly what it is now after just one year).
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for myself would be answering emails (they are endless), creating and working on brand contracts, planning content for my blog and social media platforms, project planning, writing and creating new content, photography sessions, managing the finances for the business side of things, social media management, applying/collaborating for new campaigns, outfit fittings, and so much more.
When you’re the manager and blogger in this business, you’re always busy and each day is different depending on what jobs you’re working on at the time. My hours are definitely not that of a 9-5 job either; I’ll work eight hours one day and 12 or more hours the next. It varies.
If you could have given yourself a piece of knowledge or advice when you started, what would that be?
The advice that I would give to myself prior to starting Style On Edge would be to set realistic goals and stay on brand. I remember when I started Style On Edge, I wanted immediate results and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t doing as well as other bloggers that I looked up to. Well, the reason is because those bloggers have been blogging for 6+ years. I was comparing myself to them and setting unrealistic goals that only discouraged me.
Once I started setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based (SMART) goals, I started seeing a lot of success with my business. Staying on brand for your blog is hard when it comes to fashion, especially because you want to work with every brand that contacts you at first and not all of them fit your style or brand. As hard as it is to decline offers, if you don’t completely love the item, chances are your readers aren’t going to be all that into it either.
Your followers view your content daily because they either share the same style or are inspired to recreate the style. If you’re posting content that isn’t matching that style your viewers love, then they may not engage as much with your posts or could even hit the dreaded unfollow button. My advice to any new blogger is to stay true to their style and brand, set realistic goals, and reward yourself for the achievements you make throughout the journey.
Would you do anything differently?
Style On Edge has grown faster than I can even keep up with to be completely frank, but that growth was built from hard work, late nights, and learning from mistakes that were made. I would not change one thing about my journey so far as a business owner and blogger because it has made me truly appreciate the business and learn from my mistakes so I can continue to grow.
How do you define success?
Success to me is what you want it to be and make of it. Success could be acing your final exam that you’ve been studying hard for or even being the CEO of a major company. I think as long as you’re setting realistic goals and achieving them with hard work ethic, you will be successful.
What’s been the hardest part of blogging full-time while also going to grad school? How do you manage to do both of those? I can barely walk my dog and get to the gym in the same day.
Blogging full-time while also going to graduate school definitely has its challenges. I think what really helped me to work through it all was separating the two. When I’m working on Style On Edge graduate school doesn’t exist, and when I’m working on graduate school work I focus only on that. I think when you start mixing the two, it will only make you feel overwhelmed.
I’m a planner and I create to-do lists like no one’s business, and I always make sure that I have two separate lists going each day: one for the blog and one for graduate school. I work on one, complete its tasks for the day, and then start the other. I will say that I do have hard work ethic, and when it’s something you love, it’s so much easier to juggle it all. I love what I do and if it means I am only going to get four hours of sleep that night (not recommended) then that is what I will do to be successful at my business and in my Master’s program.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting your blog?
The most rewarding part of starting Style On Edge has definitely been the positive feedback that I get from my readers. I treat my readers like my friends, who I want to love the content that I create. The support system that I have received from my readers has been phenomenal and makes all of the hard work I’ve put in worth it if they enjoy the content.
I know it sounds cheesy and you’re probably thinking, “yeah right, we know you’re in it for the clothes,” but I promise that scoring a new outfit to post means nothing if no one likes it (for me, anyway). The real reward is tuning in to what your readers want and love and creating content for them to enjoy, not yourself. I think a lot of people in the blogging business often lose sight of that.
How has social media helped shape your brand?
I would be nothing without social media, if you want me to be completely honest. I use it all: Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Bloglovin’, etc.
The amazing thing about social media is that if you’re willing to put yourself out there and engage with your readers, you’ll gain followers. The followers you gain turn into readers for your blog, so now that discouragement about writing to no one (except Mom and Dad) is out the window! I think the fast growth that Style On Edge has received is primarily from social media.
How do you make sure you stand out on social media?
I think one way that I stand out on social media is the way that I treat my followers and engage with them. I try to ask them questions, provide giveaways, reply to comments (as much as I can), and I even respond to direct messages.
My intention with each social media post is not to make sales, but to share my personal style/beauty advice and add details either in the caption or with shoppable links for viewers to be able to recreate their own look. I think the aesthetic of social media (primarily Instagram) makes any account stand out. I put deep thought (maybe even too much thought) into every single post that goes live on a Style On Edge social media account.
I think what separates an account with a good aesthetic versus other accounts is the quality of the photos. I never just take a picture quickly, not edit it at all and post it without thinking twice about it (that is what a personal account is for). If you’re wanting to turn your social media into a business platform, then treat it that way. You wouldn’t present sloppy work to an employer; don’t do that with social media either. I always use a DSLR camera versus my phone, edit all of my pictures a particular way, and really think about my caption before posting.
It’s also important to focus on one social media platform to perfect it and really grow, but I try not to put all of my eggs in one basket. The world of social media is very unpredictable and you want to have at least a decent following on the other platforms as well. My plan is to mainly focus on one social media platform per year (this year it’s Instagram) while still working on my other ones as well. So that way, eventually I can have a strong following throughout the different platforms (Rome wasn’t built in a day, people).
What are your hobbies? What do you do when you’re not working?
I must admit that I don’t have time for additional hobbies because I’m currently either working or sleeping these days. I do enjoy yoga; it’s so empowering and a great distraction from work. I also, of course, am like any other 24-year-old who enjoys things like hanging out with friends and family, going to concerts, date nights, etc.
My career fields both include things that I love and am passionate about such as fashion, beauty, nutrition, etc. I think when you love what you’re doing, you really don’t feel the need to develop extra hobbies.
How do you balance your work and school with your personal life?
Work, school, and having a personal life is definitely a balancing act that I’m still trying to perfect. After focusing on everything I need to just to get through the work day, I barely have time to squeeze in family, boyfriend, and friends; yet alone, a personal life outside of those things. I couldn’t tell you the last time I “went out” with friends and it wasn’t a work event.
I believe though that everything is a season and you do what you need to do to get through the current season to make it to the next. For example, after I graduate and I no longer have a million things going on at once I’ll be able to focus on my personal life again. I do try to take time each day to meditate and dedicate at least 15 minutes to being still and letting go everything that I have going on that day.
Have there been any major surprises you didn’t expect when you started blogging?
I think one major surprise has been how close the blogging community within your niche actually is. I never thought that I could make 50+ new friends within one year that I feel so close and connected with. I highly encourage any new blogger to reach out and get involved in the blogging community through Facebook groups, Instagram DM groups, etc.
One of the Instagram DM groups that I’m in particularly is so close; it’s unreal how you can really get to know a group of people without even meeting face to face. I noticed that when I started getting plugged in that is when I started to really grow as a blogger. You may think that I am crazy, but it’s unreal the amount of support that you receive. No one understands juggling a blog, school, work, and squeezing in a personal life like fellow bloggers.
How much research did you do before you launched Style on Edge?
To be completely honest, not enough. I had no idea the amount of work that it takes to run a blog as a business or that you could even make an income from it. I launched the blog as a hobby, so not a lot of research went into it at first. I’m always researching now though. The blogging world changes every day, so I am always looking for ways to improve Style On Edge.
If you could give an aspiring blogger advice, what would it be?
That’s a tough question because I feel like I’m full of blogging advice even though I have been in the business for only one year. I think the biggest advice I would give a new blogger would be to not compare yourself to others. If you’re spending all of your time creeping on other bloggers to copy their style and content, then that is only time wasted that you could have spent perfecting your own style and content. I think it’s important to figure out what works for your blog and what your own personal brand is. If you love wearing all black (guilty) then don’t go out and buy a ruffled pink dress to create content over just because you noticed that “so and so” posted it recently. W
hen a blogger doesn’t feel comfortable in the style of clothing and makeup they’re wearing, it shows through the content that you post, I promise! Don’t let this industry change who you are. You started this thing because you felt that you had good style at some point or another and you wanted to share that with others, so own it and stay consistent.
What’s next for you?
There are so many things in store for Style On Edge, as well as my personal life for 2017. I’ll be graduating in December 2016 and relocating to Dallas, TX around the same time. For Style On Edge, I have many projects I’m working on that will be huge (stay tuned) and my next focus is just to continue to research, create high quality content for my readers, and improve the business each day.