Hoping to make her own unique mark on the fashion industry, Rochelle Smith knew she had to stand out from the crowd in her field. This led to Just Another Mannequin, a blog and Instagram about fashion, styling and lifestyle. I’ve been following Rochelle for awhile and as well as her insanely aesthetic Instagram feed, she has a beautiful writing style and an amazing way of incorporating the brands she works with into her blog posts. I chatted to her about transitioning from a 9-5 job to full time blogging, fashion and working with brands.
Tell us a bit about your qualifications and how you got into blogging…
My passion for fashion blogging actually began at university when I was studying my Bachelor of Communication. I was doing a short course abroad in Florence, Italy when I realised that every girl in the room (we were studying fashion marketing) wanted the same job as me. I realised I needed to do something to stand out when applying for jobs, so I started my blog as a portfolio of what I could do. I knew I wanted to do something in styling, so I began putting together shoots and coordinating projects while building my personal brand at the same time. In every interview I’ve had since then, the employer has spent way more time talking about my blog projects than anything I ever did at uni and I was hired at a social media agency in Sydney before I even graduated.
Did you find it difficult transitioning from your 9-5 job to freelancing and being your own boss?
The shift into full time blogging came somewhat organically and yet, it still shocked me. I’d been doing blog work from my second year at uni and all throughout my career, but in 2018, it started to take up every spare minute that I had. I’d get up at 5:00am every morning to get in some blog work before actual work and do my content shoots every weekend. Eventually I became burnt out and decided that I either had to give up my job, or my blog. I chose the blog. The only big change was that I now had 5 days to focus on it, instead of sporadic pockets of time wherever I could slot them in. I was already doing all the work, I now just had the time to fall back in love with it again and get more creative with the things I could do.
What is it about the fashion industry and styling that you love?
I love telling stories with fashion, styling and photography. I’m actually quite introverted so I think my love of fashion has come from being able to show who I am to the world without having to speak. I’ve been doing that my whole life and so naturally, I’ve become quite good at it. It’s not just my own story that I like to tell, I love all sorts of creative briefs and clients. It’s my job to tell the story of each brand I work for through creative content that connects with my audience and theirs.
“Eventually I became burnt out and decided that I either had to give up my job, or my blog. I chose the blog.”
What kind of blog posts are your favourite to shoot and put together?
Naturally, I love talking about fashion, but I don’t like to dictate too much. I believe that fashion is your story and all I can hope to do is inspire! I also like writing the personal pieces. It feels like a diary and my audience really connect to those moments.
You have a beautiful aesthetic and editing style; what tips would you give to bloggers or other creatives on how to find their own style in photography and content?
Just keep practising! I shoot every single week and still learn something new. Investing in quality equipment and working with people that align with your vision is also a huge factor!
What advice would you give about working with brands and sponsored content?
The best way to attract the work that you want is to do the work you want. If you dream of shooting editorial style content for beauty clients, start making that portfolio. If you want minimal street style to be your thing, just start doing it! Don’t wait for them to find you, make yourself unmissable. In the same thread, I’m also a big believer in getting fairly compensated for the work that you do. Don’t undersell your worth because it devalues our entire industry. Think about all those hours you’re putting in and the value you’re giving the brands you love, is it really worth a $150 dress? The best decision I made was only accepting paid work this year. It means I have more money to put into resources and create even better work for my audience, and my clients. The brands that truly believe in you will pay because they know the value you can provide them.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year? Any big projects coming up?
I have a few more dream clients on my list to tick off. I wrote a big list and stuck it in my diary at the start of this year. I let my dreams run wild and I know it might be years before I complete them all. I honestly really love this stage that I’m at right now, I have amazing, supportive clients that inspire me to create awesome content. I’d love to keep scaling up, with bigger brands, bigger budgets and even wilder campaign ideas!
Thank you to Rochelle for giving us an insight into professional blogging, styling and sponsored posts! Follow Rochelle here.