First, I’m going to tell you about all the things that I couldn’t do when I started The Haute Heel in 2011. I didn’t know how to resize images, for my first post, I spent two hours googling totally irrelevant things before figuring it out. I hadn’t learnt to use a DSLR, I didn’t know what aperture was and thought that ISO was some kind of Nobu knock-off. Don’t even get me started on my makeup choices. Oh my goodness, my eyebrows were way too bold for my face and I don’t think that contouring as we know it today even existed four years ago. My style was incredibly experimental and it resulted in me deleting a lot of blog posts in the two year hiatus that I took from sharing ideas online.
Oh yes, there was that long hiatus. I had moved to Singapore, was completely unfamiliar with my new readership, took a job that altered my entire sense of aesthetic and I was… lost. Blogging was always at the back of my mind but I could never produce the level of quality content that you see now. I was clueless about my identity, audience and direction. These are the three things that I realised I needed to know thoroughly to keep cutting through the noise and get my content seen and read.
Identity: Your Blog
Have a clear vision of what you want your Instagram or blog to look like. Most critically, this idea cannot be a replica of someone else’s. When I first approached a developer to build my website, of course I referenced elements from other websites that I admire but ultimately, this minimalist and simple style of navigation was my conception. You don’t have to go out and find yourself a professional, I know lots of DIY websites built on Blogger or Squarespace that are stunning and much prettier than mine. However, I lack coding and html skills and I wanted this space to be personal, so I just did what I had to do and paid up!
Moving onto the subject of content, I have read blogs that are just sparkling with the writer’s personality. These are posts that make me giggle, particularly when there are gifs involved – I’m a sucker for pop culture references. However, I’ve found that unless I have a total girl crush on that blogger, I kind of prefer straight to the point information or opinions about things that I find relevant. Beauty bloggers are a perfect example of this kind of writing style. By thinking about what I want to read when I stumble across a new website, I was able to form the tone and identity of the content on The Haute Heel.
As for Instagram, one of the easiest ways to find and showcase your identity is through editing. I think we can all agree that the most successful and attractive feeds have a strong and identifiable aesthetic. Personally, I feel like editing my images differently with every outfit that I post because I think that every look has its own story to tell. But to keep it general and simple: learn to edit your own images and be consistent. Even if you hire a professional photographer, it’s not good enough that you don’t have creative control over your own images.
For the longest time, I knew how to edit but I would use whatever the photographer sent to me. It wasn’t until very recently that I was on holiday with a friend of mine who has over 140,000 followers on Instagram (at the time of writing) that I saw how meticulous he was about controlling his appearance. It was a valuable lesson for me. We represent our own brand. We have to take strict, uncompromising control over content that we endorse, especially so if our face is on it. Could you imagine Dior, for example, allowing a publication to add a grainy filter to their campaign images? The thought horrifies me.
Emily Morgan photographed by me