Jayne Kitsch is a blogging veteran. In 2009, she started her blog Jaynekitsch as a platform to express her love of alternative fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. She is also the co-founder and director of KITSCH.inc, who manage digital marketing and PR campaigns including blogger outreach and social media. In this spotlight Jayne gives us a candid insight into life as a blogger opening up about the commercial pressures of having a successful blog, detoxing from social media, finding the right balance between self-promotion and genuine content, why PRs shouldn’t get a hard time for not personalising their blogger emails and why there should be flexibility around sponsorship disclosure.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you start writing your blog? I started writing my blog in 2009 when blogging wasn’t really a mainstream thing like it is today. It came off the back of writing LiveJournal and Myspace updates and being a posy, goth girl mastering selfies before they were a thing. I used to write for some local magazines and I started my personal blog as a place to practise my writing and also to share awesome stuff that I liked that I found on the internet, I was very inspired by the now dead blog, Domestic Sluttery. Back then it was called Jayne’s Kitschen and it covered all kinds of subjects and there was no plan or structure, I just posted cool stuff. PRs didn’t work with bloggers back then and I didn’t even know what PR was, it was a very different time to be blogging.
What’s new on your blog? I’ve taken a massive break over the past few months to focus on my digital agency business, KITSCH.inc which I run with my boyfriend, Miz. Blogging was getting me down. When you have a blog that does well you are constantly bombarded with people telling you how you should blog, what you should buy, what events you should be at, what colour lipstick you should wear and it wasn’t inspiring me anymore, in fact it was causing me quite a bit of stress. So, I took a step back, detoxed my social media platform (I’ve written about this process on my blog too) and just stopped writing for a while and stopped posting so much on social too. I’ve dipped in and out over the past few months but feel like the stuff I’m putting out there now is more what my blog was originally supposed to be – a hub for all the cool stuff I find on the internet and with no pressure to please anyone in particular. It’s my blog, and I’ll do what I like with it. I’ve got a major lifestyle change about to happen too, so you’ll see a lot of new topics coming into play when that happens at the start of the Summer.
Why should people read your blog? What makes it different? No one should read my blog, I’m not bothered about pushing stats or traffic right now as that’s not what blogging should be about and certainly isn’t what I want my blog to be about. I’d much rather just enjoy the creative process and see what happens. I hope that people will start to see this change of direction as a positive thing and if they choose to continue reading that’s awesome. If not, that’s fine too. Blogging is a lot more fun without these commercial pressures and especially if you’re doing it as a hobby, it should be about what you want to gain from it and that alone.
How do you measure the success of your blog? As I’ve mentioned, I’ve tried to move away from measuring anything in terms of my blog as it was sucking the fun out of it. However, I can talk a little about how I used to measure success. The usual things like traffic growth and social media followings were the main parameters I’d look at, but when you’re not using your blog as an income, it shouldn’t matter so much, so check your priorities before you get stressed out over losing 10 Instagram followers this week, does it really make any difference to your life? I think this is one of the struggles of blogging vs. a magazine, a blog is usually just one person and there’s only so much one person can think about in their spare time and for me thinking about my blog stats is not a useful way to spend my time right now. I’d much rather be putting that energy into other things like my dressmaking hobby and my agency KITSCH.inc which I’m absolutely loving at the moment.
What has been your blogging highlight? 100% the people I’ve met. Being involved with blogging for such a long time has given me amazing opportunities to meet some incredible people. Some of my best friends are people I would never had met if it hadn’t been for blogging, Gemma from Flutter and Sparkle for example, we’re total opposites but blogging brought us together. I’ve met some of my heroes because of blogging too, such as makeup artist Alex Box, entrepreneur Millie Kendal and blogger superstars Jane Cunningham, ReeRee Rockette, Fleur McGerr and Hayley Carr. I also can’t forget to point out that if it wasn’t for blogging I wouldn’t be doing the job I have been for the past 5 years and would probably be doing something completely different.
How do you work with marketers and PRs? I don’t work with PRs or brands directly very much at the moment as I get sent so many press releases that aren’t relevant to me or don’t interest me enough to pursue. There’s been a massive trend for a while now about blogs being specific to a category (Fashion, beauty, crafts, films) rather than a personal taste or aesthetic, like my blog. Because of this it makes it quite difficult for brands to target me properly, I guess, as the sorts of things that would capture my attention are so specific to me that it’s not easy and just because I write about a lot of beauty doesn’t mean that every beauty story is relevant to my site. At the moment, I’m happy to receive press releases about stuff and I’ll write up anything that catches my eye as a news piece, I’m much more interested in just sharing cool stuff than getting sent a gazillion things and then feeling pressured about reviewing them.
How do you use social media to promote/share content? What are the challenges? Most of my social media content is scheduled or automated as I do social media for work too I prioritise my clients rather than my personal content these days. There’s some great plugins for WordPress that make these things easier and I love using Buffer for slotting in various promotional content throughout the day with very little fuss. I feel like a lot of bloggers over-do the self-promotion at the moment though and I think it’s a massive challenge for a lot of people to find the balance of genuine in the moment social content (which is what social media is designed for) and overly thought out marketing content which can easily become dull or appear fake to their followers. For me, I’ve always found the best way to use social for promotion is to be sociable on the networks in a genuine way, you never know what you might discover from just chatting to randoms on Twitter.
What can PRs do to work better with you? This is a tricky one as the automatic response is to say, send me emails about relevant stuff and personalise your approach, but I know it’s not that simple. I’m not a A-list blogger so I’m probably not worth the time it takes to do the research before sending the email, so I won’t take it personal if you don’t. I think a lot of PRs get a hard time for not personalising their blogger emails, but we’ve got to remember how long it takes to do this and it’s not always possible when you’ve got a lot on. In an ideal world all blogger emails would be custom written and relevant, which is what I try to do for my clients, but I don’t think this is always valuable use of a PRs time when there’s like 1000s of relevant bloggers to approach nowadays and a lot of agencies rely on media databases as their contact sources to save time.
What do you feel about sponsorship disclosure? This is another fairly new situation and I find it really odd when you compare magazines to blogs. There are two types of coverage in general: a sponsored post and a post including products you were sent for free or written because you went to an event. People argue that bloggers should disclose both types of coverage, meaning that many bloggers would be disclosing on every single post due to the large amount of samples they might get. Magazines don’t have to disclose everything they get for free, they don’t write an article about a luxury brand and then write “we were sent on holiday to Hawaii by this brand and stayed in 5 star luxury for a week in exchange for this post” and in some cases this could be true, yet magazines don’t get questioned the same as bloggers and that irritates me, magazines are heavily influenced by their advertisers as well as PR perks. Basically, I think sponsored posts should be disclosed as advertorials just like magazines do, but when it’s posts in exchange for opportunities or samples then I think it should be more flexible. People argue that they don’t trust bloggers who get too much free stuff and I find this absurd if you don’t trust them, why are you reading their blog? It shouldn’t matter if they got something for free or not, if you like their content read it.
List three best practices PRs need to follow for better blogger outreach? Remember that bloggers have lives, many have families and full-time jobs, so you won’t get a reply as quickly as you might from a journalist. Most blogs are based on reviews and experiences, so make sure you offer something valuable in exchange for the coverage, you can’t expect coverage for nothing in most cases. Don’t over do the chasing, as per the other two points, chasing for a blog review in my experience does more damage than good, once a month is fair but I’ve had some PRs chase daily for a product that I’ve not even had chance to look at yet and that’s a massive turn-off. If in doubt, you can always hire a blogger outreach pro, there’s lots of us and generally you can get a much better point of view with your campaign if you have another blogger manning the outreach.
What do you think about Vlogging, do you think blogging will become a more visual medium? Anyone who works within digital can see that video content is big news at the moment with platforms like Snapchat and Periscope gaining popularity and Facebook attempting to compete with YouTube you’ve got to pay attention. There’s a new generation of teens who are tuning into their favourite YouTube channels rather than into TV and you can see these trends in the way TV channels are optimising their digital content and streaming platforms. If you want to make big money or get fame, I think vlogging is where it’s at, however, I don’t think conventional blogging is going anywhere either. The most important thing to remember whatever direction you go in, is that competition is tough and you’ve gotta have one MEGA skillset and super connections to make it in any of these creative industries.
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months? Those big life changes I mentioned are going to make a massive impact on my blogging, but I can’t tell you too much about that just yet. It’s exciting and a little bit scary but is going to change a lot of things. Watch this space. In terms of my blogosphere though? I’m pleased to see a lot of old school bloggers rediscovering their passions lately and like me, mixing things up a bit!