In this interview Toronto Blogger, Jessica Lam, shares her life as a full-time lifestyle blogger. Read to learn what inspires and motivates her blogging journey. Jessica also shares Instagram and blogging tips for those who want to start.
What inspired you to start Diary of a Toronto Girl?
I’ve always been a creative person. In elementary school I taught myself Photoshop and made websites and gaming videos. I did co-op at Rogers TV in high school and studied Media Production at Ryerson University. I did internships in digital media, and that got me interested in all things digital media. My Media Production degree was mostly focused on TV and film, but I fell more in love with the digital media side and eventually started my blog.
While in university, I wrote listicles for various outlets, mostly on things to do in Toronto. I needed my own creative outlet because I felt like I was writing the same topics over and over again. It felt repetitive, so I started my own blog and wrote about what I was doing in the city and what I was doing with my friends. Over time, my content transitioned into lifestyle.
On blogging full-time…
When I started my blog, I didn’t think that it would ever become my job. I looked up to huge bloggers like Song of Style and thought it was impossible for smaller bloggers to make a full-time income from their blogs. I started meeting people in Toronto that were doing it full-time and that encouraged me to work harder.
When I was writing for media outlets, I was getting invited to events just because I was working there. I posted about these events on my own blog and built relationships with PR companies. It eventually just turned into a full-time job and brands started reaching out for paid collaborations.
Blogging and freelancing has its difficulties. There will be busy months and there will be months that are slower. For example, January is slow because it’s right after the holidays. December is busy because that’s when people are shopping for the holidays.
… I would say start blogging if you really want to. Try to offer something different, don’t try to be like everyone else and don’t buy followers. It shows when you are only blogging for the ‘free’ stuff or sponsorships.
How do you stay motivated to blog?
In the past, I felt like I was writing out of obligation and tried to force myself to do three blog posts per week. Now, I’ve found a balance between posting when I want to and making sure my content is focused on quality over quantity. I would rather write one good blog post a week than three low quality posts.
What is the “blogger life” like?
It’s hard to maintain productivity sometimes. There are times when I’ll spend all-day watching Netflix and I won’t be productive. I try to set a schedule for myself and go to bed early as if I’m going to work the next day. I keep a content calendar as well as daily tasks I have to complete.
On connecting with other bloggers…
It can be hard because I’m introverted and I can be awkward, especially when I’m in a room with people I’m not familiar with. Even if I recognize someone from Instagram, it’s still hard for me to approach them. The key is to find someone else in the room who is alone and talk to them. It’s a great way to break the ice.
When you go out, do people recognize you?
It doesn’t happen too often but it’s weird when it does. When you’re a blogger, you aren’t a celebrity and people see you as a friend. I think that’s why I like blogging so much, because it’s more like a community of friends rather than fans or followers.
Would you call yourself a creative, influencer or blogger? And why?
I don’t like the term influencer because it implies that you’re influencing people when really you’re sharing your own opinions and people are making their own decisions based on them. I know a lot of people on the brand side use the term “influencer”, but people on the influencer side tend to not like that word.
When somebody calls you an influencer how do you feel?
Have you seen the Fyre Festival documentary?
Yeah it was a disaster!
I think that’s what people think being an influencer is and there’s a stigma to it. So I prefer the words creative and blogger, which I feel both apply to me.
If you have to go to an event, what outfit do you usually reach for?
I always go for jeans and a sweater in the winter. For the spring and summer I go for jeans and a t-shirt. It’s easy and no one really knows if you’re repeating the outfit because you can always make it look different by accessorizing or layering.
Advice for those who want to start a blog or grow on Instagram
The key is to be consistent. The market is oversaturated right now but there is room and opportunity for everyone. When there’s campaigns, PR companies choose people that specifically fit that brand. And there’s so many different campaigns happening out there.
I would say start blogging if you really want to. Try to offer something different, don’t try to be like everyone else, and don’t buy followers. It shows when you’re only blogging for the “free” stuff or sponsorships. You can tell if an influencer really cares about their audience or just wants to make a quick buck. Just be authentic!