Photo by Marlene Lee
Last autumn I was lucky enough to attend Amanda Start’s – aka the Online Stylist – blogger workshop at Hero Stores. Run with Laura Turner, Amanda took us through her journey as a blogger, starting out as a passion project to becoming a genuine lifestyle influencer, and building a business through her blog. Through her hashtag #elevatetheeveryday, she tells elegant, yet relatable stories around coffee, style, cashmere, coastal living and seasonal simplicity, seeking inspiration and finding joy in simple things.
From staying in your lane, trusting your voice and creative partnerships, Amanda is the real deal as a blogging authority. In this My Work Happy, she sheds light on how she makes it all happen.
Tell us about yourself
I’m Amanda Start, 48-year-old life and style blogger who lives on the beautiful South Coast in Dorset with her husband, daughter and dog.
Can you share the Online Stylist story?
Blogging for me began as a serendipitous accident. After working in Finance for 90% of my career, I took voluntary redundancy when my old department disbanded.
I wanted to write but didn’t feel then that a book was an option. Whilst surfing the Internet one day I came across blogs and decided I would start one to chart my 39th year and approach to turning 40.
Pretty soon I was hooked and couldn’t leave it alone! Over a number of years I amassed an audience and slowly began to realise there could be a possibility of earning an income whilst doing something I was completely passionate about.
Do you have any big plans for the blog right now?
You know what – they’re exactly that – plans for the blog. To focus on the blog and the part that I truly love – content creation. Over the last two to three years I’ve diversified into other things but now want to get back to what’s at the very core – blogging and Instagram. These are my two favourite ways to connect with readers.
And how do you manage your time with so many commitments?
The honest answer? Sometimes badly! It’s quite a challenge to manage your own time, especially when you work based from home. But I’m learning a few tips along the way – one task focus seems to work well for me. The challenge can be when you feel like you have too many priorities and you don’t know which one to tackle first.
How do you celebrate your success?
This is something I need to do more of but when I do think to do it – it’s with something that should fit in with my favourite hashtag – #ElevateTheEveryday. Good coffee, Champagne Fridays, time to read a book or walk on the beach – they all feel like such a treat!
How do you invest in yourself?
I suppose I think that time invested in doing what I love (creating) is an investment in me. I’m not so great at the wellbeing part yet – that’s my challenge for this year. To invest in more time for myself both physically and mentally. If I don’t do those things I can’t be a good mum, wife, friend or blogger.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Instagram, Pinterest, books, other blogs. Or just taking myself out of “the norm” sometimes. Time to think without pressure (preferably spent at the beach!) will often throw out some good ideas.
What’s the one habit that’s changed your business?
Planning, planning, planning! I can’t emphasise enough how important both short and long-term planning are. Sounds like a bit of no-brainer and I’m amazed it took me so long but blogging for me comes from an emotional creative place so I found it hard initially to filter that into planning mode. I’m getting there now!
You’re so successful on Instagram. Tell us about your tribe there.
My tribe is the women who don’t see each other as competition but instead celebrate each other’s successes and cheer each other on. Honestly, at my age, competition feels like a pointless waste of energy and belongs in the schoolyard. I built it by becoming friends with an amazing bunch of creative inspirational women and telling them (and others who I maybe don’t know in real life – yet!), why they’re amazing. If you surround yourself with women who inspire and support each other, that tribe just grows by itself.
What’s exciting you most at the moment?
De-cluttering! I’ve become a de-cluttering geek! And Interiors. And they seem to be going hand in hand in our house right now. I talk about less is more and the principles of minimal and by the end of 2017, I realised there was not enough of this in my own life. My motto this year is “Simplify in 2018.”
Is there a work-life balance secret?
I don’t believe there’s any one secret – it so depends on the individual and it can be forever changing as your life priorities change. Right now I’m working on not beating myself up every time I want to take some time out for me. I think one tip that works for me is to remember who’s in control of my business. Er… that would be me! So take that control!
Finally, what’s your work happy?
The fact that I can steer the direction and themes of what I blog about. That I can blog about the things that I love and that inspire me… in the hope they’ll inspire readers too.
And that I can share my knowledge about what I’ve learnt through blogging. When I started out there were no resources and other bloggers generally weren’t sharing. I’m bordering on evangelical about blogging and can (and probably do!) go on about it for hours!