UEA Blog Society talks to Norwich’s favourite fashion blogger Ginger Natalie…
By Tony Allen
Ginger Natalie is one of the most recognisable faces on the local blogging scene. Her bold styles, personable tone, striking photos and infectious ambition have made her a rising star of the blogosphere and a real one to watch.
Working with some of the best local fashion photographers, Natalie has a superb eye for a background, and her Instagram account is one of the best and most eye-catching we’ve seen. Her captions are friendly and chatty, guiding her ever-increasing number of followers through her daily life and eclectic outfits.
Last year, Natalie was named as one of Influence Digest’s top 20 young bloggers. At the time they said: “Natalie has turned fashion from a hobby into a lifestyle. Her blog is filled with info to help you understand the fashion world to a greater degree.”
So, what’s the secret to her success? UEA Blog Society sat down with Ginger Natalie in Norwich to chat about her experience so far, what she hopes to achieve in the future and ask her advice for new bloggers hoping to emulate her rise to prominence…
Sum up your blog in a few sentences…
I would say my style is an eclectic mix of high street, vintage, charity shops, high end, just mixing it all together to create one good look. I don’t think you can just go through one route of fashion, high street or high end. If you’ve got style you should be able to mix everything up so no-one knows where things have come from.
I’m a big believer in wearing colour. I think clothes should be colourful and you shouldn’t be afraid to stand out. A lot of people dress to fit in whereas I think it’s good to stand out. It’s the one thing that makes everyone individual, without you even opening your mouth. It’s where people get their first impression of you. So if you’re a bit bold, a bit of a crazy dresser, people automatically know that you might be a fun person as opposed to someone who might be a bit shy and retiring.
What made you decide to start blogging?
I didn’t really start it to blog if I’m honest. I started it because my friends and family would ask where I got my shoes from, where I got my dress from, how I did my makeup. And it was a place where I could just put it out once, not have to repeat myself, and it just made life a lot easier. It’s just gone from there really and now it’s where it is. But I love it!
Instagram is a big part of your brand. How much do you plan what you post?
Yeah, it’s a lot harder than people think. You’re quite lucky now, there are apps where you can plan your feed. Because my theme is not colour-based, I don’t really have to worry about finding a white wall, for example, but I still don’t want two green photos next to each other, I don’t want two sitting down photos next to each other, I don’t want two smiling photos next to each other, so it does take a lot of hard work and planning. I try and do three or four days’ worth of photos in one go so I’m not stressed, I know they’re ready to go.
Do you schedule them, then?
No, I put them all up manually because I try to do my captions depending on how I’m feeling that day. Because some days you’re having a bad day I feel that you need to be relatable to your followers. With Instagram there is the temptation to portray that ‘perfect life’ and you need to show life isn’t perfect – everyone has bad days. Today I had a bad hair day, a bad makeup day, I burnt my hand on my straighteners…
… I wouldn’t have noticed!…
… [laughs] it was just one of those days. I think your followers need to know that. Because if they’re having a bad day and all you seem to be doing is having an amazing time they must be thinking, god, this girl’s perfect, but in reality we all have bad days.
That’s a really interesting point about authenticity.
I think it’s so easy to give off the impression of a picture perfect life. That’s what Instagram is ideally, isn’t it? Portraying to everyone else that you’re having an amazing time when in reality, everyone has bad days, everyone has days when they just can’t be bothered to get out of bed. People are buying into you, they want to follow you, they want to know your lifestyle, they want to know who you are so I feel they’ve got to know that part of you as well, not just the ‘I’m just off out shopping’. They need to have those days, like: ‘I’ve just had the worst morning ever’. I uploaded a picture about 7 o’clock this morning but if I’d posted it at 11 o’clock my caption would have been completely different.
Do you have a particular photographer that you use?
I work with loads of photographers. Everyone has different styles. I love working with different people because the more people you work with, the more people inspire you. You become a bit more of a rounded person. If you fit in to one box and know that box works for you, you might not necessarily know about something else that could change your perspective.
The photoshoot you did in Five Guys is one of my favourites – how did that come about?
I’m working with Warehouse currently which is part of the Arcadia group. They sent me a playsuit and said we need to style it for day and night. So I thought, what do we do on our days off? Normally it’s a cheat day. I thought, what do we do on cheat days? We go and get burger and chips! And what do we do with red? Five Guys.
What is your favourite type of backdrop for photos?
I love graffiti. I‘m all about the bright life, being a bit bold, being a bit crazy and so I love graffiti walls. I also like woodland shoots. I think it’s just nice to mix things up and show diversity in life.
You’re a regular user of Instagram stories – you’re the best blogger I’ve seen for using them to build up your persona.
People love the Instagram stories because it’s that instant access into your life, they can know what you’re doing right there and then. People want to keep up to date with you now.
However boring you think your life is, to someone else it’s not boring. So, even though I’m just sat here having a coffee, I’ll Instagram story that because people might not know you can have that drink at Starbucks, but to you that’s just normal, that’s just what you do. So just go out there, be bold, don’t be afraid what anybody else thinks.
Your blog has a very fresh theme. Tell us about it…
At the beginning of this year I decided to make my blog a full time job. The goal for the end of this year is to not have another job, blogging to be that job. So I met a web designer, he’s amazing. His name’s Christos Fellas. He sorted out my website for me. I told him that I wanted it to be all visual because I think that’s what people follow bloggers for. I’d say it’s 75 percent pictures, 25 percent writing so I needed it to be as visual as possible. I wanted the majority of the blog to be white so my pictures stand out more.
You really own your ginger hair, starting of course with your blog’s name. Does blogging improve your self-confidence by putting yourself out there?
When I was about nine I really hated being ginger. We moved here from Essex when I was nine. I was the fat, spotty ginger kid. I was the most undesirable person you’d ever seen. I also had a funny accent because we’d moved up here. Anything you could get bullied for, I had it. So, I dyed my hair every single colour you could ever imagine, just to combat the ginger taunting. And then when I started college, my mum told me I had to start paying for my own hair dye, so I just left it. Then when I started blogging I wanted to start with my name. I think your name is a big thing to you as a blogger. And my hair is how people would differentiate me.
I think when I was younger the reason I dyed my hair was that there weren’t too many celebrities to look up to with ginger hair, until Cheryl Cole dyed hers red and it became a bit more popular. It’s nice to have that little niche. Especially with makeup and hair, it’s hard to know what works for you if you can’t see anyone else doing it. It’s nice to be a little more relatable for girls.
Do you think bloggers should appeal to niches?
I think you should know what you’re good at but ultimately you should just do what you love. As long as you’re happy with what you’re doing it doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. There are always going to be people who want to be negative but as long as you feel like you’re being true to yourself and what you love, then that’s great. My niche, I’d say, is bright colours and being vibrant. That’s just what appeals to me. You’ve just got to pull out that one thing that makes you you and have fun with it.
Do you set yourself any guidelines for your posts?
I am completely free-willed. I upload the images to my blog post and then I sit there and write whatever comes into my head. I never have a plan of how I want it to come across. Sometimes it can be a lot more of a lifestyle post, and then I’ll go into the outfit.
I always type how I talk because I think that makes you more relatable and it also makes me a bit more personable as well.
I’m guessing you keep a close eye on your engagement statistics?
At the beginning of the year I didn’t really know what my niche was, which posts people engaged with. Then I did look into that and now every day it’s an outfit photo, every day it’s a photo of me because I was getting more likes when I was in the image. Also when shots were bright and a bit more quirky people would look at them, if I was in different places people would look at them.
It’s also about keeping yourself fresh, keeping yourself ahead of the game.
What has been your most popular post so far in terms of engagement?
Five Guys, without a shadow of a doubt. I did two posts from Five Guys. The first was the outfit post with Warehouse. Because it was a paid post I had to talk about the outfit. Then I did another post (Fries Before Guys) which was about being in your 20s and being single.
How do you go about increasing your readership?
It’s all about engagement on other people’s photos – but you need to be careful you’re not doing it too much – and getting yourself out there with brands. Tag them in photos where you’re using their products. I was always told never to approach a brand. If a brand wants to work with to you they’ll approach you. It’s the nicest thing to get an email from a company who you absolutely love, saying they want to work with you. You know you’re doing something right if they’ve noticed you out of the millions of accounts on Instagram, it’s a big achievement.
It’s also getting yourself out there by word of mouth. If your friends all talk about Ginger Natalie, then their friends will follow you so it’s all just getting yourself out there. I don’t believe in buying followers, I think that it’s completely wrong, and Instagram are combatting that. I’d rather have people who are interested in what I do and that’s that.
I normally promote one post a week on Facebook just to help with engagement. But you can’t do that on every post because it gets expensive which is why I limit myself to once a week.
What piece of advice would you give yourself if you could go back to 2015, and you’ve just set up your website?
Don’t try and be like everybody else. I think I tried to fit in, but it’s just not who I am. Now, two or three years down the line, I know who I am. I know I love colour, it’s taken a long time to work out what other people follow more for and now I know what it is. I wish I’d known that a long time ago because I would probably be in a different situation to where I am now.
What would you say to someone who wants to start blogging but is not sure where to start?
Just go out there, just do it!
What can you do locally to improve your blogging connections?
It’s all getting out there with department stores. Jarrold are an amazing company, they often do a lot of events. John Lewis have started doing events as well. Follow brands and local companies on Instagram. Get to know other bloggers, comment on their photos and meet up. I’d say 80 percent of my friends now are bloggers, because you all understand that you’re all a bit quirky, you all want to take pictures of your food, you all want to chat as you’re going along the street on an Instagram story, and I suppose it’s not normal unless you’re in that world.
Was the Five Guys post your favourite one or is there another one that has a special place in your heart?
I did one recently called Being a Flamingo in a Flock of Pigeons that was about being bold, being in-your-face. A lot of my followers who aren’t necessarily into fashion read that post and said they’d taken a lot from that, advising people be who they are and not to be afraid to stand out. Don’t be worried or ashamed if you’re a bit quirky.
I had an eating disorder about a year ago which I did a blog post about (Mirror Image) and I think that’s quite relatable as well. A lot of young girls feel under pressure to be thin and skinny. It’s about how you get over that and realise you’re not alone. I think a lot of the thing with Instagram and the ‘perfect life’, and we keep going back to that, but it’s true, you feel like you’ve always got to compete with everybody and you’ve always got to keep up with everybody when in reality everybody’s got their own little issues, everybody’s got their own problems, you’ve just got to be accepting of everybody else. Just be who you are, don’t worry about anyone else, as long as you’re happy with who you are then it doesn’t really matter ultimately, does it?
What would be your dream post?
That’s really hard!
It is, someone once said they wanted to do a post about their pet unicorn…
That’s a good idea! Mine is not even expensive. Just working with a local graffiti artist and doing a massive mural, and shooting outfits with it.
Which bloggers are you reading at the moment?
Hello October, she is amazing, I love her. She split up with her boyfriend and seems to have completely blossomed since. Megan Ellaby… she is my ultimate, ultimate girl crush. She is insane. I think they’re the main two that I follow, they’re also bright, bold and quirky.
Any final remarks?
I think it’s all about just not fitting in with everybody. I’ve got bright orange hair, I’m never going to fit in with the crowd so why try and fit in with the crowd? I don’t want to be a sheep. I’d rather be a peacock.
Since we spoke to Natalie in the summer, her blogging career has gone from strength to strength. She received a full-page feature in Intu Chapelfield’s magazine discussing how to wear yellow, and in honour of her penchant for photoshoots featuring street art now has her very own graffiti wall in Norwich (below) created by artist Ruth Knapp – who by coincidence also wrote the introduction to last year’s UEA Undergraduate Creative Writing Anthology, Underpass. Natalie has also started uploading videos to her YouTube channel again after a hiatus, and posted her second weekly vlog on Sunday.
You can keep up to date with Natalie by subscribing to her monthly blog updates and having a browse at www.gingernatalie.com, liking her Facebook page here, subscribing to her YouTube channel here, and of course following her on Instagram, @gingernatalie_x.
View this post on Instagram
CAREER HIGHLIGHT BY A MILLION FLIPPING MILES. I HAVE MY OWN GINGER NATALIE GRAFFITI WALL 💁🏼♀️🧡⭐️Say hello to Ginger Natalie X @knapple_ 🌈 I honestly don’t think it will ever get any better than this. This women’s INSANE work has been in the background of so many of my outfit shots and now I have my very own part of Norwich designed especially for me. Life made 🧡 I started blogging to build my own dream and turn it into a reality. This has been THE dream for so long and now it is REAL! If you can dream it, if you can visualise it, you can achieve it! 🙌🏼
See – blogging dreams do come true!
Thanks to Ginger Natalie for her time. All photos supplied.