We caught up with writer, food stylist, photographer and owner of clothing label FORTUNE, @GeorgiaEast about why working for herself is the single most educating and empowering decision she’s made for her professional career.
I’m not a full-time blogger. True, having a digital platform where I talk about things I like and experiences I enjoy has aided in earning me a living, but I don’t consider myself a full-time blogger. I’m a writer by trade that happens to be relatively handy with a camera and in the kitchen. The blog was merely a way to showcase my imagery, recipes and articles online. I see it as an organic portfolio where prospective clients can see my work. My advice to anyone wanting to become a full-time blogger would be to ask themselves what else they can offer potential clients apart from a large Instagram following and a pretty website? Just having a blog doesn’t cut it – you need to be a copywriter, a photographer, a stylist, a chef, a PR company, a model, a lawyer (those pesky usage rights), an investor and a boss. You need to be able to offer practical, useful and professional work that goes above and beyond what general society sees as a blogger. There is no job security; the competition will usually be better than you are and there are no such things as weekends anymore. You pay higher taxes, there are no medical benefits, and you often get taken advantage of because the term “blogger” is not always one that is taken seriously.
On the upside, working for yourself is the single most educating, uplifting and empowering direction you can take your professional career. I’ve been a freelancer for almost four years, and I’ve never once looked back.
Apart from offering copywriting, recipe development and photography services, I also provide clients with organic advertising through my blog and social media platforms. A client can approach me with a product or experience and should it resonate with me personally (I never feature anything that I wouldn’t naturally endorse), I write an article on it with accompanying imagery. I then also share the images on my social media platforms as organic advertising.
I began my clothing label when I was 19 and studying Journalism at UCT. Unfortunately, it had to take a back seat for the past few years as I became more involved with food, but I’m hoping to restart it under a new name in 2019.
I was never interested in the business and mathematics side of things until I began freelancing. I do have a tax practitioner to aid me during the season, but nothing makes one learn about numbers faster than when you are entirely in charge of managing your money. Now I enjoy the balance between creative and managerial responsibilities. Running my own business has been beneficial in the sense that it’s made me self-sufficient.
To stay in a job because I needed the money – money should never be an excuse to remain unhappy.
“The worst that they can say is no.”
Freelancing brought out my confidence – you have to put yourself out there as jobs certainly don’t always fall in your lap. With the millennial generation, the idea of rejection can be the catalyst in not starting your own business, so it helped me immensely to have the outlook of “if this one doesn’t pan out, there’s always another”.
I never really switch off from work but in a way that makes me happy. Such a large part of my career involves my personal life – writing about experiences, shooting for my Instagram profile – that I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and new ideas. When I do switch off, I enjoy reading, cooking for family and friends and browsing through accounts that bring me happiness.
I loved the book Slightly cliché, but I also love Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. Most business books before Girlboss had been written from the masculine point of view and so it was refreshing in the fact that it was written by a woman for women. My other help has been purely talking to my peers, to women who are in the same industry, to women older than I am – there is always something to learn for those that seek to.
Have your own aesthetic – by all means be inspired by other accounts, but ultimately put your signature on everything you do.
Stay true to yourself – never endorse a product or experience that you don’t personally like or believe in. This becomes especially relevant if you’re being offered money to endorse
Stay humble – the amount of followers you have on Instagram shouldn’t be directly proportional to the size of your ego.
I have three food idols – Rose Grey of The River Café, the author Lannice Snyman and food blogger Mandy Lee of Lady & Pups.
I would make roast chicken with rosemary, lemon and garlic from my garden and serve it with fresh sourdough bread, lightly steamed green beans with anchovy butter and a flinty white wine from the Cape West Coast. I’m a big advocate of simple food that puts people at ease and reminds them, in any way, of home.