SXSW :: The Future of Lifestyle Media

CamilleStyles_SXSW

A lot of you guys have been requesting a recap of my Future of Lifestyle Media panel at SXSW last Friday, so thought I’d take a moment to share some of the highlights. I was totally honored to be on a panel with media rockstars Grace Bonney, Tolly Moseley and Andrew Wagner. We had a great mix of perspectives on topics like finding your voice as a blogger, adapting to changing technology tools and (the topic that everyone just can’t get enough of) potential forms of revenue for bloggers. I think one of my favorite moments of the panel was when Tolly stated that her best writing happens when she remembers that the city of Austin is her muse… and Grace expanded by encouraging bloggers to identify who their muse is. For her, it’s the artist community who are making things that provides inspiration. Such a good reminder that I want to be mindful of every time I sit down to write a post. As for me, I felt most inspired by the question that Tolly directed my way, asking, “How did your blog evolve from content curation to content creation?” (Keep reading for my answer…) 

Content: from Curation to Creation

When I started blogging three years ago, I wrote about food, fashion, travel, beauty – basically a little bit of everything as I tried to find my voice as a blogger and decide what CamilleStyles.com was all about. During this period, I did a lot of content curation, pulling images that inspired me from all over the web and putting them together in a new way on my site. While this was fine in the beginning, it wasn’t long before I realized that not only did I crave more of a creative outlet; I wasn’t necessarily finding all the inspiration out there that I was looking for. So little by little, I started creating new original content, styling a photo shoot here, creating and photographing a recipe there. And what I discovered is that these were the posts that received by far the most reader response, commenting, retweets and shares from other sites. I realized that there was a huge difference between content curation and creation…and that I wanted to do a lot more of the creation side on my site. When I decided that I wanted to turn my blog into a business, I made the commitment to post almost totally original content, and that’s when I began to build out our team of contributors who could help me develop innovative content on a daily basis, as well as bring in fresh creative voices who would add something unique to the conversation.

Thanks to Pinterest and other totally useful online tools available to us now, everyone has become a content curator and can easily pull inspiration together into their own unique collection. As a blogger, I really believe that the only way to become a valuable resource and true online destination is to be the source where the creation actually happens – where other people will go to curate from and be inspired! Grace and I had so many conversations about this topic while she was in town, and we shared how many emails we get from bloggers who are starting their journey and want to know the secret to building a following and dedicated readership. The only “secret” that’s really worked for me is to remember that content is king. If you want to set yourself apart from the masses and grow as a blogger, continue producing high-quality, original content, and readers will follow.

***

I’d love to know what y’all think about this topic! If you’re a blogger: is creating original content something that you’ve given much thought about or would like to do more of? What are the biggest challenges that might stop you from creating original content? If you’re a reader, have you noticed that you respond differently to sites that post original content versus curated content? This discussion totally fascinates me, so please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Next Post >

< Previous Post

55 Responses to “SXSW :: The Future of Lifestyle Media”

  1. Erinn

    Camille, I so agree with you here! I do a little bit of both – constantly pulling images as inspiration for my readers. However, I design each post individually to create exactly what I want so that it is different every one else. As a creative blogger, I think this is key. Thanks for sharing! Would love to hear more, xo.

    Reply
  2. Anna @ IHOD

    Camille,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I started as a curator, and began to realize that it was more of an adventure to create and share. Love your blog for that reason!
    Thank you for the recap!
    Anna

    Reply
  3. delia

    Great post. Wish I was at the SXSW.

    I love how your blog is original and adding videos from time to time. It’s something I hope I can develop as time goes on. A work in progress as they say.

    delia
    http://www.lovelaughlipglosses.com/

    Reply
  4. Lindsey

    Thank you for sharing! You’ve got some really great ideas in there.

    -Lindsey
    Et tu, tutu?

    Reply
  5. Louisa Blackmore

    I run a blog as part of my company West Egg. I started it because my web developer said it would be a “good idea for SEO”. I had *no idea* I’d love it so much. In fact, I loved it so much I started a second one for living ideas, recipes and a notebook series which I am really enjoying running too!

    I’d say my content is 99% creation, I don’t blog everyday but when I do I try to make it meaningful for my readers.

    My checklist for blog posts are 1) engaging 2) relevant and 3) helpful.

    My most popular blog posts are always the ones where I share inside info, helpful tips or are well thought out commentary on projects, issues or antiques fairs I’ve visited – all related to my company.

    I’ve recently been spending some time thinking about my blog and what I want it to be, it’s tricky, but I definitely agree content creation is the best way to connect with readers. I try to let my readers know what I’ve been up to. I guess because my company is so young, people seem to like to know how things are going. I love writing my blog, it’s the most unexpected twist in my West Egg journey.

    Reply
    • Camille Styles

      That’s awesome Louisa – I also started my blog originally as a way to market my event planning company, and then totally fell in love w/ the process of blogging itself. You’re doing a great job, and so cool to hear how you’re continuing to evolve and thing about what you’re offering readers.

      Reply
      • Louisa Blackmore

        Thank you so much, you are such an inspiration. Actually watching the blog evolve is really interesting, I looked back at my first post recently – oh my goodness!

        Congratulations on your lovely news this week, another exciting journey ahead!

        Louisa

        Reply
  6. Platinum Touch Events

    I agree with you 100% Camille. My blog has mostly been curated content, but i’ve recently decided I wanted to steer away from that and start providing more fresh, original content. I’ve started working on styled shoots and videos that I hope to implement soon. Thanks so much for your advice and an insight on how you grew your blog into the success that it is today. You are such an inspiration!

    Reply
    • Camille Styles

      Yay! Love hearing that – and I just want to offer encouragement as you start working towards creating more content – it seems really hard at first, but it definitely gets easier! I’m learning more and more how to balance the workload of creating and styling with the day-to-day demands of blogging and other projects. Let us know how it goes for you!

      Reply
  7. Jess

    Though my blog name (Curating Style) would imply that I focus a lot on repurposing or reblogging, I make all my own collages, develop my own series, and highlight aspects of my personal life (and at least the latter is original—I would hope!). I’ve actually stopped doing something things recently that I felt were less original (like participation in other bloggers’ series). I believe that curating style is about looking at what’s out there, figuring out what’s not, and picking/selecting what works for you—in all areas of life.

    Thanks for the reminder that creativity is where it’s at. :)

    Reply
  8. Marianne {Style For Living}

    This is such an interesting topic for me! I recently decided I need to feature more original content on my blog and just signed up the other day for a photography class so I could take better photos for my blog that are my own. I find that I do get a much larger response when the content is original and personal and people always love seeing new photos. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Reply
  9. laura parke

    this is a topic i’ve thought about a ton recently. after blogging for several years about everything that inspired me, i decided to start a new blog with a more clear focus. and with that, i decided that 95% of it will be original content. the tough part is making time to create original content on a regular basis while having a full time job. the time it takes to create original content means i can’t post daily at this point. i’m trying to live by the idea of having greater quality of posts, rather than quantity. thanks for sharing this point of view, camille. very interesting and timely topic for bloggers.

    Reply
  10. Ashley @ Any Lovely Thing

    Thank you so much for sharing your blogging experiences, Camille. I try to only showcase original content on Any Lovely Thing. It’s certainly more difficult and time consuming (while working a regular, albeit fantastic dream job, 9 to 5), but it’s such a valuable exercise to me to grow and stretch my own creative muscle.

    I’m relatively new and don’t have the numbers I’d like yet, but I feel as my skill set improves and my passion drives me to better and better content the numbers will rise too. I count you as an inspiration and muse of mine, and I know others do as well.

    Have a great day!

    xo,
    Ashley
    anylovelything.blogspot.com

    Reply
  11. Allison

    This is exactly what I’m trying to do to grow and evolve as a blogger. Thanks for all of your tips.

    Reply
  12. ANH Style

    I just started a style blog and I am focusing on only original content right now, otherwise, what am I doing that is so different from anyone else? I like Pinterest but I don’t spend too much time on it, because even though I like to see other people’s style, I really love my own!

    I know that I personally enjoy blogs the most who create and post original content, though only now do I understand how much work goes into it.

    Reply
  13. Lindsay{Chic to the Nines}

    Camille -

    I completely agree. I try to produce as much new content as I can or at least put my fresh spin on curated content. Two things I find challenging for creating new content is time to produce it and resources. I have a full time job and design jewelry so it’s hard to find the time or have resources to develop fresh content all the time. Hopefully one day sooner then later I can devote full time to both those passions.

    Thanks for your advice!
    Lindsay

    Reply
  14. kate

    Thanks so much for posting this. I was all set to post a curated post on my blog and then after reading your inspiring words I decided to do something a little different and more personal. This is great advice and I am definitely going to start to write more creative posts over the forthcoming weeks.

    I so wish we had something like the SXSW in the UK – it sounds like a really informative and inspiring event.

    Kate

    Reply
  15. Lotoya Vongrechin

    Hi Camille,

    This was a great post today, I feel like you are speaking directly to me. I am a content creation blogger since I am a newbie to the blog world (4 months in). Its been 4 months since I found the love for blogging. I love doing research for the blog and then putting my twist into a post.
    I heard you speak with Tolley at Uncensored Austin last October (2011). At that time I was in the process of getting my website and blog designed. I had no clue what I was going to blog about but I knew what I was interested in and maybe others were as well. Your presentations inspired me for my blog, I often refer back to your tips in my notes. You said be patent to find your voice and I have done that. Its surreal that you posted this topic today last week I started thinking about creating my own content and wanting to start styling my own shoots from things I love, DIY projects and etc. Speaking of why I am excited about your monthly photog series. I am in the market for a new camera and learning how to use it is the only challenge I see right now in the journey of becoming a curator blogger.
    Just in my short time blogging I have noticed I do respond differently to blogs. I like visual simulation so I’ve start to make sure I incorporate that into every post.

    Thanks to you I am being patient to find my blogging voice.

    Reply
    • Camille Styles

      Good for you Lotoya! Getting my first really “good” camera and starting to learn how to use it is one of the MAJOR milestones that’s helped me post more original content – still high quality without necessarily needing a professional photographer to capture every moment.

      Reply
  16. Mandy Knapp Riggar

    Thank you for sharing this information & insight for those who couldn’t make it (but desperately wished!). I think this topic is the fine line that defines good blogs vs. very successful blogs. We’re often over-stimulated with options in our society, so fresh content is essential. I started my blog to document creative parties, DIY & other original projects that I wanted to share, but it is also a creative outlet to share any & all inspirations. The world of blogging & lifestyle media has opened up countless resources for us to share our inspirations, and frequently we are inspired by similar content. It’s a hard balance to find, but I think being patient with finding your “blogging voice” is crucial. I also feel the pressure to blog frequently due to how fast media travels these days. I think this combined with finding time & resources/expenses to create original content is the hardest balance to find. We all have creative ideas we want to share, but finding the time, resources & money to do so is the biggest challenge, in my opinion. It’s great to hear stories of growth from inspirational bloggers like yourself! We all started in the same place at one point :)

    Reply
  17. Kim Bedore

    Camille,

    Thank you for sharing with those of us not able to be as SXSW. It is challenging to move from curation to creation. Creating original designs is something that I’m ready to do, I just need to find clients who want me to help develop their design style for their home. I am seeing a lot of bloggers creating e-courses on blog writing, you should think about it!

    Thank you for being an inspiration to me and many other new bloggers,

    Kim Bedore

    Reply
  18. Bridget

    Hi Camille! I am a very avid reader (and just reader, not blogger) of your site and I LOVE it!. I follow 2-3 other blogs but to be honest, many other sites don’t grab me for the same reason that you described (not original content or even not my style of decorating, dressing etc). You switch it up and update on a regular basis which keeps my attention and has me checking in almost daily. Keep up the great work and congrats on the pregnancy!

    Reply
  19. caitlindentino

    Camille – love this! Not just for what you say, but your willingness to share what makes you successful … I think that itself is another part of it!

    Reply
  20. Kate {domestikatedlife}

    such a smart, succinct way of framing the changes to lifestyle blogging that are happening now — this is why your blog is so great! sounds like it was a great panel!

    Reply
  21. Kathryn Claire Cumming

    I can definitely see how content creation is superior to curation, it is one of the reasons I love your blog. I would say that the biggest challenge for creating my own original content would be photography, there is no denying that the photos I take are nowhere near as good as ‘professional’ photos, and an amazing image is important to me. Of course, with your new photography series this could change!

    Reply
  22. Serena {Pretty Fluff}

    This is such a timely post and great advice Camille. I think a lot of bloggers are short changing themselves by just featuring curated content. I’ve personally found the more unique content I create, the more proud of my blog I am and also more readers follow!
    Thanks for the inspiring post and sharing.

    Reply
  23. Uncle Beefy

    Camille, before and ever since coming back from Alt, this is all that has been on my mind. I’ve been wanting to take my blog to the next level and also agree that original content is the only way to go. With the advent of sites like Pinterest the blogging fields are *rife* with regurgitation.

    My greatest hindrance is incorporating the time necessary in conjunction with the day job and such. But, in the end, it’s much like getting to the gym… you either make the time or you don’t. I’m just figuring out how and where to make it all fit.

    Additionally, given time restrictions, I’ve thought about, “But, what if I can only post once a day?!” But, ultimately, I think it simply puts a higher level of importance on quality over quantity. And, if you have to sacrifice one for the other I’m picking the former.

    Thanks for bringing this discussion to the table!

    Reply
    • Camille Styles

      Couldn’t agree with you more on every point Uncle B – it’s so tempting to push lots of posts out the door every day b/c of the lure of higher traffic…however, if those posts aren’t high-quality, your readers are never going to stick around. Lack of time is certainly a huge challenge…If only I had enough hours in the day to conquer all the projects I think up! But discipline and passion can help you overcome that, and even if it means cutting back on the frequency of posts, it’s sooo worth it!

      Reply
  24. clairezinnecker

    Love this post, Camille! I love hearing your thoughts on the evolution of your blog and I LOVE getting to be a part of the creativity. xxo

    Reply
  25. Sally

    Camille, this is my first time commenting on your blog.. even though you’re on my blog rolls reads.

    I just recently started a food/lifestyle blog and am currently trying to find my niche. I like the idea of creating and design posts to balance out some the more heavier content. Do you have any suggestions how to make Q&A posts more attractive to readers?

    Thanks so much! XX

    Reply
    • Camille Styles

      Hi Sally! In terms of making posts more attractive to readers, my top two recommendations would be:
      - Your overall blog design: Make it clean & simple. Either hire a designer to help you, or go with a simple template that lets your great content shine.
      - Beautiful images: My team and I live by the mantra that we won’t post an image that isn’t stunningly beautiful. This may mean investing in a good camera and taking a photography class!
      Good luck! :)

      Reply
  26. Amanda

    Thank you for such a great post Camille! I love getting some insight from my favourite bloggers. I still consider myself a “newbie” to the blogging community as I’ve only been doing it for a year. What I struggle most with is A) finding the time because I run my own interior design firm and B) finding my voice. I consider my blog a company blog, not a personal one albeit, it’s just me who works here! So after a long day of working on all things design related I find myself wanting to post about fashion or travel etc. Which in turn makes me feel like I’m not “staying true” to what I do and maybe confusing readers.

    I appreciate your insight/comments on quality over quantity because this is something I need to keep in check. It’s easy just to put a quick post together without thinking just so there’s one there everyday, but quality always trumps quantity. So I will be keeping that in mind while I try to grow my blog and take it to the next level.

    Thanks again, loved this post!

    Amanda

    Reply
  27. RETROSMITH.

    Yes yes yes yes yes! I’m at the beginning stage with my little blog, but I knew before I started that creation was the aim & key. I’m still doing a lot of curating as I brainstorm the creations. Hope to start bringing it together soon. Would love to hear more on this topic!

    Reply
  28. Victoria Fisher / www.toryfisher.com

    Hi Camille,
    I started my blog only 2 weeks ago, having what seems like a lifetime being an avid blog follower including yours which by the way is one of my favourites. I agree with you totally, for me its tedious to see the same images put out there and so I try to create my own work and at the end of the day there is a lot more personal satisfaction to be gained from doing that rather than just posting other peoples images and ideas…I always feel a lit bit sneaky if I do that!!! So on with my goal of being original!!
    Thank you
    Victoria

    Reply
  29. GawgusThings

    I’m still trying to find my way in the blogging world, so I love coming across discussions like this! I’ve recently overhauled my blog to try and give it a more professional look (Thank you, Amanda at lustluxeandlove.com!), and do try to feature as much original content as I can. Occasionally, I might do a ‘what’s-inspiring-me’ post which draws images from other sites, but whenever possible I try and do my own thing. I don’t know though, it’s hard. My photography skills aren’t great and sometimes I’ll spend hours and hours on posts that don’t get much recognition. Hey ho! Just keep with it I suppose!!
    Emma x

    Reply
  30. Adventures in Dressmaking

    Absolutely great points. I think of the curation vs. creation balance as inputs vs. outputs–you can only stare at Pinterest, read magazines, or watch TV so long until you’re inspired to create something new for yourself (hopefully!)! And we need those inputs to keep things fresh, but on a creative/blog standpoint, yes, you’ve got to create that originality–it’s what people will remember you for!

    Reply
  31. Donna Sawyer

    Camille, your blog is inspirational and multi faceted which I enjoy! When I started blogging 8 months ago I thought I would only post food that I created and photographed. Realizing that wasn’t enough outlet for me I started posting events that I was styling, catering and photographing. At this time I am a one stop shop…I do it all. 1st QUESTION: What is your business model for getting other people involved? Do you pay them? 2ND QUESTION: Would love for you to look at my blog for critique. Is it focused enough? Do I need to change the format?

    Reply
  32. Rebecca

    Camille what a great post. I have been reading your blog for a few years now and love it. I can see how you have come from Curating to Creating. I feel that I am starting to create and agree that original content is WAY better! The only thing from stopping me right now is…time :( But its my plan! Thanks for inspiring us.

    Reply
  33. Katie

    Our magazine and blog are brand new, but my co-creator and I work to create new and original content. We are inspired by what is already on the blogs, but creating something original is so much more fulfilling.

    Thanks for sharing, Camille. We really wish we could have been at SXSW.

    Reply
  34. Bettina

    I’m still pretty new to blogging and really new to getting familiar with my camera, so it’s really great to hear that I’m heading in the right direction by deciding to try and incorporate as much unique content as I can. It’s def a lot more time consuming than collaging things I find on the web, but I think it’s fun to be able to share my perspective. While I don’t feel like what I have been creating thus far is my best/ideal work, I’m hoping practice will make perfect and eventually the ideas I see in my head will match what I physically produce :)

    Reply
  35. Christian Simone

    Hands down Camille Styles is my favorite blog…period. I have been following your site since you did the Flowers, Foods, and Friends party. We share the same style sensibility. You have even convinced me that a neutral palette like the one in your home can be chic and sophisticated. It one thing to have an ideal it is another to be able to bring that ideal to life. I think your ability to execute and present your vision is what makes your blog shine. I know it takes a lot of work but you make it look effortless. I just started my blog thecovenantknot.blogspot.com this year and my ultimate goal is to be a producer of content and imagery not merely a consumer. What do you use to create your magazine-like layouts? Is there anything cheaper than InDesign or AdobePhotoshop? Thank you for creating the perfect canvas for creativity!

    Reply
  36. Plain & Fancy Living

    I like so many other bloggers out there am trying to evolve and transform my blog into my personal creation. I am constantly experimenting with original projects that I style and create to gauge my reader response. Sometimes my readers don’t make comments on the posts I really think are the best but my stats (if those are real) tell a different story. I am trying to work through it all and figure it out. I religiously look to your blog for direction and I really am inspired. Thanks:)
    xo
    Amy R.
    {plain & fancy living}

    Reply
  37. Valerie

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and have seen it evolve so much! I was a casual, every now and then reader in the beginning but yours is now ones of my favorite 2-3 blogs I read every post of. I probably couldn’t have explained why to you before reading this post but it’s definitely due to the fresh content you share. You can’t find it anywhere else.
    I design invitations and have a blog I love posting to but know, even though my blog isn’t a source of income for me, fresh never before seen content will only show my personality and style more. Thank you for the inspiration to grow!

    Reply
  38. Heather

    Completely agree! I no longer even read blogs that do not have original content. There’s no point! Many of the blogs/columns that are just pulling images from other blogs, I either quickly scroll through or may stop reading all together. As an example, (No offense intended) but I read all your columns except Monochromatic Mondays.
    I run a craft blog and rather than post a fill-in post, if I don’t have any original content that day, I don’t post. It’s much more freeing to know that when I post it’s all original and I know that I’m putting my best out there. Thanks for encouraging others to do the same!

    Reply
  39. Amy

    Camille,

    This is a subject that also really fascinates me, particularly with the introduction of Pinterest. Anyone can “curate” content (easily now) so I agree that “creating” is imperative.

    However, I wonder if many readers will simply escape to Pinterest and fail to actually visit their favorite blogs now. Why should they come to my blog when it’s all there on Pinterest for them to view? (I’m not a pinning addict like the rest, but I do ponder this!)

    With that in mind, I think that the personal things we share and the stories we tell via our blogs are gaining more relevance. People who are really interested in what YOU are doing will always stop by and say hello.

    Just my two cents…

    Reply
  40. Amy

    Sorry, I meant to say I AM a pinning addict like the rest :)

    Reply
  41. naomi

    Thank you so much for your insight Camille. I am changing my wedding blog to a lifestyle blog and it’s hard to make the time to create recipes, style shoots, etc. What I did realize is in order to be a voice you need to be as you said the originator of the content. Thank you so much for inspiring me and I’m sure others to take it a step further. I’m not there quite yet but I hope to be. :-)

    Reply
  42. Kathy

    First off I love your site. I want to expand my blog to a Lifestyle blog and was contemplating the very subject of pulling ideas from other sites. It’s something I thought about when I started my food blog-Do I want to use recipes from my many cookbooks or do I just use recipes I’ve created? I think a mixture of both original content and ideas from the web is fine no matter the type of blog you have. I have hundreds of cookbooks and many of my followers may not own a single cookbook. By introducing them to something I have access to is like telling a bunch of friends about a favorite shop where you can get great bargains. You are sharing what you know with people who otherwise may not know it exists. By delivering original and creative content you reinforce with your readers why you are a trusted source on your topic whether it be food, fashion or politics.

    Reply
  43. Donna Sawyer

    Hi Camille, I agree! Original content is now essential in distinguishing & establishing yourself as a creative source where people can go to to find new ideas! It is hard, time-consuming work that is so worth it!!! I love my celebration outcomes. The most recent: My “Barefoot Bridal Brunch”! I love your “style”…classic & sophisticated. Would love an opportunity to work with you sometime. Thank you for inspiring us newer bloggers!!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply