Who is your role model? Perhaps it’s a celebrity, family member, or friend who overcame adversity. It could even be yourself, or you may not believe in idols.
I think it’s wonderful to see strengths in people; to strive for better choices to become your own version of a strong, confident & positive self.
I have always admired and idolised businesswomen. One of those is Charlotte Tilbury, who built a triumphant beauty expire. I’m so pleased to announce that I MET HER (pinch me) and she’s lovely in person. She said ‘hello’ to me as soon as I came through the door (I’m unknown, like who am I?!) and without realising, she has taught me the power of communication in business.
Every day, women are gaining empowerment from the beauty market, whether it’s applying lipstick for that inch of confidence or carving a beauty career (science, tech, marketing, operations, finance, law). It’s a £14 billion pound industry.
Charlotte Tilbury inspires women to use makeup as their power, to feel luscious and bold, just like her products. I’m excited to talk to you about her new products launching soon. CT is known for their lipsticks, so I’ll introduce you to my gorgeous matte shades.
Matte Revolution Lipstick in The Queen is a rosy, crown-jewel pink shade adds brightness to your complexion. Creamy yet highly pigmented, this boss babe colour stayed on my lips all day!
2. Matte Revolution Lipstick in Legendary Queen is a powerful wine colour. I feel like a vixen with this shade. It adds a splash of colour and brightens your face instantly. I do love a statement red lipstick, and this is my fave. Wear it for the occasion of the season.
3. K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in The Duchess is a delicate tea-rose pink for the sophisticated. Sumptuous and moisturising; I like this shade because it’s not too bright and creates a soft look.
All of these lovely shades also come as a trio and are sold separately (links above).
Right so, some exciting news! Charlotte has created a new product called ‘Magic Away’. It’s magic wand (concealer) that glides on your skin to appear more radiant & flawless. I would have loved to of taken you with me to see her, so I’ve attached my videos so you can watch from the comfort of your own home instead. The bad news is that the product isn’t out yet, so sign up here for launch!
I started blogging when I quit my job to travel the world; to share my adventures with friends, who thought about doing the same.
The Wong Blog initially launched as a travel blog; advice on which tour company to use, what to eat & where to go. I never envisioned making a penny from it.
I get lots of lovely messages asking for blogging advice, so I thought it would be useful to compile everything that I’ve learnt into one space.
Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert, and I’ve dedicated a lot of my time elsewhere in my digital consultancy & modelling, so I haven’t been able to release as many posts as I’d like, but I want to share with you my learnings, starting with the very basics.
The Wong Name
I changed my blog name five times. Once upon a time, it was ‘Small Girl Tall World’ (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either), then ‘Monica Wong’, ‘Monica Wong Blog’ & ‘ProjectM’. I don’t want you to go through the same experience because it’s a logistical nightmare to rebrand, especially with SEO. ‘The Wong Blog’ is a play on the fact that Wong is my surname, and I wanted to show a bit of my personality through my ‘wrong’ blog. Make yours, memorable and catchy: like a childhood nickname or favourite food. Once you’ve decided, head over to a domain site to make sure no one has nabbed it first. I use GoDaddy; I highly recommend them, they’ve got great customer service when I’ve called them at midnight, panicking [insert laughing emoji].
Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to go house hunting! There are two popular platforms: Blogger & WordPress. Someone asked me about Square Space and Wix, but in my opinion, they are better for websites. I started on Blogger then migrated onto self-hosted WordPress. Blogger is ideal for beginners & a lot easier to use, but WordPress allows for more customisable options for the HTML savvy. If you’re an online wiz, Self-hosted WordPress has great SEO & analytics capabilities which is ideal for client reporting, I use Site Ground.
Now that you’ve acquired & named your plot of land, you need to spruce it up! There are lots of places where you can get designs. Blogger & WordPress has lots of free templates; otherwise, search for ‘blog designs’ from sites like Etsy or Pipdig. Your personality should shine through from your content so have fun with it!
I wrote a whole blog post about this here. In a nutshell, build up your eye for detail: take lots of snaps. Go out & start taking pics with your phone and start noticing how smaller details can affect an image.
Fashion / Lifestyle Bloggers
Find a photography buddy to take snaps of you: I know how difficult it is if you don’t have photo-willing/taking friends, so why not make a blogging friend and take pics of each other? If you want professional photos, reach out to a photographer who you like the style of; you’ll be surprised to see that some have surprisingly affordable rates.
Beauty, Food & Product Bloggers
If you’re taking product/food shots, practice by putting things together on a table. Move it around; essential products first and smaller items in-between.
Write about topics that you would read yourself. I am passionate about discussing issues that are important, like female empowerment. Alongside this, I write about travel, food, style & beauty. Remember that there’s room for everyone, if postal stamps are your thing, there will be blogs about it.
Social Media is going to be invaluable in promoting your blog. My most prominent channels are on Instagram and Twitter. However, some bloggers are killing it through YouTube or Pinterest. Why not sign up to them all? Make sure that all of your channels feature your latest post. Follow and interact with your favourite bloggers on Instagram, big and small. Join Facebook groups & participate in Twitter chats. I try to respond to every comment because I value each one.
Best Apps for Social Media
My favourite app for creating swish looking Blog Headers for your blog or Pinterest is Instasize. I use UNUM to plan my Instagram grid and Unfold for Instastories.
Blogging can be scary & invasive as you’re letting people into your life. In my years of blogging, I’ve only encountered one rude blogger, but (luckily) not one rude reader! Little did she know that I’ve been a digital manager 5 years prior, and if I wanted, I could blacklist her (all marketers know each other). Due to its public nature, strangers & even your own friends can become nasty. I’ve spoken to some bloggers who have lost friends due to jealousy; In spite of this, I’ve found the community to be very supportive. Don’t see other blogs as competition. At the end of the day, it’s a great place to make lifelong friends and learn different perspectives. Everyone is different. You are unique and what you bring is valuable.
The advanced stuff
(don’t worry about the below too much if you’re just starting out, just come back when you’re ready)
Learn HTML & SEO
HTML is very handy for making your blog the shiniest without having to wait & pay for someone else to do it. Learn about SEO; Google creates its algorithm based on your content so knowing how to increase your DA is a useful skill to master.
Feature your links on other sites, you can swap URL’s with other bloggers to improve your DA (domain authority)
Make sure you always name your images with what a person would search on Google to find it, e.g. http://www.thewongblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/How-to-start-a-blog-5-1440×1920.jpg
Know your audience
You will get to know who your audience is. You’ll start to see who interacts with your content and in time you’ll analyse demographic data which shows gender, age & location. Then you’ll learn how about impressions, clicks & the average time that readers stay on your site. My audience is predominately young women, UK & China-based. As a result, I try & cater my content.
Show me the money
The most common question that everyone asks is ‘how do you make money from blogging?’. I will save it for a full-length post because it will be a detailed cracker, but in a nutshell, it’s brand-sponsorships, PR, affiliate marketing and display advertising. As you develop your following, you’ll be approached by brands & PR’s wanting to promote their products. Create a media pack, buy business cards and learn how to negotiate your rates. Remember that most brands want you to market their product to gain more sales, so be realistic with what you can provide a brand for a mutual partnership.
*Update, I wrote how to make money from blogging here.
Closing (read these, they’re important!)
I spoke about internet security here. Never post in real time where you are. I’ve seen some bloggers take pictures of a PR package which had their home address on it, doh! Don’t mention private details like your full birth date, mother’s name, where you went to school/uni or work address.
Unless it’s constructive & beneficial, never let anyone make fun of you for starting a blog: your writing, your style, or for taking pictures, they’re only showing their lack of confidence in their own abilities. Everyone has to start somewhere. Action is always better than regret. I wasn’t great at writing when I first started, but you don’t get better at anything unless you practice right?
Do not start a blog with the aim of being successful because you won’t be passionate about what you write. You’ll end up putting too much pressure on yourself, and you’ll feel deflated.
Blogging has changed my life unexpectedly. Seeing your comments make my day and I wake up doing what I love. Because of you, I have a little scrapbook to look back on when I’m old.
If you’re starting a blog, keep me posted. I will support you all the way.
Growing up, I used to care about what people thought about me. Today, I don’t give a sh*t. And I can’t tell you how liberating it feels.
And no, this isn’t a post on how to be a total douchebag with no feelings. It’s about letting go of trivial things like feeling embarrassed about buying sanitary towels or caring about how people think we look.
This post is in collaboration with Shein, the destination for the SASSIEST fashion at INSANE prices (seriously check them). Yes, they’re from China, but I do not collaborate with brands that I do not believe in. I’m aware that there are some dodgy international sites whereby they send you a cheap piece of material; I checked these guys for the quality of clothing and for the price, it’s decent. Tip: do check the reviews underneath each product for fit! For 13% off use my code:
When we care about what everyone thinks, we give our control and emphasis to other people, and then we end up feeling entitled to feel comfortable at all times, which isn’t ideal because life isn’t all roses 24/7. Reserve your cares for what matters. Only take actions if you want to, not because someone else wants you to.
I wish someone told me earlier that the only way to achieve your goals is to become comfortable with rejection. I know how much it sucks when you want something so much and not end up getting it. But, you know what? I’ve always ended up with something better later, and I genuinely believe that’s your life-path steering you. Those who are confident in business are successful because they’re content with failure. Have you noticed that the people who don’t care about failure or embarrassing themselves are the ones who seem to get more opportunities? That’s because they are the ones who take more risks. They know what’s more important than their pride. I’ll leave you with this quote, ‘you lose 100% of the chances you don’t take’.
Know your worth
Self-worth is a topic that I write about a lot. Having good relationships with people starts with having a healthy relationship with yourself. If you know your worth, you won’t care about how people perceive you. I wrote about my journey to confidence here.
No matter how fabulous your life is, you’re always going to encounter struggle, but it’s how you react that makes the difference.
I called BS on fad diets and revealed the lifestyle secrets derived from East Asian culture. If you want to know how to manage food guilt & healthy fitness mentality, read it here and let me know what you think.
I’ve wanted to chat about how we should communicate with each other about weight, diets & fitness for a while. I know it’s a sensitive subject, and I may get a backlash, but I want to encourage open dialogue in this post.
My objective is for us to understand each other, so here are my tips:
Don’t comment on weight
Don’t spontaneously comment on a person’s lost or gained weight. If you like the way they look, say these instead:
1. ‘You look amazing.’
2. ‘You’re glowing’.
3. ‘I love how happy you are.’
Unless asked for, none of this unsolicited ‘you’re looking too skinny’ or ‘I’ve noticed you’ve gained weight’.
In the instance that you’re worried that friend may be suffering from anorexia, bulimia or obesity, encourage them to seek medical help and do not comment on appearance.
Talk about kindness towards others, but also compassion towards yourself.
Please, please never talk about how much you hate your body, how ‘fat’ you are, or about your new diet. Share your recipes: discuss how to cook healthy food, but also how to bake a cake made with lots of butter. Don’t say things like, ‘I’m not eating fats right now’. Don’t make out that fats are evil because shame over what you eat will lead to degradation about how you feel about yourself.
Encourage your loved ones to be active because it makes them feel less stressed.
I wrote about how I unwind here. Pass on your love of being outside. Go for long walks with your mates. Encourage adventure. Discuss taking up scary physical activities like abseiling, or rock climbing, because this helps them deal with fear. Inspire those to take up a sport that they can fall in love with, at the same time, understand that not everyone wants to discover the benefits of fitness, so don’t overwhelm your not-so-active friends, encourage & support, but do not gloat.
When discussing the body, present facts (science) and not opinions (how you think a person looks).
Talk about how the body works. Legs are for running, and a ribcage is a carrying case for lungs.
Don’t compare yourself.
I wrote a whole post about why we shouldn’t compare ourselves here. Remember that weight isn’t up for comparison, your body is incredible and it’s all yours.
To diversify this post, I’ve asked bloggers from slim, athletic to plus-sized, to give me their discouraging statements they’ve received about their bodies.
“I find it’s so rude, and disrespectful. People have no idea how comments like that can affect you; they have no idea if you have any health issues before making flippant statements. And for ‘you barely eat’, you must have seen me eat a handful of times how you would know how much I eat in a day? I don’t comment on how much you eat?!”.
“I hate the fact that it’s socially acceptable to pass comment and judgement on women’s bodies. I’m slim, very petite but I relate to everyone else’s comments in this thread. People close to me, family, friends and strangers have always critiqued my body. I’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past, and now, despite the fact that I’m comfortable with my size and I love my body, I find it upsetting when people shame me for being slim. It’s so hard for women and girls to like and even accept their bodies – thanks Monica for starting this thread!”.
“You’re not allowed to complain about being skinny-shamed because it’s not the same as being fat-shamed” – Rachel: Word of Rachel.
“Said by a girl who skinny shamed me daily. I was suffering from bad depression & anxiety at the time and was critically underweight. I never compared it to fat shaming or suggest it was worse, both are awful!”.
“People all through my life have shamed me for being slim, told me that I’d look so much better if I just put on a couple of pounds, called me anorexic, told me I need to eat a cheeseburger and that guys don’t like bones. Aside from the fact that I’m healthy, I’ve beaten several people in food eating comps, and I don’t give a damn what guys like… It’s insulting, thoughtless, hurtful and cruel.”
“The most common comments I get from everybody. I’m petite, and I’m slim, I’ve never had an eating disorder. To be told these things doesn’t make me feel good about myself at all! Shaming thinner people like myself is quite a big deal, and it does happen, it’s annoying that when we do speak up, we just get shot down or told that we shouldn’t complain about anything because we’re slim.”
“It’s funny that people think it’s acceptable to comment on other people’s weight when everybody has their self-confidence issues. As much as being naturally slim is easy, it comes with its prejudices all the same.”
“This one always stings, and I think most ‘bigger girls’ have heard it in one way or another. It’s like ‘well your body is disgusting, but at least your face is ok!’. Kind of like ‘if you were slimmer, you’d be the full package’, guess what; I’m the full package whatever weight. And there are far more important things about me than my weight OR my face. Like how kind, strong and intelligent I am, or what a brilliant mother, partner and person I am”.
“I like you, but can we date in secret? My friends will give me stick about like a big girl” – Kirsty: The Bus Girl Belfast.
“Pass thanks, but I’m looking for a man who would be proud to date me!”
“Backhanded compliments are gross. It’s very insulting/demeaning because it suggests fat girls aren’t beautiful and treating me like an exception isn’t a compliment”.
“I did 50 hours at the gym and you should too” – Sophie: Trafotoz.
“One thing I hate is when people make a comment about exercise, and just because they’ve done 50 hours at the gym, it means you should have done it too. I felt so attacked by my sporty peers – it gets to you, especially in today’s airbrushed & photoshopped world. Everyone expects you to be skinny & to have the perfect body with zero fat or stretch-marks – surprise, we all have them!”.
“You carry the extra weight because you’re tall & it must be nice to be confident enough not to worry about how you look” – Pamela: Pams Bake And Baby Blog.
“Eh, thanks. Backhanded compliments are the pits”.
“If you weren’t so big you would probably make it” – Saffron Baker: Pixie Bow UK.
I keep being told recently to “stop promoting obesity” I never mention my weight on posts. The worst is when people say stuff like I bet you loved all the food over Christmas. Also when other people are eating, and you don’t want to, they say “oh you not hungry Saff?”, like they expect me to eat everything in sight.
“Hate when people are slagging off fat people to my face & then go ‘oh not you, you’re not fat you’re tall”.
How not to talk to the ‘athletic’ ladies
‘You’re only fit & skinny because you were born with good genes’ – (me): The Wong Blog.
Look, I am aware that genes do play a role, but eurgh, this is not the way not to talk to the person who does sport. It’s not supportive or encouraging. I know this statement is not intended to be malicious but is more of a case of ignorance. The reality is that I train; I probably did push-ups & planks the night before you decided to say that. Mate, do you think I just woke up one day & could do the splits? Get out of here!
“You’re like one of that gym **** s; all you do is spend your life in there” – Hannah.
‘For me, fitness is about taking responsibility for yourself, having that independence to explore your incredible body & what it can do. Pushing your limits. It’s about developing a strong mind. You set goals, and you achieve them. I’ve met incredibly ambitious & like-minded people from the fitness industry”.
“How do you stay so slim when you eat out so much?” – Seetal from Savla Faire.
“What people don’t want to hear is how much time I spend working out as reality is less sexy than saying something about genetics”.
“I’ve always had big legs from being a dancer and trained hard when I was younger. I’ve learned to love my legs, and I work hard to keep them muscly and toned. It does make me feel awful because other girls legs don’t touch when mine do, taking photos of myself can be a challenge for my self-esteem. I have to think to myself, it’s not that bad, I’m a strong, curvy woman and if I ever had to lift a car off anyone I probably could!”.
“How do you stay so slim when you eat like that!” – Chloe Martin: Pretty Magpie.
“Makes you feel ridiculously uncomfortable if you eat around others and you feel bad if you want to eat something naughty! I don’t think people understand that you have to exercise to counterbalance the naughty stuff!”
*Shows before & after photo from fitness transformation* “you looked better before, now you look unhealthy” – Anonymous.
“This comment completely disregards the hard work that I’ve put into my body, which is my choice. There are only two options with the body: fall in love with the way it is or through goals & seeing the beauty of your progression. I would recommend the latter because it gives much more than physical benefits regarding confidence & motivation”.
“If I ate like you, I’d be a horse” – Jo.
“This comment came from someone who is fully able-bodied, yet chooses not to exercise but tries to make a statement from what they think they know. Those who exercise regularly can eat more than those who do not. Believe it or not, if we ate what we wanted and didn’t work out, we’d be a horse too”.
I’ve written this post because I’m seeing too many of us put each other down. I want us to encourage each other. We’re all wonderfully different, and some of us find it challenging to relate to others. A BIG thank you to all that contributed to this post. I had so much fun to put it together because of you lot. I hope that we can communicate with each other in a healthy & encouraging way.
A brave statement from an old colleague. They proceeded to tell me that they ‘work’, whereas I, ‘just blog.’ Coincidently, I’ve heard a lot of this ‘get a real job’ malarky recently.
Okay, so, from the face of it, it probably looks like: I wake up when I want, lounge in my pants, take pictures of myself, fly to endless holidays and then write an article whenever it takes my fancy. I report to no one but myself, and I’m probably vain, loving myself too much as I took it upon myself to choose this path.
To be transparent with you, growing up, I never aspired to become a ‘social media person.’. I grew up in traditional Asian culture; which means that unless you want to be ostracised, your career options are restricted to medicine, law or finance. Blogging has become a commercially viable business, and I have fallen head over heels in love with my uplifting little community. I wake up every morning doing what I love, so isn’t my choice a no-brainer?
This post is dedicated to my fellow bloggers, who I wholeheartedly support.
Many successful bloggers were in senior roles before blogging
I was in a so-called ‘real job’ in Digital Marketing for five years before taking the plunge to start my own business. To blow my own trumpet, by the age of 22, I was managing eleven clients. By the age of 26, I managed multi-million pound budgets. At present, I’m so fortunate to be able to do this three months a year, part-time, as a consultant. Stating on her Instagram that that blogging ‘fulfils her even more’, Pilot Madeleine trained as a pilot but couldn’t find a job so her ridiculously dreamy travel blog was born. Margaret Zhang juggled blogging with her law degree before becoming one of the most successful Australian style bloggers today. British babe InTheFrow studied for her PhD and was a university lecturer before becoming one of the top lifestyle YouTubers. I met Cyran, from Corporate Style Story, who is a lawyer by day and a blogging bad-ass with the wardrobe to match. She’s smart, so lovely & I’m always so thrilled to meet powerful women who are passionate about what they do. Karla Itsines and The Body Coach were personal trainers, and now they’re worth millions, thanks to their fitness apps & snappy viral videos.
Freelancing is very time-consuming.
Want to see my average day when I’m not in my consultant job?
Here’s an example of a loose chicken running around:
8-9am: eat breakfast (usually tea, orange juice, scrambled egg sandwich or avocado toast or crumpets). Open PR mail. Answer flagged emails. Check Twitter.
10am: Print & pack for eBay (usually 10+ parcels depending on trade). Leave for Post Office once complete.
10-11am: Respond to Instagram comments on the bus/tube (usually 30+ I try & respond to everyone).
11:30am: Arrive at the coffee shop. Answer brand collab emails, write up & send invoices, update my calendar & continue current blog post.
2pm: Eat lunch (usually burrito, pasta or Pho but I don’t discriminate, I love all food).
3pm: If I have a Model casting, leave for central London, otherwise, I stay in the coffee shop.
4pm: Leave an hour slot open for a phone call with a PR agency, Model Agency, pitch or brand.
6pm: Coffee Shop kicks me out or I leave my audition.
7.15pm: Cheerleading, Barre, Yoga or Gym (I become so stressed without at least one fitness related session a week).
9.15pm: Grab dinner & head home.
10.30pm: Eat dinner & edit images, rehearse lines for any commercial auditions or watch TV.
A modelling job or press event can take a full or half day and throws this schedule off.
You don’t just wake up and make money from a business
Blogging has the reputation that it’s easy because you don’t have to go through a lengthy interview process to become a blogger; everyone can start a blog. In reality, these are the skills you need to form a successful, profit-making blog:
– Writing – Website Management – HTML – Photography – Photoshop – Design – Innovation – Sales Negotiation – Marketing – Social Media – Research – Data Analysis – SEO – Networking – Budget Management
I didn’t make any money during my first two years; this is the standard. I had to purchase, set-up and manage my domain, find a cracking web-template, liaise with clients & PR agencies and look after my lovely followers. Regardless of whether it’s working from home, in an office or opening a physical store, there is no way that you can create a successful business if you don’t graft. This applies to ALL businesses. The majority of blogs don’t make any income because it takes so long to earn a penny. If you want to be taken seriously and make a full-time salary from blogging, you have to work damn hard.
Bloggers pay taxes & Influencers have made millions
Blogging is a self-employed job. Self-Assesment tax returns are a tedious and lengthy process. As Bloggers can earn a decent salary, it makes sense that the government has made it mandatory to make us pay tax on it. It’s isn’t impossible to make millions from a blog. I mean, if you could quit your ‘real job’ with an average salary to become financially comfortable, you just would, wouldn’t you?!
Change is happening
I genuinely think that there are many inspirational blogs out there who don’t get the credit that they deserve.
The comments I’ve seen are that we’re living in a generation of narcissistic, entitled, ego-centric & social-media-addicted youths. While that may be true of some people, you cannot paint everyone with the same brush.
There will be so many people who have the potential to be doing what they love but instead, are working in a job that they hate because society tells us that we should be working for a corporation. Let’s face facts here; print is dying & digital is on the up (this is why big advertisers have budgets dedicated to influencers), sadly, not everyone has decided to accept this change, so the insecure online trolls criticise people who are making money out of non-traditional careers.
Not everyone is suited to this lifestyle because there’s no stability. You have to be smart.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Are you creative and your friends keep dismissing your job? I want to hear from you.
P.S these images are from an old shoot whereby I didn’t have a relevant blog post, but I felt this set was well suited. I love the vintage imagery, don’t you agree?