As a journalism graduate with a natural flair for writing, and a love of all things beauty, Kayleigh Johnson’s blog ‘Couture Girl’ was destined to be a success from the word go. Blogging about her beauty based experiences, with a few lifestyle posts thrown into the mix – she has built up her blog and her loyal following (me included) who love her witty writing style, outfit posts and make-up reviews. I was lucky enough to be able to ask Kayleigh a few questions about how she came about setting up her blog, the highs and lows of blogging and most importantly – how she maintains such gorgeous hair!
Scarlett London: What initially inspired you to set up your blog?
Kayleigh Johnson: To be honest, setting up a blog wasn’t something I ever intended to do. I’ve always been obsessed with the beauty industry and often used to read makeup reviews on ‘makeup alley’, a website where lots of people share their opinions on products and rate them. At one stage I got so addicted to reading all these reviews (literally every night haha) and I then stumbled across beauty blogs and people sharing their thoughts on products.
It was actually Belles Boutique that I discovered first and from there I was absolutely addicted and couldn’t stop reading blogs. I actually thank my boyfriend for giving me the push I needed to set up my own blog as I think he was a bit sick of hearing me ramble on about lipsticks! He said ‘you could write a beauty blog Kayleigh’ and after a little bit of uuming and aahing, I thought ‘what the hell’ and made my blogger account.
SL: Did your interest in beauty journalism play a part in setting up your blog? I too, am hoping to go into the world of journalism and set up my blog to have a platform for my writing, I just wondered whether this was similar in your case?
KJ: I don’t think my interest in Journalism played a part at first as like I said, I never intended to set up a blog and I didn’t even know beauty blogs existed until I came across them by chance one night. However, I’ve always loved writing and I thought my blog would be a nice way to express my passion for writing and beauty.
SL: How did you come up with the name ‘Couture Girl’?
KJ: When I first set up my blog, I didn’t have a clue what to name it so I started thinking of some of my favourite beauty products. At the time I was addicted to Juicy Couture perfume (its still my favourite to this day) and thats where Couture came from. I think it was my boyfriends idea to add girl to it just because it had a nice ring to it, nothing exciting. I’d love to say there was some cute or meaningful reason behind it but unfortunately there isn’t!
SL: You’ve recently received 1,000,000 views! That’s amazing, well done! Was there a moment you realized that your blog was being read by hundreds (well, thousands) of people or was it more of a gradual thing?
KJ: Thank you, I’m over the moon! I remember when I first started writing my blog and I didn’t have a clue if anybody would be reading it so I just rambled away regularly posting about some of my favourite things. I didn’t even know how page views worked if I’m honest (total novice) but I did get excited when I saw the number getting bigger as it was nice to know people liked what I had to say. I still don’t think views are the bee all and end all though, I’d still be writing my blog regardless of numbers. Like I said, its just a nice feeling to know people are reading and enjoying my posts.
“I actually thank my boyfriend for giving me the push I needed to set up my own blog as I think he was a bit sick of hearing me ramble on about lipsticks!
SL: Congratulations on your Cosmo Nomination! What was your initial reaction to hearing you’d made the shortlist?
KJ: OMG – that was my initial reaction. I’m still gobsmacked now! I knew the shortlist was being announced as I’d seen a few tweets on the day but I never for one minute thought I’d be shortlisted. I was actually shopping on my own when I found out so the people around me must of thought I was crazy as my mouth practically hit the floor when I saw the news.
SL: Are you looking forward to the big awards ceremony – or are you quite nervous? Or a bit of both?
KJ: A bit of both I’d say. I’ve mentioned it on my blog and Twitter in the past that I suffer with awful anxiety and panic attacks so its going to take a lot of courage for me to head to such a big event on my own. I’m sure I’ll be fine when I get there though and I am excited to meet some of my favourite bloggers! I’ll probably feel a little bit starstruck!
SL: Do you have a ‘favourite’ blog post that you’ve ever written?
KJ: Ooh there’s been SO many posts I’ve enjoyed writing but a few that stand out to me would include the post I wrote about my dressing table and storage purely because I’d had an idea of how I wanted my makeup storage to look for such a long time and when I finally got it all together I couldn’t wait to share it. Its been one of my most popular posts ever too so I guess everyone enjoyed seeing where I store my stash!
Another couple of posts I really enjoyed writing include my ‘Blogging Basics’ post which was a post all about my advice on starting a blog. I loved sharing everything I’ve learnt so far with the readers of my blog and it was an amazing feeling to know it helped people! I also really enjoyed writing my post about my experience with OCD as its something I feel so strongly about and again, the feedback was overwhelming!
SL: The blogging community is a really close one and probably the most supportive I’ve ever come across. Have you made life-long friends through blogging – or met people you otherwise wouldn’t have?
KJ: I agree! I’ve met so many amazing people through blogging and some of which I speak to on an everyday basis and would consider friends. Unfortunately I haven’t had chance to meet many bloggers in person yet but I’d love to one day! I’d love to attend a meet up as they always look like such fun, I just need to pluck up the courage to actually go to one!
SL: Do you blog full-time, or do you have other work commitments too? If so, do you find it easy/difficult to balance the two?
KJ: No I don’t blog full-time, I actually have a full-time job as well so its safe to say my life is pretty hectic. I’m not going to lie and say its easy juggling the two as it most certainly isn’t but I enjoy blogging so although I’m constantly busy trying to manage my real job and my blog, I don’t see it as a chore. If I ever felt that way, I’d know its time to take a break.
SL: What have you found the most rewarding thing has been so far since setting up your blog?
KJ: The most rewarding thing for me has 100% been meeting so many lovely and like-minded people. I love that I’ve met so many amazing new people through blogging and receiving tweets, comments or emails from the readers of my blog really brightens up my day. I’ve also gained a lot more confidence since starting my blog as I never thought I’d get to where I am today but the fact I have has given me more confidence in my abilities. I’m now a firm believer that anything is possible with a bit of hard work and determination.
SL: Have you had any low points through blogging, or any moments that have questioned whether setting up a blog was the right thing to do?
KJ: There really hasn’t been any low points! From the moment I started my blog until now, I’ve loved every minute of it. The only struggle has been finding the time to post frequently as like I said, I do have a full-time job as well which makes finding time for both fairly difficult. I don’t think people realize how much effort actually goes into blogs as there’s everything from the photography, editing, uploading, writing and promoting to consider when preparing a new post. It can be hard work but its worth it!
SL: Do your family and friends know about your blog? What were their reactions like?
KJ: Yes they all know about it and they’re all SO supportive. I have an amazing family and they’ve all backed me 110% since I started blogging. Both of my Nanna’s read every single post I read and its so nice to know they enjoy it and can catch up on what I’ve been up to when I’m not around. I don’t see my family very often as I moved away to Newcastle with my boyfriend when I was 18 so I think they like to hear about the things I’ve been up to on my blog. My mum often tells me she’s very proud of me too!
SL: Do you have a ‘favourite’ opportunity or experience that your blog has brought about so far?
KJ: I guess it would have to be the Cosmo Blog Awards! I still can’t believe a huge magazine like Cosmo enjoys my little old blog. Its crazy! Other than that, getting to meet so many amazing bloggers and work with some of my favourite brands!
“I like to think my personality comes across well and that people feel like they’re having a natter with a friend whilst reading my posts!
SL: There is a really girly feel to your blog – in your layout and your posts. How did you put together your layout and do you have any advice for those looking to re-vamp their own layout?
KJ: I’d love to say I’m a HTML master mind and put the whole thing together myself but unfortunately I didn’t. When I first started blogging, my biggest bug bear was how my blog looked. I had the basic blogger settings and didn’t have a clue how all these other bloggers had pretty designs! I tried my hardest to teach myself how to do it but after many failed attempts and a very dodgy photoshop header (oh god, it was hideous!), I roped in the help of a lovely lady called Felicity who writes the blog Pursuit of Felicity. I’d seen a few of her other designs and really loved them so I asked if she could help me out. I always had an idea of how I wanted my blog to look and she helped me bring it to life! She’s done a couple of re-designs for me now (one of them just this month) and I can’t recommend her enough. If you’re useless with all things technical like me, my biggest piece of advice would be to ask for help! Send a tweet and some emails and someone will be willing to help you out!
SL: I love your writing style, as it’s really personal and witty, but also very informative. Did you make a conscious effort to have the writing on your blog like this, or is it just the way you write naturally?
KJ: No I definitely don’t put effort into how I write – that’s just me! I like to write my blog as if I were talking to my friends which is why it come across quite chatty. I like to think my personality comes across well and that people feel like they’re having a natter with a friend whilst reading my posts!
SL: Do you find that the opportunities for bloggers living in the North East are far and few between, or do you attend lots of blogging events? Would moving to London for blogging/for a job ever be something you’d consider?
KJ: I’ve attended a couple of blogger events in Newcastle but I have to be honest and say the opportunities are definitely lacking here. I often miss out on amazing events and glamorous London locations due to not being based there and that is really upsetting as I hate turning down such amazing opportunities! For example, Company magazine recently asked me to be a guest judge for their beauty awards and having to say ‘I can’t make it’ was so hard! I wish more brands would host competitions in other locations as there is amazing bloggers all over the country, not just in London.
Moving to London is something I often consider though as the type of industry I’d love to work in (Journalism/PR) is booming in London. I currently work in Marketing in Newcastle and I’ve gained some great experience but it isn’t what I want to do forever. My boyfriend is currently training to be a Solicitor at a firm in the North East but as soon as he’s qualified we might consider making the move! I’d love to experience the London life!
SL: You honestly have the most gorgeous hair – and it’s so healthy looking (I have serious hair envy). What are the top 3 hair products you can’t live without, or attribute to your healthy hair?
KJ: Aw thanks so much! I never understand why people like my hair as I think its SO boring but I guess it is pretty healthy considering I’ve abused it with bleach since the age of 13. In my opinion, the main things that contribute to healthy hair aren’t actually products but lifestyle and styling instead. I always try to eat fresh food (salad/fruit/veg) and I rarely ever straighten my hair as heat is the biggest cause of damage. I usually tie my hair up unless I’m going out so I don’t need to use straighteners and I’m quite lucky in the fact my hair dries pretty straight anyway.
However, one product I would say has completely transformed my hair has got to be Moroccan Oil. It my ultimate hair product and I would seriously recommend it to anybody. Its improved the condition of my hair massively and also helped it to grow a LOT! Once upon a time I couldn’t grow my hair past my shoulders but since I’ve been using this product its almost down to my waist. Its a miracle worker!
SL: Do you have one overall beauty product that you simply cannot live without?
KJ: I think it would have the be my trust black eyeliner. I wear it every single day without fail and feel like my eyes look naked without it. My favourite is ‘Smolder’ by MAC – its so creamy and the blackest black I’ve ever used!
SL: What is one thing that people would be surprised to hear about you? Or one unique fact?
KJ: I guess the thing people are most shocked to discover about me is that I suffer with anxiety. People always presume I’m confident and care free but that couldn’t be further from the truth and I’ve suffered with OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and low self-esteem since the ages of 15. I won’t go into it as I don’t want to depress you all but I will say one thing – never judge a book by its cover.
SL: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Do you think your blog will still be a part of your life?
KJ: Ooh thats really hard to say! I guess I’d like to have a house and a well-paid job doing something I love but that could be too much to ask as both of those things don’t come easy. I’d quite like to be engaged by then too as I’ll be 28 and ready to settle down and start a family! Lets hope the boyf doesn’t read this interview – he might run a mile haha! I’d like to think my blog will still be part of my life too as I can’t see my beauty obsession going anywhere soon!
SL: Do you think you’d like to blog as your full-time job – or will it always be a hobby for you?
KJ: Oh I’d absolutely love to write my blog full-time, that would be a dream. I’m really passionate about my blog and put my all into everything I do so if I could do it every day, that would make me very happy!
Thanks so much to Kayleigh for giving up her time to answer my questions, if you haven’t already, you can have a read of her blog here.