Friday, December 29, 2017

HOW DID I GET HERE?




If there's one question I've been asked more times than any other, it's "How did you become a blogger?". And while I've answered with a few short sentences on a FAQ in the past, I realized lately that I never went too deep into the answer. I've never really talked about the odd jobs I had before becoming a full time blogger, and a lot of you don't know much about me aside from what you catch on Instagram. So today, I want to tell you just how I got to where I am today.




To start, I was born and raised in Orange County, CA. I've lived in California my whole life, with the exception of living for 6 weeks in Alaska and 5 weeks in Atlanta for two different jobs (but more on that later). I have one older sister, and we grew up without much money. We never had health insurance, often our water or gas would be turned off, and everything we wore was used - something I was teased for at school. I've stood in line at a food pantry more than once, and when I wanted to go to Girl Scout Camp one summer, my troop had to raise the money for me to be able to go. I don't typically talk about how I grew up - mostly because I know that so many have had it much worse. I also don't like to make it seem like I wasn't happy, because believe me - I was. I knew we were poor, but I also knew we were taken care of and loved, and in the end that is what's more important.

When I was a kid I would beg my parents to let me audition for film and television roles. I had done countless plays up until that point, but I had always wanted to be on TV and in movies. It was just something I had decided when I was 5 - I was going to be an actress and there was no changing my mind. My parents caved in when I was 13, and my dad started driving me to auditions that we found online. I booked my first film audition (some small indie) and began to work consistently on small projects. I got an agent and a manager, and several films and a TON of music videos later (yes, that is me in The Fray music video - you guys always seem to spot me!) I decided to quit High School.

Related image
From The Fray's music video How to Save a Life in 2007

I tested out when I was 15 and a half, and left High School at the end of my Sophomore year. I had never really liked it, and even though I had been in advanced education programs and classes, I just wasn't very focused on school. I got good grades, but I had a career I was more interested in. Looking back, I don't regret leaving. It really made me who I am. I started attending community college when I was 16, and with a flexible schedule was still able to keep auditioning and filming the occasional project including a film in Alaska that had me living there for 6 weeks, and a Hallmark Channel Western movie that still plays regularly, and about a dozen other odd projects.

Image result for courtney halverson love finds a home
circa 2009 in a Hallmark movie called Love Finds a Home

I got my first job-job at 17, working at Buffalo Exchange in Downtown Fullerton. I was the 4th employee hired at the store (it was brand new), and ended up staying there for 5 years working mainly weekends. I worked as a buyer there, digging through countless trash bags of clothing to find gems. We would buy vintage and current trends, and both men's and women's clothing. I had to learn a lot fast, but it was the best training for me, given what I do now. I was able to see all kinds of clothing, appraise their worth, examine the construction, etc. It was a real fun job, and introduced me to most of the friends I still have to this day, including both of my maids of honor, and my first real boyfriend.

I discovered blogs sometime back in 2009 - when there were really only a handful of bloggers out there. Some of the earliest blogs I can remember that I loved were Fashiontoast, Lily Melrose, Keiko Lynn, and WishWishWish (so getting to actually meet Carrie and have dinner this year was incredible - it feels surreal that we both follow each other now). I would devour every blog post and spend hours on ebay trying to find similar pieces to the ones I saw there. I admired these girls, but really never dreamed I would start a blog - it just seemed too far fetched, and besides, what would I even blog about?

Sometime in 2010 I started selling vintage clothing on Etsy under the shop name Velvet Bow Vintage. I had been thrifting clothing for years and decided it would be a good way to make some extra money. At first I took photos of the clothing just lying on my bed, but I saw that more successful shops used models. I didn't have anyone to shoot clothing on but myself, so I used a self timer on an old camera I had on hand, and stood in my bedroom or my parent's backyard to model the clothing. Here's an example of a listing from 2010 :


Vintage Faux-Fur Shearling Reversable Coat - Small/Medium
A product image from my Etsy shop

I think this is the moment when I really considered starting my own blog. I had a camera and an old computer, and really, what more did I need? I had a closet full of vintage and thrifted clothing, things I had found while working at Buffalo Exchange, and I had the time to do it. I was still auditioning and filming occasionally, but in between projects there was always time where I felt restless and wanting to do something else. So, I did it. I started a blog in the fall of 2011, and called it PrettyLittleFawn.


From a blog post in 2011

When I first started blogging, I didn't have Instagram. I had an android phone, so it would be a while before I could even use the app, so at first, I would sort of just throw a blog post up, and hope that someone would see it. I don't have a real overarching reason for why I started a blog - I just saw other girls doing it, and thought "That looks fun. Why not me?". Back then, if you had told me someone was going to mail me a single tee shirt for free to wear on my blog, I would have told you you're nuts. It just wasn't even feasible in my mind, so I didn't think about it that way. And the idea of making money off of it? Puh-lease.


From a blog post in 2013

I plugged away at blogging for the next few years, with not a lot of change. I would thrift or hunt down clothing, style it, and throw the pictures up on my blog. During this time I worked at a bagel shop for like 2 months, I worked at Anthropologie for a year, and still worked on a few films here and there. I met my future husband during this time, and after a few years of dating, moved into a teeny apartment with him in LA. I decided I needed a "big girl job", and started working at a since closed online retail shop called PYLO.

At that job, I met a few other bloggers. At that point (maybe 4 years ago), I didn't know a single other blogger. It was a bit of a loner hobby to me for the first few years, because there wasn't much opportunity to meet any other bloggers while in Fullerton. But now, at my new job, working alongside a few other bloggers (who had MUCH bigger accounts than me), I was suddenly in a blogger world. I started to get the occasional email from a company, offering a discount on their product to style a look on my blog. Sometimes I would be sent something like a pair of shoes, and my heart would EXPLODE with joy. Someone was trusting me to style something on my blog, and it meant everything to me.


Sometime in 2015

At this point I had maybe 10k followers on my Instagram, and a decent following on my blog. Instead of using a self timer, I was now shooting photos almost daily with my coworkers or Eric. I started to take it more seriously, because all around me, I was seeing girls start to really make a mark for themselves with their blogs. I started to realize - this could actually be a thing. Every comment, every like, every email I got just fueled me further. I was a blogger, and I liked it. I still could have my first and greatest passion, acting - I could see that blogging was flexible and I could make my own hours while continuing to pursue films and television.

During this time, I worked on two projects that gave me a boost as an actor. I had a recurring role on the second season of True Detective, and this small film I worked on called Unfriended was released in theaters worldwide. My desk job at the clothing company was starting to get in the way of things I wanted to do not only as an actor, but as a blogger too. I was majorly unhappy, sitting in front of a computer and dealing with things like customer service emails about lost packages or standing on my feet and unboxing mass-produced clothing purchased in downtown LA to repackage it and ship it off to customers. I needed to get out, and even though I really wasn't making much money off of my blog (the occasional $100 - $200 for a blog post and several IGs), I decided to make the leap. I was tired of crying in my car in the parking lot of a dead end job. So I left.


A blog post featuring a Reformation dress I found secondhand in 2015

Over the next few months, I was scared. I was starting to make a little more money off of my blog, and had some money saved up from films and TV projects, but if I wanted to be able to make rent without relying on my then fiancé to support us, I needed to buckle down. So I started blogging more than ever. Responding to every email, pursuing every opportunity that presented itself. I was starting to get invited to brunches and parties for clothing brands, so I attended, even though I was scared to death of going to gatherings alone (I still deal with this fear and anxiety, but I've gotten better at coping). I made my presence known as best I could.


From a blog post in 2016 featuring Lykke Wullf

And it paid off. I was working on more projects, and I was learning just who I was as a blogger. I didn't give in to the mass emails from Skinny Tea companies to make a quick buck, because in the end I knew it would be a shitty move. I had garnered a decent following, and to wreck that trust just for money would have been the end of me. I worked steadily with companies I genuinely liked, developed relationships, and sometimes was paid for my work. It was what I never believed possible - that I could make a job out of blogging.


 From a blog post just this month

To wrap this up, I guess I should just fast forward to now - I have an incredible manager named Kyle, of GnB, who helps manage the projects and emails that come in. I have a husband who helps shoot my photos, and I have a sweet little pup who is snoring beside me as I type this. I have a blog that I love, a job that I love, and I still get to pursue acting. I feel endlessly lucky that I have gotten to where I am now, and if it weren't for you (yes you) reading this right now? I wouldn't be able to do what I do.



43 comments:

  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story! Such an inspiration! you’re by far my favorite blogger, and you’re amazing at what you do 🖤

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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  2. Thank you for sharing!!! I admire you so much and your story has given me hope which is something we all need. Love always
    grace
    Instagram- Makeupwithgrace11_

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  3. So awesome to see how you got where you are! I love your blog!

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  4. Hi Courtney!
    Your Instagram popped up on my popular page maybe 6 months ago and I've been following you ever since! I relate to you in so many ways such as you're a Harry Potter fan, an actress, and that you love fashion! I started a blog back in high school and didn't keep up with it when I went away to college. I am graduating college in about a year and I am looking at starting a blog again, one that I am much more passionate and serious about. I guess a question I have for you is, is there anything you wish you knew when you first started blogging? Also, do you have any tips on syncing a Instagram into a blogging lifestyle? (Does that make sense? Hopefully it does)

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  5. Reading this was really cool because I remember seeing all this unfold via Instagram! Now that I think about it, I must have started following you all the way back in 2012. I especially loved this blog post because I am a huge fan of yours. I rarely ever purchase an article of clothing with out asking myself “would Courtney wear this?” haha I also get so much apartment inspo from you, and you’ve help start my own love for vintage items. Thank you for always being genuine and chasing your dreams, and inspiring others to do the same! ��

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  6. Hi Courtney,

    I absolutely loved reading about how you become a blogger? It has truly inspired me and my ambitions to become a better one as well. I was wondering if you needed an assistant to help out? I would love to learn from you and become better at posts and even better picture taking.
    Thank you very much

    Kelley Misetich

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  7. Love your posts! Your style hooked me in but your genuine posts and online personality definently kept me following! I always look forward to your posts (:

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  8. Well! I'm pretty inspired. Already love your posts on Instagram and now, I've gotten to know more about you. This is really good. You're so sweet as well as hardworking. Thank you for sharing with us your incredible story. You are indeed an inspiration. Thanks!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story, you are such an inspiration to me... Love your blog, your style, everything.
    Kisses from Portugal.

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  10. This gives me boost of energy to start my own blog. I've had some in recent years, but just now I feel like I have established style and opinion, so I've been thinking about doing it seriously. Thank you and lots of love <3

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  11. Thanks for sharing! You're the only blogger I really follow these days because I just really like your style and the photos you post are just so beautiful and have a real warmth to them. I appreciate all of the work you do. I've personally had a couple obstacles with starting a blog, mainly I can't keep creating content consistently, and also I get discouraged in the first few weeks of a new project when I can't seem to get any followers. I have two questions: What is the best way to gain real, engaged followers? Also, more out of curiosity, how do relationships with brands and companies to blog about their products start?

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story! It's refreshing to hear a bloggers' story without the "I make a million figures and this is how you can too!" You've had a full life and took it your own way. As a new blogger, I am very inspired.

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  13. You sharing your story means the world to me! You have insipired me to follow my dreams of becoming a blogger. Thank you for everything ✨✨✨ - gentlewomanoftheroad

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  14. This article is very useful I extremely like this blog . A debt of gratitude is in order for ones glorious posting! Official Website

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  15. Thanks for sharing this Courtney! Reading this was truly inspiring!

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  16. I love hearing your story! I have been blogging on and off for over 5 years and I'm in the position now where I'm deciding if I really want to take it full time, and I loving knowing that you took a leap of faith that I'm thinking about making!

    https://www.downinthecity.com

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  17. This is beautiful ❤️ I saw your Instagram today and immediately fell in love with you!

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  18. Thank you so much for sharing! I feel like there are so many "overnight success stories" out there and they just never ring true. You are one of my favorite bloggers and it is lovely to learn more about you. Also totally going to check out The Fray music video right now.

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  19. Thank you so much for sharing Courtney! I think you just gave a lot of bloggers life and the will to carry on! I’ve been following you on instagram for many years. It’s been so great watching your journey and I can’t wait to see where your future takes you.

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  20. Hey girl! I've been following you for who knows how long but never read this post! So glad to see more humbled bloggers who are REAL! I follow you mostly through IG and so proud to see your work come to fruition! Keep it up!!! <3

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  21. This is the realest post about blogging I have ever read. Thank you for this, it makes me want to continue and pursue it myself, even if sometimes I get frustrated. I too love vintage and am always on the lookout for great pieces. Love your blog and your style. You are so gorgeous.

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