Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Spotlight - Liz

I haven't had a spotlight in awhile because I'm a slacker but boy do I have a good one for you.  I decided to spotlight Liz this month.  She previously wrote a guest post on why she runs. Liz is great and you should follow and read her blog daily. She's athletic (like me) and has takes pictures of herself daily (like me), but she is a much better photographer than I am. (You should follow her on Twitter too @RestonStyle)

Where did the name of your blog come from?  (Well where did the names of all your blogs come from?)
The name Reston Style comes from the place where I live. Reston is a suburb of DC in northern Virginia. It is one of the 5 largest planned communities in the United States and the first one to complete its original master plan. I actually work for the non-profit corporation that acts like the government, the Reston Association. I figured with a name like “Reston Style” it could be just a daily outfit blog, like it is now, but it could also be expanded to include all other aspects of style into it.

When did you start your style/fashion blog? How about the rest of them? Have you ever had any other blogs before?
My style blog started in December, though I started posting daily outfits on my tumblr in November of 2010. My tumblr was my first blog and I started it at the beginning of 2010. I currently keep my tumblr, Reston Style, and photography blogs up to date.

What are the main goals of your blogs? Why did you choose separate blogs instead of having 1 blog with a mesh of everything?
Since my tumblr was my first blog, it really was a mesh of everything. It had a little bit of everything, but a whole lot of nothings when you looked right at it. Then I started looking at style blogs... I liked how some of them just showed some pretty pictures and a snapshot into the lives of these real girls. It was like a little piece of scripted reality, and I liked that, so I stole like an artist and decided to start my own style blog.  It’s definitely, genuinely me, just an edited for time and content version. It’ll also be something that I can show my kids someday, where as I’m not sure I’d ever want to show them my twitter feed or tumblr!

Did the intent or content of your blog change since you started?
Reston Style has stayed true to itself since the beginning. There are probably only 4 or 5 posts that don’t follow the same format. Since it’s inception, I have added a “fit style” segment that recurs as well as a new “trend to try” segment. But for the most part it is pictures of what I am wearing, and a little glimpse into some of the happier moments of my day. It’s actually really nice to write because  it does provide a little escape from some of the harder moments of life.

How many hours per week would you say you spend blogging?
I would say that I spend between 10 and 15 hours a week working on blogs or blog related things (I am also doing some consulting about blogging). I have a really great work flow, so to keep Reston Style going I could probably only work about 2 hours a week on it, but I like doing it so much that I spend a lot more time on it!

Do you spend more time reading blogs than you do writing your own blog?
That depends on the week. I realize that being part of the community is the best way to gain and retain readership, but it takes a lot of time to read all the blogs of all the people you find interesting. I feel like a bad bloggy friend when I spend my time working on my blog and not reading my friends blogs, so I do try to check in at least once a week! But on average I would say I read blogs for about an hour a day.

How many blogs do you read on a daily basis?
Some days I will read 100 blog posts by 90 different bloggers, some days I will read none. I do actually always ready my friend, Michelle’s blog That’s so Michelle, because I have liked watching her photography progress AND giving her some phototips. That is actually something that I have learned about myself, blogging and reading blogs has made me more interested in photography. So if I just have a few minutes to read blogs, I generally go for ones with great photos. When I have a lot of time, I go for ones with great content.

Do people email you often because they read your blog?
I get a couple of comments per post, but not very many emails. I would say that most of the time the questions I get from readers are more about my running than my style. I guess it’s the running that makes me interesting, not the fact that I get dressed everyday :) 

Do you communicate with a lot of your readers via email/IM?
I am always open to emailing or IMing, but I would say most of my reader communication is through Disqus and Twitter.

What is your inspiration?
This is actually a tough question for me. I think I was inspired to start outfit shots by Jessica Quirk of What I Wore and then by Kendi Skeen of Kendi Everyday. I really liked the photos on their blogs and I thought “I can do that!” (I also thought, “maybe if I do that, I can make some money or get on the Today Show or something.” It’s my dream to be a contributor for the Today Show.) So the idea that I could  do it is what got me started. However, the focus has really changed as I have continued with it. I am really inspired by photography now. Writing Reston Style has really helped me discover that passion. So now my inspiration is all photography related and the rest is just getting dressed.

What post are you most proud of?  Did it get the most hits?
I am most proud of my guest post about self portrait photography - and yes, it brought a lot of traffic to my blog. But I think it’s because of how much passion I put into it. I am actually trying to come up with some more photography posts to submit as guest posts on different photography technique blogs.

What is your daily routine regarding your blog? (Ex: When do you take pictures? When do you upload them? When do you write the post?)
I try to take my pictures in the morning or in the evening, just because the light is at its best, but a lot of my shots end up getting taken at lunch. I generally shoot through out the week, then edit the photos as I have time and load them as batches onto flickr. The day I am wearing the outfit, I try to come up with a title. other than that I generally write all my posts over the weekend. Then as they get ready to get published I have the bulk of my content ready to go. Sometime I wait to do the second paragraph, so that I can add something about what is actually going on “real time” in my life.
I try to publish before noon everyday. Then I share the link on facebook, twitter, and make the pictures public on flickr with the link to the blog post in the title. In the past I have used flickr groups to try to boost my views - and they work - I just haven’t had the time to keep up with everything. It’s part of my expanded workflow - but my order of importance is: 1)get dressed, 2)take pictures 3)post 4)make photos public on flickr 5) share on facebook 6)share on twitter. If I get all of those things done - I call myself a bloggy success!

How do you juggle all your competing priorities and still have time to blog?
I read this great post ( and pretty much decided that since I already used a calendar, I might as well add my blog goals to it.

What is your best tip to photographing yourself?
I would love to say “have fun” but really the best tip I have is change your focal length.  Go with 55mm or up. If you have a point and shoot - that means ZOOM! I think this advice is probably the best that I have - 85mm is your friend. It blurs the background and makes you look prettier! :)

What is one interesting fact you’d like to share about yourself?
When I was a kid I hated writing. Mostly because I am a horrible speller and it made me insecure. So its kinda interesting that I spend so much of time time writing now!

What is your next running goal?
I have a couple in mind:

  • set a new marathon PR sub 4:15 (okay, so I really want sub 4, but I am trying to be realistic!)
  • sub 1:45 ½ marathon
  • sub 6 minute mile
  • Olympic distance triathlon
How many days a week do you run/train?  And how many do you just exercise in other ways that aren’t training for runs?
I live life like a kid. I aim to run about 3 times a week. If I do that I’m happy. The rest of the time I just try to live an active lifestyle. I like stretching on a foam roller, so I try to go to the gym to do that twice a week. Other than that and the exercise that I get from coaching swimming - I generally just say yes if someone invites me to do something active! I was indoor climbing about once a week for a while, and hope to get back to that soon.

If you could only share 1 fitness tip, what would it be?
Set lifestyle goals and set them one at a time. Instead of thinking about what you want to lose, think about the things you want to gain. For example, don’t think about losing weight, think about gaining fitness. Setting goals with a positive connotation will help keep the whole process aimed towards success. Small lifestyle changes over big changes in the short term.

What motivates you to keep up with exercise?
My goals. I do so much better when I have a race to prep for or a time goal in mind. Exercise is important for my wellbeing, but that alone isn’t always enough to motivate me. So setting out to accomplish something that is measurable keeps me accountable. It also helps that I train with friends. They rely on me to help get them to their goals, and their reliance on me helps keep me accountable to my goals.

Does your family ever get to see you race or do they participate in any races with you?
They have come to a couple of the 5ks I have done, and even though my mom is also a runner (and has started training with me), we have yet to run anything longer than a 5k together.

What is your proudest running accomplishment?
I have a couple. I am really proud of running a 14.78 mile training run alone. It’s the longest I have ever run alone before. And my half career is really kinda a cool story. I ran sub 2 hrs in my first ½ ever, then a year later I ran it only 8 minutes slower (just over 2 hours) only 18 days after having my tonsils out, then my PRs in both the outer banks ½ and the flying pirate ½. And of course, I completed a marathon this year. It is impossible to describe how that feels. I wanted to thank Liz for putting up with all my questions and putting up with me being a slacker posting this. I am still having trouble trying to insert all the pictures I wanted to so you are just getting less.

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