Dipping her toe into the blogging scene in 2010 with a dabble into style blogging – it wasn’t until 2014 that Jenelle Witty decided to turn the dip into a full blown splash with the launch of lifestyle blog Inspiring Wit. With a flirting of French fashion mixed with beauty tips and travel guides, Inspiring Wit has gone on to build up a loyal and engaged following that taps into her knowledge and experiences in the lifestyle arena.
While initially shying away from Instagram in favour of blogging, Jenelle has been increasing her presence on the social media platform over the past 12 months – delivering post after post that has us inspired to up our Insti game. With a feed featuring a number of her favourite brands across the fashion and beauty space, it was actually her work with skincare brand Murad that first brought the lifestyle influencer to our attention.
Delivering high performance products designed to activate youth through hydration at the cellular level, we’ve long been obsessed with the Murad brand over here at Husskie HQ – and thus are a rather regular stalker of their Instagram account… It was here that one of Jenelle’s posts jumped out at us – and straight into requesting an interview.
Below is the result of our
stalking tracking, as we chat to Jenelle about everything from being a full-time influencer, to her top tips for gaining commercial opportunities, plus why staying authentic is so important on social media.
You’ve been blogging since 2010. What made you originally start?
I was studying a designer course over in WA and all of my friends and family were back home in Adelaide. I had so many people asking what I was up to and then one of the girls said, “I want you to start a blog so I can still see what you’re doing!” She introduced me to blogging and helped behind-the-scenes. I started seeing all these bloggers posting their outfits and things like that and was like: ‘I can do that! I’ll give it a try…’
These days do you tend to focus more on your blog or Instagram?
I guess for me, when everyone was getting into Instagram initially, I was still listening to a lot of my friends’ voices who made a lot of fun of it – so for the first few years I didn’t really love Instagram. I guess there were a lot of people around me who were like: “Oh it’s full of show-offs, they’re just showing off what they have”. I got confused by that and didn’t take it very seriously initially, but in the last year I’ve really put in a lot more energy and effort with the platform. I’ve always wanted my blog to be my main thing though because I have more control over what I post and can have more of a direct link to my audience.
Are you currently a full-time influencer?
At the moment, yes. Earlier this year I was doing other projects such as freelancing as a digital marketer for different companies and my partner and I do some photography for local restaurants for their social media – but for the last few months it’s been full-time. It’s kind of crazy because I’m not someone that has massive Instagram numbers or anything like that. It’s not things falling in my lap – I’m definitely getting out there. It’s sending all these emails and engaging with companies and brands and PRs and always saying: ‘We’re keen to do this kind of thing’ and pitching different ideas – I’m definitely bringing it on myself!
So you’re very proactive in gaining branded content?
Yes, especially if there is something I really love. I’m always asking people “What are you searching for online?” or “What’s the thing you need right now?”, “What events do you have coming up?”, “Where are you travelling to…” From there I work out what I want to focus on in the next few months for content and then will research brands I want to work with.
What would be your tip for someone who is wanting to approach different brands?
I think your quality of content is always going to speak for itself. For me, the first thing I prioritise is buying a good camera and learning how to use it. But also, the minute I got over being afraid of people saying ‘no’ or not answering emails, that was the main thing. Literally, my tip is to just don’t be afraid and give it a go because you’re going to regret it if you don’t.
When you get in contact with a brand, do you send through an updated media kit?
I’ve got a good media kit and we go through and update that every few months to reflect the stats and any sort of new things we want to talk about. I have brands and notable clients that I can put into the categories of fashion, travel, beauty and lifestyle – so if there’s anyone new I want to add onto there, I can just update that.
Talking about branded content, we loved the post you recently did for Murad. What originally attracted you to the Murad products?
Because I’m in my mid 30’s now, I’m just looking at brands that are dealing with fine lines… ageing products. In terms of my beauty routine and my philosophy, I like to try and age gracefully and age naturally as much as possible. I was looking at the Murad products and they had quite a lot of light chemical peel-type things so I was like: “I’ll see what they’re all about!”
What product did you like the most from the range?
I use their moisturiser a lot, and there’s a really nice light primer that I’ve been using quite a lot as well called Invisiblur Perfecting Shield & Makeup Primer.
Is it important for you to like a brand if you’re going to post about it?
Definitely, yes! For a while I used only organic products, and then because of all the research about ingredients – I’m now very conscious of what I do try. It’s not all organic anymore, I’ve started to use regular products – but I’ll always research everything to see if it is reputable and is something I can recommend to other people. There are plenty of things that come through that are like PR samples and things that land in my PO Box, but I honestly have to email the companies and be like, “Thanks so much but it doesn’t work for me so I can’t write about it or recommend it”.
I think it’s great you stick to your guns and only recommend things you believe in…
If I recommend something [I don’t like], people that have known me for a long time would be like, ‘That’s weird. Why would you talk about that?’ It just seems fake and I’m going to lose in seconds this loyalty that I’ve built up with my readers. If I don’t love it, then it’s just not going to be talked about. I think learning to say ‘no’ to people has been a good lesson. My inbox is constantly full with people coming through with “Will you use this product?’ ‘Do you want lip fillers and all these Botox treatments?”… it’s just not me. I have no judgement of people who do it because it boosts people’s confidence and that’s awesome, but for me – I’m like, “yeah nah, I couldn’t do it.”
How would you describe your beauty regime?
I’m very big on skincare, so I don’t just have a 3-step program – I do all the steps! When my partner walks in, he goes: “Why are you using so many products? What are you doing?!” My favourite thing to do is scrub, I’m always scrubbing my face. I use so many scrubs and masks and things, but makeup wise I keep it super simple. The main beauty thing for me is if you can achieve clear skin that’s happy and glowing, that’s the most beautiful thing.
Well you always look beautiful – and your pictures are so insanely good! Who is normally the person behind the lens?
Thank you! Any of the flatlays or any shot I’m not in, I shoot myself. My partner does my outfit photos and things that I’m in – but he is really busy himself so I really have to pick my moments to see how many shoots we can do! He is a graphic designer so he has an interest in photography, but when we got together I was like: “Here’s my camera, here’s how you use it” and then he went off and researched all off that. He’s kind of trained himself. Once he’s done the shots, I do all the editing and put it together the way I want.
Do you have a particular editing style you try and adhere to?
It changes quite a bit. A year or so ago I manipulated the colours quite a bit and then I realised I didn’t want to keep doing that anymore – I wanted to make things a little more natural. I tend to saturate the tiniest bit, increase the contrast, and take out some colours so it’s not too cyan or too blue. At the moment I seem to be making things a little more warmer-toned. I really like things to feel a little bit gritty and a little candid… it’s like a set-up version of a candid!
A plandid! Do you ever use a filter?
I create my own in a way. Because I edit with Photoshop, I’ve got presets that I’ve already made. I just adjust those so I don’t really use much in the way of a filter. I usually then just go back through my phone and make sure the white balance is the way I want it to be.
What camera are you using?
I use a Canon Mark 2 and then we also have an Olympus OMD EM1. [Taking photos] is so rewarding. I use to paint and draw, but on my last trip – I realised I didn’t even touch my paints! I think I’m now getting that creative expression through taking photographs and playing around with them.
We’ll let you go in a minute, but just two last questions… Can you talk me through what a normal day in your life looks like?
Because we’re in Perth, Western Australia – we’re two hours behind the East Coast so I need to try wake up around 6am. The first thing I will do is post a photo on Instagram or engage with Instagram and check out what everyone’s been doing. Then I’ll be checking emails and having breakfast and getting ready for the day. We either work from the studio or from home in our office, so then I usually go through whatever checklist I’ve written out from the night before of projects I need to work on and answer emails. Then I’ll be going through whether we’re shooting, getting ready for a shoot, going out somewhere for that, or getting the studio set-up ready to shoot there. Then I will either be editing photos or writing blog posts and commenting on people’s blogs and coming up with ideas. Sometimes I’m meeting up with people. And then it’s usually reminding myself to stop and eat and workout – I’ll usually either go for a run or do some yoga. Sometimes we have events at night time, and if not, I usually just keep working and then I’ll switch off around 8 or 9 o’clock – try to chill out for a bit, have a cup of tea, and go to bed.
Sounds divine! And just lastly, where are you hoping to go with Inspiring Wit?
I have a few things that I guess have always been big ticket goals. I’d like to live in Europe for at least a few months before I tackle the idea of settling down and having kids. I also want to collaborate with some of the fashion brands I really love because I do have a design background. I miss that aspect and would love to work on a collaboration – coming on as a guest designer or something like that. It’s been something that I’ve spoken about with some of the brands that I work with, but it would be amazing to do that.
I’d also really love to have that opportunity to bring people on to work with us and grow the blog – I’ve toyed with the idea of turning it more into a platform that has different people writing content. Particularly because I don’t know how I’m going to feel in say 5 or 10 years time still taking photos of my outfit – sometimes yes, but not as many as I’m doing now. I think I’ll be over it! I love the idea of providing people with work, it’s kind of a really cool dream for me.