When Claire Marnette started out as a blogger, mostly her friends and her family followed the 18-year-old’s posts about fashion and style on Milkywaysblueyes.
Now, aged just 22, the Belgian law student has over 100,000 followers on her Instagram, over 25,000 likes on Facebook, and was once invited to meet Ed Sheeran. (She couldn’t go because she was sick).
“When I reached 10,000 followers I started to be taken seriously by other bloggers and brands. Since then it has grown really fast,” she tells The Independent.
A simple snap of Marnette sipping coffee in her hometown of Brussels, or posing on an airplane in a baseball cap, or sitting on a wall will attract thousands of like and reams of adoring comments. “Always perfect!” reads one comment from a photo of Marnette in Madrid.
Recently she was called on by Cartier to work on a project, after being contacted by brands including Yves Saint Laurent. Last week, she was flown out to Japan by Finn Air.
“I started blogging four years ago,” Marnette says. “Before blogging I was managing some forums about fashion and lifestyle. While I was doing my exams I wanted to do something new beside my forums and so I created Milkywaysblueyes.”
“When I start blogging, it was really new in Belgium. It was not yet a job to be a blogger. People were doing it only for fun and no one was earning any money from it. So, when I started, I didn’t know that I could live thanks to my blog, and to have a full time job with it.”
While social media is constantly being filled with posts and updates, Marnette says the biggest mistake most wannabe bloggers and social media influencers make is wanting to “have everything too quickly.”
“I takes time to create good content, to have a nice image, to have credibility, and finally to get the attention of big brands. I have been doing it for four years, and before that I ran forums for around two or three years.
“During the first two years of blogging, I didn't do any collaborations with brands and I almost had no followers or readers on the blog.”
The secret to her success is taking everything one step at a time. This starts with finding a style that is distinct. Take Marnette’s photos, which are edited to have high contrast and deep shadows.
“The thing that is hard is to find your style, with the right filters and the kind of photos you shoot. It takes a long time to finally find the things that will differentiate you from the others.
“Try a lot of filters, play with applications like Lightroom, VSCO, and Afterlight," she suggests.
“Take 50 pictures if you need to, create a beautiful setting. Use flowers, magazines, coffee cups. Add content to your picture to create a story behind it. And of course, find the perfect filter to embellish your picture.”
This hard work and time she invests into her blog is something she feels critics often forget. “The biggest misconception people have about bloggers is that we only receive free stuff and go on free holidays while doing almost nothing.
“It takes a lot of time to create good content. When we are on a trip we do not have time to enjoy it, it’s working. When we receive something for free, it’s because we have to write a blog post about it or to post it on social media.” She adds that the most important part of being a success online is truly caring about the subject, rather than just doing it for freebies.
As the number of followers she has climbs, she adds that the pressure to be a good role model is also building.
“I try to show the best out of me. I do not show alcohol on my Snapchat or hard parties or smoking. I try also not to wear fur, even if I have my opinion about it and some in my wardrobe. I don’t want to influence people on that kind of stuff, I want them to create their own opinion.”
After collaborating with top fashion brands and being flown across the world, what has been Marnette’s proudest moment?
“When I organise an events like closet sales and thousands of girls coming to meet me and have a chat with me. It makes the thing really real, and come out of the internet. That’s the thing I like the most.”
Independent News Service