May 8, 2020

Cake with: @afashiontaste

In the “Cake with” series, we chat over some cake, with influencers and creators about life and the influencer industry.

This time, we chat with Pauline about her life as a travel influencer.

Let’s start the interview with the most important question: what’s your favorite cake?

Pauline: Chocolate cake! Sometimes I pick more healthy options, but my favorite will always be a chocolate cake.

What do you answer to the question, “What do you do?”

Pauline: I always introduce myself as a busy bee. I like a lot of different things, and I need variety. When people ask me specifically about my profession, I tell them I create content for myself and for brands to publish on social media channels. It’ss funny to see people’s reactions, as

some people don’t know what that means exactly, and then they ask a lot of questions about how it works exactly. I have already tried to explain how social media and influencer marketing work to many people! (laughs)

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Pauline: It depends a bit from day to day.  Most of the time, a big part of my day goes towards administration: answering emails (I try to answer every single email I get!), reading and signing contracts, and making invoices.

Once that is done, I can start with the part I love the most: being creative! When I create content, I usually start with a little brainstorm session on how I want my picture to look. After that, I prepare everything to take the pictures I envisioned (clothes, make-up, the works) and then it’s

photoshoot time. Finally, I edit the pictures with my Lightroom presets, and I post them.

View this post on Instagram

We’re a living proof that life isn’t a fairytale 💫 This is my first post in a while due to the Corona stuff. I kind of didn’t want to be all happy happy joy joy here because truth is I think all of this is a bit scary 🙈 But I also feel it’s important to stay positive and still share some of the good moments 😊 That’s why you see me here over dramatically in a museum – when we still could visit one 😉 – 👗 @zebfashion 📸@melissavanlommel – – – #realoutfitgram #afashiontaste #lovemylook #ootdblogger #outfitinspo #ootd #lookdujour #belgianblogger #myootd #dutchie #belgischeblogger #zebfashion #zebsquad #vlaamseblogger #woensdag #blijfunuwkot #plantinmoretus #fairytalevibe #antwerpen

A post shared by Pauline Grossen.Travel Fashion (@afashiontaste) on

Too short to be a model

You have built a very large and engaged audience. But let’s go back to the beginning. How did everything start?

Pauline: When I was seven years old, I started modeling for a nice amount of different brands. Together with my mom, I created a blog to post my online portfolio.

I loved that blog, and I started writing text under the pictures my mom was posting to make it more interesting. And that’s how I became a blogger!

Growing older, it became clear that I couldn’t have a modeling career as I wasn’t tall enough. So I had to find another outlet for my photography passion. Once Instagram came around, it was obvious to me that that was my platform.

How did you come up with your Instagram handle @afashiontaste?

Pauline: Honestly, I don’t remember. It was ten years ago, and I guess it was fashionable back then, and it sounded cool (laughs). I actually doubt to change it to my name to Pauline Grossen, as I think more people know me by name now. If brands search for my name, they

don’t find me directly. And it’s the same with people that want to tag me in a story. I’ve heard from multiple people that it can be hard to find me.

Bucket list

You make a lot of beautiful pictures of exotic destinations. When did you discover your passion for travel?

Pauline: Travel has always been a passion of mine. As a child, I traveled a lot with my parents, and I loved it. And it has stayed that way.

I also love creating content while I’m traveling, as it’s just so much more beautiful and easier to take pictures on a trip. I always feel very inspired and creative. Also, getting to know new cultures and the people in countries inspire me to make certain photographs. It always tells a story.

Do you travel light?

Pauline: (laughing) Absolutely not. I’m not sure there are a lot of content creators that travel light. I make my best content when I travel, so of course, I need to have all my equipment with me. I tend to travel with my camera, a ronin (camera stabilizer), a drone, and a lot of lenses.

That’s a lot of stuff. And it’s quite heavy as well. Of course, I also need to take clothes. But I think I’m not a heavy packer clothes-wise. On my last trip, I only took four pairs of shoes for three weeks. That’s quite all right, no?

I also bought two pairs of shoes on that trip, but let’s ignore that (laughs).

Which countries are on your bucket list?

Pauline: There are still so many countries on my bucket list! The more you travel, the more you want to visit.

Almost all countries in Asia are on my bucket list. Just before corona, I came back from Thailand and South Africa, it was amazing. I would also love to go to Peru, Vietnam, Canada, and Australia.

Sunset pictures

How do you find the perfect spots to create your beautiful travel content?

Pauline: I always research before I leave on a trip. It saves you so much time once you’ve arrived at your destination, so there is more time to enjoy the trip. Here’s a good tip: use Google Maps to research your location on forehand. Put it on satellite view, and look at the buildings and walk through the streets virtually.

This way, you can make a powerful shortlist of good spots for pictures that are different from the content that’s already out there. I’ve found many gems like this.

Finding good locations also depends on your creativity. I think you can make any setting work if you try hard enough.

A lot also depends on the light. You can have a beautiful location, but if the light is too harsh, for example, the picture will not turn out as nice. My favorite moment to create the most beautiful content is during sunset. The light is just so magical then.

Finding the perfect spot on a press trip can be harder, though, as often you are more constrained in the places you visit. Sometimes there’s a lot of tourists, and that makes it harder to shoot good content. But I’m always up for the challenge!

Who takes your pictures?

Pauline: When I’m making a trip that I’ve organized myself, I always travel with my boyfriend. He’s an amazing photographer, so he takes all my pictures. I love traveling with him, as he’s very creative and he knows exactly how I want my pictures to look like.

When I’m on a press trip, I have to take my own pictures, or sometimes journalists take pictures of me. It’s harder, as I need to explain to them which angle I want for the picture and where they have to stand, but in the end, the pictures always turn out well most of the time.

Tea and bikinis

Do you remember your first brand collaboration? How did it happen?

Pauline: I’m not quite sure, but I do remember that one of my first requests for collaborations came from a tea brand and a bikini brand. I didn’t accept them, though, as it didn’t feel like me.

The first collaboration I remember doing came through the PR agency, where I did my internship.

Do you work with a lot of brands?

Pauline: I work with a decent amount of brands, nationally as well as internationally.

I especially like long-term collaborations. For me, it’s very important to have a real connection with a brand. When I get a collaboration request from a brand I like, I always ask them if they are interested in a long-term collaboration.

It feels much more authentic to me if a person has a longer collaboration with a brand, and I think authenticity is so important as an influencer.

You have a blog and a very popular Instagram account. Which one is the easiest to get brand deals for?

Pauline: Instagram is by far the most important platform for brand collaborations today. In the past, I got a lot of requests for my blog, but I saw the attention shift from my blog to Instagram in recent years.

The only exception is for travel content. When I go on a trip, having a blog is really a bonus. It’s understandable as well: you can really tell your audience a lot more about the travel destination in a blog post than in the caption of an Instagram post.

Do you think brands offer influencers fair rewards?

Pauline: It depends on the brand. With some brands you can really negotiate your price, they listen to you, and they get to know you and your creative process and value what you do. It’s nice to work with brands like that. It’s a genuine relationship and a win-win for everyone.

Some brands have very high expectations but are not willing to offer a fair reward in return, or don’t want to give you any creative freedom. But I feel like this is getting a lot better with time!

What I don’t like is when brands send you products without asking, and then they expect you to post about the product. That’s not how it works. I’m a professional, and I invest a lot of time in making good content, so of course, I’m not going to create content for a brand for free. On top

of that, I only do collaborations with brands I feel a connection with, so I’m not going to collaborate with brands that don’t even take the time to talk to me.

Community building

What do you like the most about being an influencer?

Pauline: I love taking pictures and having a creative outlet. It’s how I started blogging, and that will always be my first passion. Just being creative and thinking about new things and playing with the light and edit makes me happy.

I also love the events I get invited to as an influencer, and of course, my community and the connection I have built with my followers. I take that task very seriously, and I love inspiring people and being a virtual friend for those who need it; if I can make just one person smile or feel better, than I had a positive impact on the world.

I also answer all my private messages personally. It takes some time to get through all of them, but my community is so important to me. Without them, I wouldn’t exist. So it’s obviously very important to answer them and establish meaningful connections.

What’s your opinion on the Instagram algorithm?

Pauline: I’ve been on Instagram for a very long time now, so I still think back about the gold old days when everything was chronological.

Now sometimes, I wonder who gets to see my picture and who doesn’t. But we can’t change the algorithm, so I try not to worry about it.

What are the next steps in your career? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Pauline: I absolutely love what I do. If everything stays the way it is now, I would be super happy. I love creating content, and I hope I can just keep taking pictures and traveling.

It would be nice though if the Instagram algorithm could be a bit nicer to me, but I guess all influencers feel that way (laughs). It’s ok if it doesn’t, though. I’m very happy. But it would be fun to maybe start my own brand or store with the things I love. But those are still some wild dreams for now

View this post on Instagram

Hello March! It feels for me like this year is already going by so fast 🙈That’s why I’m taking on a challenge for this month… @gardengourmet_be challenged me to eat veggie and join the #IAmIncredible movement 🙏🏼 I’m super excited to see what a month of veggie eating will do to my mind, body and soul. Going to share my experience with you regularly on stories so stay tuned 😉❤️ ALSO: I dare you to start this challenge together with me! Comment if you’d like to participate 💫 – – – #challengeaccepted #afashiontaste #belgianblogger #dutchie #thailand #notayogi #namaste #yogavibes #healthyliving #oceansapart #sunsetyoga #veggiechallenge #hellomarch #explorer #travelphotography #zondag #vlaamseblogger

A post shared by Pauline Grossen.Travel Fashion (@afashiontaste) on

PLEASE NOTE: This interview was conducted in the months before the outbreak of COVID-19. We have asked Pauline for an update on some answers to reflect the current situation.

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