Entering college is a whole new span of your life: making new friends, attending social events and managing to live on your own for the first time. We meet students from different backgrounds, with different ideas and dreams for their futures. We spent hours in the library to study for exams, trying to remember that all this work will pay off in the end. But it seems like we are still at the beginning of our journeys as our dreams do not appear to be as far away anymore, though they seem to be not reachable yet. However, this is not a reason to spend your time waiting as some students show which already turned some of their ideas into reality. They are a source of inspiration other students to use our talents and realize our ideas as everybody has to start somewhere. So why not already in College? In this new series, some of those ‘early birds’ are presented to you.
The first early bird is 21 year old Ranim, a second year student of International Business at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. She was born and lived her whole life in Münster in Germany, but her origins lay in Syria and Egypt. In 2012, she started her own fashion blog. On theperfectdisease.com, she shows outfit pictures shot in front of the scenery of Maastricht but she also shares personal thoughts. Currently her blog has up to 7500 page views per month. I talked with her about her fascination with blogging, the line between public and private life and the best experience she had so far as a blogger.
- When and why did you start with blogging? Why does it fascinate you?
I started blogging back in May 2012. That was around the time when I graduated from high school and therefore I had plenty of time. So I felt like I needed a new project, I finally wanted to do something creative that picks up one of my favourite hobbies – fashion. As I was following some blogs already and also was quite familiar with creating homepages and photography, I decided that I should finally try blogging myself.
- Can you use what you learn in your studies for the work on the blog?
Well to be honest, it actually works the other way round! Many things I have learned while blogging, I could actually use in my studies, for example in the field of Marketing.
- How many hours a week do you dedicate to your blog? How much work is behind a blogging entry?
Let me calculate this for you. Many people often underestimate the work behind a blog entry: Going out, finding the right light and location and then taking the pictures takes about 1 hour. Then I need to sort out the good photos and edit them. This might also take around 1 hour. Writing the blog post and linking the products again takes one hour. So, depending on the circumstances one blog entry takes up to 3-4 hours. I used to blog 3 times a week but now due to so many other things I have to do, I only manage to blog 1-2 times a week, unfortunately.
- How do Maastricht/ the Netherlands inspire you?
Maastricht fascinates me in a way that there are so many different people from different cultures and thus, with different styles! People here are really fashionable I think and we all know that it is the best to get inspired by real people.
- How do your family members and friends react to your blog? Do you sometimes feel like being recognized on the street?
Well by now, my whole family and all my friends obviously know about it. But at the beginning I tried to keep it as secret as possible until I actually created something really good that I am confident showing around. Of course, people often found out without me telling them and I guess there also was some gossiping going around among my former classmates – perhaps even today many people might think that what I am doing is simply stupid or attention-seeking. However, most of the people today who get to know that I blog and all of my friends and family see it very positively and think it is actually really cool. Especially when they find out that you can make money with it and get sponsored. But this is of course only part of all the cool things that come along with blogging.
- Does it feel weird to make part of your life public? Do you have a line between what remains private and what you put on your blog?
No, I don’t really feel weird. Well, at the beginning it did feel strange and I was afraid that all could end in a complete failure. But I worked really hard on my blog, especially in the first year, to make it good and professional. Although I am often revealing my thoughts on the blog, I still have a thick line between private life and blogging. Of course, only while reading my blog, you might already get a good picture of who I am. But who I am and what actually happens in my private life are two separate things and I do not feel like the world should know everything about me. Not that I think it is interesting in the first place …
- Do you think the anonymity of the internet changes how people behave online? Do you have any experiences with negative comments and how do you handle those?
Oh yes, absolutely. Anonymity can bring out the worst of people. It can bring out their true and often hateful face. I do not know how people draw satisfaction from insulting people they do not know, but it happens quite often in the blogosphere. Especially when you are a really big blogger, one that also reveals a lot of privacy, you get mean comments every day. It is also because you make yourself vulnerable to them.
Fortunately, I never had to deal with really mean comments. The meanest comment I received was probably one person telling me my pants were way to tight ;).
- What was the best experience you made with blogging?
My first time going to Berlin Fashion Week, going there was always one of my dreams when I was younger and being able to do so through my blog, something that I created all by myself, was just amazing
- Can you see yourself turning your hobby into a job?
No, I could never image becoming a professional blogger. Although you have an exciting life and you get invited here and there, I could not turn something so self-focused to my actual profession.
- Your advice to people who are thinking about realizing an idea:
Go for it! Forget about your doubts and if you want to do something, simply do it without thinking too much! You will soon realize how happy it will make you.