Erin Loechner Q&A: Blogger, Interrupted

The delights and dangers of lifestyle blogging
Erin Loechner, author of Chasing Slow, deconstructs the world of slow blogging.
IM: Many people want your career—cultivating an online community by expressing their style and life lessons. What advice do you have for them?
EL: Enter this journey with cautious optimism. Like any startup, blogging is a massive time investment up front, and it’s far less glamorous than it might seem (currently, it’s 2 a.m. and I’m typing from a dining room table littered with laundry and photo-shoot props). Brush up on your writing skills. Be thoughtful about the community you want to build. Figure out where there’s a hole in the market that you can fill, and fill that hole with humility and service to your readers. When leading a community online, it’s not really about you—it’s about each other.
Was there a time when you made a conscious decision to be more honest on your blog, Design for Mankind?
Absolutely. Blogs were publishing five to seven articles daily, running after search-engine terms. It was exhausting. After the birth of my daughter, I penned a deeply honest post about how I was stepping off the hamster wheel to pursue a better balance. The reaction was beautiful— hundreds of “Me, too!”s poured in.
What has changed about blogging as a profession since you started nearly 10 years ago?
Professional bloggers are no longer viewed as people; they’re viewed as brands. There’s danger in that thought, which I explore in my book, because the crux of the truth is this: We are merely human beings. Not brands, not robots, not influencers. Just people. If we buy into the lie that we’re a brand online, we risk losing a real portion of our humanity offline.
Is the free stuff everything it’s cracked up to be?
Oh, goodness, no. It is difficult for me to talk about this, because, sure, there are some obvious perks to being offered a new beauty balm or book or a pair of boots every other day. But it can also be taxing when you consider the amount of waste and the contribution to consumerism. I am continually siphoning free items to those who actually need them—whether friends or strangers—and wading through a sea of stuff has become just as much a portion of my job as the parts I love most (actually writing!).
At the same time, gratitude is in order. These are gifts, really kind and generous gifts, and I have to remember to be grateful for them, to do my part to use them for good.
What’s the weirdest thing that has shown up on your doorstep?
A necklace made of human hair. It was surprisingly gorgeous.
Best book you’ve read lately?
I brush up on my Joan Didion collection annually, and Blue Nights is always a favorite.
You have a toddler, you’re self-employed, and you recently adopted a baby. You must have a secret.
I prioritize. I sacrifice late-night Netflix marathons and dinner parties for early-morning writing sessions. I wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. It’s a joy to be able to do what I love and still be fully available and present for my family, so I am constantly reassessing the use of my time. I’ve found I can do quite a lot in five-minute increments, so I’m always resisting the urge to scroll Instagram or check email throughout the day. Those precious minutes add up.