Heidi Nazarudin, a former investment banker and CEO of a Nasdaq-listed company, left her corporate career behind to launch a blog, The Ambitonista. Nazarudin gave us the lowdown on her career change and how her blog has taken shape…
Tell us about your blog!
The Ambitionista is a fashion and lifestyle blog for working women. I decided to focus on working women because I used to be in the corporate world, and when I started my site in early 2013, I realized that there weren’t a lot of blogs that really catered to that type of woman.
What were you doing in the corporate world?
My background is in computer science. After I graduated college, I realized that I hated programming. I worked at Citibank as an investment banker, and specialized in mergers and acquisitions for mobile companies. One of my clients hired me to be his M&A director, so I went to work for him in Tokyo in 2006 for three years; I became the CEO. When I was in Tokyo, I realized that what I really love is fashion. Everyone was so fashionable there, so it was inspiring. I knew then I wanted to go back to L.A. where my boyfriend was living and do something in fashion. I started writing, but I’m really bad at it. All of my editor friends were like, “You’re really horrible.” So I quit my job, and everyone thought I was crazy! I moved back to L.A., took night classes for a year, and finally got some freelance gigs writing and managing other blogs. After a couple of years, I thought I should create my own blog, so I did that and after a while, it finally took off. But it really was a journey.
What kind of content can we find on your site?
It’s 60 to 70 percent focused on corporate attire. The other portion focuses on how to live your life as a working woman, whether with fashion, beauty, or traveling.
What’s your style of dressing?
Definitely polished. It doesn’t matter if it’s casual, creative, contemporary, or for work, there’s always a polished element to it.
Do you travel a lot for your job?
I do! The last time I was in New York, I did a story on how to choose a hotel for business travel. This year, I’m going to be traveling to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok for Fashion Week, and also Bali with my boyfriend, who loves it there because he’s a surfer. Blogging is super new in Malaysia, which is where I’m from originally, so I’ve been invited there to teach some bloggers the basics of blogging. I’m really excited about that.
Which brands have you worked with?
I’ve worked with so many! My favorite has to be Max Mara. They’re super polished, so it was a good fit for me. It’s one of my favorite brands. I’ve also worked with Rent the Runway, and I’m currently working with Toni & Guy which is really exciting because we’re going to create a video series called “#SuccessInStilettos” on how to look like a CEO, a start-up entrepreneur, an attorney and other jobs.
What’s your dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Armani. The clothes are amazing.
You’ve also created your own blogger network, right?
Yes! I’m the co-founder of Blogger Babes. It actually started by accident. I was really lonely as a blogger and thought it would be fun to start a Meet-Up group. I thought only five people would join; a month later, there were about 100 people who already joined, wanting to meet. So we met up, and it went really well. Now we have 1,000 members in L.A. and about 5,000 others throughout the U.S. A lot of them are beginning or intermediate bloggers, but we also have some full-time ones with high followings who came on this year. We actually just partnered with two major blogger networks, Independent Fashion Bloggers and Clozette, to educate their emerging bloggers.
A lot of bloggers credit their following to original content. Do you agree with that?
I think content is just half of the story; the other half is a lot of marketing. I spend at least 60 to 70 percent of my time on social media; Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, you name it. I go to a lot of events to try to market my blog. I’ve even published postcards with my blog on it to hand out in office buildings, which was really early when I started it. But it took a lot of marketing to make my blog take off.
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without as a blogger?
I can’t live without my iPhone. I’m so attached to it. When I sleep, I hold my iPhone to my chest. It’s really horrible. My boyfriend’s like, “What’s wrong with you?”
Do you have any go-to apps?
Oh yes, hundreds of them. I honestly love Facetune; not for the Photoshop qualities of it, but it has really good filters for lighting and colors. All of the bloggers use it, even if they don’t admit it. I also use a couple of apps to monetize my site, like ShopSense from PopSugar, and VigLink, who invited me to speak at their conference on monetizing.
What’s a big misconception about bloggers?
A lot of people think bloggers just wake up and take Instagram photos of themselves and get free clothes. But that’s really not true for a lot of bloggers who are doing well: 90 percent of the time we’re blogging, researching, or going out trying to see what we can write about that our readers will relate to. We’re always on social media and constantly thinking of what’s next. It’s hard work. For me, running my blog is almost like running a magazine; there are all these different functions, but there’s only one person doing it.
PLUS! Heidi’s Tips For Aspiring Bloggers…
1. Have a theme. If you can describe your blog in two sentences or less to someone who can understand exactly what your blog’s about, then great! If not, you have to work on that.
- Make sure you’re in for the long haul. You’re not going to build your blog overnight. Give yourself two to three years to really build a following.
Understand that it’s not all about content. Content is great, but marketing your blog is really important, or people won’t find it.
You have to invest in your blog. You can’t have a crappy design or talk about high fashion when your blog isn’t on-brand. You don’t have to invest a lot, but some money does go a long way.
Some people are really visual so the quality of images has t0 be really great. So practice taking good photos, because that’s where a lot of bloggers who are just starting off go wrong!