25 Sep 2015
WHO IS SHE: ANDREA CHONG, 23, better known as @dreachong on Instagram. The final-year NTU Literature undergrad has gained a massive following of 201,000 Instagram followers with pristine pix and on-trend #OOTDs. She began modelling for online shops four years ago, but has since stopped modelling to focus her efforts on her blog (www.dreachong.com) and Instagram (and that includes posting several times a day, just in case your attention-sapped followers forget about you.)
#1: I post twice a day, minimum. When I’m overseas, I post about six to nine images that form a story or have a particular theme.
#2: I don’t upload photos instantly when I’m overseas. I gather as many photos from the day’s shoot — taken on both the iPhone and a DSLR camera — then go back to review them and create a nine-square grid collage of what my feed will look like when I post all of them the next day. Basically, before I go to sleep every night, I’ve already planned what I’m going to post the next day.
#3: Each photo takes about 20 minutes to edit. After taking the photos, I edit them first on Photoshop [on my laptop], save them, then transfer the photos to my phone. On my phone, I edit with the Snapseed and Afterlight apps before it ends up on Instagram. It’s not easy, but it’s fun to me.
25 Sep 2015
#4: I post any time from 11am to 11pm. I don’t start too early ’cos people need to sleep.
#5: When I was in New York, I woke up every two hours to Instagram. Yes, I take note of the time difference when I’m overseas as [most of my followers] are in Asia and Australia. I spent a month in NYC and I had to post at night, New York time, which was daytime in Singapore. If I slept at midnight, I’d set my alarm for 2am, 4am, 6am and 8am. If I post when I was awake during the day in New York, everyone in Singapore would be sleeping and no one would see the photos. I only had full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for two nights there.
#6: Pose like you’re not posing at all. Just ‘nua’ and be yourself. If you’re at a café, sit down naturally. If you’re walking along the streets, walk normally. Don’t try too hard — it’s very obvious. I used to do a lot of ‘hands-on-hips’ kinda poses, but people like to see more ‘real’ situations these days.
25 Sep 2015
#7: For flatlays, use props. I sometimes use floor laminate samples as a background for my flatlays. I got them from a laminate company. You need different textures, like marble, wood, or concrete, [to make a good flatlay picture].
#8: Instagram and blogging go hand in hand. Without Instagram, my blog wouldn’t have traction. I let people know there are new posts by putting the link in the IG caption.
25 Sep 2015
Andrea on dealing with haters, travelling for a living, and dealing with cranky camels.
8 DAYS: You’ve travelled 14 times this year for work. How do you fit school in?
ANDREA CHONG: I fit my school schedule in two days in the week, so that I can travel for five days. I had extended a semester ’cos I haven’t been going to school. But not because I pontang! (Laughs) I travel for work, and it entails photoshoots for my blog, or clients send me overseas to shoot a product or cover an event. And when I’m travelling I can’t commit to too many school assignments.
When did you realise you could earn your keep from blogging?
I never started the blog as a source of income. I’m just thankful it has allowed me to earn money. I started blogging about what I wear, and soon, because I was working closely with online shops as a model then, shops naturally began to pass me clothes to feature on my blog. No, I can't reveal how much I earn!
What are some of the unglam things that go on behind the scenes that people may not be aware of?
When I was in Perth, we went to a pink lake that was an eight-hour drive from the city. I had to drive ’cos I was the only driver in the group. I’d be so tired that I’d stop to take 15-minute naps. We also don’t have the luxury of having a stylist or assistant, so I do my own hair and make-up, and make sure clothes look good. In Morocco, we wanted to do a photo shoot with me on a camel. The photographer had to ride as well, holding the camel in one hand and the camera in the other. Meanwhile the camel was trying to bite her as it trudged down the Sahara Desert. (Laughs)
How do you deal with naysayers on social media?
Haters are inevitable. Most are guys, which is so discouraging. They comment on my small boobs, Asian eyes, and weird feet. I did a top-down shot of my feet at the beach. Someone said, “For someone who takes such nice photos, you have very ugly feet.” I used to delete comments, but now I just brush it off. If you delete them, you’re proving that it’s an insecurity. I don’t think there is anything wrong with my feet and I think my boobs are fine, thank you very much.
How does a social media influencer approach clients to work with them?
If there’s money involved, you need to have a sense of professionalism — as with any other business — and draw up a proposal. This is lacking among a lot of bloggers. You can’t just e-mail them and say, “Hey I’m a blogger with X number of followers, so sponsor me!” You gotta tell them why you deserve to be sponsored. I introduce who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been featured, who I work with, why I feel I’d be a good fit for the brand, and why the brand would be a good fit for my audience.
What’s one thing you learned on the job that they didn’t teach you in school?
I’m an extremely firm believer that school does not prepare you for real life at all. School can give you the knowledge, and that’s important, and I’m thankful to have gone to good schools like Victoria JC and NTU. But there are other things, besides your studies, that are important as well, and people my age need to realise that.