Reconfigure

August 3, 2015 80 Sydney, Australia

“Why don’t you post on Shine By Three as often as you used to?”

On creativity, on the evolving digital space, on branding, on labelling and on content.

Margaret-Zhang-Furla-2 copy

The three questions I’ve been asked the most over the past few weeks go something like this: What is Major Zhang? (He’s my kid brother and he’s cooler than you and I, simply by virtue of his first name). I thought you were in [insert overseas location] not [insert location of conversation]? (Nope – right here. Currently: Sydney). Are you the girl on the bus stop ads? (Yes indeed! Our Clinique campaign remains surreal).

The fourth, and most important, is: why don’t you post on Shine By Three as often as you used to? I miss the good old days when you would update on the daily. Now hold it right there, sister.

My immediate answer to this question, and on the most real human level I reflexively (and probably defensively) spit out, is you know: life. Shine By Three appeared on the internet when I was sixteen, on an 8:20AM-3:20PM high school schedule, harbouring too many creative juices with nowhere to flow. Fast forward, and all I can think about while sitting in class is how much sleep I’d like to get tonight. Granted, this past week has been a particularly rough one off the back of Stateside jet lag and information overload of being back on the daily class grind. This week is thankfully looking a fair bit better. C’est la vie. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that there are only so many hours in a day, and depriving yourself of (too much) sleep, and time not staring at books or a screen, is not worth it in the long term. In juggling multiple full-time commitments, physical and psychological health, immediate client deadlines, immediate assignment deadlines, being there for family and friends, and staying on top of readings unquestionably hold priority above overzealously embellished commentary on sweeping creative gestures and nebulous visual imaginations.

This space has remained (with the exception of a few wrong turns), and will always remain my personal space for my inspiration and my work. There is no banner advertising. There are no sponsored posts. There is no daily struggle to come up with click-bait headlines of dreadfully riveting life questions like how one might wear leg-warmers in ten completely different ways.

Margaret-Zhang-Furla-4 copy

Margaret-Zhang-Furla-9 copy

Margaret-Zhang-Furla-1 copy

new and arbitrary boxes to downplay the variability of what youth and individuals can achieve without the help of “The Establishment” per se, it is even more important to carve out, refine, and clearly communicate a sustainable skill set. Take Emily Ratajkowski’s GQ UK cover that has just surfaced. “Instagram’s It-Girl takes on Hollywood”, the subtitle decrees. Never mind the years Ratajkowski has spent working as a model up to this point, the events of which have pointed her career in the direction of the big screen just as Cameron Diaz or Uma Thurman had. Rather, it’s easier to attribute her success to having a lot of Instagram followers. Whether @emrata or her publicist have an opinion on the matter is a separate question. Whether this instance is even the most illustrative of the point at hand is also unclear. But, I’m sure we can all agree that boiling an individual down to an “Instagirl” is probably not the takeaway most would choose to emanate from their line of work, and something to steer clear of.

To do that for me, this website requires more writing, more imagery, more high quality stories not instantaneous updates.

These things take time.

Thank you always for standing by me.

  • Jacqueline Marfell

    This is so cool and I love what you do and I wholeheartedly agree with you! Love your blog! xx

  • I couldn’t agree more with you. I’m running a website and I know how hard it is to post often. I really would like to do it all day, every day but it is impossible to be creative all day, every day.
    Love those Furla bags they look like they turned out from comic books :O
    Kisses from Serbia!

    http://thestylecter.blogspot.com/

  • Margaret , I just KNOW this will be a post that I will revisit again and again. THANK YOU for raising the bar in a world where taglines and 160 characters are often overlooking well thought out engaging content– that of which you are queen of. And as an advocate of the slow blogging movement, I’ll easily ditch the capitalist mindset of churning out daily blog content for your gems any day. More on that in one my recent posts regarding what I’ve learned in my first year of blogging though… Anyhoo this was wondrous. So are you xoxo

    http://www.ADIMAY.com

  • YOU ARE A FORCE! Thank you for penning this.

    Lyraoko.com

  • Festelya

    Your photos are so beautiful!!

    https://festelya.wordpress.com

    • Joe Beverly

      Her self-portraits are the best!

  • You’ve articulated these complex questions so well. How weird that the number of followers on Instagram has become a defining attribute, somehow displacing and even downplaying other merits of a person which, rationally speaking, have immensely more substance and relevance. And yet it’s hard to argue with how much easier and less time consuming it is (theoretically) to produce content for social media compared to web (and ironically, the necessity to differentiate web and social media content requires much more sophistication in the former, which in turn demands more effort and more time), and for that matter, how much easier it is to reach people, and more people, over social media. For these reasons, I would actually be more critical of people who attempt to publish content on their web platform everyday, because inevitably, something has to give, and that thing is always going to be quality. Thank you again for such an insightful article, and I hope you find some way to get some sleep!

  • Kent Johnson

    I haven’t read the whole post yet but good! Really good, great to hear you speaking so frankly. And that biker jacket and jeans (selfie(?)) shot is one of your best ever. I have NEVER understood how you could do so so much. There is always tomorrow, the future is bright when we let it take it own sweet way.. Hugs, I still remember you at 16. I thought it was 15..!!

  • Kent Johnson

    Actually would love too meet your mum and dad some day too.

  • Hannah

    The reason why I don’t mind waiting for an update on your blog is because of this!

  • This is very true. I can only speak for myself, but I would much rather you post stories once a week, that encourage conversation and are thought provoking and that can challenge ones own beliefs, than post everyday about shit that no one cares about. I admire that you would rather be creative and original and create high quality content that reflects who you are and how you live your life. Always be yourself, even in this highly saturated digital world.
    Tayla
    http://www.anidylliclife.wordpress.com

  • Scheena

    I love this post!!!!! I’m a big fan of your work living in Paris but born and raised in Africa. Keep doing things at your own rythm.

  • Kirsty Thatcher

    Love this!! i need that bag in my life xx kirstythatcher.com

  • I agree that you can’t force inspiration and it’s difficult being inspired 24hours a day, unless you’re some kinda Disney princess, prancing and singing about their lives every few minutes. Blogging way back then was much simpler, you write a post, publish it and then maybe blog hop a little and meet new people. Now, there’s countless social media platforms that bloggers are practically ‘required’ to keep up with and ‘It didn’t happen if you didn’t Instagram it.’. How times have changed in these few short years.

    But it all boils down to this important question everyone is itching to know – How does one wear leg warmers in 10 totally unique ways??

    M.May | MissMMayhem.blogspot.com

  • Wonderfullyinawhirlwind

    This article is so great at articulating many contemporary media problems. As a student of Communications (PR & Advertising) this article is spot on! It is such a current iteration of the questions and problems that we are facing when looking at the present and future status of publishing – in particular social media.

    wonderfullyinawhirlwind.wordpress.com

  • This article answered so many of my questions about the growing digital space, thank you for taking the time to write it. Quality over quantity!!

    anaprodanovich.com

  • Angela

    So true!!! I think the pressures of blogging today and trying to monetize everything is getting to people’s heads. Its just a blog~ my experiences, my triumphs, my struggles. If you like and relate to it, great! If you don’t, keep it moving! http://www.imigani.com

  • Probably one of my favorite posts to date, Marg. I don’t deny we have very much become a society which craves instant-gratification, and to some extent impatient. It’s tough to be a blogger today, constantly reinventing ourselves and keeping the content flow fresh and convincing. I’ve come across multiple posts from motivational blogs which decree you need to post daily, or even several times a day in order to become a successful blogger. That being said, it’s much better to put out high quality content you’re proud to call your own, than to come up with superficial posts for the sake of. If the content is good the audience will come, and stay. Quality > Quantity any day.

    http://charmystique.com/

  • fixatedfaiyaz

    this is why i love reading your blog. been following it for years now and def will for more to come. lots of love xx

    http://www.fixatedf.com

  • Such a brilliant post! Your honesty has highlighted one of the most prominent issues in our evolving media landscape. Creativity isn’t something that can be forced, rather it is something that should be nurtured. Quality > quantity!

  • So cool! Love all these looks from head to toe! XO

    Shall We Sasa

  • Jade Leaf

    This post is amazing and the words resonate so well. Thank you for being so honest.

  • Quantity over quality indeed. Love this post, brilliant read!

    xo Charlotte – aliceroxy

  • I agree. I understand. I couldn’t say more than that. These days feels like everybody rushing to get more followers to get more attention and to stay ‘exist’ but forget what reality is. Thank you for being honest! Even though you’re younger, I admire you so much! Keep inspiring people with being yourself :)

    http://shaviology.blogspot.com

  • Shante Gumede

    And this is why I fell I love with you when I first watched fashion bloggers. I can relate because i started my blog just because I sincerely needed a safe space to put my thoughts ,opinions and what I thought to be creativity. Nowadays , blogging has become such a pretentious industry I often question whether i want to do it or not. But you’ve made me realize that ‘if it’s your blog,it’s your rules’. Thank you for being so authentic. And you’re an amazing writer!! Sending you love all the way from South Africa

  • I always love your thoughts, always sharing something very meaningful. Attention spans of people these days are extremely short but with the quality of your articles, you capture and maintain attention with ease <3 Photos are amazing as usual!

    http://www.thefacelessstyle.blogspot.com

  • george

    I think what you are saying is totally true, and I personally find that even though you don’t post a lot, you post perfect and significant articles!
    MisterGauCarre.wordpress.com

  • Jasmine

    This is why I respect your blog so much.

    This (nay, you) is (are) also why I started blogging – not to talk about the ‘Spring wardrobe essential that’s oh-so HOT right now’ but to mix elements of the creative industries with (hopefully) some well thought-out and inspiring written content.

    Thank you, once again, for all that you do.

    Jasmine x

    http://www.afiaandjay.com

  • Truly This is why I love your blog so Awesome Margaret and believe me or not but We guys can always wait for Blog posts. <3

    http://www.selestyme.com

  • Joe Beverly

    so much love, so little time . . .

  • They say: good things come to those who wait… Your blog is a fantastic source of inspiration and gorgeous photography, I think it is crazy to expect that you can create content like that every day without getting worn out and simply bored. Unfortunately people are so used to fast changing consumer based information field, that none stops to thing how much work must of gone into something like this. Beautiful post- as always.

    http://www.7moreminutes.com

  • First and foremost, congratulations on being a Clinique Face Forward Ambassador! This truly embodies you as a person that is not only defined by her looks but by her talent, work and accomplishments.

    People should understand that you put so much thought, time and effort in every post and that you do everything independently. People just forget that you’re also a student, stylist, photographer, daughter and friend. Today’s world wants everything fast just like instant noodles but a truly good meal takes time and effort to be prepared.

    That’s what sets your blog apart, as reflected by all your past posts. You see to it to produce such quality imagery and content and this keeps your audience captivated and yearning for more. You use this platform like your portfolio and thus companies like Clinique see that.

    Sometimes I feel the superficiality of some blogs posting ootds persé and find it a bit routinary. They probably have a different take on the business of blogging and I prefer your mindset on any given day. The viewers can definitely distinguish what’s genuine vs what’s sponsored and these paid posts diminishes the blogger’s authenticity in effect. It boils down to what they value more or what their intention is for their blog.

    As for your blog Shine By Three, know that I’m a very entertained and engaged reader. That I appreciate and admire all your posts be it weeks or days apart. Wishing you more power and time (if that’s possible) to you Margaret! I’m sure you’ll be taking over the world after graduation! So much love for everything you do. Cheers! XX

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  • mcboodles

    You write so well! And don’t sweat it, I already know 11 great ways to wear leg warmers

  • I can only speak for myself, but I really enjoy reading high quality and well-illustrated content, albeit published less often. So I totally agree with what you say about inspiration :)
    http://www.adxmaiora.com/you-know-you-love-me-xoxo/

  • I for one do not mind waiting a while to read and enjoy your posts. I know when I come here, it will be worth the wait because you are one of few bloggers with an actual voice. Things take time, sure, and we will definitely stand by you!

    http://theavantguardian.com

  • Julia Fuller

    There is a saturation of blogs. But yours, with it’s extreme creativity, quality, and unique content, we miss. Hence, I am assuming (the request for More Margaret Content), the “complaint”. Not me. But we do miss you; much of the blogosphere is ‘fast food’.

  • AvantiGarde

    Beautifully written! Your work ethic is truly admirable.

    Avanti
    xxx
    avantigarde.wordpress.com

  • So well said. This is why I think I will always have a preference for reading blogs – generally speaking, blogs feel more authentic and honest. I use my blog as a space to communicate thoughts and expand on ideas. It allows me to feel more connected with the world and to share a part of my psyche that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
    Thank you for doing what you do, I’ll be continuing to follow and support your journey, wherever it is you go! x
    http://www.sunandmoon.me

  • ying

    Hi Margaret, I just want to say I have so much respect and admiration for you. I look up to you for being so creative, so intelligent, and so incredible with time management. I can’t even begin to understand how you are able to juggle all these activities and responsibilities day-to-day and still produce amazing work. I love that you have substance and talent outside of just putting on a pretty outfit for the day. I hope you don’t feel too much pressure to post regularly because really, you have other things going on in life that sometimes have to take priority over updating the blog. And that’s ok. Most of your followers will have no problem with you posting even just 1-2x a month, because everything you put out is top-notch and thought out. There’s no sloppy, half-hearted productions from you. There’s so much to be learned from you. (Perhaps you should host some time management/anti-procrastination courses? Haha.) Anyway, I have been lurking for a long time and I just had to stop this time and say something! Thank you for what you do and please, go on at a pace that is healthy and most productive for you.

  • Sasha Mei

    You hit the nail on the head Margaret. I respect your views and the fact that whenever you do have a spark of inspiration, the quality of the content you post on Shine By Three exceeds all expectations. You never fail to impress, and I don’t believe you ever will. Thank you for being such an inspiring figure in all aspects of life. You encourage me to do it all: I can be interested in law, fashion, photography, travelling, and studying all at once. Thank you for being my role model.

    teesandcoffee.com

  • mc

    I’m a new reader but I love your blog! Beautifully written :)
    -mc
    http://www.looksbymc.com

  • Despite your pretty much international success, it’s very easy to relate to you in every one of your blog posts. Sigh. <3 I would love to meet you one day.

  • Margaret, firstly, there is NO ONE cooler than you, regardless of genetics and monikers and secondly, you transcend ‘category’ and labeling…. although when I think of you, “brilliant” “genius” “Alpha Centaurian?” come to mind…

  • Alecia Lindsay

    Thank you for being real and speaking up about this topic. I feel so much pressure to keep posting, but at the price of less quality work. But, that’s not me and that’s not how I opperate.

    Even though I know that it’s silly and superficially, I keep finding myself mentally slipping back into the same patterns. Thank you for the reminder!

    Alecia Lindsay
    AleciaLindsay.com

  • emily_139

    Ha, “What is Major Zhang.” That is hilarious, and it is an awesome name! Congrats on the adverts as well!

    I totally understand what you are going through (I think) and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much. I’m finishing up my M. Arch. this year and it’s exhausting, and leaves so little time for commitments outside of school and work. Some days I just have to drag myself to the gym and all I do is walk on the treadmill for half an hour but I just keep telling myself to keep going – but “keep going” often includes taking time off from my work to take care of my self and yes, get some sleep. The more you can rest, step back, and continue to consume art, food, and literature, the more inspired you will be, in my experience.

    Big props for not monetizing your blog because it’s ruined a lot of the blogs I used to love. I understand why people do it, certainly, but I’m really happy you’ve chosen not to. I’m bookmarking this post for future re-reading too :)

  • Hi Margaret!

    I am such a fan of your work as a creative. I totally agree… yes there is pressure to post daily (and sometimes garbage) just to build a following. Even though I have made a conscious effort to keep to a regular blog posting frequency, its basically once to twice a week at most. If I dont have something that I am proud of to put up, I wont.

    It all about building a brand and that brand is you in this industry. I admire that fact that you are sticking to your aesthetic and writing what you want and not clamoring for advertising etc
    Thank you for the inspiration and keep doing amazing work.
    xxxx
    http://www.londam-holland.blogspot.com

  • Chelsea

    No matter how long the intervals are between your posts, I ALWAYS check back every few weeks or so and will probably continue to until you either (god forbid) shut down your blog or the (god forbid even more) entire internet just stops working after an alien invasion

  • nohemie mawaka

    AMAZING! Love this Miss Zhang!!
    I’m a masters student in health, really trying to creating a niche for myself in the world of business and technology, and I’ve always been so inspired by your work, skills, and more importantly, realness! I started running my own blog post, and you are right, it is challenging to always come up with up to date content and stay relevant!
    Love this post, #preachit
    http://www.global-scie.net

  • You’re such a legend, I really don’t know how you do it all, it’s beyond miraculous! xx

    Vikki
    http://www.styleandminimalism.com

  • Tornn

    Love this post Margaret! This is very true. In every post you do I can see the time an effort which goes into it and this is why your blog is like no other. I would rather have quality posts as apposed to post for the sake of posts although there is such pressure for new constantly in the blogging world and other worlds for that matter.

    You are insanely busy as well, I really cannot comprehend how you manage to achieve all that you do. You are very much an inspiration to me. Keep it up and I will happily wait for your amazing content. Anna x

  • Sarah

    Well said and thought through Margareth. Of course I like to see more posts of you, only because they are always of such high quality and beautifully done. But of course that takes time, and you seem to juggle so many things at a time. Most importantly is that you keep on doing what you like best!

  • Sophie

    This was such a good post, something that I’ve been considering a lot as I continue to work for a digital marketing agency. But, as much as I agree with this post, I’m unfortunately part of the majority who are always frustrated when bloggers don’t update instantly/daily. I think taking a step back and evaluating the content that is produced instantly vs the posts that actually take time and thought is such an important thing to do, and something I really want to make myself more aware of.

    This was just such a wonderful post.

    http://exosculate.blogspot.com/

  • Tessa Ting

    Excellent piece of work – thanks for sharing.

  • This just encapsulates why I admire you and enjoy your blog so much. Blogging shouldn’t be forced or artificial and quality shouldn’t be forsaken because of some unattainable pressure to post daily x

    http://www.ode2vogue.blogspot.com

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  • Alanda Ware

    Your seriously my favourite blogger for this one reason. MUCH LOVE

    http://www.whiteandcapsule.com/

    xxxx

  • Lauren at adorn la femme

    Thank you, Margaret for this incredibly honest, deep, and inspiring post! Yes, the best work takes time for development and is never instantaneous as most of us are beginning to expect in this crazy fast-paced world of today! You are paving the way for serious bloggers who have their own timelines and lofty goals that take time to germinate! Congrats to you for all your hard work and many accomplishments! ‘Wishing you all that you dream of and strive for! xo

    Kisses,

    (=’.’=)

    -Lauren

    adorn la femme

  • “You can’t force inspiration” – SUCH TRUTH!! As a part time artist part time professional school student myself I deal with this too. One day I would suddenly become super inspired and work for hours into the early mornings. And sometimes I would have weeks without holding a brush. And sometimes I simply don’t get to paint no matter what because I have too much school commitment to get to first. I’m really happy for you that your career as a freelancer is thriving alongside your education and I wish you all the success you deserve!!

    (Also, casual shades at bloggers who post the same outfit on instagram 394829843 times a day.)

  • busipoyo

    Sooo true…and thank you. This helped me make a really important decision about my blog. Bless.

  • OMG Margaret, you write this one down for me too… no banner, no add. my cash cow is my day job. the blog is my fun play ground –although I respect other blogger that can make a living through their blogging –that’s great for them. I blog on my own time, following my pace and schedule…and that is even without taking away my social activities in the real world (family & friends are my top priorities). Its not a competition, not about number of followers, I am happy to have viewers or sincere comments… otherwise, number does not matter! sincerity does!
    your post made my day (ever)! #gladamnottheonlyone
    http://sepatuholig.blogspot.com
    instagram.com/grace_njio

  • This is everything I have been thinking in my head! Thank you and keep shining.

    http://www.jaytakeapic.com

  • Daniel

    well-saying…. always love you Margaret xx

    danielpoonvignez.blogspot.hk

  • I agree with everything you have oh-so eloquently written in this post. I guess readers that really appreciate the work that goes into creating your content can wait forever. I understand those people who kept asking you those questions, though. Your blog is addicting. You can’t really blame them. On another note, I personally wouldn’t mind even if you started posting sponsored posts. As long as you retain your integrity and as long as your content is as entertaining and as breathtaking as now, it’s okay even if you make a buck or two from Shine By Three. That choice, of course, is solely yours. The reason why I am saying this is so you can know that as a fan of your work, I am 100% behind what you do because what you do is pure magic. <3

  • sachastrebe

    You are all class!! In a world of throw away posts, a dime a dozen, you are the one shining light! Stay on the true path of creativity and passion, don’t succumb to the masses, be yourself, be authentic and always produce valuable content to be proud of. You always do! Bravo Bella

  • Fiercely true, dear! I started my blog about one year odd ago and there are some times I just can’t put anything up on it, no matter whether my statistics sink rapidly or not. It’s just that I am not inspired enough to do it. I don’t want to blog then, because I’m afraid I could get lost in the translation like I did before. Laryconic.com was called into being, because I wanted a space where I could share my own designs in order to become a real fashion designer one day, not to just write stupid things down, because some people want to get entertained. It’s been some time since my latest post came up, but I’ll use summer to create the ultimate space for me.
    xx, Lary

    Laryconic.com

  • Monique Espina Cadeleña

    I wish I wrote as good as you. Love this post especially this ‘With all of this in mind, and allow me this slice of cheese in the grand scheme of our conversation, you can’t force inspiration. And you can’t be inspired or creative all of the time.’

  • Always a pleasant to read your post, and your photos are just getting better and better. For that, everything is worth the wait!

    xx
    Xin

    http://xincerely.blogspot.com

  • I always wonder how you juggle everything, but no one does it better than you!
    I love coming by and reading your wise words and gaining inspiration for myself and I think your style of writing,

    and the non-“what’s hot this season” content is what brings me back everytime

    Your success is such a motivation and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future
    xx

    http://www.kristywho.com

  • Shivan Patel (Gathum)

    Probably one of my favorite reads for a long time!

    please check out gathum.co.nz

  • Absolutely loved this post Margaret! I haven’t even been blogging as long as you have but somehow I can completely relate to what you’ve stated in this post. One thought that always crosses my mind is the:

    “How much more is to be said for one’s outfit of the day except that it’s what you put on that morning? Not much.” LITERALLY. lol

    Always appreciate your posts!
    Keep up the great work! x

  • MaryMiddleton

    Totally and utterly on point. Shoot for the stars with your own power supply and no one else.

  • I love your Margaret! You’re the most fashionable, brightest, creative and intelligent yes, I love your Intelligence more than anything and I’m one of those readers who come to your blog not to be inspired by your style, pictures but your thoughts. I come to your blog to read what you write because you rarely get to know a person who’s intelligent above being beautiful and truly fashionable. More power to you and may you soar high above!

  • jovana citic

    I’m impressed with your writing. Also, your natural sense of posing is my big inspiration. Love reading your blog!
    joanalicious.com

  • LOVED this and really needed to read this today. Everything you’ve said has been floating around my head for weeks now, and you’ve put it all into words so damn eloquently.

  • Anne McLayne

    This blog is literally one of the bests things I’ve ever discovered on the whole internet. You are just so inspiring, no wonder why you have achieved so much so far! If y’all ever have time or make time to check out my work, you can find it here: https://annvenue.wordpress.com/
    I know, I’m at the beginning… but there’s just so many fashion bloggers out there that help me perfect myself every single day, just like Margaret!
    Hope you have a good day! x

  • Katie Appleyard

    Hey Margaret,

    This is amazing. A full time job as a neuroscientist (a whole other world), whilst trying to carve out a side/passion/love/career in styling for TV can be a tough juggle. After a 12 hour shift, trying to come up with something interesting enough to engage a reader is no easy task. I know blogging is good for my soul – but when you are sleep-deprived and over-worked, creative thought processes are a distant memory. Some weeks, the laptop just has to stay shut. Thanks for writing this!

    K

  • I love your photos. You inspire me!