It was a cold December day. The asphalt shyly slid through the thin city slush. We all ran somewhere, being a bit late. It was one of those days when you love the destination more than the trip itself. I seek for the Enso moment and I am looking forward to the upcoming conversation
I met the three of them for the first time at lunch, at an intimate moment that is often shared with strangers in public. Brana Antović, Mina Smiljanić and Tamara Ćosić are well-known heroines of the modern age. They are educated, intelligent, quick-thinking and modern. With the quiet music and accompanying fatigue of other guests, we enjoyed tasting dishes that suit the winter season. A cosy and comfortable environment shifted us to some warmer areas, while we were tasting gastronomic masterpieces.
What inspired you to run a blog and Instagram?
Brana: I started the blog quickly after completing undergraduate studies. More specifically, in October 2010. I had a great desire to write, create, and express my creativity in any way, and with that aim, I sent my CV to numerous addresses of local media, looking for opportunities for volunteering and practice. As a very solid student, with several completed workshops and some experience, I was hoping for a response. Any response. Unfortunately, nobody ever responded to me. Even with the email “We are sorry, we are not interested.” I was disappointed and angry, especially since I thought that with the graduation, I finished the most important thing. I was so wrong. The real fight was just ahead. I decided not to sit not doing nothing, but to do what I had for a few months on my mind as an interesting option – I started my own blog. Everything started with only one goal – writing, sharing with readers my own interests, doing something creative and simply enjoying it. There was no thought of earnings or profit of any other kind. It was then a mission impossible. I studied a lot, researched, met interesting people and allowed blogging and the online world to get under my skin.
Tamara: For a long time, I shared all the beauty tips offline with all the people in the surroundings, helped with the selection of products or the beautification for events, and everyone was saying that it should be transferred to a slightly wider auditorium. When it came to the point that I was a little overwhelmed by my previous job and that I needed some other dynamics, then I decided to give You Tube and Instagram more serious attention. and I am happy that it was that way. 🙂
Mina: In 2011, when I enrolled in faculty, my parents offered me a gift. I picked out the first smartphone that made it possible for me to be among the first ones to report from the street. I took very seriously my job as a journalist. Soon I opened an Instagram and Twitter account and became a social-network reporter. I do not have a blog because, besides faculty, I always had a permanent job, but I hope for it in the near future.
Lately, it can be heard that something is instagramic. Does Instagram simulate life or does life simulate Instagram?
Tamara: I am sincerely sad with pure taking of photos for Instagram. Instagram is a job to me in some way, yet all the images on it were created in real life moments, when I went somewhere and really enjoyed it – no matter how I was dressed, what make-up I had, or in which mood I was. In my stories, there are also glamorous shots, tired stories after a day of work, as well as reports of the best cleaning tricks, without makeup, because all of this makes life.
Brana: I am a little annoyed by the emphasizing that life on Instagram is fake. I am speaking in my name – everything I show on my profile is real. The fact is, these are the best sequences of my everyday life. Still, I often talk about not so nice things. I have never been afraid to talk about “heavier” subjects. Life has always been such that positive things were presented, and bad things were hidden, with a phrase “keep silent, to not let people know”. People have always tried to present the best version of themselves. Nevertheless, I think social networks are talking about some things that have never been discussed publicly. For example, who mentioned anxiety in 2007? Today there is a bunch of texts and videos on the subject. Mental health, violence against children and women, violence against animals, the issue of abortion, divorce … These are all topics that, thanks to social networks, have become more visible.
Mina: My Instagram is not commercial and it is pretty personal. It is in a way a reflection of my day. Nevertheless, I became aware of the fact that younger people are seeing me as a role model. I promised myself that I would not record a story while driving. We should not live an illusion and we need to discuss topics that are not instagramic at first sight.
Describe your blog using just one word.
Thanks to Instagram, perhaps more than any other social platform, lifestyle is being sold. How long have you built your lifestyle?
Brana: I do not agree that lifestyle is being sold, it can be presented. The question is whether something is done for the likes, apparent benefit, or because you really live so. I do not read books to be smart, but because I enjoy literature, I do not go to the theatre to look like a young intellectual, but because I adore the theatre. So, lifestyle from my Instagram and blog is so much a part of me. Lifestyle is built throughout life, and everything starts at home by parental education. I am a big fan of sports, because in my home, sport was always a subject of interest, I follow daily political events because politics was discussed in my home. Some things are embedded. My lifestyle did not change much over the years, just upgraded.
Tamara: Hmmm, I think I am still building it. Every few weeks I notice some imperfections in my actions, rituals. This, in fact, I often share with the followers. That is why I think that I constantly build and improve my lifestyle, although some of the key values and rituals are embedded since I was a child.
Mina: I remain consistent with inconsistencies and interest in various things. I like to live things and I like to challenge myself. Through sports and acting, activism … I was a volunteer at the UN club, a volunteer in the nursing home. So, I always had the need to experience a lot of things. So it remains to this day. I am placing my active lifestyle through social networks and it has commercialized to an extent that is pleasant to me. My Instagram monitors my life, I would also do the same if I was offline. There is a thin line between whether we have placed an idea or motivated someone – everything is a matter of definition.
Number or “quality” of the followers? The level of success, I suppose, is reflected in both things?
Mina: The number was never my goal. I never invested money into it, I did not make business out of social networks, so I am satisfied with the number. And I love those people who follow me. I met a lot of these people personally. According to statistics, 90% of people are following me from Belgrade, I am also followed by people from Zagreb, US, pf 20-35 years of age, and this is the age some brands are targeting. I do not want to adapt to algorithms.
Brana: Quality. I think I am an example that you do not have to have many followers so you can live from a blog. Your audience creates your credibility that matters to you in relation to clients. Creating credibility is crucial for monetizing the blog, Instagram. The number of followers is not crucial for the continuity of cooperation with clients. The point is that you, as an influencer, position yourself as someone who is trusted. I think the number of collaborations I refused is three time larger than those I accepted. I have my own principles.
Tamara: I think that the time where everyone is paying attention only to the number of people who are following you is slowly going away. It is as if you would put an advertisement for the most delicious bacon on the most visited station of a country where pork is not eaten. Many people see it, but it does not always have much effect. The target audience, who is interested in a specific topic and therefore follows a particular blog or person, brings a lot more, whether it is 10K or 100K.
Can you afford time offline?
Tamara: While I am on vacation, I am offline. 🙂 I believe this offline time is valuable for renewal of energy, inspiration, but also enjoying of real life, and that it is essential for those who advocate a parole that life is not like on Instagram, and they have two different approaches.
Mina: Once a month I “break” and hide in my shell. I realized it was necessary to regenerate the organism. I sleep a little, I wear myself a lot. I started to love those moments when I break up. Then I try not to have social networks. I am aware of the advantages of offline time and resets.
Brana: My faithful companion anxiety taught me to afford myself an offline time. Stress and tiredness trigger it in my case. Thanks to it, I began to value some things in my life like – “I am watching the series tonight”. Sometimes even at the expense of some deadline. The problem is that often relaxation actually involves online activities. I try to, when I really relax, not do it with the phone or laptop. Recently, a research was done on that today, we receive 3,000 times more information than we did 10 years ago on a daily basis. So – I read a book at night before bedtime, I do not scroll. Socializing with friends and family – as often as possible.