Note: This post was first published on another site, in 2016. It has been reposted with minor, grammatical changes. A bulk of the text and, and the message remains unchanged.
It wouldn’t be amiss to say that the local blogosphere has exploded of late. Every aspect of life in Pakistan boasts its own range of blogging celebrities. Who have shot to fame because of a familiarity with their topic of choice. No one, not even early naysayers can deny the appeal and influence of this new generation of opinion makers. Their unfiltered and entirely personal insight and that they are untouched by mainstream media make them a force. But the issue of solvency is still a protruding question mark. Are these vibrant young people decided part timers, with a flair for penmanship but no business sense? Or, is blogging in 2016 as enjoyable a career as it is a read? Enter Shehzeen Rehman. The thirty something beauty and brain behind The Desi Wonder Woman.
Shehzeen has no qualms about what her site is, “I don’t see it as a hobby. Or as something I’m doing ‘on the side’…” Popular amongst locals and expatriates alike, her site has made a name for itself because of it’s witty, self aware content. Boasting a colourful array of regular uploads and a loyal fan following.
The Many Faces Of Shehzeen
But amongst a multitude of fashion and lifestyle bloggers, Shehzeen Rehman stands out with the dash of red lipstick. Hers is not a singular interest, and her blog does not cater to one topic. Shehzeen’s site is about all things lifestyle, with dollops of culture and politics added in for good measure. She describes it as an ‘extension’ of her personal life. And the causal air and minimalistic aesthetic only add to this claim. The crisp white interface is intertwined with splashes of bright colour; much like the master blogger herself.
Perhaps her biggest charm and secret weapon is a mixture of nonchalance and daring. She is at once willing to take risks and unwilling to glorify her risks.
“Fashion Isn’t Exclusive If You Don’t Let It Be.” – Shehzeen Rehman
Take her view on fashion for example. Refusing to identify herself as a fashion blogger, she nonetheless admits to dabbling. Her playful ‘Style for Dummies’ segment is an example. What seems effortless and lighthearted at first glance is also reflective of her personal and professional ethic. “I never saw fashion as elitist,” she says, and her blog goes out of it’s way to project this notion.
Nowhere on this site will you find glorifications of luxurious pieces. Instead she articulately pokes fun at the idea of a ‘right’ kind of style. While still dishing out helpful styling advice. Through her vibrant choices, like an immaculately dressed best, friend Shehzeen encourages her readers to experiment with fashion. “I consciously don’t shop, accept or write about things that are very high end,” she clarifies. Stating, “fashion isn’t exclusive if you don’t let it be.”
And this consciously carefree quality extends to all aspects of her blog. She doesn’t shy away from bold stances or controversial subject matter. She just addresses them with a pleasant ease.
‘The Desi Wonder Woman’ is clearly a thinking person’s lifestyle blog. A typical reader can expect write-ups on a range of topics. From a tutorial on how to style bright shoes one day, to a satire about Karachi’s infamous politicians the next. Every topic is penned with a unique angle in mind and everything fits into the site like a puzzle piece.
Take her new segment on wedding prep for example. Instead of focusing on floral arrangements, centrepieces and lehangas, Shehzeen forewarns that the typical is not what she’ll be discussing. Instead, she uses the first post to discuss sexual health. Yes, that’s right. She took a rishta auntie’s favourite subject and used it to break societal taboo. (I can just see their botox laden jaws drop).
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Preparing for Eid and getting things and thoughts in order 🙂 You know, not trying to be a party pooper, but last week when I started to think about Eid, I felt this odd kind of lingering trauma from the last one. Naturally, it dissolved over the past few days, because if the tragedy is not directly your own you have the privilege to feel sad and then move on….but I still wanted to say that it must feel so raw for so many people even now. For anyone impacted by the tragedy around last Eid, and so many others who have lost their loved ones because of COVID, my love and duas for you. You are on my mind and I know on so many others'. In parallel, we celebrate Eid again 🤍 I'm hoping to put up some lights, maybe cook something, get a nice picture of the two of us 🙂 Anyone interested in some chaand raat stuff on stories tomorrow night? I cancelled last time but maybe can pick up again. Aap batao. Day after tomorrow Nabeel and I are fasting for the day before Eid. Excited about waking up for sehri, keeping a roza and then welcoming in our Eid 🕊🌙 If you're interested in checking out the 'Eid At Home' highlight I did last time, it's still there with ideas for clothes, hair, etc. Also sharing a hack for mehndi in a bit, if you're planning on getting some. Hope your preps are going well 🙂
But like everything else on the blog, it isn’t heavy. Partnering with a fertility clinic, she somehow manages to make it friendly and conversational. Even shooing the moral brigade away with “if you could keep your religious views to yourself that would be great.” Keeping the tone friendly is her niche. Because it encourages readers to really listen to her and gasp, ‘hey I never thought of it that way, but I think she’s right!’ And the second you feel yourself agreeing with her, you know she’s got you hooked.
The only thing that she does stay away from is wasting space. Being well aware of her brand, Shehzeen attaches value to each one of her posts. Everything has a purpose. And as minimalistic as the ambiance is, there is nothing easy about what goes on behind the posts. As she herself describes it, “…you’re creating a tiny production everyday. Which includes a bunch of things like concept visualisation, styling, shooting, editing, brand meetings, accounts. And, a bunch of back-end stuff.”
Her attention to detail has helped catapult something she started ‘just for fun’ into a full-time commitment.
It is not surprising that companies would pay to market themselves to a successful blog’s readership. But as Shehzeen explains it, the bloggers in question need to put in the hours before this can happen. Three years in, The Desi Wonder Woman has expanded to include advertisements, partnerships with brands and most recently internships. And Shehzeen credits her content for this success.
She recalls the myriad of emails she gets from new bloggers who eye her success as inspiration. Citing that they want to bring in the money but don’t want to put up regular content. As she explains, “no brand or business will put money into your site until you deliver on numbers and consistency.” For a year after she started, Shehzeen blogged five days a week with no monetary benefit. She understood that building a following would be gradual. Even when the money did start coming in, there was the constant need to chase her salary every month.
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Slow Monday in the office today, because like the genius that I am, completely forgot I had a visa appointment today and spent half the day running around in the city somewhere 😶 The exciting part is that it's now 3 only weeks to the vacation with my girlfriends and I honestly cannot wait 👩⚕️👩🎓👩⚖ (location still undisclosed, cos trying for cheap suspense here). Just have to get into a bit of a wrap-up mode cos have to finish up quite a few collabs in a (very) short amount of time before I leave 👀 How's your day been/going? #dwwgirlstrip #dwwhome P.s. dont forget @femtees ship worldwide and my discount code "DWWFEMTEES" is expiring end of November 💛 #lifestyleblogger #sydneyblogger #australianblogger #melbourneblogger #homedecor #homeoffice #apartmenttherapy #jungalowstyle #dwwhome
Blogging relies so heavily on how much content you have and how responsive that content is. Thus it is actually impossible to slack off for a week, and still get the same amount of money. As she explains it, “there are multiple channels for bloggers to monetise content. But there needs to be the drive and discipline to first deliver that content.”
Effortless Isn’t easy
She feels that people often misconstrue the effortless theme of her website into assuming that blogging itself is easy. They forget, she says, that in order to make something look easy you actually have to work really hard at it.. “If it looks seamless it doesn’t mean you woke up at noon, worked a couple of hours. And then chilled in your jammies… It just means you did your job the right way.”
In the case of The Desi Wonder Woman at least, all the hard work is definitely paying off. With a steady influx of followers and a signature knack for humour. The site’s journey is proof that coupled with diligence and commitment, writing a blog can actually be more than a hobby. It can be an exciting way to do what you love for a living.