For most of us, a photograph bound for social media is little more than an afterthought. For Rhiannon Taylor, every carefully captured image is her brand and her business. In her work as a commercial photographer working for prominent clients, Rhiannon’s success was hinged on someone else’s eye. When she began her now-thriving travel photography platform, IN BED WITH, back in 2014 however, she could finally explore her craft while cultivating her own unique audience and measures of success.
“IN BED WITH started as a bit of fun during a Christmas break three years ago,” Rhiannon explains. “I was looking for something creative to sink my teeth into that used my skills as a photographer, but also gave me freedom to choose my brief and have a voice.”
That voice has since gained the photographer a healthy 97K followers on Instagram. For Rhiannon, the transition from ‘a bit of fun’ over the holidays to a full-time hustle took a little less time than expected.
“Because the idea was unique and the content was original, the site took off pretty quickly,” she says. “Within a year, it was a full-time job – which was tricky for me as I already had my own full-time business as a commercial photographer.”
Although she now mixes the two pursuits concurrently, Rhiannon is careful to distinguish the two in strategic terms. Across both, aesthetics is, of course, “key” but there’s an additional layer of consideration that goes into her work. Content on IN BED WITH needs to help grow – and maintain – a solid, interested following.
“As a photographer, it’s imperative that my eye and style is apparent in all my images,” she explains. “And this was just as important when building IN BED WITH. I wanted it to combine the escapism of a travel magazine with swoon-worthy content you’d find in an interiors magazine. [But] coming up with a signature black-and-white ‘leg’ shot was the basis for building the brand. There’s the element of mystery – who’s in the bed? Whose leg is this? What hotel is this? I think this single shot propelled the rest of IN BED WITH and it all fell into place after that in regards to tone, brand name [and] copy.”
In this way, the platform may seem full of whim and wanderlust, but its creator has been very careful to craft a story so that her following can fully immerse themselves in her journey – and more importantly, imagine themselves in her place.
“I always shoot content that gives a feel of ‘insert yourself into this picture,’” she says of her choices for social media images. “It’s less commercial, more relatable.”
Naturally, as the lifeline of her business and connection to her readers, Rhiannon’s blog, and her choice of platform, was instrumental to the success of her brand.
“I put a lot of energy into designing a website that would be a vehicle for the content, so readers could lose themselves in it,” she explains. “The design had to be clean, functional but also beautiful. The blog is aimed at travellers in-the-know and the readers are quite savvy and accomplished so it had to transcend a travel blog and move into more of an online magazine feel. The Squarespace themes totally allowed me to do that.”
Not only did website builder Squarespace allow Rhiannon to nail the right aesthetics to connect to her consumers, but it also helps her apply gathered feedback, so that she can continue to create the kind of content readers really want.
“Having a website that is user-friendly and beautiful was key to drawing in an audience and making sure they keep coming back,” she says. “Now we rely heavily on the Squarespace analytics to see what content is most clicked on and plan future strategies based on that data.”
With that intel, Rhiannon is hatching big plans.
“I’d love to see IN BED WITH transform into a fully functioning online magazine, publishing content daily on hotels, boutique travel experiences and resort wear, with contributors all around the world.”
In Bed With is an online travel destination that features the world’s most unique hotels and accommodation. It’s curated by writer and photographer Rhiannon Taylor. If you’ve got a creative project that begs its own website, get started today with Squarespace.com and use the code COLLECTIVE for 10% off your first purchase.