I was recently quoted on Refinery29 for a piece about the death of fashion blogging. It was a great article, and I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts with the interviewer. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I wanted to post the entire interview below.
I hope you find it illuminating!
What are your thoughts on insiders claiming that the fashion blogging bubble has ‘burst’? What does that mean to you?
I don’t think it has burst, but I do think it is changing. A few years ago, brands had no idea what kind of results they would get from a campaign with a blogger; these days, they’re more explicit about their expectations and they’re learning to communicate them more effectively. The specs I get these days are much more detailed, e.g. “Two blog posts, two tweets, one Facebook post, one pin”.
Additionally, bloggers are now expecting to get paid, not just given a dress, and that changes things, too. We can’t blame bloggers for wanting to be paid for their work; after all, you can’t pay your rent with a handbag. But I do miss the good old days, when blogs felt like blogs, not billboards.
I’ve been moving away from the fashion blogging space over the past few years, I simply don’t find it terribly interesting anymore. The fashion bloggers I admire are Kelly Framel and Nicolette Mason, both of whom I think are talented, business-savvy women, not just attractive clothes-hangers.
You’ve been blogging since 2006. Do you see any changes in the community and industry since then?
Yes, of course! I think that’s one of the most exciting things about blogging, that it is always evolving and changing. I mean, we used to think we’d make a million bucks on banner advertising!
There’s a flip-side to everything, though. When I see blogs with a large amount of sponsored content, I find it really off-putting. Like Mr. Garfield said recently, “With every transaction, publishers are mining and exporting a rare resource: trust.” That’s why it’s absolutely essential to ensure the advertorial is totally in line with your beliefs and your audience. Even when it is, I think it’s so important to create valuable, helpful, non-sponsored content. Few people read Vogue for the ads alone. And we have all taken on jobs that weren’t right for us.
To me, the most important question to answer when it comes to sponsored content, is, “Will my audience enjoy this?”
Realistically though, the dream of waiting for an advertiser to pay you several thousand dollars for a campaign feels as outmoded as waiting for Prince Charming. A blog is not a business plan, and you have to be a true, dyed-in-the-wool entrepreneur to really make it work. I think any blogger who doesn’t have a digital product or some kind of offering beyond advertorial or banner space is insane!
The response for The Blogcademy have been stellar – why do you think so many people want to make a living off their blogs? Is it possible for everyone to?
Some people are deluded about it, of course: they think blogging is “easy”, that it’s a get-rich-quick scheme, or that it’s the fastest route to fame and free handbags. None of these things are true. It’s just like any other career — not everyone who gets into real estate is going to be Donald Trump. But blogging, or more specifically, learning to effectively communicate online, is a real, tangible skill with real, tangible outcomes.
We taught over 300 women in our first year alone, and the majority of them are small business owners, who are interested in learning how to harness the internet to help get their message out there. One of our first students, Veronica Varlow, used her blog to help her raise over $100k to make a movie. Our student body is full of stories like this, and the best thing is that we all support one another.
IMG just released a statement about making Fashion Week more exclusive; subtly saying they no longer want fashion bloggers there. Do you think brands and blogger engagement will die down, eventually?
Brands are looking for bloggers who transcend “blog fame” and cross over to the real world, because what brands want is to sell product. If someone is seen as a legitimate trendsetter or tastemaker, they can shift product.
I don’t think brands and blogger engagement will die down, I just think the standards and expectations will become higher. It will cut a lot of people out of the picture. Yet another reason not to put all your eggs in one basket!
Lastly, what do you think is needed for the blogging industry and community? How can the community remain strong; and bloggers still be seen as valuable parts of online media?
It’s not just about brands wanting more ROI, it’s about blogging becoming more boring in general. I see so many bloggers who never share anything real or vulnerable, simply because they think it will hurt their chances of becoming a “brand ambassador”. If you try to appeal to everyone, you will appeal to no one.
I was talking to a photographer friend of mine lately, and she was lamenting the fact that she ends up shooting the same clothes all the time, because PR companies are sending everyone the same pieces! I think that not only damages the industry, it also puts off your readers. No one wants to see the same dress on every blog. There’s no authenticity in everyone wearing the same stuff, and that’s why your readers come to you in the first place: they want to see your style and hear about your individual experiences!
Blogging used to be about being honest, sharing what was on your mind, and offering something different than the magazines. When we conceal our opinions to be more attractive to a mainstream audience, we’re losing the very essence of what makes blogging interesting and special.
Sure, it’s tempting to say yes to everything you get offered, but the people who excel and succeed are the people who say no more often than they say yes. It may be more difficult, but it’s also more rewarding.
P.S. I loved this article on Business Of Fashion, Don’t Write Off Fashion Bloggers Just Yet.
Photo is Valeria Efanova by Leda & St. Jacques for Elle Canada January 2014.