21 February 2014, 11:11
One fine sunny day in Palm Springs, the three Blogcademy headmistresses gathered in front of a laptop to answer questions during a Google Livestream… And what a good time we had!
We were submitted oodles of great questions and we answered as many as we could. The best thing? The session was recorded, so you can click below to watch it now!
In this video we talk about…
How to build an audience
The value of slowing down on posting
How to market to the USA if you’re in the UK
How long it takes to make a living from your blog
The metrics we use to measure engagement
Advice for starting a blog with friends
How to get guest posts on your blog
How often you should be posting
How to choose your niche
Whether we recommend email sign-ups
The way we measure success
Creating video content for your blog
Blogging posses and what it was like for us before we met
Advice for anyone who wants to start vlogging
Our SEO tips
Where to draw the line about what you share online
Balancing work and a blog
Tips for starting a blog from scratch
How to use Pinterest for your blog
Creating content based around your travels
How our individual measures of success have changed over time
The most useful blog convention we ever went to
Whether you should express your true views and how it will affect your audience
Whether there’s any space left in the wedding blog market, and how to differentiate yourself
How to expand your reach beyond your friends if you’re not “social media famous”
And silly sunglasses!
We hope you enjoyed chatting with us — we had a blast!
Kisses and cat-eye sunnies,
Photo by FX Media.
13 January 2014, 10:11
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.
18 December 2013, 11:43
Everyone around me keeps telling me to blog but I really just don't want to. I never want to blog again that's how over it I am.— Hayley Hughes (@fashionhayley) December 3, 2013
On Twitter the other day, I saw an O.G. blogger — Fashion Hayley — tweet the above. I was surprised, because Hayley has had her domain for longer than I have, and her blog is a great resource for finding out about crazy, colourful, original new designers. In fact, when Kat, Shauna and I went to Melbourne, I used Hayley’s blog to make a list of shops we wanted to hit!
I responded to her, and as I wrote, I realised that I had a lot more to say on the topic. So here goes.
At one of our Blogcademy classes in Melbourne, we kicked off day two with a guided meditation led by a student. During the meditation, we were given time to see our blogs as an energetic body, and we were able to ask it questions and listen for answers.
I know that sounds kooky… And to be fair, I had my doubts as to whether anything meaningful would come out of it. But it turned out to be immensely illuminating.
My blog had a message for me. In these exact words, it told me: Treat it like play.
This immediately made sense to me.
The things that once gave you a thrill sometimes seem to dry up overnight. The magic doesn’t just stick around forever, it can disappear in a cloud of vapour in any area of your life. How many women have woken up one day, looked over at their husband, and thought, ‘God, I can’t do this anymore’? How many people go to work every day feeling dead inside?
Magic, mystery, fun and passion don’t just hang about. They are a byproduct of the effort you put into life.
I started blogging, unofficially, in 1997, and I’ve had galadarling.com for seven years. Personal blogging — which is what I used to do — and blogging for a living are two very different beasts. But over this 16 year period, the most vital thing I’ve discovered is that you have to do it for the fun of it.
Over the last seven years, I’ve been struck down with writer’s block several times. Sometimes I can go a couple of weeks feeling utterly uninspired. The only common thread between those moments is that they seem to happen when it feels like all the fun has been sucked out of blogging.
When I get overly scheduled, start to feel obligated with sponsored posts, or am looking at other people’s blogs too often, that siphons the joy out of blogging for me. Often, the best way to bust through the blocks is to do what feels most fun or silly in the moment, as opposed to following your editorial calendar, doing what is expected, or sticking to your routine.
As much as all popular bloggers have their recipe, routine and normal posts, the thing that is most enjoyable — at least to me — is throwing stuff at the wall to see what will stick. Often it’s something weird or bizarre. For example, a few months ago, I derived an immense amount of pleasure from launching a ridiculous and short-lived column called Oh, Marilyn! It literally consisted of photos of Marilyn Manson juxtaposed with some of my favourite things he’s ever said in interviews past.
Think back to when you first started blogging. I bet that if you dig back in your archives, despite the many cringe-worthy moments, you will see flashes of genius and glimmers of brilliant creativity. It’s when you’re first starting that you’re thinking with no limits, because anything is possible.
When I get all reminiscent about it, and recall my Livejournal (or even scribble.nu) roots, I remember that in the late ’90s and early ’00s, writing online was just a big experiment in what made me laugh or smile.
When I start to feel like I “have” to write about this or that, I feel creatively stifled. It’s in those moments that I delight in turning left when people are expecting me to go right.
I’m not alone in feeling that way, either. A few weeks ago, I read Coreyography, Corey Feldman’s autobiography (which I really enjoyed). Within the pages, he shares the following conversation with Michael Jackson.
At some point, conversation shifted to a discussion of his upcoming sixteen-month, fifteen-country world tour, which would launch the following summer. “After the tour, I’m done,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m changing everything. I’m going to have a whole new look. No more glove. No more hat.”
“What do you mean no more glove?” I asked. “You can’t get rid of the glove!”
“I have to, Corey. I can’t keep doing the same thing forever. You have to keep changing and evolving. That’s the magic of what we do. You can’t be predictable. The second your fans think they know what they can expect from you, you become uninteresting. You have to keep moving forward.”
It’s all too easy to keep plugging away with the same old columns, the same old features, the same old bullshit, just because it’s simple. You already know what the column is about, so creating the actual content to fill the space is relatively trivial. This is a great tactic when you’re first starting, but you have to diversify! Sometimes I think if I see another blog post about Pinterest favourites I’m going to scream!
We all get lazy at some point. It’s natural, it’s normal. We start to take shortcuts. We stop innovating. We think, ‘Well, I’ve been posting my outfits for years… I guess I should keep it up.’ But the truth is that if you’re bored by it, your readers are too.
Even if you’re not bored to tears, you should keep switching it up. Continue to challenge yourself! Keep pushing! Never be in “maintenance mode”. Always continue to strive, do better, go bigger.
I have been making a fairly conscious and consistent effort to step away from “fashion blogging” over the last few years. It just doesn’t interest me anymore. Do I love clothes and writing about style? Yes, absolutely! But do I love going to fashion week and posting photos of my outfits? Not really. The bloom is well and truly off that rose.
At first when I started to step away from fashion blogging, I was very nervous about it. It had been my niche for so long, and I wasn’t exactly sure where I fit in online. But I stayed the course. Nothing could be worse than going to another fashion week, I told myself, so I would keep doing what felt right!
I kept plugging away, and I found myself becoming involved with a new group of people, like Gabby Bernstein, Jonathan Fields, Danielle LaPorte, and Kris Carr. I really admired these people, and they were sharing information that I found truly meaningful.
Meeting women like Gabby has enriched my life far beyond what I could have imagined. It has helped me to expand my vision of what I can do, and helped me focus on how I can really help others. Most crucially, we would never have come into one another’s orbit if I had just kept blogging my outfits!
A blog isn’t just a blog: it is a chronicle of your life, and just like your soul, it is constantly evolving. If blogging is getting boring and it’s starting to feel uncomfortable or constricting, maybe the subject matter doesn’t fit you anymore… And that is perfectly okay.
Think of your blogging the way you think of your art, your cooking, your parenting, or your style. These things are always changing, improving on themselves, getting incrementally better. Your blog should do the same.
Resist stagnation; embrace fun! Be silly. Blogging is not that serious. It’s this kind of thinking that gets you in trouble in the first place!
Photos by Miles Aldridge.
9 October 2013, 11:11
The phone’s ringing… and this one’s for you.
You heard right. This one’s for you if you’re nervously eyeing the collection of bills on your desk. This one’s for you if you love your business with all your heart, but don’t know where your customers are. This one’s for you if, no matter what happens, you just cannot seem to move enough product, get enough bookings, or gain enough traction.
This is your opportunity… Your opportunity to find the kind of kickass customers you’ve always dreamed about.
Christmas is coming, and my readers are searching for unique, interesting, and beautiful presents. They want to gift their BFF with a tarot card reading, or a beautiful blue velvet vintage dress. They’re looking for sassy art and handmade zines, illustrated greeting cards and statement accessories.
Yes, exactly. They’re looking for the stuff you sell!
This is no time to be shy!
So here’s the deal.
I have small business advertising spaces available in my sidebar, and they are designed exactly for people like you.
They cost $3 a day (yep, less than a soy latte), and you can advertise for as long (or as short) as you want. Longer is better, though. People will need to see your ad a few times before taking action.
The ads are served by Blogads, who are great: they have a fantastic system so you can easily track the efficacy of your campaign!
The spaces are a 125 pixel square. Like this:
Your ad will be in the right sidebar of the front page, and on individual article pages.
“Advertising on GalaDarling.com showed an immediate boost in site traffic, exposing my design consultancy and journal to new readers everyday…” (Steve G., RDQLUS Creative)
How to get the best results:
Make your ad as engaging, dynamic and eye-catching as possible! This means USE your space as best you can! Fill the space, use a bright colour and bold imagery.
Give people a reason to click! Officially, this is known as a “call to action”. Why should someone click on your ad? Offer them something, whether it’s a discount code, free shipping, a gift with purchase, or something even better!
If you’re not a designer, have someone else make it. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you have a friend with a great eye, beg, plead and make cookies in exchange for a nicely-designed 125×125 ad. You will always get a better response from a graphic designed by someone who has an eye for it.
Be smart about it! Use fonts that are easy to read, and colours that don’t assault the eyeballs. Check your ad for spelling or grammatical mistakes. If all the other ads on my site are, say, pink, use a colour that stands out! Remember that advertising is a representation of your business, so make it as wonderful as you can!
“I’ve done several promotions on Gala Darling’s site, and the results have always blown me away. First off- there’s the sheer volume of hits she sends me- thousands and thousands of uniques a day. But, more than quantity, there’s quality. Gala’s fans are a sparkly, tight-knit community that love and believe in her. If you’re lucky enough to do a promotion on galadarling.com, you tap into that good will. Promotions on galadarling.com have netted me passionate fan letters, wildly creative responses, and new fans from all over the world…” (Molly Crabapple)
All you need to do is choose how many days you’d like your ad to run, upload your image, and submit your link. Then click Preview or Buy! It’s THAT simple!
Mega-lovin’, all day, every day!
Photo by Chellise Michael.
11 September 2013, 11:20
Last month, I fired up Skype and sat down for a little chat with Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM. It was very informal, but we began circling around a few topics and going pretty deep. Srinivas ended up giving our discussion the title of ‘Developing a Bold and Authentic Brand’. We had a great and very real chat about what it means to live online.
Some of the highlights include…
My mission to live out loud and have a great time on the planet
Looking at early online journalling platforms
Rediscovering the freedom to be your weird self
How to figure out when and where you can cross the line
Finding a unique angle on a generic topic like fashion
Why pushing the boundaries of what you post raises confidence
The importance of having a bold point of view
Why you must incorporate lessons into provocative content
How to uncover your branding and messaging
The power of writing to the younger version of yourself
The business fundamentals that are important to your success
A look at how the Blogcademy was created from nothing
The role that consistency plays in your success
It’s a goodie, especially for anyone who has a blog or would like to get into blogging.
Wanna tweet it out? Just click the pink bird!
There’s a fine line between being a car crash blogger and being vulnerable from time to time
The only way to cultivate a strong voice is to practice it
After a certain point, perfection is procrastination
Mad love (!) to Srinivas for having me on the show, and of course, for being so rad in general. Check out BlogcastFM for regular, badass interviews with the most interesting people in the blogosphere.
Photo by Made U Look Photography.
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