The profitable cult of fashion blogging

Fashion bloggers sit alongside A-list celebrities at Fashion Week, are photographed just as often as celebrities, and can rake in major bucks for doing what some view as a hobby. What began as a way for people who were interested in fashion to share that passion with others, has now taken on a world of its own. Fashion blogging may seem glamorous but it isn’t all OOTDs (outfit of the day) and gushing over the newest collections, it’s a business, and a profitable one at that.

While the first blog was started in 1994, it wasn’t until 2007 that blogging hit the mainstream with the advent of sites like Tumblr. Blogging quickly broke into the worldview of journalists and with their ever-growing audiences, bloggers were establishing themselves as major competitors. Since then, blogging and online fashion publishing has drastically changed the landscape of the journalism and fashion industries.

What’s a hobby to some, many are making into a career. Bloggers are beginning to cash in on brand partnerships, advertising revenue, and promotional posting to make blogging their full-time career. For example, owner of WeWoreWhat.com, Danielle Bernstein told Harper’s Bazaar that a single Instagram post can net her anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.

However, Instagram posts are just the beginning for a lot of bloggers. “Blogging has become a new form of advertising. If you’re reading a magazine and see an ad, it’s just kind of there; you stop, look at it, and move on,” Allie Barke said, owner of Alliesfashionalley.com. “When fashion bloggers wear something, its an advertisement, but not as obvious and I think brands are starting to take advantage of that.”

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Allie Barke poses on a Lincoln Park sidewalk in a pair of faux snakeskin Topshop booties and a sailor-style skirt from Express. 

Blogging has taken a six-month-long editorial process and cut it down to an hour’s worth of work. Barke revealed that while a single post can take much longer than people may expect, with writing copy, taking photos, doing editorial, connecting to social media and advertising, it has drastically cut down the time it takes to create content.

Melissa Levin, COO of CollegeFashionista, an online fashion publication for college students, reiterated this idea. “Online publication has been able to give people access to news and entertainment so quickly while print magazines have to be planned months in advance. Now, I see something that I want to write about and it can be up in twenty minutes,” Levin said.

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Melissa Levin of CollegeFashionista. 

While social media is a driving force for bloggers and their brand partners, it isn’t necessarily what is making them so successful. The draw is the genuine, personal side of blogging, something traditional journalists can’t seem to offer as much of these days.

“Blogging is more individual than fashion journalism since there is usually one person behind a blog,” Sarah Darrow said, Editorial Manager for CollegeFashionista. “People are obsessed with bloggers – they don’t know them but they feel like they do because they are posting personal pictures on social media.”

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CollegeFashionista’s Editorial Manager, Sarah Darrow. 

The disconnect between fashion journalists who work for traditional publications, and their readers, is becoming more apparent with the personal nature of social media connecting bloggers to their readers. “People know who Anna Wintour is, but people feel like they know who Man Repeller is,” Levin added.

Even though blogging has become a viable career for many, it still has its challenges and challengers. As blogging becomes more popular, it becomes harder to break into the mainstream and gain a following.

“I think that what frustrates people, especially millennials, is that success doesn’t come overnight. People think that if they start a blog, they’ll become the next big blogger and have brands approaching them to do campaigns,” Levin said. “Success doesn’t come overnight and things that are overnight successes burn out just as quickly as they come.”

The success in blogging comes with dedication, a bit of elbow grease, and a lot of work to build a standout personal brand. “Personal branding is everything. It sets you apart from everyone else and proves your blog is worth the read,” said Zsa Zsa Quachie, DePaul University student and avid blog reader. “As more people start blogs, it’s harder to make into a career, so it’s important to prove why I should read your blog over someone else’s.”

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Zsa Zsa Quachie notes that what she loves about fashion blogs is that they are current and that bloggers are major influencers. “Big time designers and companies try to keep up with trends but bloggers are the ones making the trends.” 

While blogging may be a profitable career for some, it isn’t ready to push traditional print publications out the door just yet. The democracy of blogging makes it a diverse medium with unique perspectives, something a bit refreshing for the younger generations of media consumers. But people will still rush to newsstands to grab the September issues even if they turn to bloggers for more quick and easy entertainment.

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