>> I'm not one to promo every interview I've done (or am I… oh dear god, how sad) but I thought this one might be fairly useful for a) bloggers starting out, b) bloggers who have been going for a while and c) curious people who very bluntly love asking me "How do you make money?" I'd still refer people back to the Business of Fashion piece that the wonderful Vikram did. This one for the Sunday Times, written by Ellen Burney that was published two weeks ago, is a bit fleshier and unfortunately got cut down quite severely so here is the interview in full. Ellen also interviews Disney Roller Girl and Liberty London Girl (Part 1, Part 2) Oh, and thanks to Ellen for sourcing out this polaroid taken at the Soho Grand in New York, when I was more than a little intoxicated and thus look like I'm really a little too in love with Edna the bear.
How competitive is blogging as a business?
It's not a competition from my perspective. The normal path of bloggers is that you start off with your blog being a hobby on the side of what you do normally. I don't encounter many bloggers that start off from the get-go wanting to turn their blog into a business. Of course, that is now shifting but I normally advise that it is still very difficult to make a proper living out of fashion blogging when you've just begun. I do get a lot of emails asking me about how to make money from my blog and my thinking is that, developing a passion for blogging should be the primary motive before money even enters the equation My advice is normally that developing an original voice and content that you are happy with should be the number one drive. I do think that first nurturing your blog as a hobby that you get fulfillment out of is a good way to start rather than jumping into blogging as a business.
In the future do you see blogging being a lucrative career for many or only the elite handful?
I think depending on the blogger and depending on the readership, bloggers can use their blogs as jump-off platforms to their careers. If you're a photographer, your blog could be your platform/showcase to getting paid work and clients. If you're an illustrator, it's the same thing. If you're a writer, then the blog could again be your calling card. It really depends. I don't want to say it's an 'elite handful' – in numbers, that could mean thousands of bloggers and that isn't a 'handful'.
Do you think print media will eventually fade out?
No. I think certainly elements of it will. Newspapers and magazines may have to shift their strategy. If up to the minute news is being reported so quickly on the internet then longer features in print should be the main focus. In fashion, editorials in particular are still best represented in print and I don't see this dying out.
Of what importance do you think fashion bloggers are to the industry at present?
It's hard to say. Obviously brands, PR companies etc are trying to work with bloggers on varying levels and co-opt them into the industry as media. At the end of the day, bloggers are just part of the media landscape and right now it's just a period where brands and PR companies are trying to work out who is right to work with, in the same way that they judge the hierachy of printed magazines and newspapers. I see blogs falling into the same structure. There's been a novelty with bloggers where PR companies and brands organise special 'blogger' events or blogger-focused outreach programmes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but I think each blogger works in their own way and it's up to the PRs and marketing teams to understand that as opposed to trying to communicate with bloggers in a blanket way.
What makes a blog as valuable as a print publication?
I don't want to say that blogs are as important as print publications. It's just a different type of media altogether and I think should be consumed in tandem with print media. By and large, bloggers (well the ones I read anyway…) offer individual points of view be it through their imagery or writing. It's a stream of consciousness and a very personal depiction of fashion that I'm attracted to as a reader. It's just another way of seeing fashion.
When it comes to bloggers having advertising / fronting campaigns / collaborating with brands, why should the reader then trust you?
From a personal perspective, I'm very open with my readers. When I left my full time job, I basically told everyone and said – 'Look you might see an ad next to what you're reading … that's my rent payment there.' When I collaborate with brands, I'm also equally open because in a way, I'm proud of what I've done and I feel like whoever I work with, it has been a considered choice. I turn down a lot of stuff on a daily basis so I should hope that readers respect that in order to produce content for them on a daily basis (most, if not all my content isn't connected to the brand partnerships that I foster outside of the blog), something has to give and that I have to make a living somehow. I think most readers understand that and take any advertorial content that's presented to them with a pinch of salt. I'm definitely not trying to pull the wool over their eyes as I have nothing to hide.
As more and more bloggers use blogs as a springboard to launch labels / open boutiques etc, do you see these side projects as being sustainable?
It really depends on the individual. If you feel there's a level of sustainability in what you do with your blog then by all means go ahead. People like Scott Schumann and Garance Dore have set the benchmark in that beyond their blogs, they can work on projects much like any other working photographer.
For bloggers such as myself, I'm just exploring the possibilities of working as a full time blogger doing an array of projects that you may not necessarily see on the blog but are essentially earning me a living. I do think that perhaps brands' fascination with bloggers might wane and that these one-off projects may not go on and on forever. In which case then bloggers need to find their niche and work at that. Primarily I consider myself a writer so I'll plug away at that and hopefully my blog will become a standalone publishing entity. It really depends on the situation of the blogger and how far they want to take their blog.
Is the regular blogger-bashing inevitable as a sign of change?
I actually don't get a lot of blogger bashing nor do I feel like there is this negative attitude towards bloggers. If it's perceived that way from the mainstream media then that says a lot more about them than it does about bloggers! I don't really care if people in the industry hold low opinions of bloggers or not … at the end of the day, readers are what count to me. If they suddenly all disappear then I'll start questioning what the hell I'm doing!