When it comes to the perks of being a fashion blogger, enviable probably doesn’t even begin to describe how people would feel about their lifestyle. Having endless supply of designer items, jet-setting from tropical resort to another country manor, sitting front-row at fashion week runway shows with first-tier celebrities… these are just a few things that most of us can only dream of doing. Don’t forget that many of them get paid to do these things. Fashion bloggers typically make money through sponsored content, affiliated link programs, paid appearances on TV shows and interviews ( How Fashion Bloggers Make Money
). Top fashion bloggers in the world make over a million dollars per year by also starring in campaigns, fashion commercials and having their own product lines.
The most successful fashion blogger of all times is probably Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad
. Born in 1987, the 28 year-old Italian fashion blogger & director for her own footwear line has over 4.7million followers on her Instagram page and over 1 million likes on her Facebook page. She is also the first fashion blogger to appear on the cover of Vogue. She ran her blog business so successfully, that Harvard Business Review published a business case study on her. ( The case is available for purchase at $14 here
(Chiara Ferragni on Instagram )
As glamorous as this may sound so far, the road to fame is not always as straight-forward as the runway in Bryant Park. In today’s overly competitive and saturated market, it takes at least the following things for one to become a fashion blogger of impact:
Good Taste and Unique Point of View
The theme of a fashion blog or the personal style of a fashion blogger can largely determine its success. Whether it’s on-point fashion commentary, useful product reviews, or inspirational fashion/lifestyle pictures, a successful fashion blog / blogger must have something unique to offer.
Being a successful fashion blogger is a full time job. For many, this job may be more demanding than a regular full-time job in the office. The building and maintaining of the site can be a huge time drain – especially if you want to keep up an exciting presence. From spending hours on makeup and styling the look, striking the same post over and over again at different settings to picking and editing the perfect photo, a lot of work goes into that one final shot you all double-tapped on. During busy fashion seasons, famous fashion bloggers travel across continents to make appearances at different fashion events, often sleep deprived, jet lagged and starved. When the party is over, their day is barely starting – they need to edit and post the highlights of the day before their postings lose its timely appeal.
(Jean Wang, the author of Extra Petite
, quitted her job at Deloitte to be a full-time blogger)
Large Upfront Investment
A lot of upfront investment is needed before a blog / social media account turns into a self-sustaining business. Typically for a fashion blogger, luxury clothing items and travel costs are the two largest, continuous sources of expenditure. This is also the catch-22 that stopped most bloggers from moving forward. Fashion blogger Bryan Yambao
( known as Bryanboy) mentioned in one interview that in his early days, he had to sleep on the floor of his friends’ apartments in Milan and Paris because he couldn’t afford the outrageous hotel rates during fashion seasons . Chiara Ferragni’s ex-boyfriend and business partner also confessed that they did pay everything out of their own pockets early on. However, they treated all their spendings as an investment with the confidence that one day they would recoup the cost. Many say that fashion blogging is “a rich girls’ game” to begin with, and this is mostly likely accurate for most players.
A dedicated team ( or at least a dedicated photographer)
Behind each successful fashion blogger is a team of marketing and PR talents to help with the marketing strategy and day-to-day operation logistics. At minimum, even for someone starting from scratch, an excellent photographer is a must. For example, Nicole Warne
and Chiara Ferragni both started with their photographer boyfriend, and Zanita Whittington
is a fashion photographer herself. Now as three of the most influential fashion bloggers in the world, all three girls have their own team(s) to help take care of their social media websites, clothing lines and their busy jet-setter schedules.
(Zanita’s team at work)
Endurance and Flexibility to Adapt
As mentioned above, building a successful blog requires consistent investment of money, time and effort. It takes a long time for most people to reach that differentiation threshold in terms of quality of quantity of postings. Many blogs also face a plateau in KPI growth before it reaches their expected level, and this is when most people give up. Successful bloggers do not simply give up – they try to understand what works and what doesn’t, and adjust their strategy and content accordingly. When Chiara Ferragni first started blogging as a law student, she covered all aspects of lifestyle in her blog. It was only until she realized that people are far more interested in her collection of her own everyday looks that she decided to focus on being the “model” of fashion rather than a content curator.
The Risks and the Future
Even if you have all the determination, the unique content, the money and resources, there are still risks for being a fashion blogger. At late 2015, fashion bloggers as a group are losing the edge they once had. Fashion bloggers first came to the scene as a disruptive media force that changed the ways people consume fashion – they took the exclusive right of speech from industry “insiders” on traditional media and made it more democratic and interpretive. I still remember the hype back in 2008-2009 when first generation bloggers such as Bryanboy started live blogging fashion shows. However, as technology developed and people quickly adapt to the rhythm of new media, even the most old school brands and editors are becoming approachable on their social media accounts now. Everybody is tweeting, sharing and voicing their own opinions, and it’s getting harder and harder for new voices to appear.
For the people who are currently active in the fashion blogging scene, they also face the risk of the “burnout”. Despite the large number of self-claimed fashion bloggers, it’s only the few top players that are taking the larger slices of the pie. Referred to as the “fashion blogger brat pack”, the few familiar faces have been taking turns to endorse major luxury fashion brands. For some bloggers, every single post on their social media accounts is a sponsored post. I couldn’t help but wonder: how long does it still take for it to reach the tipping point where readers no longer know the difference and brands realize that the diluted message is not worth the effort? How would current fashion bloggers build a sustainable business model that generates continuous media presence , strong appeal to the audience and profit for themselves? Only time will tell.
(Nicole Warne, aka, Gary Pepper Girl, posting sponsored content for Miu Miu, Chanel and Lancome on her Instagram page)