“When I grow up I want to be ____”
While I’m sure most kindergarteners still go for the classic “president” or “veterinarian”, I find it fascinating that the response “blogger” is just as valid of a profession in this day in age. Blogging has become an activity that provides various functions ranging from self-expression and passion, to spread of excess knowledge, to even source of financial income.
As bloggers provide more relative content to its readers, a new sort of ecosystem forms consisting of influencers, sponsors and followers. This in turn, has had a significant impact on the processes and customs of traditional businesses, which can be very clearly be demonstrated in the Vogue blogger criticism backlash that appeared on headlines last September. In recent years, Instagram has transformed the way people interact with and view Fashion Week. Instead of waiting to watch the runway shows on TV from cable companies or picking up fashion magazines to read the highlights of what was featured a week ago, users are able see live videos and the most updated photos from their favorite fashion bloggers in real time. Consequently, this new shift has caused traditional big players like Vogue to become the useless middleman.
An online article recapping Milan’s Fashion Week, Vogue editors voice their disdain towards the presence of fashion bloggers at shows and on the streets.
“Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.”
– Sally Sing, Vogue Creative Digital Director
Similar feelings were expressed by Vogue.com Fashion News Editor, Alessandra Codinha, “bloggers…looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social-media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating…it’s all pretty embarrassing…”
Fashion bloggers across the globe immediately elicited responses.
“We had to pave our own way for the opportunities to do something we love…some would say that we even created a new category of businesses, that is focused around empowering other people to literally live their best life.”
– Aimee Song of @songofstyle
“I take pride in giving hope to young women around the world that they too can build something from nothing…if you weren’t threatened you wouldn’t care at all.”
– Shea Marie of @peaceloveshea
Armed with hundreds of thousands of millions of followers, these bloggers’ posts ignited angry responses from avid fans as well.
Thus, it is undeniable that these new emerging ecosystems cannot be ignored. Businesses who accept them, support them and even join them will reap the benefits. Otherwise, those unwilling to adapt to the impact of social media will not only become obsolete, but may also garner backlash from loyal customers. Perhaps Singer should be the one to consider finding another business for this one is definitely disrupted.
How do bloggers make $$$?
While working as a blogger may seem glamorous and ideal (you get paid to do all the things you already love to do, say whaaat), in reality, the profession is rarely one that pays well. This Forbes article states that the 2015 Women’s Blogging Industry and Business Annual Report revealed only 6% of respondents were making over $60,000 annual income. That means for those of you looking to start a blog, don’t plan on quitting your day job!
As for those “lucky 6%”, it’s interesting to note that successful bloggers are unlikely to have a direct stream of income, but rather a mix of income streams generated by their blogs as springboards into other channels of business. This can come in the form of:
- Fitness guides
- Clothing or product line
- Guest appearances
- Paid ads
- Guest speaking
Fashion blogger Aimee Song has leveraged her fame by writing and publishing her own book “Capture Your Style”, while Chiara Ferragni has taken the fashion department stores by storm with her self-designed Chiara Ferragni Collection.
While I knew she was a big name blogger in Europe and the United States, I was surprised to find her shoe collection displayed in DongFang, one of Shanghai’s newly renovated department stores, during my last visit to Asia over winter break. Clearly the influence of her blog and brand has become so big that she was even able to enter the China market. This gives the implication that with the right utilization of social media, businesses will have the potential to expand to international regions quicker than ever before.
Famed food critic Brad Lau of Lady Iron Chef is paid for tastings and restaurant reviews as well as paid ads on his website. Following him both on Instagram and Snapchat, I’ve seen him promote many restaurants with special promo codes to gain discounts at various places. Companies like Airbnb often leverage his social media influence by issuing him a discount code, of which he promotes through his platforms to encourage his followers to use. While I do not know the specific agreement between the two parties, I imagine he is paid a cut for every Airbnb booking made under his referral code.
Fitness bloggers Kayla Itsines and Cassey Ho of Blogilates create their income streams by selling fitness guides and sporting products, making guest appearances on shows and teaching fitness classes themselves. Kayla sells her 12 Workout Plan and Clean Eating Plan together for a whooping $90.96! Similarly, Cassey sells her PIIT Power Pack 1.0 Ebook for $89.00 as well as her sports clothing line she calls #PopFlex.
Starting my own food review blog Chasing Lesley
After repeated requests from friends and family for Shanghai restaurant recommendations due to my passion for trying new places and very poor at-home cooking skills (seriously I burned a cookie in the microwave once), I decided to start my own restaurant review blog two years ago.While I have no desire to make an income stream out this project, it has indeed been an exciting experience for me. I have done several arranged tastings in Shanghai as well as been invited to attend patisserie openings. My extended stays in cities like London, Boston and New York have helped me further expand my geographical reach.
Chasing Lesley has helped me pick up my passion for writing again, understand how to brand myself and find motivation to continue exploring brunch spots and cozy cafes in the nooks and crannies of the city. The last two years has made me realize that people from all walks of life, no matter how different, are all interconnected by food. Meals at the table are a form of pass time, they represent culture, they are crucial for celebrations, they encourage bonding, but most importantly, they are the basis of a good conversation. And so thanks to blogging, I’ve had many, many good conversations.