A letter to my fellow bloggers
How's it going? I thought it might be a good idea for us to clear some things up. As I'm sure you already know, we have a bit of a bad rap in some circles - what, with all the front row stealing and endless piles of free stuff we get sent (cough). Since London Fashion Week, I've thought a lot about what it means to be a blogger. There's an increasing amount of shame associated with having a blog, especially at industry events where there are real press and other people who actually deserve their invitations. I'd like to share my thoughts on this and find out how you feel.
First, I just want to point out how dear I find the whole platform of blogging. As you know, I started this blog almost three years ago. It was a little shocking to start off with (wait, you still might find it shocking... but go on, click here, the original posts are even scarier) but I stuck with it. So delirious was I with my new-found platform of self-expression that I posted frequently and regularly despite the fact that no one was reading. Never in one-hundred-gazillion years did I ever think the blog would lead to anything. I didn't expect anyone to be interested and I didn't care if my Site Meter read '5'. The point was that I had a place where I could say what I thought and post what I wanted in whatever way I saw fit. Shoddy photos, who cares? Poor grammar, so what? No one was grading what I did and I didn't have to impress anyone.
Somewhere down the line that changed.
When I met other bloggers I felt a growing pressure: 'What camera do you use? Where are your jeans from? Are you going to that press day tomorrow?'
The further you fall into something the less you are able to see it for what it truly is. When you collaborate with a brand or get invited to an event you start to feel a degree of obligation. After all, you're just a blogger. You should be thankful to have even been contacted.
The crux of the problem between fashion bloggers and the industry is the disconnect between expectations. There is an anger and a judgement directed at the poor journalistic standards. But, most bloggers don't claim to be journalists. There are hard feelings when a blogger is seated in the front row (if she wears a big hat that blocks the view of those behind her - even worse). But, surely, if the PR seats that blogger in the front row then only they are the ones to blame? When at a show, it's a simple courtesy to try to be as unobtrusive to the people around you as possible. It isn't rocket science to politely ask someone if they wouldn't mind taking their hat off. If they refuse, spit in your face, and declare, 'It's fashion, darling', then you probably have a reason to be pissed off. But there's no point sitting around disgruntled and bitter if you didn't even attempt to amend the situation yourself.
There should be no shame in admitting to be a blogger. We shouldn't feel the need to pretend to be something we're not or be too embarrassed/angry to apply for a Blogger Pass at LFW. I really think that if we're honest with ourselves and with others the entire blogger/industry relationship would benefit greatly. Below are my thoughts/tips on how best to deal with the industry side of things:
1. Be honest about who you are and what you have to offer. Don't ever lie about this. People listen, they remember, and they talk. Don't ever say anything in an e-mail or to someone's face that you wouldn't happily have them repeat on Twitter for the entire world to hear. There is nothing wrong with giving information out about your blog stats. If it's helpful for a brand to know which countries most of your traffic comes from, then tell them. Whether you have 100,000 hits a day or ten, there shouldn't be any shame.
2. Consider which brands/PRs/designers you really want to work with. When I say 'work' I don't necessarily mean paid work - I mean a general working relationship. Your blog is precious. Only you get to decide what goes on it. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for not inserting the links they want in a post. If it feels wrong to you then it's wrong. There are people out there that will want to support you and collaborate with you on your conditions. Take the time to look for them and don't expect it to happen overnight.
3. Be informed when signing up to networks or placing ads on your site. You can tell when a link is an affiliate one - even if the URL name tries to hide it. I can honestly say that I have never received any compensation that was worthwhile from doing a sponsored post or slotting in a cheeky affiliate link. This is why, currently, my blog is entirely ad free. If you decide to enter into a 'cost per action' scheme then make sure you have a freaking butt load of traffic going through your site. Otherwise you'll be left wondering why you agreed to do it in the first place. Brands moved from pay-per-click to pay-per-buy for a reason... it's because they get a lot of exposure without having to pay you very much (or often anything).
4. Don't get bitter. Try not to compare yourself to other bloggers. Obviously, this can be difficult - we always see what people around us are doing and wonder how we measure up. You can't help but notice when a blogger has 1 million comments on every post, the newest Proenza Schouler bag and a Jag to pick them up at the airport when they arrive in Cannes. Stop it though. Stop comparing yourself. Trust me, it's not worth it.
5. Think about what you're doing and why. I really can't stress this enough. A lot of people are starting blogs because they want to work in the fashion industry. That's fine. Whether you're eleven, eighteen, or eighty-five you can use a blog to showcase your talent and present what you're passionate about. Do not start, or keep up, a blog because you think it will get you free stuff or get you into fashion shows. The reality is, these things are often not free and having a blog (no matter how 'big' it might be) doesn't guarantee that a designer or PR will want you at their show.
6. Be grateful for what you are given. Whether it's an e-mail with a look book attached, an invitation to a launch, a thank you for reviewing a product or a free stay at a luxury hotel. Remember to say 'thank you' and be kind. If you aren't interested in, say, what Rihanna wore to that party last night just respond and explain why it isn't relevant to your blog and ask to be taken off the mailing list.
7. Don't seek fame. I don't believe that having a blog should be, on any level, a quest for stardom.
8. Hold onto the magic. Blogging requires passion, motivation, inspiration and a lot of time. It is, at its core, intended to be personal. That's the only thing that distinguishes it from an online magazine and that's exactly what makes it a vital piece of media. You aren't getting paid to have a blog. Why should you be? It's your little slice of the web. So, if you aren't having fun with it, why bother?
These are just my thoughts and my take on blogging, if you disagree please let me know.
Hope you're well. xx
p.s. these photos were taken by Kit- they're nice, right?
p.s.s. so, do you like my outfit? It's my 'relaxed and chilled-out but at the same time hotttt' look. Umm, yes it is hot. I'm wearing a short black leather skirt - that's as sexy as I get - but with a long silk coat, a canvas bag, and manky Converse (not seen, but I promise they are there). It looks more disgruntled mess than hooker... which I like to think is a good thing. Incase you're interested: TBA coat, Maison Scotch jumper, 2nd Day skirt, Lucy Folk bracelets, Maria Nilsdotter ring, Bottletop Luciana clutch, and Versace sunglasses (stolen from Charlie).