Sunday Times Style: Blog Party

The Sunday Times Style ran a very good article on career blogging this weekend, featuring quotes from Liberty London Girl, Susie Bubble and a tiny one from me. Once I get around to scanning the article, I’ll post it on Facebook.In the meantime, Ellen Burney aka Vagabondiana who wrote the feature has posted the full, uncut interview with me on her blog and is going to post Susie Bubble and Liberty London Girl in the next few days. [Update: Looks like Ellen has killed her blog.] Here are my thoughts on the business of fashion blogging…

ELLEN BURNEY: ‘Blogs are ridiculous … just moodboards,’ Alexa told Vogue. What is your response to that?

DISNEYROLLERGIRL: In my experience the value of blogs is that they’re written from a personal perspective. What I write on Disneyrollergirl is what I really think and people respond to that, so as a blogger I have a very trusting audience. Blogs are also the perfect way to communicate with likeminded people. Practically any niche you can think of has a blog that caters for it so no wonder people are flocking to these mini-publications. They’re an ideal way for readers to get targeted information and join the conversations about whatever it is they’re passionate about. In turn, brands find these pockets of targeted communities very useful for learning about their markets and gaining honest feedback. The clever brands use this information to better their products, engage with their audience and reach potential customers.

EB: New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn told Refinery 29; ‘I don’t think a lot of the blogs are distinguishing themselves by linking and just being snarky or being opinionated. Do some reporting. Don’t be a re-blogger.’ What obstacles can bloggers – as opposed to traditional journalists – face when trying to report? Is it true that sometimes an opinion is all that a blogger can have?

DRG: Well that’s the difference. Blogging is about a personal perspective and not all bloggers want to be reporters. In terms of obstacles, I think that because blogging is mostly spontaneous, there can be a lack of research and in-depth analysis because maybe those bloggers don’t have the time or the skills, not to mention the contacts. At the moment, my point of view is what people come to me for, they want my opinion more than facts but it’s best to have a good mix of the two.

EB: In the coming years do you see blogging as a lucrative career for many or an elite handful only?

DRG: The ones that make blogging a lucrative career will be the ones who can see the bigger picture, almost looking beyond itty bitty blogs and seeing a one-man multi media empire. With all the cheap, user-friendly tools available now, a blog can be a magazine, a shop, a TV channel, whatever. But it has to keep moving forward in the same way that a magazine does. You need to have a mixture of skills to make that work.

EB: Do you think print media will eventually fade out?

DRG: Print media won’t die out completely but there will be less of it. And I say the same for lots of physical media – books, music, dvds – it’s all about cloud consuming now so I think the next generation will be happier to consume their media online rather than owning all these possessions that clutter up their space. For those over 25, magazines are still important, we have a history with them so will want to carry on buying (and sometimes collecting) them but the next generation won’t have that nostalgia. The beautifully-produced bi-annuals with luxurious imagery and long form articles will survive and the iconic titles like Vogue will continue. I think the also-rans and more commercial titles may struggle as their readers can easily get that content online.

EB: How important are fashion bloggers to the industry at present?

DRG: Right now, bloggers are an affordable and easy way for brands to reach consumers but the problem is that a lot of brands approach the same bloggers with the same message. One size doesn’t fit all, it’s time to switch it up. There now needs to be a more strategic approach where brands target bloggers that are relevant to their market and work with them to create unique, rich content. The clever PRs are the ones building long term relationships with fewer, more targeted blogs to drive a consistent, believable message.

EB: Are blogs as valuable as print publications?

DRG: A reader has a closer relationship with a blogger, there’s a dialogue and a community. It’s much more a specific point of view. I avoid the majority of PR-pitched blog posts so I can retain an authentic voice. It’s not easy but I think it’s important.

EB: When it comes to bloggers having advertising / fronting campaigns / collaborating with brands, why should the reader then trust you?

DRG: You reach a certain point where everyone wants a bit of you and it’s very flattering and seductive but you need to check yourself. Readers can tell if you’re whoring yourself out to anyone and everyone and they’re very vocal about it. It’s important to hold onto your integrity and be selective and in fact, it makes the brands value you more.

EB: As more and more bloggers use blogs as a springboard to launch labels / open boutiques etc, do you see these side projects as sustainable?

DRG: If they already have a following and approach it in a savvy, businesslike way, then why not? Cheesy as it sounds, some blogs do have the potential to become brands. In my case, Disneyrollergirl is the public face of what I do which is fashion editing and creative consultancy. The blog enables me to reach companies that didn’t know about me and means the ones that fit my taste and point of view can tap into my audience. I see that as a natural ‘brand extension’ .

EB: Is the regular blogger-bashing an inevitable sign of change?

DRG: I guess no publicity is bad publicity and if people are talking about you then it means you’re relevant.

Thank you Ellen for including me in the feature. Answering these questions really made me seriously consider the whole blogging ‘industry’ and where it’s heading.