Sunday Times Style on fashion ‘career’ bloggers: my thoughts

A couple of months ago, Ellen Burney wrote a piece for the Sunday Times Style on career blogging. She then published the full interviews with me, Susie Bubble and Liberty London Girl on her blog which she has since deleted, so I’ve published my Q&A below:

ELLEN BURNEY: Alexa Chung told Vogue that she thinks ‘blogs (other than Tavi) are ridiculous / moodboards.’ Why are blogs not ridiculous?
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 like-minded 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: Cathy Horyn gave an interview to Refinery 29 saying ‘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 a blogger – as opposed to traditional journalist – 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 next 5-10 years do you see blogging being a lucrative career for many or only the elite handful? Do you think print media will eventually fade out and if so, why?
DRG: The ones who 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. 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: Of what importance do you think fashion bloggers are to the industry at present? Do you see this growing? How soon and in what way? What have you already seen change in the last couple of years? What are the problems and how can they be resolved?
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: To the public/readers, why are bloggers as valuable as print publications? What do you offer that a magazine doesn’t?
DRG: A reader has a closer relationship with a blogger; there’s a dialogue and a community. It’s much more of 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: What is your response to those that dispute bloggers having advertising? Or fronting campaigns/collaborating with designers. Why should the reader 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 platform to launching labels/opening boutiques, do you see these side projects as having longevity or being sustainable? In other words, ought they be giving up their day jobs?
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 inevitable as a sign of change and therefore positive in many ways?
DRG: I guess no publicity is bad publicity and if people are talking about you then it means you’re relevant.