Sep 26, 2019 | By Jane Boddy
Apr 11, 2017
By WGSN Insider
Long ago, in the dark ages before social media and when the Internet was still a bit mysterious, these little personal websites called “blogs” started popping up. Using the website platform blogger.com in the mid 2000s, people were able to create their own blogs and discuss whatever topics their hearts desired. It was a time when mirror selfies with digital cameras were a thing and the idea of “influencers” was not. Bloggers were part of smaller communities developing content for their own enjoyment rather than chasing after likes or sponsors. This is not to say that the evolution of the blogger is a negative, one, rather just an acknowledgement that it exists.
Here at WGSN, our contributor Cassandra Mitrani decided to explore how the original fashion bloggers have evolved their blogs from the early times of Internet blogging into the content giants they are today.
Read ahead for five great lessons we learned from the first wave of fashion bloggers.
From Blog to Media Business
Back in 2010, Leandra Medine started Man Repeller, the original angle? To delve into those clothes and head-to-toe looks that literally repelled men (but would get you a hug from the fashion-forward women in your life). Now the site is so much more, in seven years, it’s become a fully staffed lifestyle website, complete with a managing editor, a marketing strategist and editorial director who came from the popular retail site Racked. The site still offers fantastic fashion coverage, but it discusses other topics too ranging from wellness to pop culture and more. Medine is known for her quirky style and off-beat voice, and with the evolved platform, she continues to have an authentic point of view as she discusses runway trends and street style. This site acts as the perfect example of how your blog can grow into a media business.
Execute Brand Activations
This leads us into the next tip, activating your brand. Continuing with Man Repeller, the website evolved and began to develop brand partnerships, with everyone from Net-a-Porter to Topshop. Leandra and the Man Repeller team opened the MR Bazaar pop-up shop in Canal Street Market, which carries their merchandise and collaboration lines. The space was transformed to reflect the Man Repeller brand aesthetic. Similarly, Emily Weiss from Into the Gloss activated her personal brand with the launch of her cosmetics line Glossier, which has skyrocketed in popularity due to her blog’s dedicated following and her developed understanding of beauty products (the successful online community acts as the best beauty forum and a testing ground for new product launches). These are just two of the many bloggers that have developed their personal brands into actual businesses with physical product, letting their followers buy into the image and personal brand of the blogs they love to follow.
Grow Up With Your Blog
As you age, your blog should age with you. Jane Aldridge started Sea of Shoes at the age of 15 back in 2007, and continues to share her fashion edits, travels, and life updates with followers. When she started, she focused mainly on her vintage finds and wacky footwear, but as she’s grown up she’s touched upon more “grown up” subjects like weddings and interior decorating. Aldridge even started a comfort food and artisanal cocktail blog called Thyme & Temp. Growing up with your blog rather than starting afresh (or abandoning the online community you started) as you’ve gotten older lets you develop a writing style and individual voice, and also allows readers to get a better sense of who you are, how you have evolved and where you came from.
Evolve the Message
Bloggers tend to start out with a certain topic in mind that they want to write about, and that’s when they decide to start their blog. As people become comfortable talking about their subject of choice, they tend to expand their repertoire and start talking about other issues they feel are important to highlight. Tavi Gevinson started Style Rookie on blogger.com at just 11-years-old to discuss fashion and give her opinions on the latest trends. While Style Rookie remains present but rarely updated on blogger, Tavi’s message evolved from her opinions on personal style into pop culture and feminism, leading her to create the website Rookie. While fashion is still an important component, the website also looks at wellness, art, and relationships for teenage readers. Geri Hirsch of Because I’m Addicted created her blog way back in 2005 as a place to write about fashion, music, and food. As she grew as a person, the blog developed with a focus on wellness and healthy eating. Then more recently Garance Doré who started with her street style blog (a mini ode to French style), has launched Atelier Doré, a site that does more than just fashion and style, it’s now a profitable studio style company and her new title is Chief Creative Officer. These bloggers weren’t afraid to deviate from their original blogging intents, and take their side hustle more seriously. Their realness shined through and they continue to generate followings, even if the demographics shifted as their messages evolved.
Get a Best-Selling Book Under Your Wing
Thanks for having me yesterday @hatchardspiccadilly! A fresh batch of The New Garconne books just signed (in time for Valentine’s day if you’re that way inclined?). I also had a good mooch around the art and fashion section and reacquainted myself with Groovy Bob, a must buy book about art dealer Robert Fraser and the art world in the 60s #robertfraser #groovybob #artbooks #fashionbooks #thenewgarconne #hatchards #hatchardspiccadilly #booksofinstagram #bookshops
Creating content doesn’t always have to be solely digital as a blogger. Man Repeller, Disney Roller Girl, and stylish bunny Fifi Lapin have all seen huge success from producing books as an extension of their websites. Developing a book solidifies a message and lets readers keep a physical piece of their favourite blog in their homes, and followers can introduce their blog skeptic friends to the oh-so-wonderful world of internet influencers. While it may not be a first step in becoming a top content creator, a published best-selling book is a great long-term objective for aspirational bloggers to aim towards.
Liked this? Follow Cassandra on Instagram for more here.
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