By Carol Han
I think that I got assigned the most interesting panel to blog about: The Business of Blogging.
Vahni Georgoulakos from Grit and Glamour is the moderator—I like her already! She seems super down-to-earth and funny.
The panelists are some serious all-stars: Caitlin NiChathain from Gucci, Keiko Groves from Keiko Lynn, Tony Wang from Post Fashionism, Gregory Shove from Halogen, Piera Gelardi from Refinery29 (one of my faves—both the person and the website), and Craig Arend from Altamira.
First question up! How do bloggers approach companies for sponsorships and partnerships? General consensus is that brands only want to work with bloggers after they reach a certain point: how many readers do you have? Who are they? What is your content and who does it target? Do you have lots of reader interaction? As a blogger you’ve got to be creative and think about different, interesting ways to work with brands and propose smart things you can do together (that gem came from Piera—Refinery29 is always working on something new and great, so that’s no surprise). Also, Klout! Gregory says to figure out what your Klout score is and get it to above 70—these influence metrics are going to become more and more important. P.S. My score is 59. Time to get it up! And from the brand side of things, Caitlin from Gucci says that bloggers should be brave and reach out to brands! They’re interested in getting to know us!
Second question: What do luxury brands look for when identifying bloggers they want to work with? Craig from Altamira whips out a direct quote from Natalie Massanet of Net-a-Porter. Nice. She says that she looks for “bloggers with reach, large readership, and influence. Ultimately, it comes down to quality of content.” That seems to be the running theme here. If you have a great-looking, clean site, keep your voice authentic, and develop a dynamic interaction with your readers, you’re well on your way. The quality of the content is more important than your numbers. It’s not just about how many pageviews you have, it’s about how much influence you have.
Greg says something interesting (I love this guy). His advice to bloggers is to demonstrate engagement. Look at the number of comments, retweets or shares and compare it to a big site (i.e. Style.com, Vogue.com) and a blogger will VERY likely have way more shares, likes, or comments. Blogs have more audience engagement than big sites by far.
Next question! How do bloggers determine how they should be paid? The panelists seem to be united in thinking that it’s super important to build solid relationships with brands before getting into the matter of payment. Greg even says to say “no” the first time they offer to spend money with you. Say what? Basically, it seems like there’s no set standard yet. It’s all too new. Greg does say to capitalize on those 300×600 ad formats—they work and brands pay a premium for them.
Next question: How do other social media channels play into the growth and marketability of a blog or blogger? Obviously, it’s important to be involved in social media to promote your blog, but I loved Greg’s point, which was “If you are going to Tweet, FB, Tumblr, YouTube, do it very well so you can show legit following. If you aren’t going to do it well, don’t do it. It’ll ultimately weaken your brand if you’re weak in one of the channels.” Smart guy.
And the last (but definitely not least) topic—Vahni brings up the infamous Vogue Italia article in which the EIC is saying that bloggers are not qualified to comment on fashion because they have no background in it. Greg (obviously, my favorite panelist) says: If you added up the influence of all the editors of Vogue Italia, it would be absolutely minimal compared to the influence of bloggers.