Ask The Editor: Andrea Lavinthal of People.com
By: Taylor Davies

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For this week’s “Ask The…” feature, we chatted with the Style Director of People.com, Andrea Lavinthal. Below, Andrea shares her take on personal style blogs, how journalism and blogging differ and intersect, and where she thinks the future of online media may be headed.

Do you read many fashion or personal style blogs? Which ones stand out to you?

As the style director of PEOPLE.com, it’s part of my job to keep up with the latest fashion and personal style blogs. I’m most impressed with bloggers who do not have a seemingly unlimited budget or a closetful of gifted designer pieces, but still manage to create interesting and attainable looks. I’m also a big fan of fashion sites with distinct voices, such as Who What Wear and Go Fug Yourself.

What do you think about the proliferation of fashion and style blogs of late?

I’m all for new fashion blogs as long as they have a fresh, inspiring perspective. I think it’s amazing that young women have an opportunity to not only break into the fashion world, but to turn a passion into a viable business.

When you land on a blog, what usually grabs your attention? What keeps you reading? 

A clean design, compelling copy and accessible style catches my attention. One thing that immediately turns me off is when fashion bloggers suddenly crossover into beauty. I come from a traditional print background (I worked at Cosmopolitan as a beauty editor for eight years), where you are required to be an expert in your field. As my friend Amber Katz of Beauty Blogging Junkie says, “stay in your lane.” Just because you have an audience doesn’t make you an expert in other areas your readers are interested in.

With such a saturated market of beauty and style blogs, what can bloggers do to stand out?

Again, a clean design stands out as does a distinctive point of view and original, well-written content.  Oh, and avoid exclamation points.

As a Style Director, we’re sure you get pitched non-stop. What makes for a must-read email pitch? What’s the best way to get an editor’s attention?

Know our content. I receive a surprising number of pitches to promote a brand’s Facebook contest or consumer event, neither of which we cover on PEOPLE.com. It really helps when someone says, “we have something perfect for your ‘I Really Love My’ franchise” or “I think this might fit in your new editor’s picks beauty gallery.”

One of our upcoming IFBCON topics is about the differences between journalism and blogging. What do you think sets these two sectors apart? Do you think blogging is affecting the print journalism field?

Both bloggers and journalists have opinions. The difference is that journalists typically represent a brand (not their own) and are required to do comprehensive reporting and form an unbiased point of view, whereas many bloggers can express a totally subjective personal perspective. Unless a blogger is being paid for a post (which should be disclosed), they can write about whatever they want.

I don’t think blogging is affecting print journalism as much as it’s affecting online journalism. Because of blogs, readers are starting to get used to and expect more personal content, so many websites and even magazines have started to move in that direction with their tone.

For example, we recently started an editor’s picks beauty franchise where we use the first person since that’s an area where readers want to know the products are being endorsed by an actual editor, not a vague “we.”

You are extremely active on social media – what’s the one tip you’d give to bloggers or readers on how to make engaging, fun social media content?

Find a TV show that you love and live tweet about it every week. That’s what I did with The Bachelor franchise (yes, that’s embarrassing to type) and people seem to like it.

If you had to make a prediction, what do think (or hope) the landscape of blogging and online fashion media will look like in a year or two, or 5 years?

The most successful fashion and personal style bloggers will be the ones who expand beyond a blog to a destination with daily content, exciting contributors, innovative videos and more interactive components.

At PEOPLE.com we’re starting to partner with bloggers on our editorial packages and I see that trend continuing and those relationships becoming more meaningful in the future.

 

 

Comments

  1. Avatar of Brooklyn Grey

    Andrea made some valid points and I think I’ll follow those points. Building, growing using every bit of knowledge available.

  2. Toni Styles says:

    Wonderful and insightful. Taking notes.

    http://rhythmandruffle.com <3

  3. Jessica says:

    I am new to fashion/style blogging and I am always looking for advice on what to do and what not to do in Blogging! Thanks you for the interview.

  4. Avatar of Anne G
    Anne G says:

    This post is really a great help, i even bookmarked it so i can remind myself the do’s and dont’s. Im guilty of crossing over from niche to other niche, which makes my blog really messed.

    I just want to ask if it’s better to start a “new” blog with a focused niche or stick with my current blog? Im just worried about the traffic and former sponsors. It’ll be hard to start anew. Can somebody give me an advice?

    Thanks! :)
    http://anneg08.blogspot.com/

  5. D.mars says:

    Great tips, this is bookmarked and I am definitely taking notes. Thank you Andrea.

  6. Avatar of Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I’m definitely guilty of crossing over from fashion to beauty. Although that being said, I’ve done it from the start and still gained followers. While both types of post attract the same amount of readers.

    http://www.byrebeccalouise.com

  7. Avatar of Nataya
    Nataya says:

    I don’t feel like beauty post turning me off. Can be fashion blogger and beauty blogger at the same time as long as it inspires me, I would read her/his blog. And I would like to know a beauty not only from expert but from a user point of view too. However I think it depends on reader’s personal interest. Maybe if a fashion blog crosses over politic it will turn me off , however I would still read if her/his style is super inspiring.

    http://natyponders.blogspot.com

What do you think?