After moderating our jam-packed-with-information panel for IFB Con on “Business in the 1st Year of Blogging”, I sat down with two of the panelists (we were also joined by lovelies Pippa of Sous Style & Zanita of Zanita) to continue to the conversation about where we started and what our path has been.
1. What is one thing you’ve stopped doing since your 1st year?
Tina from Bag Snob: Kelly & I used to write purely to entertain each other. Now we get to write to entertain hundreds of thousands of readers around the world.
Amy from College Fashionista: Second guessing myself. When I first launched CollegeFashionista I was 22 & constantly unsure of business decisions because I was so young to be developing my own company. I have now become way more confident in my decisions & stand firmly behind each business move I make.
Hilary: Aiming for perfection. I’m now proud of myself every time I do something at 90%, because I know my 90% is everyone else’s 99%, & the two hours that last little bit will take me, can get me to 50% on the next thing.
2. What was your biggest disappointment or lowest moment in the 1st year?
Amy: My site crashed countless times. Each time I would think, “My business is over, readers will never understand, I’ve lost everything”. I now realize every website crashes & I can quickly troubleshoot those problems as they come.
Hilary: Walking away from a $10K contract when they wanted me to sign a 3-year non-compete & wouldn’t offer royalties. It was disappointing because I knew my offer was very fair, but at the same time I was so proud of myself for not compromising my future for what felt like a lot of money, that it was also one of my highest moments.
3. What’s been your best pinch-me-moment that made all the hard work worth it?
Tina: Landing on the front page of Women’s Wear Daily when the news of our collaboration with DKNY broke. No other bloggers at the time had teamed up with a major brand on that scale. We designed an entire bag line & had a hand in every step of the process from design to production to marketing.
Amy: I have pinch-me-moments on a regular basis. Speaking at IFB is one of those or even something like receiving an email from a contributor saying how much the site has impacted them. I always want more for my company, we have a lot of room for growth & are nowhere near our full potential. But they’re been great successes along the way & I believe in staying grounded, focused & always wanting more.
Hilary: The first day of filming my show for Hello Style Channel. I knew I wanted to use my musical theatre background to do style hosting, but I had no idea it’d happen within 6 months of launching my company. I’d never done a thing on camera, but that day it felt like what I’d be meant to do. Is there any better feeling than that?
4. When did you first hire help or freelancers? Who’s on your team now?
Tina: We hired a great writer to help with Beauty Snob when we first launched, then two years ago a full-time assistant & copy editor to help manage the workload of all six blogs. Now we have two freelance writers, a copy editor, a graphics manager, two part-time interns, ourselves, & Kelly’s husband – a.k.a. Tech Snob.
Amy: Our core team is made up of my four siblings! We started together in the beginning & are still the inner workings of this business. At this time my sister & I are the only full-time employees we have. She’s Editorial Director & I’m Creative Director, while my two brothers remain business advisors & investors.
Hilary: Seven months in I hired my first part-time assistant. It sounds crazy but with hosting Hello Style Channel at the time & running Dean Street Society, I was just losing my mind with the work load. She’s still with me plus three monthly freelancers (photographer, videographer/editor, bookkeeper) & two interns who work remotely. (I’m taking on another couple interns if anyone’s interested!)
5. Do you identify yourself as an entrepreneur or blogger & why?
Tina: I think we are both entrepreneurs & bloggers. The job of a blogger is always evolving, so you need to be flexible & make adjustments as opportunities come your way. When we started almost eight years ago, there were no business models for how to go about this. We built our own business model to generate revenue from the very first year. Kelly was an Entrepreneur major & I studied International Finance, & the minute we realized blogging could be lucrative, our business backgrounds kicked into gear.
Amy: Entrepreneur. CollegeFashionista is a community of college students all over the world who share similar interests in fashion, photography, journalism & are eager to break into this industry. It’s their voices that make up the content on CollegeFashionista. I help spread their message & created the platform in which they contribute to, so therefore I consider myself an entrepreneur.
Hilary: I started my blog as a marketing component of my styling business, so I’ve always seen myself as an entrepreneur first. My blog indirectly makes me income as a marketing tool & resume, but almost no money directly (i.e. affiliates, ads, sponsored posts). My income is as a stylist, teacher, on-camera host, writer, curator & now coaching for budding bloggers & entrepreneurs!
Let’s keep the conversation going! Answer one or all of the Qs for yourself below. Or ask another Q you’re dying to know the answer to & I’ll try to answer it in a future Business of Blogging column!
[Image credit: Dustin Fenstermacher]