What’s Wrong with being a Fashion Blogger?

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Much has been written over the years on the rise of blogs, the decline of blogs, and the power of blogs to influence purchases and even “change the world.” Fashion and lifestyle blogging specifically gets a lot of attention and quite a bad rep. In the beginning fashion bloggers stepped on toes and broke down barriers while they worked their way up, and we were sort of in awe of what they had achieved. Editors and fashion journalists took notice and now have now co-opted “blogger” tools so there's little distinction anymore.

But on the way up, things changed, as they always do. Designers and brands started to take notice, recognized the influence bloggers had, and bloggers were glad for the attention, so they built relationships that may or may not have always been entirely ethical. And now that the “golden era” of fashion blogging is over, there's a re-examination going on over what our impact is, and our overall role in the industry. And also a lot of criticism:

We're beholden to the industry

And as a result of that we don't stir it up as often as the bloggers of yore did. We don't criticize or speak out about things we don't like because we're afraid of falling out with the PR companies who send us product to review and pay our bills.

We're not doing anything new

It's all been done before. Outfit photos, live streaming fashion shows, backstage makeup shots…it's nothing groundbreaking.

We're “all about ourselves”

Ah…the age of the selfie, and OOTD pictures. Our blogs now are filled with pictures of US; we don't help promote other women, or showcase anything different.

We only talk about what we get paid for

Every item we wear is gifted, every post is sponsored…

We are all the same

There is still a lack of diversity among the top fashion blogs. Not in the blogosphere in general, but the blogs/bloggers that get more mainstream attention tend to look the same; they start to blur together after a while and there's no difference from one to the other.

We're sell-outs

We'll shill whatever comes our way and our relationship with a brand or PR company is more important than our relationship with our readers.

To a certain extent, all of the criticisms are valid. And whether or not they're entirely true, they are perceived to be true, and in a lot of circumstances, that's as good as being true. Not in every blogger, and possibly not so extreme, but is an element of truth in all of these common criticisms.

So what do we do about it? A lot of bloggers ignore negativity and think it only comes from jealous haters, but keeping an open mind and having a critical eye can actually help you grow as a fashion blogger. Take these criticisms and figure out how you can answer them, and say, hey, maybe I used to do that, but now I'm doing this instead.

1. Start writing more about random small brands you find and like, not taking so many sponsored posts. Create outfit pictures featuring more things you've purchased yourself.

2. Differentiate yourself from other bloggers in your niche – find what makes you unique (besides just YOU), and run with it.

3. Be up front with your readers on sponsored posts and relationships you have with brands/PR companies – be cognizant that they are your reason for existing, NOT the PR companies. Disclose everything, even if you think you don't have to.

Ultimately, of course there's nothing “wrong” with being a fashion blogger. So you're not curing cancer or whatever, but the world still needs people who do things just because they enjoy doing them, even if they might now have a very big impact.

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23 Responses

  1. Natoya Thomside

    This is a really good article- I agree with every word especially the bits about talking about their outfits and new small brands. I think creabiltiy is slowly being shaken because people can be bought! Hopefully things will slowly go back to basics

    Reply
  2. Brendan @ Handmade

    There are always cycles and ups and downs and in every medium – I like how you have asked for bloggers to be more authentic and independent and less “beholden to PR companies” – after all we are coming to bloggers for some outside the box thinking – not just more guff about stuff.

    Reply
  3. Miss Monet

    Great article! As you stated above, there is a lack of diversity amongst fashion blogs. So many bloggers are trying to recreate what has already worked for the “famous fashion bloggers”, that theirs lacks originality. A lot of blogs look exactly the same and in a way casts a negative light on the world of blogging. I hate seeing selfies and “OOTD” posts, I tend to stay away from “blogs” like that. I’ve made it my mission to not start something like that and I have successfully achieved that goal.

    http://missmonet.net

    Reply
  4. Anastasia

    I guess that fashion blogs launched after the “golden era rush” got back to the point where all started. I mean that a fashion blog now is again a hobby, something you do because you really like it and will keep doing even if you don’t get paid for it. Blogs with lots of sponsored posts and other purely commercial stuff look a bit funny at a certain point, I doubt that most of them have a serious income of that, but often it just puts off the readers. A blogger is someone a reader can trust and rely on, right? And to remember from time to time the difference between blogging and running a magazine may be helpful.

    xx

    Anastasia

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  5. CynthiaCM

    This is why I brand myself as “lifestyle.” This way, I can write about what I want, when I want. My last six posts have been about the following topics:

    Today (Friday, April 25): Recap of last night’s airing of Chopped Canada (do this every Friday)

    Yesterday: My thoughts on a Chinese-only ad for Crest White Strips, that has been seen in Vancouver and Toronto, both cities with a significant ethnic Chinese population and a chicken recipe I adapted from something I found online

    Wednesday: Some select looks from LOFT’s summer line (some pictures courtesy of a PR company and the rest taken at a preview at said PR company)

    Tuesday: Write-up/recap of a dining event a restaurant held for media

    What I AM disappointed about is how I am treated differently from other bloggers here in Toronto, likely because I do not post too many personal/outfit pictures, or, if they’re beauty bloggers, instructional posts. It’s to the point that I feel invisible at times. People used to say hi to me all the time. It’s happening less now. And I’ve had some sort of lifestyle site longer than many of them.

    Cynthia

    http://www.delectablychic.com

    Reply
  6. Jacqueline Jax

    I have two fashion blogs. One an ongoing conversation on current fashion trends and looks that I have put together as well as fab ones I’ve seen on others. http://Www.JaxCouture.com / My other blog is on living a resort lifestyle featuring clothing, swimwear, health, beauty and fitness. I love that they are both on topics that I enjoy and in agreement with your story, I have always turned away posting relationships that don’t fit the blogs. I’m happy for my decision and have found that I maintained a steady stream of visitors since the beginning by staying unique and not following others, instead I learn what I love about a post I see and use that inspiration to create not copy. Would love to see you visit my blogs. Xoxo – Jax

    Reply
  7. Anna Kinga Kiraly

    This article has a good main thought. I know that business is business, but if bloggers ‘sell their souls’ to brands it’s not stylish or unique at all, but a kind of ridiculous. I am glad that I stand far away from that.

    🙂

    http://indiefashionblog.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  8. Zuma

    Thank you for the article! In light of what CynthiaCM said – in between my fashion posts, I talk about other things. Last time, I wrote “The Good Girl Syndrome” hoping that women would jump on the subject, but no, I get way more readers when I post photos of myself sporting an outfit… I want to and still do chose to be true to myself…
    http://www.livingzbeautifulmix.com

    Reply
    • CynthiaCM

      I replied to your post! And yes, definitely stay true to yourself and don’t sell out. I’ve had to turn down sponsorship offers because I felt that it would be wrong/not right for my site.

      Reply
  9. Jeanine Marie

    I believe if you share your own personal experience on subjects that matter to you is the first step of setting yourself apart from the others. Personal photos, a eye-catching website and most importantly, have something to share. Not everyone will dig your style or relate to you but at least you are putting in an effort and putting yourself out there.

    Jeanine Marie
    avalonandkelly.com

    Reply
  10. Nancy

    This is a great post. People are getting so angry nowadays about affiliate links, sponsored posts, etc. that it’s in every bloggers’ best interest to be up front and genuine.

    Reply
  11. Balsam

    I agree with everything in this post. I personally found myself losing my blog and personal blogging and writing style, and most importantly, my relationship with my readers, when I started accepting more and more sponsored posts and gifted items and payments etc. But recently, I noticed that whats more important is what I initially started with: a small scale fashion blog that I absolutely adored and loved to write for regardless the payment.

    Thank you for this post, it was such a lovely reminder x

    Balsam
    http://www.albalsamlife.com

    Reply
  12. Kelly

    Great post! Honestly I wish people weren’t so critical of what other people enjoy doing. But as we will NEVER be able to control that, it’s nice to have ways to turn the criticism into something useful.

    xoxo
    Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

    Reply
  13. Natalie S.

    I do tell my readers about the things I didn’t like about an event I attended or a product I tried. It’s honest. And people are not stupid, people (me too as a reader) know when a blogger is sold out. There’s nothing wrong about getting sponsors except when bloggers forgot their own style (as Chiara) just to wearing sponsored clothes. Or when you have to lie because the product or the service isn’t good enough to get a recommendation.
    Maybe, the golden era of bloggers is ending because of the same fashion bloggers! If we all wear the same on the same ways, why reading fashion blogs?

    Reply
  14. Lara

    Oh noes, too much generalizing :D. (And I know that was on purpose 🙂 )

    I didn’t recognize myself – apart from the being self-centered part.. 😉 There are lots of different fashion blogs and fashion bloggers out there. We might not get mainstream attention if we don’t have the mainstream style, but we are still there!

    I fully agree with those 3 tips that you gave, Grechen 🙂 .

    Reply
  15. Eva Pal

    I blog about vintage fashion clothes. I love cheap and stylish finds and to promote shops and stores for affordable vintage clothes. Expensive designer clothes are beautiful I love reading blogs about it, after all I work in fashion but they are not for everyone.

    Reply
  16. Anastasia

    To be honest…I am 25 and already feel weird to present myself as a “fashion blogger” and hardly can imagine myself doing it in 10 years time! It’s just…not serious in a certain lifetime period. So I quited my fashion blog and started travel one with with I feel totally in tune with.

    Reply