A New Map of the Two-Way Street: Why Giving Back to the Blogosphere is Key to Growth

This post is by Ann Colville Somma:

2010 will be a banner year for bloggers, as they stand firmly at the center of the new fashion media movement. Lauded as independent voices, blogs in fact exist within a highly interactive community, and in part, it’s this connectivity that differentiates us from traditional media. Every successful blog reflects positively on the community as a whole, and every successful blogger has the opportunity to support -and even bring fame to – the blogs they love. (‘The Sartorialist’ photoblogger Scott Schuman’s promotion of Garance Doré is just one example).

“Coming up” in the blogosphere over the past year, I’ve felt a strong desire to support the community that has supported me. In the early days of my blog, I spent a lot of time commenting on other blogs and linking to blogs I loved. Now, I also allot time each week to brainstorm new ways to collaborate with the blogosphere and, sometimes, with companies that support it. What follows are a few of my most rewarding activities:

Contributing: Beyond the Guest Post

Publications and portals like IFB and Style Sample exist to promote fashion blogs, and survive on the talent behind them. I reached out to both founders (our girl Jennine here at IFB and Tamia at Style Sample) and have contributed stories, images, and more to their endeavors. Though time-consuming and often unrelated to the content on my blog, these projects have provided some unexpected benefits. For example, publications like Style Sample often work to syndicate their stories across the web, so that little link to your blog is in more places than you thought.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Links

Whether you cover an event for a publication or for your own blog, you’ll be meeting other folks with an online presence. At the IFB Evolving Influence Conference and Chictopia10, I exchanged emails with everyone I photographed so I could send them the link to the stories, and then took a little time to edit and send extra pictures that hadn’t been used in the publications. Many people used the images on their blogs with a link to mine, and everyone was happy (and looked great).

The Currency of E-Commerce Promotion

There is a lot of discussion lately about companies approaching bloggers with the hopes of free promotion. I’m not advocating giving away your valuable blog space for nothing, and an awful lot of deleting goes on in my inbox. However, my blog offers curated shopping with a focus on one-of-a-kind pieces, and I’m always searching for content on Etsy, Market Publique, and other sites. Online sellers large and small depend on the blogosphere for promotion, and in turn they love to support blogs. I reach out to every seller when I post about their item, and though I expect nothing in return, I usually get a tweeted link or two, a new follower, or a link to my article on their site’s blog. The currency of my blog is content and traffic, and this type of thanks is more valuable than the pennies that come from affiliate sales. Plus, I gather sell-through data (when it’s clear that my article has led to a sale) for my media kit, which is powerful information for potential sponsors.

Rethinking the Blogger Profile

You’ve seen hundreds of these, and you’ve likely been approached for one yourself; maybe you’ve even been “tagged” for a profile – the blog equivalent of a chain letter. While questions like “What are your key pieces for next season?” are fun to answer, is this really what you want to know about the bloggers you admire?

When profiling another blogger, my goal is to create content that’s new and compelling for my readers. (If I achieve this, chances are it will be fresh enough for the subject to want to send their readers to check it out). A few examples of story ideas:

– Behind the Collection: Most bloggers would love to show off their hard-won clothing and accessories. Do you always admire a blogger’s vintage shoes? Ask for (or offer to shoot) images, and gather stories about her collection. Jak & Jil’s profile of Anna Della Russo is a fabulous example of a concisely edited profile.

– Insider Secrets: Pick a town or city and chances are a stylish blogger is living and shopping there. Wouldn’t you love to pick their brain about the destinations they love – from flea markets to hidden boutiques? If you’ve got skills, you can even draw a cute map based on the tips they give you.

Their Future is Yours

We have each other to thank for the wealth of opportunities that now exist for bloggers. The key to understanding blog growth is engaging with successful bloggers and the publications and companies that support them. Whether you’re just getting started or looking to make that next big jump, it pays to reach out and give back. Chances are you’ll find ideas, answers and support along the way.

Ann Colville Somma is the blogger behind Holier than Now, co-founder of the Cliquesound ad network, and a branding and innovations consultant to the fashion and beauty industries.

Photo by Dustin Fenstermacher

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47 Responses

  1. Little Black Book

    Indeed it is crucial for any blog or any company of any sort to grow popular or suceessful through communication and interaction with fellow bloggers around the world. I feel that it is essential to build and make ‘blogger friends’ not to mention its incredibly fun to meet them in person! Great article and points made!! Xx
    .-= Little Black Book´s last blog ..A bunny’s life =-.

  2. Beth Musni

    What an excellent article. I think it’s so important for bloggers, whether experienced or brand new, to learn to utilize all of their resources.

    I also like that you make an effort to give back to the blogging world. That’s what allows fashion blogging to operate so well– fashion fans uniting and supporting one another.

    The cutthroat method of traditional media doesn’t bode well in the blogging world.
    .-= Beth Musni´s last blog ..Style Matters =-.

  3. Steff Metal

    This article makes little excited headbangers moshing in my chest.

    Aren’t bloggers just amazing? The lengths you all go to, to make the blogasphere a place of collaboration, help, magic and wonder – it just astounds me. I’ve only been doing this nine months, and I want to do it forever and make a success out of it, but more than that, I want to be a part of THIS – what you’re all creating. This community of giving. 2010 is going to be the year fashion blogging rises to a new level, and I’m proud to stand alongside the ranks of such talented, discerning and generous individuals.

    Also, if anyone ever wants one of those “Insider Secrets” articles about Auckland, let me know!
    .-= Steff Metal´s last blog ..101 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up =-.

  4. KB

    I wish there could be more blogger events, as I’ve found them so rewarding to meet like-minded people in real life. Each time I’ve attended, I feel like my blog grows slightly and I’m sure others feel the same way too. I will definitely try and contact smaller companies when I buy their products and see where that gets me.
    .-= KB´s last blog ..Going East =-.

  5. Mallory - MissMalaprop

    I agree that giving back to the community you’re a part of can be a key way to grow your business or brand into a successful one, and I think that goes far beyond just the world of blogging. I actually just wrote about a very similar topic a few days ago in response to a journalist’s request for alternative marketing ideas for crafters. A group I’m a member of, the New Orleans Craft Mafia, has received some amazing press because of community outreach events that we’ve participated in. If we were only in it for ourselves, and just trying to shill our wares all of the time, there’s no way we would have received some of the press we have, such as the cover of a local weekly magazine and a local morning tv news spot last summer…

    You can usually tell when people or companies are honestly trying to give back and participate in their community, and I think people respond to that. It’s easy for most of us to see when companies are just trying to seem like they’re giving back, and obviously that won’t have the same effect if we can tell they’re not being genuine.

    I’m totally a believer in karma – keep helping others and the good deeds will come back to you twofold.

  6. Retro Chick

    Oh what a fantastic and timely post.

    The thing I always liked about blogging is the community feel, that people WANTED to help you out and help you suceed, but lately I’ve been feeling like a darker side has started to show it’s face as blogging becomes more popular.

    Thanks for the tips and the inspiration!
    .-= Retro Chick´s last blog ..Happy St Patricks Day =-.

  7. Jennine

    so true, i don’t know where i’d be if i didn’t put time into the community. sometimes i feel bad that i can’t properly give time to other people’s blogs, but helping other bloggers has made everything so much more fun and more gratifying over the past few years, i don’t think i would enjoy blogging as much without the community.

  8. Madeline Veenstra

    This is very true! I started Wikifashion with no tangible way to engage with people other than on twitter. It wasn’t until I started my own blog that things started to take off and the blogging community got behind it. I absolutely adore blogging and the way it connects you with so many interesting people.
    .-= Madeline Veenstra´s last blog ..The Style Rookie =-.

  9. Littlekobaby

    I think this is a great idea. It’s sad that it doesn’t work as well with more specific fashion blogs (IE my own Lolita fashion blog) since there just aren’t very many, and the content is usually only read by those that follow that specific fashion.
    .-= Littlekobaby´s last blog ..Outfit Snap,Western Lolita! =-.

  10. ThatGirl39

    Some fantastic points and really well put across. I love the sense of community experienced through blogging – I’ve “met” some wonderful people who go out of their way to help and nurture other bloggers. It’s heart warming! x
    .-= ThatGirl39´s last blog ..April At Asos =-.

  11. shauna

    Great post. I am sort of new to this whole blogging world so I really appreciate IFB writing these articles and being on the forefront of navigating this uncharted territory. Keep it up! :o)
    .-= shauna´s last blog ..Woodpecker On Our Chimney =-.

  12. Denise @ Swelle

    I think it’s not only smart to support other bloggers but it’s such a nice thing to do. I’ve come across one or two strategic minded bloggers who reached out without having much heart in it, but by and large bloggers are genuine, community-minded people and if not for that I doubt I’d be so committed to this world. I really feel that I’m part of something, and most importantly I love that something.
    .-= Denise @ Swelle´s last blog ..Cupcake Monday! The Chocolate Teacups and Cupcakes Edition =-.

  13. MizzJ

    Very informative and useful! The community is the most gratifying part of blogging I find. Finding others of like minds and interests and being able to interact with them is the best part of being a blogger and also one of the best ways to promote your blog. It’s a win-win situation!
    .-= MizzJ´s last blog ..Lust of the Week: Vintage Chanel via Etsy =-.

  14. StyleNuggets

    Great tips for newbies like me: my blog’s less than a month old. I find the articles on IFB really helpful. They provide tips in simple terms to non-IT folks like moi.
    May we have more like these please?
    .-= StyleNuggets´s last blog ..Towards a Fashion Democracy? =-.

  15. tara

    Amazing points here, this is really usefull to a newbie like myself..I never really understood the significance of joining and contributing to sites like IFB and ect…., but really i love meeting and seeing other people that share my shame obsessions and hopes…its beautiful to see others being creative and themselves…its important not too loos ourselves in the heap of this society.

    thank you!!

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    I stumbled upon your web site on the internet and look a lot of the earlier content. Keep up fantastic operate. Seeking to studying more from you later on!…

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