Gala is wearing black and white breton striped top, black and white polkadot platform pumps, a full pink skirt, a Hello Kitty-style pink headband with ears, and a black and silver studded belt… And she smells amazing
Gala Darling believes in blogging as a business. “I think the idea that blogging is for the sake of it is bullshit. If you want to blog for money – I think that's awesome, not bad embarrassing or shameful.”
On her audience: “My definition of a passionate audience is one that follows you around the web and shows you that you're worth while. For me a passionate audience is one that engages, asks for advice, and buys my product – they believe in me enough that they'll put money down for something I've created.” In terms of measuring engagement, comments are a great way for measuring your audience's passion and validating what you're doing.
In Gala's case, she refers to herself as a writer. Her blog has simply been a way to parlay her audience's passion into support for her writing career.
She says, “I don't have rules but this is what I've learned”
1. Not everyone is going to like you. get over it! You're being judged regardless of what you do – so you might as well be bold, be authentic be you as much as possible.
2. You're audience won't be passionate if you're not. Blogs are an art form – and there are no great artists who lack passion.
3. Be honest truthful, brave and bold at all times. It's obvious when you're pretending to be someone you're not or you're doing unethical things, people will find out. Good blogs have full disclosure at all times.
4. Comments can be good or bad. It's not all about comments anymore anyway – the lay of the land has changed and their are so many ways to engage with each other and with bloggers. Comments are not the only way you're going to grow your audience.
5. Be consistent across all your platforms – online and in real life!
6. Be thought-provoking and inspiring. It's easy to start conversations – ask questions! Don't go on shock value alone – audience want to connect with a real person and not someone who just wants to stir the pot.
7. Offer something of value to your readers. Give them something they don't already have. If you're going to rip someone off – which I don't condone! – at least do it better and knock it out of the park!
“It's almost mind bogglingly simple,” she says. Be true to yourself, be honest, be vulnerable, and be passionate!
Questions from audience.
How long had you been blogging before you started podcasting and what are some of the benefits of podcasting?
“I started my podcasts in March of 2009, so I'd been blogging for 3 years. I was nervous about doing it because it's a paid service, and I didn't know if people would like it or think I was a money-grubbing bitch for asking people to pay! The unexpected benefit is that podcasting has earned me the most money EVER of anything I've done on my blog. I could do podcasting alone – no ads, no speaking engagements, and I would have a good living. But, the reason it's been successful is because my readers knew me and knew what to expect. Having that trust and that passionate readership is a great way to kick it off. Make sure, if you do podcasts, that the quality is really high – that sh*t lives forever!”
Building your audience, what worked for you?
“Practice. The more I did it, the more I learned. I told everyone on my LiveJournal list and my friends that I started a blog, and it just grew quickly and organically because I did something that hadn't been done before. I was writing about more than fashion – lifestyle, shoes, whatever came to my mind! And it was intriguing to people. I was also really lucky – people referred others to my site on LiveJournal. If you really want to grow your audience, help people! Teach people something. Some of my most popular articles are How-To's.”
I'm dying to know about your shoes! Where are they from?
“These (Mary Jane platforms) are Bordello by Pleaser. They're $60 on Amazon. They're not comfortable but they're sexy as f**k! And the (oversized rhinestone cocktail) ring is by Tarina Tarantino.”
How do you get over negative comments?
“People would say horrible comments on my blog when I moved to New York! It was terrible. I ban people that are rude to me more than one. If you were walking down the street and someone said something rude you wouldn't put up with that sh*t! People can say whatever they want on their blog, but not on mine! But, when people do say rude things I'll tell my boyfriend and have a laugh.”
Where did you get your name?
“My parents gave me a really boring name so I wouldn't have a nickname. For example, my siblings are named Sarah and Paul … you get the gist. When I started using the internet you could make a name on forums, etc. which I loved! I knew I wanted a new name but I didn't know where it was going to come from … and it came to me in a dream during a nap, written in the sky! I sent away for a name change form from the U.S. government, pay about $120 and never looked back!”
How did you end up moving to New York? And how did it change your blog?
“I'm from New Zealand. I always knew I was in love with New York. I came here for the first time in 2006 and stepped out of a cab and said, “I'm home.” I love the energy here – people are busy and have things to do! And I appreciate that. In terms of how moving changed me, I started the blog in Australia – but the fashion scene is different there. In New York, I have access to PR and other influential people. Also, maybe now that I'm not living in Australia with my old boyfriend, maybe my blog is more my own ideas.”
How do you approach your fans wanting to meet up?
“I think the chances of me meeting someone in real life increases if they have a web presence – but it's a bit weird. Sometimes it's a bit creepy, but cool at the same time, to meet up with people who know your blog because they know all your stories!”
Your first event was at Louis Vuitton – how did you get invited to that?
“Who knows!??! It was totally weird. They contacted me.”
What made you begin blogging in the first place?
“I moved to Australia from New Zealand in 2006. I did a mini-world tour as I moved. In New Zealand, I worked in an office but I spent all my time online anyway – I actually got a warning because I was in the top 4 internet users in a company of 30,000 people! Anyway, when I was travelling I had amazing experiences and I didn't want to go back to work in an office. I was reading the work of a motivational speaker and his ideas on not working were really controversial – “don't be a slave!” – so I lay on my bed and wrote a list of other things I could. I'd always loved writing and a blog cost me nothing to start up. I had wanted to start a magazine and used the blog as a starting point – but I never got there! I love my blog and it's so cheap to run!”
Have you been in touch with New Zealand and the fashion scene?
“I've had opportunities to go to New Zealand fashion week but I wanted to take my boyfriend so I said no! But the scene is really thriving down there.”
In terms of forums and other technology, what do you use?
“I don't have a forum – but I recommend Ning. In terms of Podcasts, I record in Garageband and I sell with e-Jockey.”
Do you think that bloggers who are writing content are achieving better results than editorial blogs with just photos?
“I think blogs that don't have a lot of writing sometimes have less to connect to, but photos of your life are something to connect to… But writing is a great way to be vulnerable, honest and open and allow people to connect with you.”
All quotes are general transcriptions of Gala's answers