Yuri is wearing a drape-neck black top, skinny black jeans and sleek black heeled booties.
Lookbook.nu, a community of collective fashion consciousness, was started by Yuri and her boyfriend. What makes Lookbook.nu different? The members themselves, not editors, decide on the best looks with a simple voting process. At any time, you can see the “hottest” look in the the world voted by the community.
Though not a blog, Lookbook. nu Yuri shared many of the struggles that bloggers do when growing the site to over 200,000 registered members and 3 million unique views a month. At the beginning, “No one wanted to use my site … well, my parents liked it!” but she's found that doing less, and doing it well, has been key to her growth. She emphasizes: “Know who you are, and who you aren't.” She advises cutting out the unnecessary fluff and doing one thing – in Loobook's case, that's sharing looks – and doing it well.
In the case of her site, she spends a lot of time fine-tuning filtering algorithms towards one goal: keeping content relevant and stylish (no fake models or celeb pics!). “Be strict about what is worth blogging abot – and leave out what isn't.”
“At Lookbook we believe in the idea of karma. Don't be annoying!” Her list of what NOT to do:
1. Don't spam and put your URL everywhere you can – comment for the sake of commenting, say something meaningful and more people will be inclined to visit your blog and may reciprocate by supporting you.
2. Don't be afraid to drive traffic to people that deserve it. Include links. For example, 75% of a blogger's readers learned about her through Lookbook – and they're always looking for ways to reward their users with this type of promotion.
3. Be nice. Respond to issues, comments and problems personally and you'll see a “complete 180” from negative sentiment to “real human connection.” This can also open the door to opportunities – for example, a DJ that complained about a Lookbook issue ended up being a promoter for the site. “Everybody is an opporuntunity.” Being good is a “getting out of jail free card… You'll be remembered for the kind relationship you have with your readers.”
Lookbook.nu grew organically – Yuri says, “honestly, press is overrated.” Their site grew through word-of-mouth and through cultivating a relationship with their community. But you can't do it yourself – evangelists and advocates will help you grow your site. Use social media like Facebook, Bloglovin', Lookbook.nu or many of the other community-based networks to reach out and grow your blog.
Questions from the audience:
Can you talk about your business model? How do you make money?
“We monetize from ads. We have more now – for a long time we had none and we were very poor! But we always make sure the ads are relevant to their audience.”
What's your opinion of fashion communities using pictures for advertising without permission?
“We don't that's right. We always ask for permission and we've never received monetary compensation for that, and we always make sure they're credited with a link or name.”
What do you do to encourage community?
“We always encourage positive comments – a fun, young, hip vibe, not too serious. We strive to have fun.”
Do users that moderate on your site receive compensation?
“No. We just find people that are enthusiastic about the site.”
Did you find it was hard to define a unique value proposition?
“Honestly. no. We (me and my boyfriend) just brought our passions together (real people and their style in Yuri's case, and programming in his).
What were you doing before you started the site and are you looking for venture capital funding?
“I was in the art world. But to make ends meet, I was a retail manager at a mall in San Francisco. When my boyfriend and I starting talking, we just decided to do it! In terms of venture capital, at the moment we have no plans to take on funding.”
Why do you have .nu and not .com?
“We couldn't buy it. NU is actually the domain for an island nation! But it sounds cool right?!”