Professional Blogger Spotlight: La Carmina

There are so many paths for fashion bloggers who go pro, this week we're featuring a blogger who not only caters to a specific niche but has also leveraged her blog to work in television and write books. What's even more exciting is her niche is distinctly Japanese-Goth-Punk-Fetish. La Carmina has been a long-time IFB member, her blog is a delight to read with her adventures in travel and with her darling Scottish Fold.

 

Tell us a little bit about La Carmina.

Pirate. Harajuku girl. Absinthe addict. La Carmina Blog chronicles my flamboyant adventures in… Japanese Goth Punk fashion, young Visual Kei boys, cosplay and fetish balls, maid and robot cafes, scandal, drama, and the cutest Scottish Fold cat in the world.

 

Blogging has blown open doors to design, writing and TV work. I’ve written three books about Japanese pop culture and food, and am one of the main journalists for CNNGo and Lip Service. My “First Mate” Naomi and I started a coolhunting / TV production / promotion company — La Carmina & The Pirates. I’m fortunate to travel to various cities for appearances, book tours and on-camera work. My TV hosting credits include The Today Show, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, No Reservations, NHK, Pepsi, Sony, Canal + France, Norway TV and CNN.

How did you monetize La Carmina?

The short answer: my income sources vary constantly, and come both directly from the blog and from related projects.

 

La Carmina blog has a fair amount of traffic, so I sell direct ads, use Google Adsense, take part in affiliate programs, and have sponsors. My RSS, search and YouTube are monetized too.

 

When I receive promotional items, I disclose them as per FTC regulations. I am very choosy about the companies I work with; I only recommend products that I personally like and that fit my subcultural / Goth / Japan audience. Because of this, I’ve never received a complaint about sponsored content.

 

La Carmina blog is not only about fashion. I also report on alt concerts, nightlife, films, travel. Since I’m a journalist, access and accommodations tend to be compensated (press passes, advance screenings, hotels etc) — and all this is disclosed.

 

Various collaborations stem from my blogging activities. I partnered with a Gothic t-shirt company, make appearances (book tours, conventions), and write (I’m a main contributor to CNNGo and Lip Service, and have three books published).

 

Finally, producers have found La Carmina blog and hired me to be on TV shows. I worked on eight programs this year, in various roles: on-camera host, production coordinator, consultant, casting director, promoter. I started a company, La Carmina & The Pirates, that provides “fixing” services to broadcasters worldwide.

 

How has blogging affected your career?

Beyond belief. When I began my blog in September 2007, I was Yale Law student at crossroads — I needed to be in a more creative field. Blogging was the perfect way to share my love of Harajuku fashion and alt subcultures. Upon graduation, I had books and other projects in the works, so I decided to pursue this road instead. And never turned back. I grew up in Vancouver with no media/entertainment connections whatsoever, so my blog let me break into tight-knit industries such as TV hosting. Every day, I’m amazed at the opportunities that arrive in my inbox; my adventures keep getting weirder, and I love it!

What are you working on now?

All of the above. I love finding new ways to partner with inspiring people in fashion, music, film, etc. I think cross-media collaboration is the way to keep pushing forward. Right now, the TV hosting work is going very well, and I’ve been speaking to various production companies about development. We’ll see how it goes.

What is the most important piece advice would you give aspiring bloggers?

From a technical standpoint: use WordPress on a self-hosted domain, pay attention to design and SEO, write high-quality posts regularly, and build up your social networks.

 

There’s no need to emulate the path of mainstream personal fashion bloggers to be successful. Be your quirky self, and concentrate on a niche or lifestyle that you love. Since I blog about Japanese/alternative subcultures, I partner with brands like h.NAOTO and Lip Service (which I much prefer to JC Penney and Forever 21)!

 

But what's the magical formula? Create a world that your readers want to be in.

 

Visit La Carmina at LaCarmina.com

If you are a professional blogger or know someone who is email jennine (at) heartifb.com with a blurb describing the site and a little about how they made their career as a blogger.

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9 Responses

  1. Leanne

    I’ve really watched La C’s career and blog rise from strength to strength and am amazed, as it isn’t mainstream fashion. She has such determination and makes opportunities for herself – and works very hard!

    I’m lucky enough to have hung out with La Carmina in Japan twice. Last time in August I took her and the aussie TV crew to my local punk bar in Shinjuku Tokyo (hopefully I’ll get a second on-air time!)

    As someone who also writes about gothic/punk fashion esp Japanese alt fashion & Tokyo nightlife, I know it can be hard to fit a niche and be successful. But she has carved a niche and success for herself very well. She really is an inspiration.

    Reply
  2. Hana

    I love that you featured this blog! I find it very relevant for all of us in a hard to define/not mainstream niche! I blog about Japanese fashion as well, though I suppose you might consider it a counterpoint to hers and going through her blog was really interesting.

    I found this very inspiring:

    There’s no need to emulate the path of mainstream personal fashion bloggers to be successful. Be your quirky self, and concentrate on a niche or lifestyle that you love.

    And I especially loved seeing how much she branched out and found other non-traditional ways of being successful.

    A great inspiration for us niche-fashion blogs that don`t fit into budgeting/mainstream/fashion blogs.

    Reply
  3. fuyume

    It seems only japanese fashion bloggers are only commenting here :/ as I’m another one who blogs about japanese fashion (and beauty) but i’d say me, hana and leanne all blog about different parts of J Fashion. It is really nice to see a non mainstream blogger profiled in blogger spotlight xx

    Reply
  4. Collette Osuna

    She sounds fabulous!! This is a woman who isnt afraid to work and has worked her way up to the top…..BRAVO I say….a total and complete success story to inspire bloggers all around the world.

    Thank you for featuring her….I know have another blogger to follow:)

    Reply
  5. Tony

    Yeah 😀 thanks for sharing all of these tips here. I’m a blogger in Baja California and certainly follow some of your practices.

    Reply
  6. Estava Morioka

    Great post and interview. Very valuable info in here and I love her story. The best part is the advice to bloggers:

    “From a technical standpoint: use WordPress on a self-hosted domain, pay attention to design and SEO, write high-quality posts regularly, and build up your social networks…There’s no need to emulate the path of mainstream personal fashion bloggers to be successful. Be your quirky self, and concentrate on a niche or lifestyle that you love…Create a world that your readers want to be in.”

    Once I started doing these things, I noticed a huge jump in my traffic. WordPress is easy to use and awesome, SEO is something that I’ve seen immediate results from and social networking is a must. But once I started “being my quirky self” people got so much enjoyment from my blog. I also feel liberated. There is nothing like “being yourself”.
    Thanks La Carmina

    Reply