Susan Cernek, Glamour's Fashion Development Director is one of our favorite industry professionals. She spoke on our IFBcon panel last season, “What Are Bloggers Worth,” she's a gem on social media, and not to mention she has impecable style. She's had an enviable career in the fashion media and publishing world, so we couldn't help but pick her brain about everything from social media to fashion blogs, and you'll want to read on to see her advice for aspiring bloggers, writers or anyone who wants to break into the industry.
How did you get into online fashion publishing?
It was a pretty natural evolution, from print to digital. I started my editorial career in the fashion market department at Elle, then moved to fashion features and after a few years, moved to what was then an editorial online start-up, Glam Media. Shortly after, I joined Glamour to helm Glamour.com’s fashion and beauty verticals and now I work on style-related Glamour projects that span all platforms, from print to web to mobile and beyond.
What are your daily reads?
The list is too long and too varied to jot down! I usually read my Twitter feed on the way into work, emailing myself articles that I want to read when I reach my desk. That, combined with a few big news stops (Mashable, NYTimes, WWD, etc) and updates from our all-knowing web team, usually tells me everything I need to know, by noon.
Do you read many fashion / personal style blogs?
I read news-y industry sites during the weekdays, the more inspirational, personal and visual on the weekends when I have more time to really soak things up. I’m lucky enough to work in an office rich with sartorial inspiration—from great outfits and racks of next season's samples to stellar photo shoots and gorgeous Instagram snaps—so I’m rarely lacking for fashion-related conversations.
What do you think about the proliferation of fashion and style blogs of late?
I think the abundance of fashion and style-related blogs is terrific as it makes fashion an even bigger part of the cultural conversation. It’s also helping to elevate that conversation. By that I mean, that thanks to the number of fashion sites and blogs, it’s now easier than ever for someone to become educated about fashion (now twelve-year-olds are familiar with Comme des Garcons!) which means the audience of fashion enthusiasts is growing quickly—and that can only mean exciting things for the industry as a whole.
With such a saturated market of blogs, what can bloggers do to stand out?
Model your blog after other strong editorial entities (online or off!): Publish consistently and remember that sometimes less is more—especially as we’re moving into a period of quality over quantity. Create original content, or if it’s not original, present it or cover it in a distinctive way. Create reoccurring titled features so that if your readers like a certain kind of content, it’s easy for them to find more of it. Don’t bombard your readers with links: give them a few good options of where to go next. Create a mission statement for your blog, and stick to it. Always be curious.
When you land on a blog, what usually grabs your attention? What keeps you reading? What do you dislike seeing?
A clean layout and well-organized social references (ie “here’s my Twitter, Instagram, etc”), as that shows me the individual(s) behind the blog are serious about what they do and are well versed in social media. Consistent art, even if it isn’t classically high quality—it shows someone has a clear aesthetic. In that same vein, a great logo goes a long way—it shows that someone has put some thought in how they want to project their POV.
If a blogger wanted to use their site as a sample when applying for a job in fashion publishing, what advice would you give them?
I love to see a resume with a blog, Tumblr or Pinterest reference on there—it helps illustrate the candidate’s POV and dedication to the medium. And I encourage undergrads, young writers and individuals looking to move into the industry to create their own blog as it can help build an archive of writing samples, if you’re not able to pick some up on the job. A blog with great and consistent posts can also help demonstrate that the candidate is not just enthusiastic about fashion, but that they are serious to making it their career and are devoting their time to developing their eye and voice.
Can you talk a little about your experience, relationship with, and activity on social media? What tools you use, what you like, personally and professionally?
I use Twitter and Pinterest, both personally and professionally. I love them both and wish that I had more time to spend on those platforms. I tend to use Tumblr exclusively for work, mostly because what I post there would be similar to what I would post personally. (Excluding perhaps, the Swedish country houses that fill up my Pin boards!) I’m interested to watch the growth of The Fancy and StyleSaint as I think they offer different (yet equally engaging) tools and aesthetic backdrops.
If you had to make a prediction, what do think (or hope) the landscape of blogging will look like in a year or two, or 5 years?
I always liken the blog landscape to the retail landscape: Just as there will always be new designers and labels popping up in stores, there will always be new blogs and sites that surface online. And just like there have always been big gun designers who stand the test of time and remain at the top of their field—thanks to their distinctive style, high-quality productions and talented creative leads—likewise, there will be blogs and sites that will always stand out for possessing the same attributes. The fashion industry—online and off, in stores and on the runway—thrives on newness and strong voices, which dovetails nicely with the equally innovative and always-evolving tech community.
Any tips you would give to bloggers, coming from an editor? Whether it's about communication, writing, social media, design, networking… anything really!
Don’t have any fill-in-the-blank forms of communication with people you want to impress, collaborate or converse with. By that I mean, avoid “<3!” comments on Instagram or seemingly random #FF. Skip the copy and paste emails. Even though these transactions mostly take place in semi-anonymous interweb-land, make it personal, make it meaningful. You’ll stand out, in a good way.
image credit: Adam Katz Sinding for Elle.com, Street Peeper and ShutterStock