For this week's Pro Blogger Spotlight, we caught up with Claire Sulmers, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of urban fashion blog Fashion Bomb Daily. Sulmers and her team cover different aspects of fashion and style from celebrity inspiration and shopping to reader-submitted look-of-the-day posts. Her commitment to her niche and natural inclination for finding and adopting the latest innovations online has made her a constant mainstay on Signature 9‘s top 99 fashion blogs.
Tell us a little about how you started Fashion Bomb Daily, and why.
I used to be a reporter and fact checker at Real Simple magazine, and had aspirations to write about runway fashion and celebrity style. So I started the Fashion Bomb as a hobby, and it grew slowly but surely thanks to links from bigger bloggers and exclusives (for example, I would go to the Baby Phat show and take video of the final walk and no other bloggers had that content, so they sourced me). I focused on women of color because I am one; I enjoy seeing and writing about people who look like me. And I noticed that many mainstream fashion publications tend to gloss over stars that are a big deal in the African American community (take Nia Long or Gabrielle Union), so I decided to create a space where women of color come first.
Can you talk a bit about your niche as an urban fashion blogger?
Sure. Fashion is a big part of the African-American and multicultural experience. The Fashion Bomb is a space to showcase the trendsetters, designers, and taste-makers that might get overlooked on a general fashion website. We've triumphed because stars like Beyonce and Rihanna are considered ‘cross over.' And we document the style of celebs like Nicki Minaj, for example, before they become global superstars.
You ascribe your site as the number one destination for urban fashion. Can you quantify that?
We were blessed to win Blogger of the Year in this year's Style Bloggers of Color Awards ceremony. Signature 9 consistently named us one of the top 99 most influential style blogs in the blogosphere, and from what I could deduce there were no other self-proclaimed urban blogs on the list. And with just a quick look at the digital space; we don't have very many sites that do what we do, with the same focus and consistency.
How do you use social media, and what role does it play in your blogging life?
I've always been big on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook started at Harvard, where I went to undergrad, so my class was one of the first on Facebook (remember when it was restricted to only a certain amount of schools?). And I've been on Twitter since 2007. So perhaps it's just luck, but I've tried to be an early adopter of social media and just get used to sharing my thoughts with the world several times a day. Facebook and Twitter (and now Tumblr and Pinterest) are great ways to publicize your content. I used to write newsletters and send them out to my contacts, but now Facebook, Tumblr, etc serve that same function. And it's also great because the celebrities we blog about can know when we're talking about them with a single mention, and sometimes they'll retweet a link to their followers, which means their fans will come to us for the scoop on what they're wearing.
How do you monetize your blog and your brand?
I'm a member of Gorilla Nation, which is in charge of most of my ad space. I sell individual ads on my sidebar. I use Google Adsense. Lastly, I participate in affiliate networks like Shopstyle and RewardStyle. I realized way back that it's best to diversify your portfolio.
What's the best thing about blogging?
I love interacting with people. And my blog has allowed me to meet so many cool and new fashion enthusiasts I wouldn't have met otherwise. It's opened new doors, presented once in a life time opportunities, and given me a platform to share my passion. I love that you can create your own way, your own job, and feed your passion. I love the freedom, the travel, and the connections I've made with other bloggers. When I was a full-timer at a magazine, I'd have to sneak away during my lunch break to maybe see one fashion show; now I can take a month off and hop from New York to Paris, Milan, London, and back, all in pursuit of my love of fashion.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion bloggers?
I'd say find your niche. Figure out what works. Tinker, tailor, and try new things. And once you've hit your stride, just don't give up. There were lots of bloggers who had a similar ‘urban' niche when I started The Fashion Bomb in 2006, but they all decided to quit after a few years in the game. I'd say half of blogging is finding the right topic and how you're going to interpret fashion in your own funky way. And the other half is just dedication and commitment.