For this week's “Ask The…” feature, we chatted with the Style Director of People.com, Andrea Lavinthal. Below, Andrea shares her take on personal style blogs, how journalism and blogging differ and intersect, and where she thinks the future of online media may be headed.
Do you read many fashion or personal style blogs? Which ones stand out to you?
As the style director of PEOPLE.com, it's part of my job to keep up with the latest fashion and personal style blogs. I'm most impressed with bloggers who do not have a seemingly unlimited budget or a closetful of gifted designer pieces, but still manage to create interesting and attainable looks. I'm also a big fan of fashion sites with distinct voices, such as Who What Wear and Go Fug Yourself.
What do you think about the proliferation of fashion and style blogs of late?
I'm all for new fashion blogs as long as they have a fresh, inspiring perspective. I think it's amazing that young women have an opportunity to not only break into the fashion world, but to turn a passion into a viable business.
When you land on a blog, what usually grabs your attention? What keeps you reading?
A clean design, compelling copy and accessible style catches my attention. One thing that immediately turns me off is when fashion bloggers suddenly crossover into beauty. I come from a traditional print background (I worked at Cosmopolitan as a beauty editor for eight years), where you are required to be an expert in your field. As my friend Amber Katz of Beauty Blogging Junkie says, “stay in your lane.” Just because you have an audience doesn't make you an expert in other areas your readers are interested in.
With such a saturated market of beauty and style blogs, what can bloggers do to stand out?
Again, a clean design stands out as does a distinctive point of view and original, well-written content. Oh, and avoid exclamation points.
As a Style Director, we’re sure you get pitched non-stop. What makes for a must-read email pitch? What’s the best way to get an editor’s attention?
Know our content. I receive a surprising number of pitches to promote a brand's Facebook contest or consumer event, neither of which we cover on PEOPLE.com. It really helps when someone says, “we have something perfect for your ‘I Really Love My' franchise” or “I think this might fit in your new editor's picks beauty gallery.”
One of our upcoming IFBCON topics is about the differences between journalism and blogging. What do you think sets these two sectors apart? Do you think blogging is affecting the print journalism field?
Both bloggers and journalists have opinions. The difference is that journalists typically represent a brand (not their own) and are required to do comprehensive reporting and form an unbiased point of view, whereas many bloggers can express a totally subjective personal perspective. Unless a blogger is being paid for a post (which should be disclosed), they can write about whatever they want.
I don't think blogging is affecting print journalism as much as it's affecting online journalism. Because of blogs, readers are starting to get used to and expect more personal content, so many websites and even magazines have started to move in that direction with their tone.
For example, we recently started an editor's picks beauty franchise where we use the first person since that's an area where readers want to know the products are being endorsed by an actual editor, not a vague “we.”
You are extremely active on social media – what’s the one tip you’d give to bloggers or readers on how to make engaging, fun social media content?
Find a TV show that you love and live tweet about it every week. That's what I did with The Bachelor franchise (yes, that's embarrassing to type) and people seem to like it.
If you had to make a prediction, what do think (or hope) the landscape of blogging and online fashion media will look like in a year or two, or 5 years?
The most successful fashion and personal style bloggers will be the ones who expand beyond a blog to a destination with daily content, exciting contributors, innovative videos and more interactive components.
At PEOPLE.com we're starting to partner with bloggers on our editorial packages and I see that trend continuing and those relationships becoming more meaningful in the future.