Recently I met with a few different bloggers working on going pro. One of their frustrations was that brands always looked to work with the same bloggers, and they were still in the beginning stages of blogging. This is a common problem particularly amongst style bloggers. There is a trend that brands are working with a few bloggers on the top, and they are doing quite well with their careers. However, there are bloggers who've figured out a way to go pro without the use of brands.
Waiting for brands to get in touch with you is a bit like waiting to be “discovered.” How bloggers are selected often ends up being a mix between relationships with brands, connections with other bloggers, a certain look and feel that works for the brand, and influence. Having a lot of influence does not always equate with brand partnerships, nor do having all the right connections… sometimes it's so random, that a brand just likes the way a blogger looks. Being as we're all human, yes even the brands… these types of partnerships evolve for subjective reasons. They may work out in the long run, but often times it's not something to count on.
One of the things I noticed was that bloggers who developed their own products and used their blog to sell them fared out better in the log run than bloggers who relied on brand partnerships. Of course there are the few superstars, but for the most part the majority of professional full time bloggers offer some type of service and have a consistent business plan that they work off of.
Start your own store
Selling vintage clothes sounds easy, but it's hard work, and takes a while to build up. But bloggers like Fashion Toast and Gary Pepper both started off selling vintage clothing and using their blog to promote their shops. This enabled the bloggers to get started, and thinking about their blogs as a business. Eventually their blog personalities surpassed their shops, but I have to wonder if they would have been as successful if they didn't have that branding early in their careers.
Design your own collections
If you've always wanted to be a fashion designer, or you are working in the fashion industry and want to go on your own, blogging can be the perfect marketing tool for your blog. More than a number of bloggers have created their collections and maintained their blogs side-by-side. The Glamourai used to design jewelry, but some other bloggers have taken a more moderate approach focusing more on their collections. Zana Bayne's Garbage Dress helped launch her line of leather harnesses, Stacy Lomman used her blog network to launch her own line via Kickstarter with the help of Wendy Brandes, jewelry designer who has been using her blog to market her jewelry for several years.
Provide a service
The most striking example was when I was talking with a blogger about how things were going since she launched six months earlier, within six months she was able to start a personal shopping service for professional women through her blog. It was brilliant, as she said she was making a good living from this in a relatively short amount of time. Many bloggers offer styling services, Style and Pepper, Dean Street Society, My Style Pill are just a few.
Use affiliate marketing strategically
Affiliate marketing is a long-haul business… links and audiences build over time, as does you affiliate income. Some of the longest running bloggers have used this strategy from the beginning and have reaped the rewards, by building an audience that buys. Bloggers like Bag Snob and Grechen's Closet both have very distinctive blogs as you go there just to figure out what you should be buying.
Create a product
Maybe you're not into retail sales, or a great designer…and your content isn't affiliate heavy. Creating your own product is a great alternative. The downside is it takes a lot of experimenting, but it can be beneficial in the long run. IFB runs the IFB Conference. Gala Darling has the Blogcademy now, but she's also done podcasts in the past. Signature9 does the Style99 where she sells a more robust list for a fee. There are a number of different courses, reports, and even ebooks that you can sell to bring the income in.
Since there are several ways to build your own customers, partnering with brands can always be a nice option, but not the only one.
What are your plans for becoming a professional blogger?
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