Panel 1: Business in the First Year of Blogging brought to you by BESO
Moderator: Hilary Rushford, Dean Street Society
Tina Craig, Bag Snob
Pippa Lord, Sous Style
Amy Levin, College Fashionista
Zanita Morgan, Zanita
Welcoming all of the new attendees at IFB (many of the audience raised their hands as first-time IFB attendees!)
How long have you had your blog… what were you doing for work when you launched your blog?
Amy: Aug 2009. I was in college. Conceptualized the blog during my senior year.
Tiny: 2005 (Now in 8th year!) “We are the dinosaurs of blogging.” Was an intern in fashion after college “I got coffee for Mark… standing at the coffee machine all day…” Went on to MTV Asia. Moved to Texas, had a baby… started blog with best friend Kelly because of personal passion, have always loved bags.
Zanita: Started blog during modeling in Australia and Europe. It was a diary of her costumes from shows. Now, it's much more different. More focused on photography and collaborative “the story of my journey to this point”
Pippa: “We're a new generation of home-makers. ” Was a photo director. arrived in NYC 8 years ago,
Hilary: 18 months ago… was in a “soul sucking day job” then collecting unemployment.
When did you start making money in your blog, what are your sources of income?
Tina: “We bought for the site for $10… and made $400 in the first 2 months. Was amazing, you can make $ on this?” Her husband had put up some ads. The first to sell ad space to Neiman Marcus. Soon “our little journal” was showing up online through many streams. A particular break came from fashion editors, particularly one England… [Advise: “Answer every email!” Even with fame, really try and answer them all.] In that first year… “it's really important that you reach out to people that you like, tell them how you want to work with them, what you want to bring to their brand. ”
Amy: First goal was to drive traffic and get readership. I wanted to stay focused, a year later… our first brand partner Juicy Couture reached out. Since has worked with many amazing brands. Brands want to work with college student, want to create awareness… they turn to College Fashionista.. and we do editorial, events.. “It's not static, it's a bigger package”
Zanita: When it first started, never thought of it as a business. Liked the community aspect. The first paid gig: collaboration with an Australian base Sweden clogs. Collaborate with brands. Affiliate marketing- not my thing. (“gave it the ditch”) Signed onto Felt, other blogs in Australia… designed to be a more beautiful advertisement (one large one). I do a lot of photography gigs. I shoot advertising on the side too. Australia opposite season, “a bit late to the party” of Australians getting paid, but I'm glad I've arrived!
Pippa: “If I could make homemaker cool!” Focus on content, audience. Nurturing that… Considered, well, thought out.
Hilary: Launched a blog because I was launching style business. It was my resume.
Is there a tipping point?
“Making beer money at first”.. I've seen it become very meaningful part. Focusing on… make great content, people will come to you.
Has there been a revenue stream, job opportunity you didn't know was out there. (“you can get paid to do this??) Other than the standard ads, affiliates, etc?
Amy: Something interesting we are doing at South by Southwest… DYI truck. Pitched to Michael's Crafts… create headbands and bracelets for college students. Sold the campaign, Michael's. Being creative and innovative… reach out to the brand. “Don't be afraid to go with an idea that is a bit out of the ordinary”
Pippa: How do you want to cover this brand and share your story? Brands just want really great content.
Tina: The passion still rings through my readers. Focus on what you love! Don't focus on the money. “Twitter… I can talk all day and not be quiet! [brothers used to pay me $1 to be quiet!]] Tweeting tweeting tweeting to anyone…” Later, collaboration with DKNY. “Donna doesn’t want you to just pick a color, you have to design to entire collection… you have 3 weeks before your entire collection. Made me a more thorough reviewer.” First big collaboration a brand took on a blogger. “We were really daring, nothing to lose.” Don't hold back and do things to make money. “Shop your way to success.”
Hilary: Almost every opportunity, in 2012, nothing that happened was on the list… Having a strong brand, I was passionate about it… opportunity just came my way.
Tina: Set some goals… I set 5 month goals. It is important to have some sort of business plan of what you want to achieve. Every opportunity you should explore… You have to love what you are doing (“if you don't why would your reader?”)
Pippa: It's do it in a small way… see if it resonates, then move forward.
Zanita: It helps to have really good numbers, but really it's QUALITY over quantity. Great creative mind… that's what brands want to buy into.
Hilary: There are lots of people blogging… it’s like saying there's too many books in the world. But, what helped you stand out in the beginning?
Tina: Our voices stand out because it's strong, our personalities… be your authentic self. “If it doesn't make you crazy like teenage love, don't do it.” Don't work with brands that don't fit with you, your brand, your site.
Amy: No one was speaking to that demographic… creating out of the “want” to do it. Figure it out, create a foundation… it's a great space to be in. I was in the right time, the right place.
Audience question Kate: once you start to make a lot of money, do you have a money manager?
Tina: I’m an international finance major, “[my blog will] pull us over the fiscal cliff!” You should be aware of your money coming in. Business partner and I share a bank account, credit cards [like being “married”]. We hire people… to focus on our family. We want to help people make informed choices.
Audience Question, Tiana: There's so much to do, what's bare bones?
Amy: What I do every week, is put together a to-do list… have a concrete (emails, check in with advertisers, no tech issues) Everyday is crazy, having a organized plan. Stay on track, strict schedule.
Pippa: Always allow time to get excited by what you do.
Tina: I start and end each day with social media… pick the bloggers I think are cool or interesting. My coffee is twitter-time feed. Social media is fun for me… huge part of social media stream.
Live-blogged by: Jennifer Koch of AdventureOften.com