Do Your Readers Really Understand What You’re Talking About?

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It's come to my attention that immersing myself in fashion 24/7 for my entire life might provide me with unique insights into the industry, but often times, my readers aren't dedicating/haven't dedicated the same amount of time to it as I have, and that's part of the reason why they are reading the site, expecting me to dissect information, share, and inform them in a way they can appreciate and understand.  I love having a foot into the door of the inner workings of the fashion industry, but it's all for naught unless I can effectively communicate with my readers.

Do you ever wonder if your readers are getting lost in the lingo, the flurry of information, or miss the importance of something you're trying to express?

Below are some useful tips and things to overall consider to have your reader feel just as at home as you do on your blog:

Repeatedly Break Down Any Abbreviations

NYFW, LFW, MBFW, MFW, PFW, ….these may feel like common knowledge to you, but what about your readers? They may look forward to your fashion month coverage as it moves through New York to London, Milan, and Paris, but may be confused if you use these acronyms in the title and/or throughout the text without an explanation as to what it stands for (NEW YORK FASHION WEEK, LONDON FASHION WEEK, MERCEDES-BENZ FASHION WEEK, MILAN FASHION WEEK, PARIS FASHION WEEK btw).  Think of other insider nicknames, abbreviations, acronyms and the like that you may need to drop the full name in beside the first time you mention it in a post.

Furthermore, just because you mentioned the abbreviation and its full name once in a post doesn't mean that you are off the hook from referencing it ever again. Remember that readers can't be held accountable for reading every post, every day, from the time you started your blog until now, so continually drop in what it means, or you can create a dictionary of abbreviations or definitions as a text widget in the sidebar or a dedicated, tabbed page.

Remember to Give the Brand/Designer/Subject's Backstory

When sharing fashion news, a designer you love, wear, feature, etc, it may be helpful to constantly remind yourself to answer the question of “why?”. Why should your readers care? Why is this person/brand/product important, different, and/or unique? My rule of thumb is that if it's a brand that I don't think my best friend has ever heard of, since she likes fashion but doesn't follow it, I will be sure to include this kind of information, and even if its a household name, you may want to refresh your readers memories and add in a lesser known fact or two.

For example, if you write about it launching or wear a piece from the 3.1 Phillip Lim collection for Target, recall that your reader might wonder who Phillip Lim is, why is there a 3.1 there, and a reason that they should check out the line when it comes out. Provide details that the reader will appreciate, such as what he (Phillip Lim) has done/where he has worked, his signature, most recognized  pieces(s), celebs he has dressed/worn his items, how long he's had his own label, and the pieces that you think are the ones to get from the collection. It may take a little extra time and work on your part to share this information if you don't know it by heart, but I can pretty much guarantee that your readers will be grateful for your efforts.

Make Vital Information, Like Launch Dates, Prominent

Depending on what your writing about may slightly shift what you should include, but the who, what, where, why is a must. In fashion terms, that can mean pricing information, where to buy, and when it's available for purchase. It's great that you are passionate about, and want to talk about a brand at length, but if a reader can't check it out as well, or know where to start doing so, it almost defeats the point of sharing in the first place! When I write about items that currently are, or will be for sale, I try to make it clear, and easy, for the reader to shop them too, which sometimes means doing some extra digging to drop in proper links, or if something is no longer available or sold out, find a similar item to link to.

I've also noticed that if you feature an item on your site, most readers assume it is available for purchase, right NOW. Even if I've mentioned in the post “launching in February, the __ collection,” etc, readers STILL assume that it is available for purchase, somewhere, right away. Use easy techniques like italicizing and bolding, or include in the headlines this kind of information, and/or hold off from posting about it until the launch date is right around the corner. I hate to say it, but in an age of limitless information available at our finger tips, people just don't read as thoroughly as they used to!

What have you found that you've needed to comprehensively explain to your readers?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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About The Author

Blogging at her site Fashion Pulse Daily since 2008 and working on fashion's editorial side since 2003 has lent Julia the acumen to think creatively and endure in the colliding worlds of blogging, fashion and beauty. New York City is her backdrop for inspiration (and many a outfit photo), where she is often found on her couch, feverishly typing away at her latest post, with her trusty feline at her side. Follow her on Instagram , Twitter, and Pinterest.

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6 Responses

  1. crosby

    Great idea for a post and I did include a fashion PR glossary in my book for just this reason! But, I know when I made the transition from working in PR to digital marketing I sat in SO many meetings acting like I had any idea what AOV, Conversions and CTR’s were. Now I fling these about like everyone is familiar – great reminder to slow down and not only explain the terms but their significance. Plus, everyone appreciates a little bit of backstory – it goes along with your earlier point about exploring longer-form, more feature-style content. Love.

    Reply
    • julia

      Thanks so much Crosby! I really appreciate hearing your feedback, and would love to read a PR lingo breakdown post from you! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Mary King

    If I do something like abbreviations, I always start out talking about it as if a person is engaging in the world of fashion for the very first time and wants to be informed. So I will spell out everything on its first mention in the post. From that point, I will use the appropriate abbreviation. I feel it does a decent job of saying, “here’s the information, now I will talk to you as us being on the same knowledge level.” It shows I am interested in them being informed, but also that I respect their intelligence enough to realize that they got it the first time in that post. I know I appreciate it when a blogger does that (which helped ME learn). I can’t tell you how many blogs I have come across that throw out abbreviations or random “inside” tidbits that assume everyone just knows. No, not everyone does. We don’t need to talk down to people, but we should realize that not every single person that comes across our blogs knows every single thing about the topic they are reading about.

    Reply
  3. Jill

    I’ve recently discovered this site and still am amazed at the quality of the articles I found here.. This is a great article for bloggers who are just beginning, thanks for the tips. I never really understood why I should link items I wore, but what would my readers gain from me wearing a particular item when they don’t know where to buy it? I guess you made it clear for me why I should do it even if it takes a bit more time. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Mary King

      Knowing where to buy particular items is exactly why I link to what I wore. If the item is no longer available, I still say what brand it is, but also link to something similar. If the person definitely wants the no longer available item, they can search on sites like poshmark or ebay in the hopes of finding it (which has worked for me with items I was determined to have). I do this because there have been many times I have fallen in love with something, but have absolutely no clue who made it or where to get it. There was one time I came across a blog where I fell in love with the girl’s top and asked where she got it since she didn’t say where it was from. Her response? “I’m keeping it a secret.” What?? I am still trying to wrap my head around that one. So I went on a hunt for it and finally found it. The big secret? The shirt was from Forever 21.

      Reply