Much has been written over the years on the rise of blogs, the decline of blogs, and the power of blogs to influence purchases and even “change the world.” Fashion and lifestyle blogging specifically gets a lot of attention and quite a bad rep. In the beginning fashion bloggers stepped on toes and broke down barriers while they worked their way up, and we were sort of in awe of what they had achieved. Editors and fashion journalists took notice and now have now co-opted “blogger” tools so there's little distinction anymore.
But on the way up, things changed, as they always do. Designers and brands started to take notice, recognized the influence bloggers had, and bloggers were glad for the attention, so they built relationships that may or may not have always been entirely ethical. And now that the “golden era” of fashion blogging is over, there's a re-examination going on over what our impact is, and our overall role in the industry. And also a lot of criticism:
We're beholden to the industry
And as a result of that we don't stir it up as often as the bloggers of yore did. We don't criticize or speak out about things we don't like because we're afraid of falling out with the PR companies who send us product to review and pay our bills.
We're not doing anything new
It's all been done before. Outfit photos, live streaming fashion shows, backstage makeup shots…it's nothing groundbreaking.
We're “all about ourselves”
Ah…the age of the selfie, and OOTD pictures. Our blogs now are filled with pictures of US; we don't help promote other women, or showcase anything different.
We only talk about what we get paid for
Every item we wear is gifted, every post is sponsored…
We are all the same
There is still a lack of diversity among the top fashion blogs. Not in the blogosphere in general, but the blogs/bloggers that get more mainstream attention tend to look the same; they start to blur together after a while and there's no difference from one to the other.
We'll shill whatever comes our way and our relationship with a brand or PR company is more important than our relationship with our readers.
To a certain extent, all of the criticisms are valid. And whether or not they're entirely true, they are perceived to be true, and in a lot of circumstances, that's as good as being true. Not in every blogger, and possibly not so extreme, but is an element of truth in all of these common criticisms.
So what do we do about it? A lot of bloggers ignore negativity and think it only comes from jealous haters, but keeping an open mind and having a critical eye can actually help you grow as a fashion blogger. Take these criticisms and figure out how you can answer them, and say, hey, maybe I used to do that, but now I'm doing this instead.
1. Start writing more about random small brands you find and like, not taking so many sponsored posts. Create outfit pictures featuring more things you've purchased yourself.
2. Differentiate yourself from other bloggers in your niche – find what makes you unique (besides just YOU), and run with it.
3. Be up front with your readers on sponsored posts and relationships you have with brands/PR companies – be cognizant that they are your reason for existing, NOT the PR companies. Disclose everything, even if you think you don't have to.
Ultimately, of course there's nothing “wrong” with being a fashion blogger. So you're not curing cancer or whatever, but the world still needs people who do things just because they enjoy doing them, even if they might now have a very big impact.