Are You a Blogging Leader or a Follower?


When it comes to fashion blogging, it seems to me that those who excel are either beautiful model-types, or they are women who know how to be leaders and stand out from the pack with their creativity, writing, photography or another talent (or both!). But no one gains a large following by sticking to what it seems has worked for other bloggers.

It's so much easier said than done to forge your own way, and it's something I'm still figuring out ofter four years of blogging. So I was inspired by architect Peter Marino's interview published yesterday at, in which he talked about the state of online retail versus brick and mortar, his all-leather sartorial style, leadership, and lots more—he is awesome and you should totally read the whole interview. I had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2010 when he redesigned San Francisco's Chanel store, and he was refreshingly candid and wonderfully opinionated.

What struck me in the interview was his answer to a question regarding whether what he does is art or science:

I have to say, I never look at that shit [market research]. And I think that’s for followers and I want to be a leader and I want to do something good. And if you don’t like it, OK, go to another store. You cannot be an artist and try to imagine what people want painted for them. That’s deaf. Do your work and do it well and hopefully people will like it. You can ask all of my clients. Don’t show Peter a marketing report. It’s more art than science.

Marino has been at his career for three decades and counts Chanel, Zegna, and Louis Vuitton as clients. If you've ever walked into any one of these luxury boutiques and gasped at the stunning interior, you know he knows what he's talking about. And bloggers (or anyone, really) can learn from the success he's achieved thanks to being creative and original. Trends are great, but, like I've said before, if you're wearing them the same way a million other bloggers are, no one's going to care. I actually love trends because they keep fashion fun and interesting, but the trick is to incorporate trends with a strong personal style.

And it's not only about personal style. What's your take? What is your site offering that no one else's is? How do you think and feel about things that matter to you? Look at Man Repeller. She had no way of knowing her particular viewpoint would strike such a major nerve, especially since her angle is dressing in a way that's unappealing to half the population.

That said, it seems to be a combination of art and science that has led to Marino's success. In that same section of the interview, he went on to say the following:

Having said that, retail design is incredibly precise. And I’ve learned over my 30-year career, if you move a belt counter sometimes 4 feet, you can double sales. It’s crazy.

Doesn't that remind you of blog design? You could probably move your newsletter sign up two inches and significantly increase your mailing list. Or you could go from three columns to two and see a major traffic shift. You can do lots of research to find out the best design for a fashion blog. But design alone isn't going to make or break you. Being a leader will.

[Image credit:]

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About The Author

In addition to being editor at IFB, Kristen writes for Forbes, Eat, Sleep, Denim, and her own blog, Stylenik. Previously, she served as the San Francisco editor for Racked, covering the intersection of retail, fashion, and technology. She has written about everything from human cloning to luxury shopping for publications including Wired, Gizmodo, Refinery 29, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in a '70s house in '70s clothes on the Northern California coast. 

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16 Responses

  1. Kosta Karakashyan

    That’s great advice. I just started my blog a month ago and I’m learning from more experienced bloggers but somehow I feel dissatisfied with my content. I kind of knew I had to do something very different, but seeing someone very successful write about it pushes me even more now.

    Cool Gear Cavalier // Men’s Style and Lifestyle

  2. M. Akua

    So true! I often ask myself, why should people read my blog? What is to find there, that other blogger won’t have? Hmm… I can’t tell. Maybe it’s just having fun and being happy when someone likes your personal style 🙂

    So for now, of course I’m a follower! And I think I will always be. There is so much inspiration on other blogs 🙂


  3. Madame Ostrich

    This post was awesome! So often I see “Tips for Fashion Blogging” that include the same things over, and over– Google Analytics, Mailing Lists, White Layouts etc.. It’s refreshing to hear that deviating from the norm and disregarding numbers is essential in producing creative work.


  4. Jen

    I think this is great advice. His quote was amazing too, btw. My favorite business quote mantra recently has been from Jenna Marbles: you don’t have to be the best at what you do, you just have to be the happiest at what you do.

  5. Accidental Icon

    Such a timely post as this has been very much on my mind lately. I think it hit me over this holiday when post after post was shopping lists and sale choices. There was nothing that felt interesting to read or see! I think it is hard to just really remain authentic and trust in your vision and as you and Peter Marino say your “art”. I try to keep the perspective that my blog is about my unique perspective on fashion and I hope that is interesting to others. So far I do see see myself as being different: a little different from younger bloggers and a little different from an older demographic. I hope to learn and think more about the design part of the “art”. Great post.
    Accidental Icon

  6. Rachael Dickens

    Thank you for turning me on to the interview with Peter Marino on I am personally inspired by so many other thing than just fashion and in that inspiration in find my styling always finds the next level. Thanks again!

  7. Tonya

    I’m a new blogger and I try to ask myself all these questions, so his advice sounds great but I don’t know how to answer the questions. I ask myself who my readers are? (I don’t know I have any consistent readers) what they want? And what I can offer them? But like I said I don’t know. I started my blog because I love fashion illustration. Successful fashin illustrators, like Inslee and Paperfashion, can post a pic and have tons of ppl love it but I think a newbie needs more than that. It’s such a niche topic too. I love pretty things but what does that give ppl to take away?
    This is where I am stuck. And I also am wondering if I’ve been expecting too much. I’ve only been blogging for two months. How long do we wait for before we know our blog is no good?

    • Kristen Philipkoski

      I don’t know the answer, but two months is definitely not long enough! Keep going! 🙂

  8. Ankita

    Great advise !!
    I just started my blog,learning the creativity from other bloggers still,so would say I am still a follower !! May be would stay a follower only, its interesting to know how other people write and watching their successful writeup’s, impresses me more.

  9. Mila Junge

    Great post! So true! for him it must be essential to create his own stamp and not being influenced by others, what he does is outstanding! But for us, bloggers, the scene is a little bit different. Nowadays it is important to know what other bloggers are doing and also show your own personal style. I feel it is necessary to support each other and also recognize other people`s work. If you are a blogger and you want to put yourself out there you must be your own fan but also celebrate and admire others. Just keep a balance 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  10. Joanna

    Excellent advice! I believe I am somewhere in the middle (hopefully with a predominance toward leadership :)). I wanted to create a blog that will be a reflection of real me. I love effortless chic, minimalism, comfort, practicality. When you look at my blog you will see it is exactly like this: minimalist, sleek, practical, elegant, simple. I felt that there is a need to show that to be a classy/chic woman it takes more than a nice attire. And this was one of the impulses to create The Rules of Chic. I follow other blogs for inspiration and to keep my creative juices flowing.

  11. Graciousstore

    It is a great attribute to be a leader but the truth remains that one has to be first a good follower before being a leader. It is only good followers who follow the footsteps of their masters that ultimately become good leaders.

  12. Ray

    I’m going to be candid here. In my heart I hope the content of this post is true. I want to be a leader, but I’m struggling. I’m not like many other personal style bloggers. I’m a lawyer by day with a background in literature, so I write about style differently to most other blogs. My love for fashion coincides with my passion for novels, characters, psychology, colours and well..people.

    But I dilute that part of me because I don’t know how to reach out to my ideal readers, or where to find them. My style is also about wearable glamour, not editorial-ready. But it seems the most popular bloggers have created an aspirational life, and readers continue to love a life/body that’s slightly beyond their reach.

    I find so much joy in the here and now, I want to celebrate everyday self-expression. I want to expand what style means to women and how it can affect our lives, but I feel quite alone in this mission. So my fear creeps in, and I wonder if I should tone it down and do what others are doing.

    Does anyone here at lovely IFB have suggestions or words of wisdom for me? 🙂 Love xoxo

  13. Anastasia

    What’s your site offers that no one else is? Oh….that really strikes my nerve as I constantly think of it! I mix fashion and travel on the blog and every time I press publish I ask myself how relevant is all that for the readers…)