Angie Nardiello grew up in Toronto, Canada. When she moved to Milan at the age of 27, surrounded by so many effortlessly chic European women, she found some very good reasons to get properly dressed, even while wrangling a small redhead and various freelance projects. Her blog, Reasons to Dress, is now in its second year and is a perfect example of a fashion and lifestyle blog that goes beyond #OOTD posts.
We love her mix of mom style, insider travel tips and features on those women who inspire her to put on something good every day. And we wanted to get to know her better, so we asked a bunch of probing questions. Luckily she didn't mind—check out our interview with Angie below for her tips on starting a blog, her all-time favorite blog post, and the biggest mistake she made as a newbie blogger.
Why don't you introduce yourself and tell us something interesting about yourself.
“I had a stable job, a house, a car and a life in Toronto, Canada, but I left it all at the age of 27 to move to Milan – call it my quarter life crisis.
Almost 8 years later and I now call Modena, Italy home. You may have never heard of it, but it's where Pavarotti, the Ferrari, the World's Top Chef, Parmigiano Reggiano and Balsamic Vinegar are from!
I work in fashion with my husband who is an exotic leather artisan and I'm raising our feisty red-headed three year old. Perhaps the most interesting thing about me is that I'm only 4 feet 11 inches (149 cm)!”
Tell us a little bit about Reason to Dress. What do you cover/talk about/feature on the site?
“I blog about the things that I love. Anything from Italian mom street style, trends, places to visit, things to do and eat, to anything I find exceptional and worth sharing.
I also appreciate the Italian way of living and want to encourage all women to be a little more Italian. Go ahead and wear those heels to the grocery store, flaunt whatever body you have at the beach and take your kids out for an aperitivo with friends!
I love dressing up, but not being a Hollywood movie star, I need to find reasons to dress, but more importantly reasons to shop! When you work from home and are with a three year old most of the time, can you actually justify spending money on keeping up with the trends?
OH YES YOU CAN! And Italy has taught me that.
Everything about life in Italy is connected to fashion. So, instead of separating this reality, I embrace it.”
How long have you been blogging and what motivated you to start in the first place?
“I've been seriously blogging (aka actually writing stuff I wanted other people to read) for almost a year and a half.
I started because I had so much I wanted to talk about and share. However, in Italy I didn't have much of an English speaking community. I've always been one of those super posters on facebook… you know the ones who upload a hundred photos from every vacation they go on, complete with a 10-page essay about what they did, what they ate and where they went.
I love to observe life and share it, and I find people to be fascinating.”
What has been your favorite experience from blogging?
“After a few months of blogging I got an email from a reader, Erin, who I've actually featured on the blog! She told me she read every post, loved my blog and wrote me one of the most encouraging emails I've ever read. At that point I thought no one was reading because my blog stats were something like 10 unique visitors a month!!
She lives on the other side of the world and I've never met her, but she is still one of my most active followers and has supported everything I've done. She's a friend and one of the reasons I kept on blogging.”
What's a particular blog post you're really proud of we should send our readers to check out? Something that's a good representative of the rest of your blog?
“I published this as part of my “real mom style” series and linkup. This experience was and will remain one of the most special fashion blogger events I've ever attended. It is proof that clothes have the power to transform us.
What has been your most unexpected opportunity or result from blogging?
“I blogged about saving a few euros a day for TWO YEARS so that my husband and I could eat at Massimo Bottura's Osteria Francescana. He is the N°1 Chef on the planet and his small restaurant is in the centre of Modena, where I live.
He read the post and invited me AND MY TODDLER to come by, he said ‘I'll make you a plate of pasta for lunch.' When we showed up he prepared a full tasting menu complete with champagne!
I had just started blogging and the experience prompted me to write a review even though he asked for nothing in return. It has turned out to be one of my most clicked on posts, and I will remain his biggest fan forever. In fact, my husband and I went back as proper paying customers for our anniversary and I'll be blogging about what I wore and what I ate in August.”
What was the biggest mistake you made in your early days of blogging?
“Not understanding how much work was involved in running a blog!
Aside from that, I would say understanding the fact that blogging is just as much about creating community as it is about writing content.
It's really difficult to find those extra hours every week to comment, reply, and share OTHER PEOPLE'S CONTENT. However, I do my best and will continue to do so. In the beginning, I thought that the only way to success was self-promotion, and now I know that we need to support each other so that we can all have a wider community.
Also, leave negativity at the door. It's easy to be jealous, negative and competitive in a space where everyone wants to be the next big thing. When a fellow blogger gets a sponsored post, I am happy for them because I figure when one rises, we all rise together.
I try to comment, tweet, share and like posts that are OBVIOUSLY sponsored from my blogging buddies. I figure, if their sponsors see that they got some great social media action then they will continue to sponsor other bloggers. Down the line that might be an opportunity for me as well!
As my mom always says, ‘do good and good will come to you.'”
What was a turning point when you realized you were onto something? Can you describe one or two instances when you noticed a bump in your numbers?
“I get big jumps in my traffic when I write posts that seem to really resonate with people. For example, I wrote a guide on how to use Polyvore as a tool for outfit inspiration. It was unsponsored but really appreciated and has brought in so much traffic.
In my case, my traffic growth has been slow and steady and over 20% of my visitors stay for over an hour to go through the archives; that makes me really happy.”
Which social media platform drives the most traffic back to your blog? What's your #1 tip for nailing social media?
“I'm still trying to nail social media! I get a huge amount of traffic from Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, and thankfully I am now indexed well with Google and other search engines. So, that brings in quite a bit of traffic.
My strategy, more than a tip, is to be authentic. I never worry about losing followers if I post something that might be controversial or too personal, I just post it. If people follow me for my travel posts, they may hate when I post about fashion. If moms follow me for my mom style and trend posts, they may hate when I post about travel. Oh well. My target is people who like to see a bit of both!
Is your blog still your #1 effort, or is a social media channel becoming more important?
“Hmmm, good question. A blog in isolation is no fun. Real engagement happens when you are social, so I try to keep my blog content fresh with at least 2-3 posts a week, but I also post daily on my social media accounts.”
Do you blog full time or do you also have a day job?
“I have a day job working as a manager for a new luxury accessory brand. For the last seven years I've worked in fashion with my husband, who has his own factory making handmade exotic leather goods. Currently, I work part-time because I am also a full-time stay at home mom.
This will change in the fall because my son starts kindergarten. So I'll be dividing up my work week between the blog and attending fashion weeks/meetings with bloggers and clients. It is an interesting situation, because on the one hand I scout bloggers with which to work with for our brands and on the other, I'm being scouted! My work involves luxury and designer products whereas my blog involves smaller brands, destinations and handmade items.
Do you monetize your site? If so, how?
“Yes. Well… I try! Affiliate marketing is much more difficult than people think, but I do use affiliate links and banners. I'm a hobby blogger and do not have a Work With Me page because up until now I'm only able to dedicate a few hours a week to blogging. However, in October I will be going pro and hope to expand my mix of paid opportunities.
Even without seeking paid opportunities, I've had a steady flow of income from sponsors and ad agencies. I now understand how the quality of content really is important to sponsors and not necessarily that you have a massive following.
There is nothing wrong with monetizing, as long as you are aware of your loyal readers and consider ways to present paid content that is interesting and engaging.”
Where do you find most of your revenue is coming from? Sponsored posts, advertising, or something else? Has that changed since you launched?
“Sponsored posts all the way. I've never settled for cheap sponsored posts either! I know the value of my time. If I want to write 100 unpaid articles it is because I WANT TO WRITE THEM. If a sponsor wants/needs content, then it is only fair that they pay a fair price for my time. I say No to at least 10 opportunities a month, because they either don't fit at all with my blog and audience or they offer too little.
I don't consider review posts to be sponsored posts, and will often do free reviews of goods if I value the item. I prefer, however, when something is offered as a gift to be styled AND at least one other item is offered as a giveaway for my readers… it's about sharing the love!
In this way, my blog has always been a steady source of income without being too full of disengaging content and ads. Plus, for the first time in the last few months I'm seeing some real affiliate revenue… but that was a long time coming!”
How much do you think the design of your blog influences reader engagement?
“I just did a major design overhaul of the blog and believe that design is critical. We want to enter into a nice space, and visiting a blog is a lot like being invited into someone's home. I want people to be my guest, and so I am always open to suggestions. My best friends have a design and graphic studio in Rome and they flat out tell me what I need to change! I take their criticism seriously because I know that design is not my forté.”
If you could describe the look and feel of your blog in one word, what would it be?
What's your favorite blog out there that you follow regularly?
“Without being disloyal to the hundreds of blogger friends I read weekly, I would go ahead and say The Mom Edit formerly known as Ain't No Mom Jeans. Shauna, the woman behind the blog, was a huge style inspiration to me after I gave birth to my son. She is a cancer survivor and I followed her ordeal with many tears along the way. Although the blog is now multi-authored, I still personally follow Shauna on social media and am always inspired by her.
Do you have any fashion or lifestyle heros/heroines?
“Miroslava Duma, I would wear EVERYTHING she wears… if I had the money. I often recreate her outfits using things I already own and I think she has a very unique sense of style and is very beautiful.
I host a style linkup called #reasonstodress Real Mom Street Style and I get a lot of inspiration from the normal woman who join me weekly. In fact, I often feature them on the blog. I am always looking out for bloggers who have created their own voice through their personal style and I love mixing vintage with fast fashion and well-made items. So, any blogger who pulls this off is tops in my books.”
What fashion blogger would you most like to have a drink with?
“Toni Tran from Fashitects!! I've met Toni before at a travel blogger conference in Rimini, Italy and he has incredible taste. He taught me so much when we were together and has a vibrant energy that I love. One of the UK's top male fashion bloggers who is studying to be an architect. His fashion shoots are as much about his locations as they are about the clothes. He is so modest and nice that it is a pleasure to hang out with him and watch him work.”
Any advice for aspiring fashion bloggers out there?
“I don't necessarily consider myself pro enough to give advice. I would just say… think about the fact that there is more out there than just fast fashion. Sometimes slow will get you to where you want to go.
Final words for our readers?
“I think I've said enough! Note to all of the chatterbox's out there… blogging is a GREAT job for you!”