Hey there! It’s been a while. I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to plan fall trips out west and a big trip back home to see my family. In the meantime, I have a backlog of posts I need to get up and there never seems to be enough time in the day. I get a lot of questions about where and how I shop for my clothes, how I’m able to buy all these designer items and a whole slew of other blogger related inquiries and it’s taken me a while to answer these questions honestly. I want us to have an honest conversation about blogging, spending and what it means to do it wisely. I’m here to reveal the dirty little secrets most bloggers don’t tell you.
PEOPLE PREFER INSTAGRAM TO BLOG POSTS…
It seems like a lot of influencers on Instagram wear new things every day and so many of us cram LikeToKnow.It and ShopStyle links in your feeds 24 hours a day. I received a few messages regarding the copious content during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and how some of my followers were tired of seeing the same items and content from bloggers on their feed. The blogging industry has shifted along with the type of content consumption.
Influencers realize that at least half their followers don’t read their blogs. They instead flock to Instagram to get their updates because it’s fast consumption and doesn’t require a lot of effort. Likes and comments are now de rigueur. This has left many of us OGs of blogging to focus a lot of attention on creating social media content instead of content for our blogs, which used to be our bread and butter. The best option for professional bloggers is to use affiliate links in Instagram, Facebook and Twitter posts to get eyes on content they would normally post on their blog in the hopes of making some money in the process. So please be kind when you see these links. They are as helpful to you as they are to us. You get quick access to something you might like and we, in turn, make a cut if you buy it.
BLOGGERS ARE DIGITAL MARKETERS NOT Journalists
I might get some heat for what I’m about to say but Influencers and bloggers are digital marketers and advertisers. Yes, I said it! A majority of us are not journalists like we think we are. We shoot gorgeous content to entice the readers to buy products. I remember in the early days of blogging when I thought I was a bonafide journalist. I would denounce anyone who said I was a “blogger” because after all, I was writing fashion pieces for followers just like some of my favorite writers in the pages of Vogue and Marie Claire.
What I’ve learned with my evolution is that I, along with the millions of bloggers out there, am a digital marketer and a director of sales. I entice readers to buy an item I deem of value in order to make a sale and earn a commission. I am in no way Robin Givhan, Suzy Menkes, Hillary Alexander or Cathy Horyn. Now I’m not saying bloggers do not have value. We have shaped the conversation around fashion in the last 10 years and made fashion week and fashion, in general, more accessible to everyone.
Bloggers have created communities and formed their tribes. We’ve made great strides in showing women of all ages and sizes to love their bodies with the Body Positive movement. This was something magazines failed to do in their pages for decades. Natural hair bloggers have shown women of color and those with unruly hair that kinks and curls are beautiful and manageable and above all else, gorgeous.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Syndrome
Let’s face it, style blogging requires having money. Style blogging is an aspirational hobby that can turn into a career and for many influencers, getting the latest “it” items is a must to show off to their readers. This requires money. A lot of successful bloggers on Instagram are either very well off, work for magazines (so they pull from the closet) or spend their hard earned money to get the items of the season in order to showcase them to get affiliate sales. Some bloggers will do anything to for the ‘gram. Last year, a fashion influencer was arrested for stealing $37,000 of merchandise to style for her Instagram feed.
Then there are those influencers who buy things to wear and shoot only to return them to the stores later. Nordstrom did a crackdown of bloggers who had abnormally high return rates. These people would buy the latest items for the season, shoot the looks, promote the content to their readers and followers with affiliate links in order to make a sale and later return said items to get a refund. This is such a foul and unsavory practice among some in our industry. This deceptive practice has turned some of the influencers you follow into the successes they are today. I love repeating outfits and you will probably see me wear some of the same things over and over but in different ways. That has always been my philosophy on individual style. That is, being able to turn an old item into something fabulous by finding new ways to style it.
WE ARE GIFTED MANY ITEMS SEEN ON OUR FEED
For many years, we received free products without disclosing that they were free. This was by no means done with ill intent. However, with the FTC crackdown of the blogging industry and its insistence on transparency between influencers, celebrities, and their followers, those who are failing to do so now are doing it to be deceitful.
When a reader sees c/o, #ad, #partner, #Sponsored, #Spon, or a disclosure at the bottom of a post or on Instagram, they know that the featured item was gifted. Don’t think for once that all of the influencers you see on your feed are spending money on beauty products, accessories, clothing, hotels, airfare, food, beverages or even furniture. They are being gifted products in exchange for a review.
BLOGGING IS NOT GLAMOROUS
As bloggers, most of us show you our highlight reel on our social media feeds and websites. The truth is, not many of us shed light on what goes into blogging. Some of my friends think all I do is attend parties, shop, dress up and take pictures. Sure you might see those on Instagram but what you don’t see is me waking up at 5:30 am to be photo ready to shoot an outfit in order to avoid crowds in the city and to get good lighting for those photos. You don’t see my duffle bag filled with clothes that I need to change in and out of at restaurants and coffee shops in order to shoot content for the week. A lot of bloggers shoot seasonal content ahead of time so we’re usually out in 90-degree weather shooting fall looks or 10-degree weather shooting spring looks in the winter time. It’s dedication!
We need to give influencers the credit where its due. We are marketers, photo editors, content creators and bill collectors. Many of us spend hours in Photoshop and Lightroom to sift through hundreds of shots of the same outfit in order to pick the perfect 10 or 12 shots then edit them. We are Jill of all trades. We code our websites, at least I do. Over the years, I have learned CSS, HTML, and PHP in order to redesign my site and customize themes to make them my own.