“Working Like A Blog”
AUSTIN, TX — Do you want to own your own business in college and work on your own time taking pretty pictures of yourself wearing nice things?
Well, so do a lot of other women in college and out of college. When it comes to having a fashion blog, the competition is intense. In Austin Texas, fashion is a staple and there are a handful of blogs that have reached an esteemed status like being featured in fashion magazines in Austin.
College students fashion can range from those who do not try very hard, wearing just your plain tee and athletic shorts. To those who take fashion and beauty very seriously and use the internet to flaunt their style and share tips with their fellow millennials. But this is no hobby, as some of these ladies have turned their blogs into a working business.
In Austin, there are about 30 blogs that reach up to 1,000+ readers with official accounts. These bloggers make their money by sponsoring products and doing collaborations with more popular bloggers to bring out their names. If a company is having a marketing campaign, they will reach out to these bloggers to use their hashtags, or feature one of their products. Sometimes, bloggers can be invited to conferences to be a spokesperson for the product. For bloggers to make money off of their sites, they have a cost-per-click strategy. By using a shopping website in their blog, readers can shop for clothing, accessories, etc. that the blogger has worn/tried out. Some bloggers can reach such a high status they will be invited to fashion shows and even the esteemed New York Fashion Week. If you contribute towards a bigger blogger, get noticed, or even request an invite using your blog as your credentials, you can get a seat at NYFW.
Bloggers in Austin alone can reach up to 10,000 followers. Boutiques and clothing stores contact them for collaborations, and these ladies expect their share. But as I searched through the internet, only searching for Austin Texas fashion bloggers, I noticed that it was predominantly white female women around the ages of 20–24.
(above Sarah Wong)
With Austin being so diverse and UT being such a diverse college, it was surprising to find that there really are not that many popular diverse bloggers. Searching using hashtags, the most diverse people that were found consisted mostly of Asian women and a couple male bloggers.
One of these popular blogs here in Austin is named “The Bella Insider” by Sarah Wong. As a fashion/beauty blogger in Austin attending The University of Texas studying Petroleum Engineering, her blog is one of her escapes to be all things girly. But this is no fun hobby, as she takes her work very seriously.
She has had her blog for six years but only in recent years has she taken it more seriously. She posts about fashion, beauty tips, and helps give college students advice. Dedicated to her work, she treats her blog as a business. “I believe in the compensation of the work I do and those who help with my photographs, who I pay to take my photos. It’s fun to do but I deserve to be paid for the work I put into everything.” Sarah explained. She hires people wanting to expand their portfolio of photography, and pays them for each shoot. “My blog is called The Bella Insider, Bella meaning beautiful. I want to show people fashion that is beautiful, simple, and classic” she explained.
One of Sarah’s photographers, Charlton Lee explained what makes a fashion blog photo get the most attention. “The perfect photo captures the details of the outfit while letting the personality of the model shine through. It juxtaposes a crisp, clarity on the focal point with a subdued, blurred background. Ideally the background is contrasts the outfit and reflects the style of the shoot as well. The perfect picture makes the object at hand look better than it does in real life.” Scrolling through some bloggers posts, the products that are featured look somewhat holy, and that as a consumer, I just HAVE to have it. But every photo is different, depending on which social media platform you wish to put it on. Lee added that photos on Pinterest must show the product more than the actual blogger. Instagram photos work better when the blogger’s face is in frame since it will show the true personality of the blogger, which in turn, makes the viewer double-tap.
At only 20, Sarah keeps on her feet and makes money of her work. After the interview, Wong commented that she was being sent to Chicago to commercial a product, all because of her blog. Not only does she love fashion, but she shares a passion for her main career of becoming a Petroleum engineer, as she also helps to lead the Women In Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Society at UT. She even runs that blog all on her own. Even though the competition is rough, Sarah emphasized that anyone should try it if they are thinking about it. But there is a lot of work to keep up with it all and please your target audience.
Some blogs seem to have a very similar taste of simplicity and sophistication. When in Austin, fashion seems to be somewhat avant-garde at times, but blogs featured in Austin seemed to be pretty similar in its styles. Clean-cut, southern inspiration, and a featured product that is talked about in the descriptions. Amy Rosenthal who majors in journalism attending the University of Mississippi. As a journalism student, her beat focuses on fashion and also politics. Her blog is not a business like the other bloggers I interviewed, but merely a hobby at the moment. As a journalist, she wanted to have a place to practice her writing but enjoyed using a topic that came easily to her, fashion.
But, Amy is learning to make her blog a business, using ShopStyle so that readers can purchase the products she shows through her website. Even as a hobby, Amy realized having a blog took a lot of effort, “it’s a great way to learn about branding, marketing, and technology”. The hashtag that draws readers to her posts is #ootd (Outfit of the day). This hashtag is the most important one to use being a fashion blogger, and from there you can narrow down the content you want with more specific hashtags. Blogs take time to grow, as some bloggers have made a career for themselves using it. Erica Yu, or refinedcouture, has been featured in Lucky Magazine, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen magazine and was invited to NYFW twice in a row to attend. Her blog reaches up to 8,000 followers on Instagram with 176,348 views on her website.
Graduating from Rutgers Business School with a bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management and Marketing Science, Yu has turned her day to day blog into a full-time business. You can shop from her page and sometimes see her name pop up on fashion magazine’s social media and physical copies. She didn’t give up on her dream of making her blog successful even when her parents told her it would be “limiting when it came time to pursue a career”. Her advice to those hesitant to start a blog: “Do your research, set your goals, and don’t look back”.
“Don’t look back”. One of my favorite quotes. It does not matter what you studied, as fashion seems to be universal for girls who enjoy feminine style. Who knew that posting pretty photos of yourself would be this much work. Learning from these bloggers makes one realize how hashtags and positions of photos on social media can make or break your blog. People connect with these tools and use these blogs as someone to look up to, everyday girls who work hard, to inspire them. Fashion blogs are hard work, and these women put tons of effort into their work, and it’s way more than just a pretty picture.
(right photo: courtesy of Amy Rosenthal)
(bottom left: courtesy of Erica Yu)
Blogs to follow:
thebellainsider.com — Sarah Wong
armedwithcharmblog.com — Amy Rosenthal
charltonlee.com — Charlton Lee
refinedcoutureblog.com — Erica Yu