Pose. Click. Upload. With just a simple picture and an outfit of the day, fashion bloggers aim to transform clicks into income. Whether blogging as a hobby or as a hopeful gateway into the fashion industry, their numbers are rapidly multiplying. But, like kitschy yogurt shops and horror movie franchises, could this boom lead to oversaturation and consumer fatigue? Some sources believe so. We at DFW Style Daily maintain a mutually respectful relationship with the Dallas-area blogger scene, so today we’ll tap a few top local sources to examine the issue.
Reality star, morning show host, and fashion blogger Courtney Kerr commands a large audience through her blog, What Courtney Wore. While blogging for most is merely a pastime, Kerr is a role model for those who wish to build a blog into a full-time, income-generating career. She’s in it for the long haul, and with a decline in the purchase of print magazines over the years (we’ll get to that in a moment), Kerr, among others, offers readers a daily fashion fix. A recent post, for example, entitled The Ultimate Chic Combination, shows Kerr on the streets of Dallas in five photographs. Below the pictures, she links to 15-plus components of her outfit through the blogger commission program RewardStyle. Readers get a dose of fashion inspiration, and if they choose to click and purchase, Kerr gets a percentage of sales.
The question is whether or not this lucky lady is among the last to hop a departing train as it leaves the station? Is it now unrealistic for newer bloggers to hope for career-level income and some semblance of stardom?
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week insiders recently expressed frustration with “too many fashion bloggers.” To New York Magazine in The Cut: Will Getting Rid Of Fashion Bloggers Return Fashion Week To Its Former Glory?, Catherine Bennett, senior vice president and managing director for IMG Models, commented that Fashion Week “was becoming a zoo.” Echoing similar sentiments was upscale designer Oscar de la Renta, who claimed that the Fashion Week mega-shows are full of “20 million people with zero connection to the clothes.”
Despite dissatisfaction, however, statistics challenge notions like that of the famed designer. We’d argue that fashion blogs do in fact have a connection to the clothes. Their connection is just very different from that of a traditional journalist.
Brand affiliate programs such as the aforementioned RewardStyle, and others including LiketoKnow:It, offer retailers and designers advertising through blogs. It has become an increasingly cost-efficient and effective means of reaching the consumer. Blogs, after all, are for the people, by the people, while many of our favorite magazines instead offer a glimpse into an unattainable fantasy world. According to Media Daily News, ad sales for print magazines declined by 8.6% in 2012, with the overall circulation of popular fashion publications such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Elle experiencing a significant decline in readership over the past several years.
Meanwhile, as blogs continue to multiply at rapid rate, only a small percentage of bloggers have achieved career-level status. And so, while print pubs shutter with regularity, this new medium does not usually create new jobs for professional journalists, stylists, art directors, photographers, and other fashion industry professionals. A movement is in progress, and we return to the question at hand – could the fashion blogging world become over-populated?
Despite differences in income, even smaller bloggers monetize their daily posts through direct ad sales and commission programs. Local fashion blogger Alex Small of Small 4 Style believes that blogging should be inclusive, not exclusive, and that the more bloggers, the merrier. A current junior at Southern Methodist University, Small blogs in her spare time and earns roughly $200 per month through RewardStyle. Refusing to play into the theory that there are “too many fashion bloggers,” Small also clearly stated to DFW Style Daily, “My blog is not meant to be an income source.”
Popular Dallas blogger and 20-year marketing guru, Cynthia Smoot of Oh So Cynthia, echoes similar sentiments. “To ask if there are too many bloggers out there is to ask if too much of anything is bad: coffee houses, craft beers, apps for your mobile device, etc.,” asserted the Gangway Advertising co-founder. The issue, as she sees it, is how bloggers set themselves apart from the crowd. “There are a million fashion, beauty, mommy, and food bloggers out there already. How will your voice be different or unique?”
Known for her outspoken commentary, Smoot goes on to add, “Readers can tell when you’ve sold out for an easy buck, and they won’t trust you on other topics if they see that you’ll talk about anything or anyone who is willing to hand you a check or send you a free product. Those who are business-minded and passionate will succeed, and those who are just looking for an easy ride will fall away when they realize that to create something successful takes a lot of hard work, business acumen, passion, and commitment.”
So what can be said to aspiring fashion bloggers and their critics? While complaints will continue to surface that there are just too many bloggers, there are, as we see it, enough retailers, designers, and advertisers to go around. Each blog is unique, and to lump all bloggers together does a disservice to the platform. Remaining stylish and ethical is the key, and we believe that the best bloggers, large or small, are here to stay.
Courtney Kerr images via Facebook.com and TheCourtneyKerr.com; Alex Small headshot credit Shana Anderson; Cynthia Smoot headshot credit Danny Campbell.