cashing in on fashion blogging
I have been a committed, or addicted, fashion blogger for over six years now with the archives to prove it. There is no point in downplaying or denying it – I love this blog and I put a lot of heart, and time, into it. I never did unpaid internships to get into fashion – instead all my free time and priceless hopes I pinned on this URL.
So here we are. Perhaps indirectly, I’ve become a fashion illustrator. I am fulfilling a childhood fantasy. I absolutely adore what I do, and I feel like I still have a long way to go, lots of things to make and say and do.
Great, right? It is. Here’s the thing about a blog-based creative career – it is a capricious occupation. Don’t be fooled by the edited facade we throw out there; it’s just glamour. Sometimes things get sticky. Projects get cancelled. Payments are delayed. You have a quiet week. A quiet month. Times when opening your email feels like scratching a lottery ticket.
So, how about the blog then, what can it do to pull some weight? I’ve tried a few things – my experiments with sponsorship are on the public record. My early efforts integrated quite a bit with the content of the blog, and after I tried it, I didn’t feel like it was the right direction. I wanted Final Fashion to be universal and as free as possible from obligations. I wanted to treat the blog more like art.
A while ago, I had the opportunity to sell a post. I rarely respond to these opportunities, but I had an illustration project cancel that week so I was thinking about money. It turned out that the client was high profile, the rate they offered was excellent and the content they wanted me to post was pretty cute. This time, I treated it like a fashion ad in a magazine, or a commercial on a TV show. Disconnected from the rest of my content.
I bought another week in London, thanks to the goldmine of fashion blogging. After just six years of mostly-unpaid labour. If Vogue can sell off bits of itself, why can’t I?
Was it worth it? I have no idea. Final Fashion is not a shopping blog or a personal style blog. It seemed like a few regular visitors found it a bit jarring, and most took it in stride. When I solicited reactions, some readers thought it would have been better if I had included more of myself in the sponsored content somehow. This came as a surprise to me – sponsored content on fashion blogs is often a little too integral for my taste. Especially on the personal style blog end of the spectrum, professionalization is beginning to heavily distort content. Now it seems like the genre is about to enter some kind of existential crisis.
As a niche fashion blogger and independent creative careerist who has mixed feelings on monetizing, here are my personal thoughts on how to sell out and still love your fashion blog.
- Never rely on your blog for income. Depending on the blog will inhibit your ability to be creative, it will also make it more difficult to take time away from the blog when you need to. Beware inadvertently turning your role into a media salesperson and content-generator, when your true calling is elsewhere. If a serendipitous sponsor opportunity comes along, by all means take it – but treat it like mad money, not rent.
- Set a high bar for how much a post sells for, keep the independent:sponsored content ratio as high as possible.
- Selling out is not a sin. Almost all artists have to navigate this challenge in order to finance the pursuit their craft, and the snobs who say otherwise are anti-creative. Sponsorship is not universally bad or good – but like any business choice, it has tradeoffs. Be careful.
- The more of your blog you sell off, the less the blog is yours. If your ego is as heavily invested in your blog as mine is, you know what a personal endeavour this pursuit can be. Value your authorship, and keep your independence.