I’ve followed the fashion blogging world and by the extension of natural curiosity, the blogging world in general, for about 4 years now. I’ve made friends with members of the community, and I’ve seen my friends turn their blogs into personal brands. The idea of personal internet branding began with sites such as livejournal and xanga, was stymied by myspace and facebook, and came to full fruition as blogging and tweeting. The internet as we now conceive of it could not exist without its foundational concept of mass accessible branding and networking therein. In an elementary way, TO facebook is to brand oneself. I tweet therefore I am.
If you want to be a jerk about it…ask yourself THIS: Are we avatars for our internet bound beings or are our internet selves,
The Genuine! ?
Creative Blogs as Independent Business Branding Platforms
Wendy Brandes has “curated” and written her blog WendyBrandesFineJewelry since I’ve been reading blogs. I grew up with her writing and blog brand as, simultaneously, her blog brand grew up. Fascinated by such intelligence and beauty, I paid rapt attention to her business and style advice; took it to heart. This woman segued a highly successful (and yet somewhat unfulfilling) career in journalism in New York City into a couture jewelry design business. Her pieces are inspired by pop culture, royalty and notable women. Her designs are infused with references to Queen Elizabeth, Virginia Woolf, Cleopatra and Lady Gaga. In a a vein similar to her philosophy of jewelry design, Wendy has branded her blog with a sense of humor and a sense of daring. Her catchiest branding phrase is one which is both absurd and brilliant in its simplicity, “Wear What You Want! ™”.
Wendy will occasionally write posts chockfull of business advice for aspiring creatives. One piece of advice, in particular, has stuck with me over the years,
“I’ve tried to save money for my very small company by doing things myself, using volunteers, and hiring affordable people instead of great ones. All of the above should be emergency measures, not long-term strategies. I’ve made these mistakes with graphic design, computer programming, photography, public relations, sales, wax-model making, jewelry manufacturing, stone setting … and those are just the examples that immediately spring to mind. I’ve tried that thing where you hire someone less experienced for less money because that person will be “hungry” and work harder. Not! The hungriest people will get an internship or an apprenticeship or an entry-level job at a quality organization, even in these hard times. And if they can’t manage that, they’ll be too smart to sell their services for nothing. They’re the ones who know that you don’t move up in the world by selling yourself short. I’ve thrown away years and thousands of dollars on all kinds of bad work that got me nowhere. When I’ve finally dug deeper to hire the best, I’ve realized exactly how much I wasted. Money that paid for a three-year-long effort might have only covered six months with a better vendor, but I would have done better in those six months than I did in those three years.”
While Wendy Brandes originally started her blog to reach out to the online fashion community and to create a community of loyal customers for her jewelry brand, the blogging gig quickly grew an international web of friendships as well. Wendy’s close friend and fellow “gorgeous blogger”, Jennine Jacobs (of The Coveted), helped pioneer the official Independent Fashion Bloggers community. The community established by Independent Fashion Bloggers provides an easy introductory glimpse, a set of blogging etiquette. It is an organizational fallback for the community.
The group officiates the state of fashion blogging with regards to issues of sponsorship, advertising, media, censorship and what have you. If you are a member, Independent Fashion Bloggers also offers a platform for advertising your blog and has many articles with advice about how to kickstart a vision and a following. Wendy Brandes is an example of a fashion blogger who started her blog solely as a mechanism for branding her business. Her blog then inevitably evolved into an additional social hobby. The lines between business and friendship quickly blurred. Loyalty is necessary in business and friendship and social networking via the internet is convenient glue.
Tavi Gevinson (of TheStyleRookie) is an example of a different type of blogger. Tavi started her blog as a platform for her creative exploration and as a means to network and further explore and discuss the arts with likeminded bloggers. Due to circumstance and key moments of exposure, Tavi’s blog quickly racked up a huge following and, if she so desired, could easily turn profit. In 4 years, Tavi was able to translate the success of her blog into a successful arts and philosophy and entertainment magazine for teenage girls (RookieMag). Now Tavi works as the Editor in Chief for the magazine. The magazine boasts an international staff of writers and editors. Ira Glass’ wife works as an editor. Interview subjects include Miranda July, Elle Fanning, and David Sedaris.
A third example (or archetype!) of blogging are bloggers such as Garance Dore (of Garance Dore.FR ) and Danny Roberts (of Igor + Andre). Both bloggers developed their blogs as platforms for their work as illustrators. Garance Dore gained her audience on the back of a blog that featured her charming illustrations and charming, discursive, “french girl” commentary. Garance Dore developed her blog in a direction inspired by blogging itself and she is now considered one of the most prominent fashion street photographers in the industry. In addition to photography, Garance continues to post her fashion commentary and illustrations. Danny Roberts stayed true to his original vision and continues to use the blog as a platform for his illustration and painting work. In a stroke of business genius, Roberts originally gained fame within the fashion blogging community by doing a series of portraits of relevant fashion bloggers. Roberts utilized his popularity in the fashion blogging community and managed to extrapolate on his somewhat obscure community fame. He seized opportunities for involvment in big name illustration projects with fashion houses. This business acumen enabled the translation of his blog success into “REAL WORLD” success. He still uses the blog to sell his pieces.
These vignettes provide examples of how creative persons might use blogging and blogging communities to establish social and business platforms to support and perpetuate their art. Since blogging and internet branding is a concept in it’s toddler stage of conceptual development, the creative possibilities of blogging are endless.