Usually, I'm the first to publicly defend fashion bloggers against the unfair flak we get from the rest of the industry - my Op-Ed "Don't Write Off Fashion Bloggers Just Yet" was published on The Business Of Fashion, and I frequently write honestly and openly about what it's like to be a fashion blogger, including navigating the waters of freebies and sponsored posts.
At its best, being a blogger - even one who doesn't make $9 million - is fun, fulfilling, and purposeful. It gives a voice and a platform where previously that privilege only would have gone to someone who could afford to take an unpaid internship at a magazine and then hopefully be lucky enough to be hired at said magazine, where they would eventually work their way up to a position that they could express themselves, to the extent that a partnership with advertisers would allow.
Fashion bloggers, the industry's scrappiest and sometimes hardest working players, have a lot to contribute, and they're not going anywhere. But that doesn't mean that they (we) aren't guilty of some habits that are really, really ridiculously annoying!
1.) Constantly hinting at "exciting projects" that they "can't wait to share with you guys".
This is usually preceeded by another post on social media that can include a #FromWhereIStand pic, complete with a requisite Starbucks drink, a t-shirt tucked into a skirt, and the caption "In meetings all morning".
We get it. Your life is amazing. Now, get on with the #outfitinspo posts!
2.) Non-stop shout-outs to brands, thanking them for free stuff.
It's just plain lazy! There's a way to disclose that you've received a product or service gratis while still honoring the brand and their message and your relationship with them.
This post from Liz of Late Afternoon is an example of a post with free swag done oh-so-right. The image is beautiful, curated, not cluttered, and is more about the moment and the mindframe than just "omigod I get so much free stuff!"
3.) Hand hearts.
Please just stop!
4.) "My Life As Of Late" posts.
I know blogging is supposed to be a highly personal medium, but at the same time, it should honor the number one principal of writing; that is, to answer the question "Why should I care?" It's great that some bloggers feel comfortable enough to write about their own experiences, but what party you went to or what meal you were just treated to, or even what park you walked your dog in doesn't help you stand out among the sea of other blogs and online magazines, of which there are approximately a trillion.
Instead, try writing a personal story, captivate your readers with exciting content that they will actually read, and use outfit posts or social media to show - not tell about - the parties, brunches, etc.
5.) Eleventy pictures of the same outfit in slightly different poses.
Editing and curating is as hard as - if not harder than - writing and photography. Whittle it down to the basics: front, side, back, and a wild-card - laughing, a funny face, sitting on a curb surrounded by freshly picked wildflowers. Go nuts, but not too nuts. Readers should be hoping for more, not wondering when the post will end.
6.) Accepting any partnership - whether it relates to your blog or not.
That is a major diss to your readers; it basically says "I care more about making money than I do about continuing to provide you with the content that you know and love from me."
It seems I'm not alone in wishing the #sponsored phase would just phase itself out. In a recent piece called "Bye Bye Gucci, Hello Kotex: How Fashion Blogging Went Mainstream" Refinery29 writer Alice Hines writes about how bloggers are incorporating sponsored content into their blogs and social media streams - and how many of those efforts read as totally disingenuous.
The way I see it...You're a fashion blogger. So why are you posting about detox tea and cleaning products? Yes, I understand that young men and women are dynamic and interested in lots of different things. But do I believe that you're truly "sooo in love with" that Ford Fusion that you got to borrow for a week? No I do not.
Of course, none of this means that I myself don't engage in some bad blogger behavior. (I'm particularly guilty of #2, and I'm trying to get better at #5.
I would love to see blogging get back to its original form - as a genuine, trustworthy voice from industry outsiders, a counterculture movement, and a way of connecting with (read: not rising above) readers.
What do you guys think? Did I miss anything, or do you think some of these things are totally acceptable?