I’m coming up on my one year blogging anniversary soon (OMG!), and I’ve been reflecting on everything I’ve learned about fashion blogging lately. It’s an interesting little subculture that I didn’t fully understand until I got involved, and it makes so much more sense to me now why bloggers do the things that they do. Especially because now I’m one of those bloggers that does those things!
This side by side isn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be! Check out one of my first outfits on the blog, compared to one of my recent ones:
I’ve learned all about boosting my Pinterest, searching relevant hashtags on Instagram, how to write emails to brands and bloggers, and where to get copyright free photos. That’s not saying I’m a great blogger or anything…just that I’ve learned a lot!
But some of you probably have a lot of questions. Why do bloggers sometimes say things are ‘sponsored’? What’s up with those loop giveaways? What if I don’t ‘like to know it’? Well today’s post will hopefully explain a lot of this.
So let’s get started with 10 questions and 10 answers to some of those fashion blogging mysteries!
1. I’ve tried to ask a blogger on Instagram where one of their clothing items is from, and they told me to click the link on their blog. Why?
I can see how this is frustrating. How easy would it be to just tell you where it’s from?! Sometimes other commenters will try and tell you, but the blogger might delete their comments so you still have to go to the blog to find out. This is because the blogger uses affiliate links, meaning every time someone clicks a link on their blog to a product, they can get a commission. It might be a commission just for clicking (so a few cents), or it might be a commission if you buy the product (a percentage of whatever the total cost). You don’t pay anymore money than usual, but the blogger is rewarded for forwarding you to the item.
Whether blogging as a side hustle or full time, there are costs involved. Bloggers earn income from these affiliate links to keep their business running, so naturally they want you to use them. Some people see it as greedy, but others view it as them doing their job. Honestly this doesn’t bother me because I know how much blogging can cost. Writing in a comment where something is from can cause a blogger to lose more than just possible income from you, but also any others who see the comment and then don’t use the affiliate link.
2. In Instastories why do bloggers always screenshot their feed with an icon covering the latest post, letting you know that they want you to check out their newest post?
I don’t know if you realized, but your Instagram feed isn’t chronological anymore. Instagram shows you what it thinks you want to see, and more commented and liked photos are likely to get put higher on your feed. If you don’t have post notifications turned on for an account you follow (have you seen bloggers ask you to do that, too?), you may never get shown the account’s latest post.
Using Instagram stories to tell you about their latest post is just another way for a blogger to let you know there’s something new to check out, and hopefully ‘like.’ It’s a way to help get around the changing algorithms of Instagram. As shown above, I frequently do this myself.
3. Why do fashion bloggers always look down at the ground when they pose? Or wear sunglasses?
I’m so guilty of this! I stumbled across this hilarious Pinterest board dedicated to one of the most annoying fashion blogger poses, and it looks even dumber when all the pictures are together in one place like this.
So what’s the deal? Well, the hardest part of taking outfit photos is getting my eyes to look right. If my eyes are too open, I look crazy and surprised. If my eyes are too closed, it’s like I’m mid-blink or on drugs during the photoshoot! It can be really hard to get the right balance of just looking normal. And it’s pretty aggravating to have an otherwise nice outfit photo ruined by my face, specifically my eyes. Let’s just say I was not meant to be a model.
So looking down or wearing sunglasses is an easy way to avoid this. Apparently I really like to fake like I’m putting my hair behind my ear, too.
4. Why do bloggers keep doing these loop giveaways?
Naturally a blogger who is trying to be successful will want as many followers on social media as possible. Instagram follower count is one of the primary benchmarks for judging someone’s influence. More followers probably means bigger and better sponsorships and opportunities. That’s all pretty obvious.
In order to reach new followers, bloggers will participate in loop giveaways where each participant donates some amount of money towards a few awesome products, like a camera, iPhone, or makeup palette. If 20 bloggers donate $20 each, that’s $400 worth of prizes! The catch is, though, that you must follow each of those 20 bloggers to qualify for the prize. They may even say that you get extra entries for tagging others in the comments. That gives all the bloggers access to new audiences for their content and more followers really quickly!
Some people view this as another way of buying followers (a serious no-no in my view), and that after the giveaway they end up losing a lot of the followers who just wanted the prize. Others say that this a great way for them to grow their followers and reach new audiences that they might not have before, especially because Instagram keeps changing the algorithm of who shows up in someone’s feed or is a suggested account to follow. Personally I’m not a fan, but never say never.
5. Why are bloggers always wearing high heels/lots of makeup/excessive jewelry, etc.? Do bloggers actually wear these outfits in real life?
Obviously I can’t answer this for every blogger, but the good ones (in my opinion) will be honest about it. I loved reading about how Samantha at Life & Messy Hair wears her outfits and photographs them in this post, and over at Because I’m Addicted Geri talks about her blog’s outfit photos. It’s a little different for every blogger.
To be 100% honest with you, I don’t always wear the outfits from the blog in real life. Now before you stop reading and swear off CTF for life, hear me out on why. I have a normal, Monday through Friday full time job. I mostly take outfit photos on the weekend, and I’ll take a few so I can spread my content out. Sometimes the weekend when I shot was sunny and beautiful and the following work week is cold and rainy, and it would be silly to wear that pencil skirt and sleeveless blouse from my shoot. So I save it for another time. I don’t like to wear the outfits before the shoot because it will get wrinkly, possibly stained, and it will definitely have dog hair on it. Thanks, Rascal.
Also, sometimes I’ll get something new that I want to show you right away, like some distressed jeans. So I’ll shoot the look and get it on the blog ASAP. The sooner it goes live, the higher the chance that it won’t be sold out if you’re interested in getting it. But I may not have a real life occasion to wear those distressed jeans yet. I obviously can’t wear them to work, and maybe the following weekend I’m in yoga pants and sweats cleaning all day. That’s just life!
Unless I tell you in the blog post, I don’t post outfit photos with tags still on the items and then return them later. That’s just dishonest. I may show you how something fit, how I was disappointed in it and ended up returning it (like this post with the ruffle top), but I don’t pretend that I am OMG obsessed with it or wear it all the time when it’s really getting sent back. Nope. I don’t have time for that!
6. Why do fashion bloggers complain about how hard it is? They just take pictures and post them online!
This is definitely what I used to think, too. How hard can it be to just take pictures of what you wear and throw them up on a website? I guess it doesn’t have to be hard. Depending on the level of professionalism you want, you can seriously just take pictures with your phone camera and publish them in a post.
But most fashion bloggers see their blogs as a creative outlet (hate that phrase), and they love making it a high quality product that they’re proud to show the world. So let me talk a little bit about that process. First you probably want a DSLR camera and a nice lens to take great photos. Then, you need to actually do the photo shoot, which depends on good weather and lighting, and finding a photographer to take the pictures. Or you can work the whole self-timer/remote thing. After that you need to edit the photos, which is a whole process in itself.
Now to even have your blog you needed to get a domain and sign up for webhosting, customize a layout (or buy one), and know a little bit about CSS or code to get everything squared away. You have to worry about spam, plugins, hackers, copyright, and backups. I consider myself to be pretty computer literate, but blogging is a whole different story.
You need to plan your content and promote it. You need a strategy for your blog and every social media outlet, and you need to manage your time wisely. It’s a lot of emails, multi-tasking, coordination, and engaging with people. As much fun as blogging is, it does take a lot of time and effort to do it. If you think of it more as a business instead of just a style diary, you might understand it more.
I didn’t mean for this answer to become a whiney monologue! I’m just trying to give you an idea of what’s involved, and why some people may say it’s hard. It may not seem hard when a fashion blogger always has new clothes, is Instagramming their vacation to a 5 star beach resort, or stays in pajamas until 9am when they get up to grab a Starbucks coffee and tell everyone on Twitter about. But if you think of all of that as part of someone’s job, it takes on a little different meaning. And that lifestyle is the exception rather than the rule, since I feel like most fashion bloggers are not full time.
No matter what, though, it’s not the hardest thing in the world. Fashion is special to a lot of people, but not the most important thing in the world by a longshot, so I also find myself losing patience for some that make it out to be. End of my small rant.
7. Why do bloggers delete critical comments on their posts or Instagram?
Yeesh. This is a tough one. Let’s start off easy. We can agree that some critical comments are just internet trolls. People who like to just start arguments or get a rise out of people. Their comments are lame. Stuff like “You’re ugly.” Wow. That adds nothing to the post, and is just mean for no reason. I think that it’s totally normal for a blogger to delete a comment like that since it serves no purpose.
What about this comment taken from a real blog post:
- “This post feels disingenuous. I understand you want to be paid for your job but with your fan base, surely there are collaborations with products you actually DO endorse/enjoy using being offered your way?”
Hmmm. That’s definitely a critical comment, and that’s a valid concern. In my opinion that’s something a blogger should take to heart and respond to honestly. But some bloggers delete stuff like that.
One reason might be that a blogger thinks critical comments, especially on a sponsored post (more on that in the next question), will look bad to potential partners. Another reason might be that the blogger thinks that ‘women supporting other women’ translates to never saying anything critical at all (NOT true).
And honestly some people are really sensitive to that stuff. Usually being honest with someone in real life about negative things is hard, like giving someone a bad performance evaluation at work. But being negative online, through text and without face-to-face interaction is a lot easier. I suspect that some bloggers have a hard time receiving a larger than normal stream of negative comments, and it’s easier just to delete them.
8. Why do bloggers say something is sponsored?
When you see Shaquille O’Neal in car insurance commericals or Kylie Jenner in the HiSmile advertisements, you know they are being paid. They are celebrity endorsers and knowing that they are paid to promote these products affects your thought process on whether or not to trust the product and ultimately buy it.
A sponsored post with blogging is similar. A company pays an influencer (also hate that word), or maybe just provides them a free product in exchange for their review. The blogger is required by the Federal Trade Commission to tell readers about this relationship by denoting the post as sponsored. Even on Instagram! Because knowing that the post is sponsored lets the reader decide how much weight they want to give to the opinion. Disclosures can’t be hidden or lost in the fine print. Hashtags like #ad or #sponsored are proper disclosure, while #partner is not. The Fashion Law has some great articles about disclosing sponsored posts, like this one, that you can read if you’re interested.
I’ve done a few sponsored posts before (like this JORD post), and overall I enjoy the experience. I only choose sponsorships that feel right for the blog, and with the JORD watch I actually reached out to the company about working together! It’s fun to grow and network as a blogger (and host giveaways!), and I always make sure to disclose that my posts are sponsored.
9. Why do fashion bloggers always want me to Like to Know It?
Like to Know It is a part of the affiliate program RewardStyle. Remember how I mentioned that bloggers can get a commission when you purchase an item through their link? This is it.
I personally don’t use RewardStyle and Like to Know It, but my blogger friend Brandi does! She explains all about it here. And now they have an app so you can opt out of emails and get all the details sent directly to your account on the app instead.
10. Why do fashion bloggers have a blog, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Bloglovin, Twitter, and every other social media outlet on the planet?
If a blogger isn’t posting on their site, they’re tweeting, pinning, Snapchatting, and telling you to check out their Instagram feed. It’s exhausting, right?! Why not just have one?
Each social media outlet is a venue to engage with people, gain traffic, and eventually earn income. But each has it’s own pros and cons. Instagram is extremely popular because it’s a visual app, and it’s perfect for showcasing fashion. You can browse hashtags and locations easily, so finding fashion bloggers is relatively easy compared to how you might try and search for a new fashion blog to follow just via Google search. But the follow/unfollow game is rough, along with continually battling Instagram’s algorithm changes.
Pinterest is important because the content is there forever, and you can get traffic to older content consistently. How often do you go back through an Instagram feed by weeks, or even a year? You don’t. But you’re probably pinning content on Pinterest that is several years old. A pin can go viral at any time, bringing new traffic and hopefully new followers to a blog.
I think listing the pros and cons of each social media outlet could have it’s own dedicated post! So I won’t elaborate on that further. Some followers prefer using different kinds of social media, and a fashion blogger is smart to try and use them all in someway to reach out to their audience.
I hope I was able to clarify a little bit about the fashion blogging world for you.
I would love to hear what you think about the post and if you have any more questions comment below so I can collect them for a second installment of fashion blogging Q&A!