Inauthentic, uneducated, pathetic, cliche, fame-hungry, and who can forget the comments made by four senior editors at Vogue about bloggers in that infamous MFW roundup? Irrelevant of whether that was them laying down their brutal, no-strings opinions or a stunt to generate publicity to boost hits, the scathing comments still cut deep in bloggers building brands and businesses. Despite grinding away to try carve careers in this increasingly unstable industry – and even those who do it as a hobby for a form of creative expression – it seems pretty easy to say bloggers put up with a lot of shit. The foundation of both the fashion and digital world is constantly in flux, the tectonic plates always ready to slip and shift the power or throw a new curve ball we must adapt to in order to stay relevant. Job markets are bleak. Competition is fierce. So when it comes down to getting a “real” job in fashion against blogging as a career, what’s actually the best bet these days?
So we grind. We work. We study. We save. We ignore the horror stories our friends have told us about a friend of their sister’s boyfriend who interned at a big fashion publication and still has a scar from where the editor threw a razor sharp-heeled Jimmy Choo at her face. We pretend that The Devil Wear’s Prada is just a satirical film and fictional editrix Miranda Preistly definitely *definitely* wasn’t based on real-life editrix Anna Wintour. And we fill our minds up with Carrie Bradshaw style fantasies that yes, we can and will write a weekly column for a newspaper – along with a few additional freelance Vogue features – and still be able to afford a city apartment with a side order of Manolo’s. Call us deluded, but it’s what we trick ourselves into thinking so that it seems all of the hard work will be worth it.
After a year of full-time employment, my blog was taking off and I found it too rewarding not to turn my focus on. So now I work a 50/50 split three days a week for the online team of a luxury department store (read more about this here) and blogging for the rest of the week. But people still ask me why blogging? Why write for your own blog, take this difficult route full of people who want to make things harder for you (trolls abusing, editors slinging cut-throat critiques) when you could just get a “real” job at a fashion publication? People assume you want to be famous – or at least, Instagram famous – and that you’re a vacuous narcissist who only wants to work on brand ME ME ME. A self-made internet celebrity, a Kim Kardashian of sorts – without the sex tape (no hate, just saying).
The truth? I found it fucking borderline impossible to get a job in fashion editorial. And I have a BA in Journalism from Cardiff University and a distinction in MA Fashion Journalism at Central Saint Martins. But my real life experience was pretty bleak compared to others. Whilst I had some intern experience and freelance work on my CV, it was all pretty minimal or done at little-known publications so it never particularly wowed the Gucci loafers off a potential employer. It was a real life case in point of it’s not what you know but who you know.
So I struggled: coldly applying for a billion jobs along with a billion others and never hearing back. It was like I was the Fashion World’s second-rate, eager and needy Tinder date, desperate for a chance, and they were just ghosting me real bad.
Now let’s actually talk about where blogging fits into all of this. Anyone knows that circulation figures in print are dying out faster than last season’s trends, coming second to the myriad of tasty, new, exciting digital content available on the web. It’s quick, it’s immediate, and instantaneous. Social media has of course fuelled this.
What’s now changing this landscape is the notion of a personal brand, and having a personal profile in the industry. Rather than read an article or blog post on something that we connect with, we feel like we connect with it even more if it’s written by a person online that we have got to know through watching them on Instagram, reading their tweets, and seeing what they get up to on Instagram stories and Snapchat. So is it any surprise why bloggers have become a go-to platform for content? We build relationships with readers with a more access-all-areas, 360 view than elite publications do, creating both relatable and aspirational content, and in this new voyeuristic and nosy culture, it certainly sells. Readers can now create a tailored stream of content of exactly what they want, written by who they want, as opposed to bingeing on work dictated from the traditional authoritative publications.
Don’t get me wrong, large publications will always remain dominant – they are authorities for a reason – but when it comes to reading for entertainment value, there’s certainly more scope for blogs to grow in popularity. There simply seems to be a larger shift in power lately and it seems to be giving increasing opportunities to the influencers.
As this blog is a no bullshit zone, let’s get real and talk money. As you can imagine, a start out salary for a staff writer (literally congrats if you got this coveted role) is of course pretty bleak when magazines are struggling to stay afloat (InStyle launched the closure of their print magazine last month). Then consider this: most of these publications are located in London where the rent and cost of living easily outweighs a £16k editorial assistants role. And finally, my freelance journalist friends who have been in the biz for a lot longer have said how it’s harder to get paid a fair price for an article these days. From my own personal experience, my freelance work has paid on average 1/3 for the same amount of work I’d do for a branded project on my blog.