The Reality of “Real” Jobs in Fashion vs Blogging as a Career

What is the easiest and most rewarding route to a career in fashion that pays these days?

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?

It’s hardly ground-breaking news that some women love fashion. I’ve wanted to work in this industry since I first had that fuzzy feeling you get when you really really love a piece of clothing (I was 3), this desire cemented further when I was flipping through magazines seeing McQueen and YSL spreads (I was 11) and through all of the other little experiences like slaving 6 days a week in a restaurant all summer on minimum wage to buy my first ever designer handbag – if you’re reading this post then there’s probably a 99% chance that you’ve had your own moments too.

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. 

Internships can be the vintage Chanel handbag of the industry – utterly invaluable. You make connections, get experience, and build your own portfolio. But with a loan for my MA to pay off and rent to pay in London, interning for free 5 days a week is a difficult feat – throw in a part time job at weekends and evenings and you’re on a one stop train to burning completely out. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t try – I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of paid and unpaid internships I applied for and still never heard back from. Is there even a job at the end of the tunnel of coffee runs and admin work? Who even knows. I have friends who got stuck in the vicious cycle of interning without pay at company after company, just to be dropped over and over and move to another.

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.

So why blogging?

Well, do I work at getting a job in an industry that’s getting increasingly difficult to survive in (especially as a newbie), earning less money, just to avoid being called vacuous, narcissistic, self-indulgent and inauthentic? I mean, grinding away at building a business, teaching yourself SEO skills, being your own personal social media exec, working out how to use a camera properly (not to mention what kit to buy!), learning how to use photoshop, building up a loyal following, coming up with interesting content ideas, staying until you get the right shot – this might seem like a really really long route, because it really is (and don’t even get me started on learning the ropes of YouTube) – but if that’s becoming a simpler route than getting a secure and rewarding role at a fashion publication, then I’ll happily take it instead. 
If I’m scaring you, then don’t worry, I’m scaring myself too. This industry is insecure, but we’re always one small step away from a new technological advance which will bring exciting opportunities. It’s about riding the digital wave and keeping your finger on the pulse.

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  1. This was so lovely to read and your paragraph about the Carrie Bradshaw thing made me smile. I agree with you on the connection thing, these days it's a really important thing. To connect with your readers that is. And as you said, internships are hard to get and it's not very convenient having an unpaid internship if you live in a city as expensive as London and have to pay your own rent.Beautiful post. xx

  2. This was totally me, interned my ass off for a magazine for a year then when they were looking to hire someone they chose another candidate, their reasoning being 'she knew more people'. So I thought fuck it I will do it for myself so I started a blog. Being rejected was literally the best thing that ever happened! Great post my lovely xxx

    1. This is the thing, I have an extensive and I work so hard, yet I can't seem to catch a break. Good on you for starting a blog and doing things you're way – that's why I started my own blog too! It's better than being stuck within the cycle of interning.


  3. Really enjoyed reading this article. I've been blogging for over 3 years and although I have no degrees in fashion or journalism I have considered a career in fashion, but as you say it's extremely difficult to make waves in this industry (especially when you have 0 experience what-so-ever!) so why not stick to blogging instead? Love love this post, and it's motivated me to work harder on my blog.


  4. This is such a fab read (as are all your other think pieces tbh), and it really reflects my current position looking for a job. It's such a weird area to be in, but for some it's a really viable, successful career and I wish it wasn't so bitter or hard or frustrating. But things worth having are very rarely easily achieved.

    Fii | little miss fii | uk fashion & lifestyle

  5. I enjoyed reading this post, I'm sacred like you said, but my key take away is being able to connect with your audience and that's real. I think the big publishers would be sorry by now hahaha

  6. Hi Sophie,

    Im not at all into the fashion industry, however I do really enjoy reading your blog and catching up on your new posts when I have time. You're fresh and genuine it's a nice change to what is rubbed into your face on instagram! Anyway keep going its hard for every recent graduate at the moment and those who keep going and dreaming achieve the most.

    Charlotte B

  7. So much truth in all of this gal! love this article, your writing style is, as always, gorgeous too! How you didn't get hired I don't know?!

    Liv x

  8. This is why I started a blog: I wanted to create my own space over the internet and I wanted to create an opportunity for myself to build up my portfolio and write, because I knew that I wouldn't be able to get that elsewhere.


  9. I love your writing Sophie, always so frank and on point!! I am an editorial stylist and same goes for me! It so hard in the fashion world to get noticed. How long did It take for you establish your blog and actually feel like you were getting somewhere?

    Keep doing you hunn!

    Jordan x