Say it – ‘Blog’. Roll it round your mouth. Ugly, isn’t it?
The very sound of the word seems to conjure up images of weirdos in dark rooms tapping away thoughts of no real significance, to no-one in particular. At least that’s what print journalists thought when they first appeared. Blogging wasn’t proper journalism, and in most cases, it still isn’t. One thing was for sure, a blog was not a place where luxury could happily live. That was reserved for print.
Fast forward to 2015 and blogs are not only challenging print titles in terms of readership, some are on their way to becoming fully fledged luxury brands in their own right, selling their own branded products, via their own e-tail channels.
Emily Weiss, a former Teen Vogue intern, launched her beauty blog Intothegloss.com in 2010. It took 2 years for the blog, which took a thoughtful and intimate look inside the bathroom cabinets of fashion industry insiders, to attract 200,000 unique visitors every month.
Intothegloss.com has since secured $10.5 million of venture capital and employs a team of 38. Last October, Weiss launched the ‘digital-first’ beauty brand, Glossier – an e-commerce operation that sells a line of branded beauty and makeup products. Crucially, given her aim of creating the first beauty brand that speaks to millennials, Glossier products are developed using feedback from Intothegloss.com’s loyal readership.
Bagsnob.com, a blog which reviews and rates handbags had even humbler beginnings. The founders, Tina Craig and Kelly Cook from Dallas, Texas, recently told the Business of Fashion that they started Bagsnob.com in 2005 as a hobby, or as Cook put it, ‘An elaborate pen-pal system.’
The site now has 300,000 unique visitors per month and annual revenues of seven figures. It makes money via a combination of advertising, affiliate partnerships and one-off collaborations with brands such as DKNY. This month sees the launch of its e-commerce channel which sells fashion and accessories from brands such as Rag and Bone, Valextra, Derek Lam, and jewellery and bags designed by Cook and Craig.
What we think
Lots of people would like to replicate the success of blogs like Bagsnob.com and Intothegloss.com. But how? While they all seem to have taken wildly different paths, we think that all successful blogs have a number of things in common.
A recognisable face and voice permeates the most successful blogs. Crucially, the personalities are approachable. It helps to be attractive, but not impossibly so. The aspirational lifestyle needs to feel accessible and ‘do-able’ in some way, and the personality behind the blog needs to embody it totally. Emily Weiss and Tina Craig and Kelly Cook are as synonymous with Intothegloss.com and Bagsnob.com as Anna Wintour is with American Vogue. Readers have a friendship with these personalities that has developed over a number of years. The advice they give feels genuine because the personality is trusted.
I’m talking to you
They speak from a personal perspective. A recommendation from a friend is always more powerful than one from a brand. Instead of one-to-one conversations, they’re having a one-to-millions conversations. But it feels no less intimate. And intimacy creates trust. Nothing beats your best friend telling you something’s cool. Brand and personality are inextricably linked to one another.
Large and loyal readership
A loyal and large readership is the cornerstone of the success of any content and commerce business. This audience has been built with integrity over a long period of time, often over several years. This is genuine engagement with genuine fans, millions of them.
Whether it’s handbags, beauty products, bikinis, tailoring, or sneakers, some of the most successful blogs are driven by a total focus on one specific area of interest. They are part of community which has a lot of dedicated fans with similar interests. What’s more, they’re generous with their knowledge, sharing insider tips with readers, becoming opinion formers in the process.