One thing that’s been on my mind lately is what exactly is the point of a fashion blogging in 2017. You know, with the whole making-money-from-instagram trend, I’ve started feeling a bit like Hamlet. ‘Fashion blogger or Insta-fashionista’ – that really IS the question.
Before accusing me of thinking about unimportant things, let me first say – I am an engineer, so I am prone to think about things other people usually ignore. It’s in my nature. But what really bothers me, day in and day out, is whether there is actually any point of having a fashion blog at all, when you can just be sharing your OOTDs on Instagram.
Why should I bother with writing, taking hundreds of photos, editing and resizing them, uploading, linking my outfit, then patiently sharing my blog post in multiple Facebook groups, Pinterest boards, Twitter chats and what not, praying for someone to click and read it. When at the same time, I can ask my Instagram husband (which I don’t have, just fyi), to take me a photo at the nearest cute wall, then Facetune the shit out of it so it matches my theme, upload, add 30 hashtags for greatest exposure and let the likes roll.
While I know it really isn’t that easy, what makes people fall for Instagram is how quickly you can reach people. Yes, the algorithm changes may mean that less of your followers will see your photo. But at the same time, a decent picture with 30 good hashtags can easily bring you 200 likes in a day. While at the same time, getting 200 people to click on your blog post, let alone leave a comment is, let’s say, a struggle, especially for new bloggers.
But it seems to me that not only the small bloggers are struggling.
In the last couple of months I’ve seen many fashion bloggers quit their blogs and decide to only do Instagram. And I’m not really surprised, having in mind companies can literally pay thousands for a single Instagram post. At the same time, not many bloggers can actually brag about getting the same amount for writing a blog post. Even if they do, it would require hours and hours to make sure you’re producing top-notch, engaging content.
So what I’m really trying to say is that the business of fashion blogging has sadly changed the purpose of fashion blogs. What started as an outlet to share your outfits has now turned into a money-making machine. Companies such as ShopStyle and RewardStyle now pay you for every person that clicks on your links. Their massive success only shows that there has been a massive shift in what fashion blogging is all about in 2017. Blogs were once an inspirational place where you went to find links to that amazing dress the blogger is wearing. Now, fashion blogging has been redirected to Instagram.
It’s just quicker and easier for people to shop your style on Instagram, as simple as that.
Why do I need to write a whole blog post about styling velvet, when I can take a photo of me just wearing a velvet dress and post it on Instagram? With the latest addition of multiple photos to a single post, now I can even upload several pictures of that velvet dress without really ruining my theme (I’m still cringing because of the fact I have a theme). Why do I need a whole post with links and widgets about what I’m wearing? Now, with a single double tap, you can get all of my items sent to your mailbox. With pictures AND shoppable links. It’s easier for both the blogger and the follower, because it all happens on Instagram. No need to write lengthy posts and waste hours linking to items, hoping for someone to read your post.
The result of that is twofold.
We have become more lazy, both as bloggers and as readers. We want to be entertained without even having to switch the platform. I’m very much waiting for the moment when Instagram will start allowing people to add links to their posts, so that an outfit will be shoppable within the app. Don’t quote me on this, but with Pinterest rolling that in, I bet Instagram will be eager to catch up!
That’s why it’s no surprise that some established fashion bloggers have retreated to Instagram for the most part. For those earning money on Instagram, it makes a lot more sense to share a daily outfit that their followers can shop, than to find time to turn that same outfit into a full blog post.
It’s quite sad to me that a blogger that used to write 5 posts a week now barely posts once a month. And it’s usually a sponsored collaboration. And honestly, it bothers me that a girl who had such a passion for writing posts and producing great content now only does Instagram live and relies on liketoknow.it for her income. Some of the big fashion companies still prefer to appear on blogs and not just Instagram or YouTube, because the content stays on the blog forever, rather than disappear in the feed after 2 days. But most of them rely on the quick turnover than Instagram offers.
But what would happen if Instagram suddenly decide to shut their doors?
I know, I know – it’s not very likely to happen. However, what they can do is start charging people if they want their content to appear on the feed. Oh wait, they are already doing that! With so many algorithm changes, you never know when Instagram is likely to fuck up with us bloggers. Leaving those who rely solely on that income in some deep trouble. Because one thing that’s worth remembering is that you don’t own your Instagram. Facebook does.
But you do own your domain, your blog, your little private space on the Internet. So any content that you put up on your blog is there to stay until you decide to delete it. That’s why, in the long-term, having a ‘proper’ fashion blog seems like a more sustainable option. You just won’t wake up one day and see that Instagram has decided to mess up with people once again.
With that said, fashion blogging can’t stay the same as it was 5 years ago.
I don’t want to sound like an old grandma that constantly refers to ‘the good old days’. The thing is, the good old days are gone. We’re not going back to traditional blogging where you only needed an outfit and a couple of links. While 5 years ago I clicked on posts just to see someone’s OOTD, now a post titled ‘My new red dress’ is highly unlikely to catch my attention. I can just go on Instagram, search ‘red dress’ and see the top posts. I don’t really need a blog for that, no thank you.
But while blogging the old style might be dead, I want to argue that fashion blogging is not dead, yet! It’s just changed and evolved and the type of content that we need to produce now is different.
Our attention span is getting shorter, so if you want to keep your readers, you really need to offer value. While the ‘red dress’ post will just make me yawn, what will make me click on your post is you showing ‘3 ways to style a red dress for Valentine’s day’. That’s useful, and I won’t necessarily find the same content on Instagram. Or if you give me an opinion. We all love to read people’s stories and opinions, or at least I do. I bet you didn’t really click this post because you desperately needed to see my outfit, did you (if so, I love you from the bottom of my heart). What’s more likely is that you wanted to hear what that girl had to say about the death of fashion blogging.
The point is, unless I can give you some sort of value, you wouldn’t even be reading this post.
Lately, I’ve been inspired by Chloe and Sophie. Two girls who not only show pretty outfits, but also accompany them with fierce words. Every time I read their posts, I feel like I’m getting something I can’t get anywhere else. Not on Instagram, not even on YouTube. I get that deep and passionate writing which doesn’t only aim to lurk me to buy whatever they’re wearing. They always write on a topic that makes me think or at least gives me a reason to smile on a gloomy Monday morning.
So that is my take on fashion blogging in 2017. It’s not dead, but it’s transforming. If you want to keep engaging your readers, you better be focusing on providing value and a story. It can be as time-dependent as ‘the £15 gingham dress you need now’; or much more evergreen, such as ‘how to pick the best jeans for your body type’. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Because as long as I keep getting a piece of you and your writing, I’ll return to your blog. And yes, I will still follow you on Instagram, too!
SHOP THE OUTFIT
Photos by: Anna-Maria Popova