- Vivian Hendriksz |
Over the past years fashion bloggers have become an intricate part of the industry’s current landscape. But blogging itself has evolved with time as well and become a full-time pursuit for many and become a complex blend of content, marketing and branding. Never before has a fashion blogger's influence reached as far or as wide, and labels from around the world are keener than ever to work with them. But how do bloggers approach brands? What actually goes into the daily running of a blog? For the first episode in this series, FashionUnited spoke to Kristabel Plummer, the blogger behind ‘‘I Want You to Know’ to learn more about the business of fashion blogging.
1. How did your blog ‘I Want You to Know’ first begin?
“I have always been interested in fashion. At first I started reading things like Perez Hilton and The Cut, which were very limited, but then The Cut led me to other fashion blogs like Style Bubble, Flying Saucer and Fashion Robot. It was such an interesting way for me to consume fashion and learn about fashion. So gradually I started thinking that maybe I should start my own blog.”
“Eventually I went to this vintage clothing sale in London, which was just epic - but my friends weren't necessarily as interested about it as I was because I had discovered it through Style Bubble. So when I got home I thought I'd do a blog post about it. I left a comment in Suzie’s blog post about my post and then that led to some people commenting on my blog, saying they like it and would love to see what it looks like on. But it took me a while to put pictures of myself up on my blog - at first I would just cut my head off. But it became a nice place for me to share what I was buying and what inspired me to buy these items."
2. Where did the name ‘I Want You To Know’ come from?
“The came from a song. Obviously the name of the song was ‘I want you to know’ by Charlotte Hatherley. I was obsessed with the song back then and at the time I was asking myself, what do I call my blog? I didn't want to call it fashion something, so I thought I'd call it I Want You to Know because it’s quite broad and covers areas I want others to know about.”
3. How long did it take for your blog to start attracting visitors?
“It took me a while to get any sort of traffic to my site. It took me 4 to 6 months to realise there was tracking, but then I realised there’s someone from Germany visiting every day. I’d guess it took me a like a good 6 months to get regular comments, but then it was a quite nice little community feeling. It was great that people were sharing things and helping one each other...I have a broad selection of visitors, back in the day I would have said a lot of bloggers, a lot of connected people that knew these things even existed back then. But now it can be anyone. So many more people know about blogs now so I have all sorts of readers."
4. How many visitors would you say have?
“Visitor numbers vary on my blog, but I would say I have my biggest following in the UK and then I think it’s the US and Canada . If I am away or travelling somewhere without internet it can dip. On Instagram I have 11.3 thousand followers, I have several thousand Twitter followers and just under 300,000 Pinterest followers, so that’s quite a big network there. Basic bloglovin’ almost 2,000 so it can vary quite a bit, but there is a following on each platform. I also have a Youtube channel, which is very new. It depends on the audience, some people want to consume what you do in a different way and the vlogs help me reach a new type of audience as well.”
5. How often do you post on your blog?
“I post on my blog three times a week and on my Youtube channel I am aiming for once a week. It changes though, because I do not want to film all the time, so it’s mixing the blogs with the vlogs and chatty videos where I just sit down and talk to the camera about something.”
6. What does a normal day working on your blog look like?
“I try to wake up at 8 am, but sometimes it varies. I usually check my emails in the mornings and plan my posts for the week. Sometimes I may have to go to an event, or a press get together or have a meeting, so it changes. Or a trip comes up and then you have to go on a trip suddenly and it messes up your schedule a bit. So your week can look very different if you are travelling. Sometimes I'll be out and about all day creating content and taking pictures.”
7. Do you work with a team, or alone?
“I normally get whoever I am with at the time to take my pictures. I have a housemate who is also a blogger, so she is quite handy with a camera. I try to utilize my time the best I can with people who can take my pictures. Sometimes I get photographers contacting me to work together. But I do create all my own content and occasionally I'll have a guest blog or post. Once when I went away, I asked my friend to write a post, but it is rare and I will still sub-edit it.”
8. What type of events do you attend and cover on your blog?
“London Fashion Week and fashion-related press days are the types of events I always try to attend, although I don't necessarily write about the press days as it’s a way for the brand to be let me know what they are doing and to meet new people as well. I think travelling in general is good as well, because during London Fashion Week there is a lot of the same or similar content appearing everywhere, but if you go on a trip, not everyone is doing that. I love discovering new places and been exposed to new cultures, I find it very inspiring.”
9. Can you tell us a bit more about your blog posts, for example your OTTD posts?
“I try to vary my blog posts because at first I did not want to have constant pictures of myself. But I always have this list of ideas and sometimes some of them take more planning, especially ones on location, so they need to be thought out ahead of time. The outfit of the day posts are fairly simply, it’s just getting everything else right, especially when I am travelling.”
“I normally plan my outfit posts when I am travelling ahead of time because then I can make sure I pack everything I want to bring. When I am at home I may have an idea, but it can change when I am trying things on. But I try to bring things with me that I can swap if needed. I usually bring a few different jewelry options, shoes and such. I am styling it up and tweaking it as I go, but most outfit of the day posts are pre-thought out."
10. How would you define your style?
“My style is quite eclectic. I do like fit and flare shapes, like girly with a twist. I like a full skirt, things that I can use to create more of a shape to my figure. But then sometimes I'll wear something slightly more androgynous, it depends. If I find the right pieces that suit me then I will wear them. Such as the 70s trend, it was not my favourite trend, if I am honest, but occasionally you'll find something that works for you. I am not trying to change myself to fit the trend, but seeing if something in that trend comes along that works for me. I wear a lot of color and patterns, print, plain - as long as the shape is right for me."
11. Do you see yourself more as a blogger or an entrepreneur?
“I feel like I am something in between an entrepreneur and a blogger. But I want to be more of an entrepreneur. I want to influence more people and spread my message about being yourself and making the best of yourself and not changing yourself just to fit a trend. I want to talk about how to build a wardrobe, which doesn't necessarily mean buying something new every week, but rather building a wardrobe with pieces you can be wearing for the next few years hopefully and beyond."
"I want to have a stronger message as well. That it is okay to be different and that is okay to still be figuring things out because that’s what I am still doing."
12. In what way do you work together with brands?
“They tend to approach me with a pitch for a post, but if I have a relationship with them already, like I do with Boden, then I may pitch something to them. I do work with an PR agent as well, so they may bring me things or I may bring things to them. Somethings are paid, somethings are unpaid. Recently I have been working on brand relationships and going back to certain brands like Boden, asking them if we can work together. I don't really have a consent relationship with brands going at the moment, but I am working on it.”
13. Are there certain qualities/values you look for when working with brands?
“When working with certain brands, I prefer the clothes to have a certain quality level. For example, Boden, they have very decent quality clothing and it suits my style. Obviously it has to suit my style and be something I would wore anyway before I share it on my blog, which I think is the main thing. There is this website called ‘Everything for 5 pounds’ and I would never do anything with them because that is not what I am about as a blogger. If a brand like that does contact me looking for a sponsored post then I will thank them for contacting me, but say it’s not for me and let’s just keep in touch. It happens all the time.”
“But even if it is a brand that I would not normally go for, as long as the quality is there then it’s ok. There are so many different things to look for. Brands may have one product that may work for me. I try to pride myself by being able to style up things in unexpected way.”
14. You are quite open with your sponsored posts on your blog, why?
“I just think that if someone is saying that you have to write this then it’s only fair to be open about it. If I don't believe in it, if I use something and it hasn't worked for me then I wouldn't lie about it either. So far, neither have happened to be because I tend to choose things and brands that work for me. I am just open because I prefer to be open about things. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, I think it’s quite enterprising.”
15. Can you live fully off your blog?
“Running a blog can be amazing work, but it is not always consistent, it’s a lot of work getting these consistent paying clients. So I try to do freelance work as well, like social media writing. But it would be amazing to dedicate myself full time to my blog. I am still working on that, but obviously people see your life but they don't realise it is a constant gig. But freelancing is also good for me, I think it’s good for me to be writing more as well and writing for other people, so I am definitely going to try and be doing more of that as well because it makes me more versatile and flexible. But when it comes to freelancing I wouldn't go for just anyone. I want to work with people who are positive and empowering. They have to sit along with my values.”
16. How much time would you say you invest in running your blog?
“Most of it really. I was trying to work out how much time I spend, but sometimes it varies. If I have lots of deadlines, then I’ll work all the time, and I can be a bit of a last minute person so it can seem like I am working constantly, but it is fun work.”
17. Do you have differently approaches for your social media channels?
“I definitely have different approaches for my channels. On Pinterest, sometimes I’ll pin things for other blogs, inspiring things and then Instagram is full of all my own images I take with my iPhone, and are usually a bit more considered. I try to make sure that I do not have too similar images next to each other as it is about having that mix and asking ‘if people look at this feed what will they think.’ Facebook is more based on what I have been posting on my blog and what I am buying or anything interesting that I have seen. Some of them are more thought out than others."
18. Are there any brands in particular you would like to work with?
“I’d love to do more stuff with Asos and Topshop because obviously I wear their clothes, or Orla Kiely because I love all their clothes. Travels brands as well because then you can introduce the fashion touch."
19. Do you have a fixed fee you charge per sponsored post?
“I tend to have a standard rate for working with brands that my PR agency has set. It can be over a thousand pounds, but then 20 percent goes to my agent and 20 percent to tax so then the actual amount that you get is not as much as you would think. Then there is time taken to create everything for the post - outfit, accessories, hair, makeup, editing and then posting it and sharing it. I think that brands can get quite a good deal when working with bloggers. So although I don't charge thousands of pounds for a post, it reflects the skills of being both photographer, editor, model and stylist along with having a social media following.”
“I also keep the clothes they let me pick out, it would be a bit weird to give the clothes back. It doesn't cost them as much as the clothes are on the website so its not really bad. Also if I wear the clothes again it's beneficial for the brand because then they'll have another image on Instagram that they haven't had to pay for. ”
20. Do you have any tips for brand looking to collaborate with bloggers, and vice versa?
“I think that sometimes a brand will come to you with a big ole proposal, but they haven't really thought about it. It would be nice if they would involve us bloggers in that process a bit more. It was great for me to be able to pitch something to Boden and tell them I was going to Jamaica and wanted to do something with them and incorporate the brand into my holiday wardrobe.”
“Just come up to us and say ‘this is our budget, we'd love to work with you, what do you think? maybe we can come up with something.’ That’s my ideal working process, if you collaborate together then you can come up with something more unique. Some brands really do not understand it and are going to the wrong bloggers to feature them, and then they ask for so much, but do not always offer enough in return. Which makes you think if it is taking away time from things you as a blogger could actually be making money from.”
21. What is your main goal for your blog at the moment?
“It would be great if it were supporting me fully and if it were to reach an even wider audience that would enjoy it - people who want to be inspired, build a wardrobe, develop their own style, experiment with fashion, sort of be the best versions of themselves they can be.”
22. Where do you see yourself and your blog in five years?
“I really don't know to be honest! I am sure I will still be blogging over the next five years but I think it will evolve into something else. I'm almost at 7 years of blogging, which is really interesting because blogging has been the backbone of my twenties - I started at 21. I don't see myself stopping the blog at 30, but maybe I'll have something else I want to do. I would like to still work for myself, so I hope it will evolve into a better business than it is now.”
23. What is the main piece of advice you would give to someone just starting their own fashion blog?
“Make sure it is really something that you love doing. That you are not just doing it to become famous or for income, that you are doing it because you want to share things and inspire people. Really, we are all a bit weird as bloggers. We are all a bit internetty when we were young, I made my first website at the age of 12 so I was never really a cool person, but now it’s cool to be on the internet. Sometimes I feel like you need that weird obsessive compulsive streak in you as well.”