The post-00s social media boom didn’t take long to become a career, with many keen-eyed young’uns spotting the trend.
Enter the fashion blogger, and close behind them, the backlash.
It’s an industry that attracts more than its fair share of snark.
Often accused of ‘fakery’, fashion bloggers are an easy target for those who’d love you to think that traditional media is somehow more ‘worthy’. From Twitter snipes, to Vogue magazine editors piling on the criticism, fashion bloggers have become the go-to whipping-girls-and-boys for those too stubborn to welcome change, or admit that perhaps they just don’t get it.
While those naysayers might be sitting in their ivory Tweet-tower, yelling at passing clouds, there’s a whole lot more to blogging than content and freebies. It’s an industry that deserves its share of respect, and one that can happily co-exist with older forms of media.
Full disclosure, I’m a blogger’s boyfriend. Biased? Perhaps. More privy to the inner workings of the blogging industry? Definitely.
Even full-er disclosure, the image of the ‘blogging’ world made me apprehensive to approach it, but rest assured – there’s a whole lot more to my relationship than just playing the role of a tripod every holiday.
Here’s just a few reasons why it’s time to cut bloggers some slack.
Rule number one of blogging – you are your own brand.
That, obviously, comes with its own drawbacks. There’s a whole lot more to taking blogging as your career than simply snapping some selfies and skipping off to a swish dinner, and if you don’t have a company to fall back on, there’s an inherent fear of failure there.
While traditional journalists might be able to rely on their bylines with established employers or publishers to bump up their image, bloggers are out there on their own – bar the odd manager, there’s no one pulling any weight for them.
Of course, being without a big cushy paycheck from an already-existing company comes with money worries, too.
While the freedom of freelance life might seem an appealing option for many, it’s an up-and-down world, with work and money rarely coming in at the rate you’d ideally like. It’s something that can send your anxiety through the roof.
Being your own boss might seem like the dream, but it takes a hell of a lot of self-discipline and – when your job role is as fluid as a blogger’s – a level of organisational know-how that doesn’t comply with laziness and lie-ins.
It also doesn’t intrinsically lend itself to downtime. While a traditional job might leave you able to clock off come 5pm, blogging comes with an all-too-present fear of needing to be ‘always on’ – when everything is potential ‘content’, where do you draw the line? It’s a mindset that can easily play havoc with a blogger’s mental health, long before people start snarking at you for it.
It’s not as fake as you think
Many like to squawk at bloggers for presenting an ‘unrealistic’ version of life, but besides the odd contrast edit here or saturation swap there, most bloggers’ photos go relatively untouched. We’re not stupid these days, and bloggers are more than aware of how easily people can see through a heavily airbrushed photo.
Most photos and videos shared by influencers present a far more realistic image than those on magazine covers (particularly fashion and health mags), which are often tweaked and touched-up ’til you may as well have painted the subject from scratch.
Sure, they’re as guilty as the rest of us of polishing up their social media image through selectively sharing, but when was the last time you Instagram Live streamed yourself on the loo? Or tweeted a selfie with snot dribbling down your face? Some things are best left un-posted, influencer or otherwise.
They do an awful lot of work for free
Many bloggers will go days, weeks, even months without a paid gig. Irrespective of that, though, they need to maintain their presence online – that presence is their currency.
That means post after post, blog after blog, photoshoot after photoshoot without a single penny entering the bank account. While they might accept gifts from brands, or on rare occasions forgo payment on a post for a goodwill gesture, you can’t pay rent with boxes of makeup. It all contributes to those aforementioned freelance anxieties.
Unless a post is marked #sp or #ad, they haven’t received a penny – that’s the law, you see.
Any time you watch a YouTuber’s video and hear a song you recognise, they’ve almost definitely forgone ad revenue on that video too (YouTube doesn’t allow monetisation of videos with copyrighted tracks in, for obvious reasons). It’s a world that thrives on a get-up-and-go attitude, with payments few and far between – an uncertainty that requires a serious level of dedication and budgeting to make work.
They’re ‘highly-skilled self-starters’
Excuse the stuffy-job-advert language there, but hey – blogging’s a business, baby.
In a world where we’re increasingly told that university graduates are leaving their student digs with fewer and fewer skills applicable to employment, bloggers are a bunch that are thriving.
‘They’re always glued to their screens’ cry the baby boomers, conveniently side-stepping the fact that they spend eight hours a day staring at Excel on their work computer screen.
Influencers, meanwhile, are far more tech savvy.
From Photoshop to video-editing, web design to social media, those few-and-far payments turn many bloggers towards self-sufficiency.
How many traditional media professionals do you know who wouldn’t know their Adobe from their advertising law, their SEO from their SMO, or their WordPress from their web design? Most bloggers take all that and much more into their own hands, becoming multimedia experts in the process, with skills that could apply to any number of roles across the media world should they wish to jump ship.
They’re democratising the fashion world
Anyone who’s watched more than ten minutes of The Devil Wears Prada could tell you the fashion world is a haven for the heartless. What’s more, take a flick through any issue of a popular fashion magazine and the prices will likely make you gasp.
T-shirts in the thousands of pounds, suits and trainers pushing the tens of thousands – money’s not traditionally seen as an object by the fashion world. Except for us regular joes who actually, y’know, buy clothes, it is.
Bloggers are key to combating this exclusionary mindset. From posts on more affordable high-street clothing, to showcasing a wide range of body shapes and skin tones that the traditional fashion and modelling industries would seemingly rather pretend didn’t exist, blogging has made fashion more attainable, and pulled the power away from the upper classes of ‘high fashion’.
What’s more, anyone can start a blog, or launch a styling-oriented Instagram account. There’s no more need to worry about nabbing that highly-prized, rarely-paid internship to get your foot in the fashion door – just grab your phone and get snapping.
Don’t worry, Vogue et al., you’re not going anywhere just yet, but there’s nothing wrong with a slightly more level playing field.
It’s an industry dominated by young women
Perhaps most importantly, the world of fashion blogging is teeming with smart, self-employed young women.
We sadly live in a world where the gender pay gap is still a mind-boggling reality, and men dominate the upper echelons of almost every industry. Fashion’s no exception, with a recent Business Of Fashion study finding that male designers still dominate the catwalks with 60% of the share of runway space, irrespective of fashion and beauty’s ‘feminine’ image.