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With the recent buzz of complaints that Instagram is changing (and being incredibly vague about what those changes are) the question of what direction you want your blog or Instagram to go has never been more critical. I completely sympathise with the spectrum of emotions that I’ve witnessed, from bloggers wanting a break, others increasing the amount of ‘engagement groups’ that they’re part of and stepping up their game, some even claiming that they want to quit – there’s not one opinion that I see as absurd.
What I had originally planned to write before this slew of panic urged me to post this sooner than I had scheduled was a post about ‘the end goal’. When I ask bloggers, ‘where do you see your blog going’, or ‘what do you want to get out of your Instagram?’ Some admit upfront that they want to be a full time influencer and a lot of girls tell me they’d love a clothing or makeup line to come from their online popularity.
So what happens to your Instagram or blog once you achieve that? Would you hand it over to your team of hired writers? One of the complaints that those Vogue Editors had last Fashion Week was that bloggers don’t even do what they’re supposed to – I assume they meant that a lot of top tier bloggers don’t write and produce independent fashion stories anymore.
When I first started my blog I saw it as a portfolio and my style was experimental, kind of disastrous at times but always interesting (in my opinion anyway). After I graduated I realised that blogs and social media was capable of being so much more than a form of documentation and I decided that as a writer, illustrator and recently, photographer, it was the perfect representation of just some of the things I can do. It was then that I also realised the direction I wanted to go in was to present my talent as part of a narrative, rather than to show images of me as the protagonist. I may promote things on occasion but the bigger picture was to show breadth of creativity. Nothing makes me happier than private messages or comments that compliment my work rather than the way I look in the photo (although I do appreciate that because my girls will know, make up is effort).
So how do you know where you fit in with the content you have now? There are many in-betweens but the two main directions that I observe are as follows:
Some bloggers write in an authoritative voice with stories like, ‘5 ways to style your Favourite jeans’ or ‘the best home fragrances this season’. With an emphasis on these kind of features, the impression I get is that this blog wants to become the next Katherine Powell of Who What Wear; basically the blogger wants to run an online fashion magazine. If you fit into this category, is that your intention?
Then there are blogs and Instagram feeds that feature the ‘individual’ in the majority of content. There’s not much writing on the blog and if there is, it’s very ‘PR’. In other words it means that they’re trying to promote something. Personally, I feel that this type of blog belongs to ‘Instagram models’ more than fashion bloggers, although there is a significant overlap in some instances and that topic likely to come up in another post in the future. For these influencers, they’re the ones I see as creating their own mass market brand. A successful example of this would be Kenza Zouiten.
Then there’s what I want and I have yet to find someone who’s on the same path. I see my Instagram and blog as a platform for creating editorial campaigns for clients whilst developing a community. So when Instagram makes changes yes I am annoyed because it does affect me but I don’t ever think that I should give up because my end goal isn’t to be popular. It’s to have a business based on what I can offer. If I need numbers to do that then that’s what social media is for but I will be honest, if we could erase that from the equation maybe you wouldn’t even see @fleurandrea online in the form that it’s in now. But that’s not the world we live in and I do enjoy the process of creating and sharing, so this isn’t a complaint but more of a hypothesis. And importantly, what strong and successful business can’t keep up with change? Now this doesn’t mean that I’ve abandoned the idea of working in editorial, far from it, I just have different goals for my career and for my blog.
To circle back to the idea of ‘taking creative control’, whatever your end goal is, it’s never too early to start experimenting with what you enjoy the most. In the fashion industry, as much as we like to think that we’re organic and constantly evolving, truthfully it’s an industry that likes to pigeon-hole. If you’re adamant that you’re a fashion blogger (aesthetically driven and I don’t mean an all white minimalist page because anyone can do that) rather than a pure ‘influencer’ (cute selfies and mirror shots, promotes a signature look) your identity and your voice is actually more important than the latter because you are promoting your service as a stylist, creative, whatever, before you’re selling how great you look in that top.
The ‘old school’ in the fashion industry are tempted to, if they haven’t already, painted us bloggers with the same broad brush. The only way to resist that is to know what direction you want to go in and pursue it tirelessly. As a friend once said to me when I restarted my blog, ‘walls are there to show you how much you want something’. To be honest I think Walt Disney said it first but the point is that every challenge forces you to think about your direction because why start on a path as endless as this one, without knowing where it’ll take you?
Photos by Arthur, @arthuryuee
Miss Patina shirt
Jane Carr scarf