Pages Navigation Menu

Chic Style: It’s a Blogger World

IT’S A BLOGGER’S WORLD

 

In this digital age, social media has offered professionals and novices alike the ability to connect with large audiences and share their perspectives and opinions with just one swipe of a finger. This phenomenon is especially apparent when discussing fashion and style. Style bloggers have saturated the scene sharing all things fashion: tips, looks, “hauls,” and celeb reviews only scratch the surface of these hubs. The prevalence of these blogs can give the impression that the forums are simple to create and just as easy to maintain; however, this perception is a gross understatement of the time and effort it takes to be a successful blogger. Cbus Chic sat down with two local fashion bloggers – Tiffany Akpan of Tiffany Ima’s Thrifty Life and Free Wills Studio’s Ashley Wills – whose unique styles have earned them very diverse readerships. We capitalized on the experiences of these ladies to bring you some first-hand know how of what it takes to be a blogger.

unnamed

Ashley Wills

Tiffany Akpan copy

Tiffany Akpan

 

Q: What inspired you to begin this journey and how would you describe your blog?

insightlyFor Tiffany Akpan her first blog was created as an outlet to express herself. Although she works a successful 9-5, she felt stifled in her environment and sought a way to release her creative juices in a way that was fulfilling to her and inspirational for others; thus began her first blog, Style Honestly. Initially, Akpan’s posts consisted of her daily threads gathered from local thrift stores and other cost-effective shops. However, evolution took shape and she aspired to not only share fashionable trends at affordable prices but to also teach readers about the inner workings of style and provide them with tools to be smart and thrifty in fashion and beyond. This shift led to the revamped blog Tiffany Ima’s Thrifty Life. Permeated with useful tips and tricks, this newly-formed lifestyle blog offers readers the knowledge to live economically and shop smart. By sharing insight about topics like color palettes, dressing for your body type and the “real” cost of clothing, Akpan is equipping budding fashionistas with tools of the trade that they can continue to build on in years to come.

Technically trained in fashion and costume design at The Ohio State University, Ashley Wills’ entrepreneurial nature became the inspiration for her blog. Following graduation, the tough job market presented very limited options that were cohesive with her education, so Wills decided to take destiny into her own hands by creating Style OnHigh, an ode to Columbus-based fashion. Introverted by nature, this platform gave Wills the ability to share her expertise and passion in a “behind the scenes” manner with which readers could connect. As Wills continued to develop her blog, she realized there was more she wanted to communicate to her readers in order to connect a deeper level. Similar to Akpan, Wills made the decision to rebrand her blog into Free Wills Studio, set to launch on June 1.

 

As she shared, “the name (a play on my last name) is meant to express a sense of not only creative freedom, but also in creating a life you love. It’s based on my own need and desire to create a business for myself with my creative talents.” This revitalized blog will feature content for those endeavoring to be online entrepreneurs themselves. In addition to the fashion and styling posts previously seen in StyleOnHigh, Wills plans to share techniques for starting your own business including how to set and achieve goals, what to consider when launching product lines and tips for branding your business.

Q: What are the challenges you face as a blogger?

Akpan and Wills agree that time and money are valuable commodities that can be extremely limited. In this technology-laden world, blogs need to be visually captivating and for those not trained in web development, the cost to create an appealing blog can be lofty. Additionally, blogging does is not the money-maker most assume it to be and it can be rather difficult to work a full-time job while still aspiring to be a full-time blogger. Yet, both ladies have engineered some inventive ways around these obstacles.

Akpan has been fortunate to have experienced friends who have offered input and assistance in developing the look and feel of her logo and blog. This network of individuals has been invaluable and has allowed Akpan to redirect her resources so they can be maximized in other avenues. The added help also opened up time for Akpan to thoroughly plan blog content, even in the midst of her hectic schedule.

On the other hand, Wills did not have the same people commodity but used what was readily accessible to her – her brain and the internet – to tinker around and teach herself how to bring to life the design she’d conjured up in her mind’s eye. Through trial and error, coupled with immense patience, Wills was able to save funds that would’ve otherwise been spent on professional help. Similar to Akpan, Wills’ approach to time management involves creating content in advance so she can be prepared post 3 to 5 times each week. Planning out social media and blog calendars has helped alleviate the stress that can come with endeavoring to stay relevant and timely.

Q: How did you gain readership and support?

Competition is fierce in the blogging arena and it’s essential to develop and grow a consistent following. The common thread between Akpan and Wills is their determination to network and connect with like-minded people who can grow their reader base. Both have realized and harnessed the power of social media by using various outlets to engage fashionistas and fellow bloggers; they’ve also used these channels to stay abreast of what’s important to their audiences. What’s interesting to note is the strategic ways in which social media can be used. Following other blogs is very profitable because the line between reader and blogger continues to blur and your target audience can very well be your “competition.” Additionally, social media contests have become very popular and offer readers an incentive to connect with your blog. Another useful technique is the use of social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to directly market to your target audience – these mediums allow the public to view posts without ever clicking the direct blog link.

Q: What advice would you give to others aiming to launch their own blogs?

Our blogging mavens readily advocate that anyone who wants to start a blog should go for it. Akpan has put in countless man hours and insists that research is crucial. To have a successful blog, one has to put in the time and dedication to really answer the important questions – What’s the focus of your blog? How do you want your marketing to look? What blog site best suits your style? What is your voice? These pointed questions force bloggers to buckle down and determine important details that will bring structure and direction to possibly daunting endeavor. Akpan appropriately explains, “The blogging scene is definitely different than it was four years ago. It has become a more complex platform in which cranking out posts is not enough. You’ve got to be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and always promoting. People are constantly asking, “What is in it for me?” People want to know why they should read your blog and you have to put in the time to answer their question.” The ability to conduct research through books, social media and other similar resources is plentiful. It’s simply up to bloggers to capitalize on these resources so they can establish and grow their platforms.

Wills’ passionate response to this inquiry derives from her own experiences. From the perspective of a perfectionist, she shares that it can be very easy to overthink the process and talk yourself out of it – but don’t! She agrees with Akpan that it’s vital to develop your voice and your brand yet she admonishes that ultimately, if one wants to take this route then go for it. Don’t let your own fears or shortcomings dissuade you from taking the plunge. As Wills puts it, “Just do it! It was only after stumbling through the first two years of blogging that I was really able to fall into my strengths and find my voice. ”

The presence of copious blog sites does not diminish the effort and preparation required to successfully launch and sustain a blog. Nevertheless, with the right tools and insight it’s not an impossible feat. If this is your aspiration then dig in and get dirty – and just maybe you’ll be the inspiration someone else needs to get started as well.