(Check out the wayback machine for more early Grechen’s Closet fun. Like my old about page…)
April 4th is my 11 year blogging anniversary. I couldn’t have imagined 11 years ago as I was piddling around with a designer directory and SO MUCH html that I’d become a full time “fashion blogger,” and still be doing it successfully in 2015.
There is a divide now, I think more than ever before, between FASHION BLOGGERS and fashion bloggers. I’ve written before that I’ve never really considered myself a fashion blogger, using the term mostly because it’s “easy” and sounds frankly better than shopping blogger. Less shallow, perhaps? I’m certainly not a lifestyle blogger, maybe I’m a “style” blogger? Leaning more towards a “minimalist” blogger? Although, I am not a minimalist.
I have never liked labels, for others, or myself. I am a writer. Can I just be a writer?
Anyway, I’m not going to wax poetic about how fashion blogging was different back in the day, because it is, obviously, but that doesn’t even matter. Being an OG fashion blogger doesn’t matter either. All that matters is who am I now? What am I doing now? What difference am I making now? And even though I was “in it” at the very beginning when we were REALLY doing selfies in full-length mirrors and posting un-photo-shopped outfits, that doesn’t matter either.
I came up with and worked with Refinery29 in the beginning (look at them now – or not, they’ve changed so much from their beginnings focused on independent NYC-based designers), remember a time before Susie Bubble and Bryan Boy, and definitely remember fashion blogs before they were taken over by wannabe models. I have long considered the newest crop of uber-popular (millionaire?) bloggers models doing photo shoots than “bloggers.”
It feels like, to me, that fashion blogging has turned very editorial, and over-styled, similar to what you see in magazine photo-shoots. Interestingly, exactly what fashion blogging started out rebelling against. There is now more styling, props, and “perfection” than there ever was before. And much more aspiration than inspiration. And not a whole lot of reality. Of life.
But that’s where we are just different. I’ve always wanted to write, and share my insane passion for shopping and personal style with whoever will listen. And even in the beginning, most of the women posting outfit shots were of a similar “look” and body type, and I saw an opportunity there to showcase items on MY body, to provide an alternative. The rest is history.
Not that there’s not room for model/bloggers and pretty photo-shoots, there is, obviously; they’re making bank. There’s room for all of us on this world wide web. I just find it very interesting the paths we take to success. AND how success is different for everyone.
I could have taken a different direction. I could have ramped up Grechen’s Closet in the beginning with better design, better photos, more stories/content with mass appeal, but I preferred to take a more organic approach to growth. I’ve always done my own blog design, except for a few years in the middle, and only recently started using a “fancy” camera to take my outfit photos.
Also, I was 31 when I started, and at the beginning of the end of a marriage AND a career. If I’d been in my early 20’s, just out of college, like many bloggers are now, I might have chosen a different path. To be honest, now, it’s so ridiculously easy to start a blog, and promote it via social media, etc., You can “go viral” with a few well-staged images, or ideas, and get loads of traffic instantly. Back then, it was very different. Harder. You sort of had to prove yourself over time.
Success came rather quickly for me, and I was able to go full-time in 2006, despite a recent divorce (I did work at Starbucks part-time for health insurance for a while though). Maybe I rested on my laurels a bit too long in the years after, enjoying my new found “success,” but also, I didn’t want to DO the things that would have made me a LOT more money. I didn’t want to work with brands I didn’t believe in, do things that didn’t feel right, take on a lot of sponsored posts, and shill constantly with affiliate links.
Not that I begrudge bloggers who DO do that now, or then, or judge them in any way. It just wasn’t for me. I can’t explain it. I wanted to make money, yes, but I wanted to do it my way; I turned down A LOT of “easy-money” opportunities over the years. I started earning money slowly by working directly with advertisers, brands, and boutiques that I shopped from and respected, and would feel good recommending to my readers. I started affiliate marketing early on as well, but only linked to items I would have linked to anyway, without getting a commission for, and still do.
My main goal always was, and still is, to link to and share as many resources as possible, regardless of what I’m getting paid for. Yes, I do work with brands I love now, AND get paid for it, but I deserve that. I have worked hard these 11 years to build up such a wonderful, loyal, and vibrant community; this is my “reward.”
But I would do it anyway if I didn’t receive a penny for it. I have to. I can’t NOT write about the things I find that I love. I can’t NOT share my outfits and talk about them. I can’t NOT talk about my struggles with shopping, weight loss, and life in general. I simply cannot NOT do it. Thankfully, I CAN do it. Thanks to you.
The only true path to success in anything in life is passion, consistency, and hard work. And everyone’s definition of success is different. I feel successful every day just by virtue of the fact that I CAN DO THIS for a living. I feel successful when I get an email or a comment that I’ve inspired a reader, or helped her to feel less alone in her struggles. And yes, I feel successful when I get a check.
I don’t lament the “old days” of fashion blogging when everything was new and there weren’t so many of us. Well, maybe I do a little…ha! I just feel separate from most other fashion bloggers now – I don’t identify with any of the very popular ones, the ones that are featured in Lucky or Vogue, and even though I’ve written for Independent Fashion Bloggers for years and “taught” other bloggers about success and blogging best practices, I don’t feel like I have anything left to offer in that regard. I’m not sure other fashion bloggers can even relate to me, or should, really – everyone should find their own path.
I’m content where I am, in terms of my “fashion blogger” status. I make good money, not a lot, and am happy with the direction Grechen’s Closet is taking – towards much more conscious shopping and less blatant consumerism of previous years. I look forward to branching out a bit with more personal shopping and consulting, and I’d really like to work more in the fitness and nutrition space. But at the heart of it all, I am Grechen above all, a changing, frail, sometimes-scared, human being just trying to make my way in this world the best I can. And so happy to have this platform and readers like you to share it with.
Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!!
– oh, and here’s another fun link: some review pictures from 2008!!