Fashion blogging has grown from a few wannabe writers looking from outside in at the industry to an influential new media category that designers and brands simply must court.
Now one taste-maker hopes to buck the sector’s accepted model by charging some users to read.
Sydney-based fashion journalist Patty Huntington, aka “Frockwriter“, will require fees of US $1.99 per month or US $19.99 per year from those who read eight or more posts per month.
The site is thought to be the first blog use Journalism Online’s Press+ paid content platform, also used by mainstream publishers including The Independent and The Onion.
To make it work, Huntington will have to overturn industry scepticism. “It wouldn’t pay for them to go down that road to be honest,” Cosmopolitan UK fashion director Shelly Vella told me. Emma Smith, a TV journalist and producer who has blogged New York Fashion Week, told paidContent: “There is so much competition in fashion blogging, you’d never charge.”
But Frockwriter’s Huntington, who, as a professional journalist, is Australia correspondent for the WWD industry news site, says: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” She claimed 65,000 unique visitors in February and a core audience that visits up to over 200 times a month.
“Traffic, links and consumer engagement are wonderful validation for any blogger. But you can’t pay your rent with them,” she writes. “Eighteen months ago, I introduced advertising. This has helped, but it’s a Catch 22 situation: I can’t devote more time to the blog without compromising my ability to earn a living.”
Making more money could allow Frockwriter to avoid the sponsored freebies culture that has become a problem in such sectors.
“I am well aware that ‘paywall’ is a dirty word,” Huntington writes. “There is a big difference, however, between mainstream publishers who launch paywalls and little old Frockwriter. Without the paywall, the mainstream publishers still have their cover prices and advertising bases – which, although under threat are nevertheless long-established and the fruit of the work of full-time sales teams. They also have fulltime staff pumping out content.
“I’m not trying to make a killing out of blogging. Just a living.”