What No One Tells You About The Life Of A Fashion Blogger

Photo: Courtesy of Ellery Lee.
Though bloggers may have a reputation for sharing almost every aspect of their lives — from #OOTDs to dinner pics (hey, we're guilty of this, too) — rarely does the world see what things are like with no filter involved.

It's that behind-the-scenes work that's most fascinating — and oftentimes, most complicated. By now, it's common knowledge that some fashion bloggers are paid by brands to wear their clothes, and yes, It Girls do get sent plenty of goodies gratis, but what about all the other facets that make blogging a successful business? And, are there any downsides?

Like any job, plenty of tribulations come with blogging. In addition to the pressures of getting the perfect Instagram, there's paperwork, legal issues, networking, and — oh yeah — internet trolls. It's a role that requires almost 24/7 commitment, and social media breaks are sometimes a necessity. And, when it comes to being Insta-famous, making it is 90% of the battle.

Ahead, we spoke to fashion bloggers about what they wish they knew before going viral.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Stoudemire.
Location Matters, But It Won't Make It Easy
It's a cliché for a reason: New York City can be pretty rough to newcomers — especially if you don't know anyone to help you out.

"Obviously I heard stories about it, that New York will chew you up and spit you out," says activist and blogger Hannah Stoudemire of Faith Fashion Charity. "But I wish someone sat me down and said, 'This isn’t just on TV. There is zero sense of community here when you're new.' I wish someone would've told me that if you take too long on the phone they will hang up on you."

And while you can be a blogger anywhere, the opportunities in New York City are boundless. "I started blogging when I was an army wife and I lived in Virginia, and it was pretty hard being a blogger in Virginia," says MDollNYC's Martha Luna. "I used to do 12 posts a day just to get traffic. Then I moved to New York, and that's when things started picking up."
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Photo: Courtesy of Michael and Alex Toccin.
Once You Start You Can't Stop
Blogging isn't just a full-time job. For some, it can be an all-consuming lifestyle. "Sometimes it's like, do we ever get a day off?" says Michael Toccin, who started Stylists to a T with his wife, Alex. "I truly love what we do, but we're always on. When we have free time, we're walking retail floors and seeing what's out there. We're always thinking about the next. When you start, you don't know what blogging is going to entail, but once you start, you can't stop."

Not only is the work time-consuming — your readers will also hold you accountable. As Gary Pepper Girl noticed when she paused posting on Instagram, readers expect you to update your feed regularly, meaning there's no such thing as vacation.

"If I take a break from Instagram, people are like, oh where did she go?" Ellery Lee, of ElleIsAlwaysHere, says (her name says a lot, too). "But sometimes, you do need a break from all of that, because it definitely takes a lot of time. I think people don't realize that enough. My friends think I have this easy life, but I spend nights on email. They only see the pretty photo afterwards."
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Photo: Courtesy of Martha Luna.
Follower Count Matters
It's an unspoken truth: Sometimes, all that matters are your numbers. While partnerships can develop based on aesthetics, style, and photographic skill, when you're competing against many other websites and influencers, your followers can make a huge difference.

"Everything is based on how much social media you can do for companies," Luna says. "Some people will close the door instantly without giving you a chance, without looking at your work, because it's just based on the numbers." This can lead bloggers down tricky paths of paying for followers, instead of honing their voice, style, and vision to earn them. But it is possible — it just takes time. Which leads us to...
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Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Gluck.
Despite Your Social Media Prowess, It Will Take Time
For the few and the lucky, it might just take one viral YouTube video or several well-selected hashtags to get to 100,000 followers. Maybe. But most of the time, it takes years to amass a following — and since brands and partnerships tend to appear after those numbers rise, it can take some personal investments at the beginning stages.

"Expecting to be the next big thing overnight is not even close to reality," Amanda Gluck of Fashionable Hostess says. "I've been blogging for years, but for the first year or two I was barely making any money. Even if you get mentioned by the biggest brands, it takes time to grow. You need to be patient and realize it takes energy, commitment, and money." And more often than not, it's your money.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ellery Lee.
Bloggers Can Get Competitive
In any industry, there can will be people who do anything to get ahead. "I've seen people use false information to get into parties, because they think it will make them grow faster," Luna says, while Lee notes that bloggers can even get competitive with each other. "I've definitely heard stories of bloggers taking contacts from one another, and I've been told by people to watch out, know who your true friends are," she adds.

Luckily, those are only a select few. Many bloggers we spoke to made friends, not enemies, in the industry. "I've been pleasantly surprised to meet some of my best friends through blogging," Gluck says. "Fashionable definitely does not mean mean, and my best friends are some of the most incredible entrepreneurs out there."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Gluck.
Remember, You're A Business
A blog is essentially a storefront: a public-facing place where readers click to get recommendations, tips, and inspiration. Behind-the-scenes, however, mundane tasks like paperwork, taxes, and research dominate.

"I don’t think people realize the ins and outs and the back of house that goes into a blog," Toccin says. "Having a blog and having a social media presence is a business, and that’s how Alex and I treat it. So we have to answer to our clientele, our readers, and make sure we're satisfying them."

This also means protecting your business — and reading the fine print. When your business is also your face, your photos, and your words, allowing other companies to use your imagery means plenty of paperwork.

"You need to be incredibly organized and careful when signing contracts, understand the verbiage that goes into that, and make sure you're putting yourself in a good position," Gluck says. "When I first started out, I didn't make sure to include that when they used my photo, I would have to be tagged in the image and in the mention. As a result, people would continue to share my photos and not give me credit. Now I'm overly cautious."
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Photo: Courtesy of Ellery Lee.
Your Readers Are Your Fans — But They Can Also Go Too Far
First, there are the trolls. No corner of the internet is safe from them. "The first time [trolling] happened was on a photo of me in a bikini," Lee says. "They said something about how I'm not skinny. But I don't need to be super skinny. We're all different sizes, we relate to different girls."

She used to read comments for those reactions, she says. "I used to think, Why is this person saying this? What have I done to them?" she says. "But you get over it and you talk it out with your friends."

Still, Lee is careful to maintain privacy when she can. In a world where almost anything is discoverable on Google, safety can be a concern. "I always make sure to not put too much out there," she says. "I've heard of people who have left packages at a blogger's front door, like roses. That's creepy. Like, how did they find your address?"