Tips from the pros: How to make fashion blogging a business

By Krystal Schlegel

Sitting down for a meeting with Amber Venz, founder of and fashion blogger at, in February 2011, I didn’t realize a 30-minute Starbucks conversation would change my blogging career forever.

I had started a blog after completing a two-week floral design program in Paris during the summer of 2010.

After being inspired by all of the fashion, floral and architectural photographs I had snapped in Paris, I decided to start a lifestyle and fashion blog of my own.

Heading into my junior year at Southern Methodist University, I became completely enthralled with blogging.

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I posted every day, not only to get visitors to come back daily, but because it was exactly what I wanted to work on when I had free time.  Staying up until 1 every night (or morning) to work on my blog became something I looked forward to.

RewardStyle: Making my hobby profitable

Prior to meeting with Venz, an SMU alum, I had no profit or income from my blog.

I had thought about advertising, but had heard that pursuing advertisers or sponsors could easily become a full-time job.  I also wanted to wait until I got my readership up before I tackled advertising.

At our meeting, Venz, dressed in a fur coat and 6-inch heels, told me about a new company she was starting called

She described the company as a website where fashion bloggers could earn commissions for what they sold online.  She wanted me to be a “product tester” to get the website started and to let her know what I liked and didn’t like about the site.

That meeting marked a turning point in my blogging career: Once I realized bloggers could earn commissions from building their blogs, I started looking into other websites that offered affiliate links.  Most of them were insanely hard to figure out and use.

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I soon became obsessed with rewardStyle because the site was so user-friendly and convenient.

With rewardStyle, I simply linked my “outfit posts,” or the outfit I featured on my blog that day, to my favorite shopping websites and was pleasantly surprised by how many sales I was making.

As my commissions rose, so did my standing with the company since rewardStyle ranks its featured bloggers, who participate by invitation only, based on total sales. This is what landed me on the company’s Top 25 Blogger list, alongside my favorite bloggers, Jane Aldridge of, Blair Eadie of and Leandra Medine of

That was the moment when I realized, “Hey, I could make a career out of this.”

However, I think the reason my blog succeeded is that I absolutely love doing it every day.

Creating my next post or styling my next outfit is always on my mind.

Interested in starting your own?

I chatted with a few of my favorite fashion bloggers to get their top tips on how to start a blog.

and WordPressare the most user-friendly software packages for those starting out.

It is free, but I recommend hiring a blog designer to personalize yours.  This can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 and is worth the small investment.

Amy Havins, a Dallas-based stylist, recently began blogging to offer tips about her favorite brands, trends and items – a great source for fashion-lovers who may not be in a position to pay for her styling services.  Havins says she follows a set of ethical guidelines on her blog.

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“It is important to maintain your integrity when blogging by spotlighting only products that you would use or wear yourself,” she says.  “I won’t showcase products just to earn a commission, and I think my readership appreciates that about me.  They know they can trust my advice.”

Tina Craig is one of the best-known fashion bloggers in the industry today.

Six years ago, Craig partnered with friend Kelly Cook to write about one of their favorite things — handbags – and before long, was born.

 With more than 50,000 Twitter followers and millions of readers, Craig has seamlessly turned her full-time hobby into a full-time job. She now lives in the Dallas area with her family – and commutes frequently to New York and other fashion capitals.

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Venz explained that when she started her blog, she developed a business plan that outlined what she is good at and why readers would want to visit her site.

“I don’t post photos from the front row at Fashion Week because I know readers can go to for that,” she says.

Venz says she posts information or photos about fashion shows and industry events on social media venues like Twitter and Facebook.

On her blog, she instead focuses on more “evergreen” topics such as style tips. And she won’t post photos with friends or what she did the night before.  This gives her blog,, a central theme and consistency.

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Both Craig and Venz shared their stories as part of a Fashion Journalism and Blogging panel on March 27 during SMU’s Fashion Week.

While Venz stressed the importance of planning for an up-and-coming blogger, Craig, who was blogging before blogging was cool, argued that persistence and motivation are just as critical.

In other words: Think twice if you are blogging just to grow your business or make a quick buck.  “Be passionate about your subject, and let that passion come through in the writing,” Craig says.  “If it doesn’t make you crazy like teenage love, don’t blog about it.”

Photos, photos, photos

Of course, both fashion bloggers and their readers love blogs that feature beautiful photographs.  This may mean skipping the Iphone shots if you are serious about your work.  Experienced bloggers agree that investing in a quality camera can make an important difference in the overall value of your blog.

“No cell phone pictures in a mirror,” Venz says.

“A good camera is huge, or have a boyfriend or friend take photos.  I pay a photographer hourly to take my photos.” Investing in a quality camera makes an important difference in the over all value of your blog.

SMU senior Mary Holbrook likes to start her day reading fashion blogs.

“I go to blogs for style ideas, new things to try and inspiration. I like blogs that are updated frequently and have a theme or pattern.  This gives me something to look forward to.  I also love photo blogs. Great photography is key,” Holbrook says.

Get some traffic is great to work with, but the company won’t allow bloggers to use the site if they don’t already have a social media following on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or the like.

Newcomers should set all of these up in order to grow their social media presence and network with other bloggers.

All of these platforms grow a blogger’s site.

 Another important topic to think about: searchability.  A great tool to help people find your blog is Google.

 You want to make sure your blog comes up when someone types in “red Celine bag.”

 The best way to do this is to title your posts with the terms people will search for in Google.

How to monetize

Apart from joining rewardStyle to monetize your site, you can also use websites like Google ads and go directly to brands you want to work with.

Advertising and rewardStyle are options once you have established a following, so be sure to grow your readership through social media networks before reaching out to companies.



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3 Responses to Tips from the pros: How to make fashion blogging a business

  1. Lauren says:

    Great post, Krystal!

    • admin says:

      Hi Lauren: Hope you’re having a good semester! Be sure to check out our redesigned website!

      Prof. Kraeplin

  2. This was a really interesting read. This was very helpful to somewhere who is starting out in the blogging industry! Great job!


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