Coming toward the completion of my conference project I read an article about the authenticity of bloggers. Alice E. Marwick, the author of the article titled, “‘They’re really profound women, they’re entrepreneurs’: Conceptions of Authenticity in Fashion Blogging,” conducted 20 ethnographic interviews with fashion bloggers ranging from the ages of 15-50. This article was pertinent to my study because throughout the semester one of my leading questions was, “what makes a blog successful?” Marwick, too, tries to differentiate what makes a blog stand out. She explains her process, “I examine how fashion bloggers use “authenticity” as an organizing principle to differentiate “good” fashion blogs from “bad” fashion blogs.
Marwick includes a shocking statistic of the amount of fashion bloggers “Fashion blogging has grown considerably in the last few years. The Independent Fashion Bloggers coalition lists more than 48,000 members, up from 3,000 in 2011.” That is such a large increase in such a short period of time. It also highlights how competitive the blogging field has become.
Before I get into her research about comparing different bloggers, she mentions that the majority of readers find blogs in general to be more authentic than fashion magazines. Readers feel that they can relate to blogger more easily. This however may have something to do with how blogs are advertised in the media: “The fashion blogosphere is portrayed in the media as a democratic space where women who do not fit into the fashion mold—rich, thin, tall, heterosexual, and white—can enjoy the creativity and self-expression of clothes, accessories, and beauty.” Whether that is completely true or not is another story; however, it allows readers to relate more easily to the bloggers.
Bloggers as a genre are thought of as relatable; however, it is the more “authentic” bloggers that become successful. Through her research Marwick defines her definition of authentic: “I find that authenticity means three things to women engaged with fashion blogs: first, a palpable sense of truthful self-expression; second, a connection with and responsiveness to the audience; and third, an honest engagement with commodity goods and brands.”
Through her research she found that successful bloggers were ones that are able to connect with their viewers. Where viewers know more about the blogger such as if they are engaged, married or have a baby. Marwick states, “By honestly revealing personal information, bloggers increase the likelihood that their readers will form a personal relationship with them.” Liz of 26 and Counting, said that she feels that the blogger behind the blog, Kendi Everyday, is authentic, relatable and she is interested in not only the clothes but her as a person: “She seems like a real friend. She’s relatable. I’m interested in her blog, outside of what she wears.”
Some of the ways bloggers create an image of authenticity is by writing in an informal way, in other words, writing as they would speak. Another example would be to make sure their voice is consistent on all of their social media platforms. If it isn’t that portrays inauthenticity for their readers. Another example is to dress on your blog how you would dress in person. Readers can tell when a blogger is playing “dress up” as an outfit is not relatable and over the top. When it comes down to it, style blogs are meant to portray fashionable looks. Readers find it more authentic for bloggers to show what they actually wore, rather than a fashionable fantasy. This is why blogs are considered more relatable than fancy magazine editorials. Gina of Inter Alia agrees, “I generally follow blogs because I want to see how women dress to live their lives. Magazine editorials are beautiful to look at, but so much of the styling is completely impractical for everyday wear.”
It gets more complicated though, because bloggers have to self-brand because at the end of the day, their blog is their business. They are making crucial business deals with designers, magazines, and other product companies. It is important that bloggers actually support the brands that they are advertising in order to maintain their authenticity. It is important as a blogger, and reader to acknowledge the business aspect of the blog; however, although one can try to be authentic, in the ways Marwick lays out, usually the ones who actually are, stand out naturally.
I appreciate that fashion blogs and bloggers are starting to be taken more seriously. A blogger, Katy Rose, hesitated explaining her new profession as a blogger to her father,
“When I hesitated to tell my Dad that I was doing it, I realized like, something needed to be done to show that like fashion bloggers aren't just like bimbos... they're a lot more and they're really profound women, they're entrepreneurs. They're like renaissance women, a lot of them.” I like women have a form of self-empowerment through blogging, and hope researchers continue to study this emerging field.
This article plays into my research completely. I studied bloggers who are the most well known, perhaps because of their authenticity. After reading the article I definitely feel that the bloggers I studied created a successful online identity. After reading the blogs for years, I am not only interested in their outfits, but also the blogger as people—perhaps this connection is what contributes to their ongoing success.
Article can be read here: http://bit.ly/1uwCsSI