Name: Kat Griffin
Job: Publisher of Corporette.com
Industry: Fashion/Career Blogging
ProFASHIONal: Kat Griffin – in black
Reality Chic – in pink
From one blogger to another…
How and why did you first start blogging?
I started with personal blogs sometime in 2004 or so. Corporette was my first serious blog; I always intended for it to be a business. I began it in May 2008 while working on Wall Street as a lawyer. I was anonymous until April 2010!
At what point did you realize that you wanted to write or make a living out of blogging?
I wanted to make a living out of writing early on, like age 15 or so, so for college I went to journalism school. I worked as a junior editor in magazines for about two years, and then got excited by legal things and went to law school. I started thinking again about writing seriously after I took a creative writing class in 2007. . . and came up with the business idea for Corporette in 2008. It was hard to make the shift from lawyer to blogger, though, and I did both for a really long time until I knew the money was there from the blog for it to support me!
At what point did you realize you had the opportunity to monetize your blog in some shape or form?
From the very beginning. I knew that we — my colleagues and I at the law firm, and friends from law school — were all making a ton of money and doing a lot of internet shopping, but no one was gearing fashion advice for us, these youngish women working in conservative jobs.
As a Midwestern girl living in Ohio, what made you take the big leap to the Big Apple?
I couldn’t wait to get out of Ohio! I went to Chicago (Northwestern U) for undergrad, and then came to NYC in 1997 for a magazine internship. It was the kind of thing where I applied, was shocked when I got the job, and then had to summon my courage to make the move.
You moved from OH to NY. What was the biggest adjustment in doing so?
It’s hard to say — I was basically still a kid (20) when I came here, so the biggest adjustment was more to grown up life (like, cooking for myself!) and less to NYC.
One of the things people love is that you actually used to work in the corporate world so you can relate to the struggles. What did working in corporate America teach you outside of how bad and restricted the fashion was?
The lesson that I think about most right now is the value of people’s time. You learn to not make a lot of chitchat because that cuts into people’s workday. . . you learn to write very, very clearly because some people are so busy that they only read the first sentence of an email (if not just the title). Even now, I like to think that I respect my readers time by keeping the number of posts to a low roar — the number one reason I unsubscribe from blogs is because there are too many posts (and not enough quality ones).
Was your plan always to monetize your blog or did it just happen? And how?
It didn’t happen how I thought it would. In the beginning, I thought advertising would be huge, and had never heard of affiliate sales — but last year affiliate sales were 55% of the income, and advertising more like 40%. In the early years of the blog, that was more like 80% affiliate sales, 20% advertising.
Do you have any technical advice or tricks of the trade for bloggers or entrepreneurs on how to grow their online site?
Learn to code yourself — HTML, CSS — none of it is that hard. W3 School is an excellent, free resource.
You’ve been featured in multiple magazines how did you go about working with these magazines?
I was really lucky and they approached me!
Do you have any tips for fashion bloggers who want to “make it work” as a blogger?
Know your numbers. One of the biggest leaps I had in income was when I looked at numbers and realized that shoe and bag sales were some of the highest numbers — but I was only featuring those a few times a month. So I bumped that up to 3x a week (the third post of the day is just for accessories) and the money grew from there.
What’s your opinion of the media industry, and do you think bloggers are influencing it at all?
Pass! I have a lot of respect for both worlds. I think they are very different, though, and I think they could learn a bit from each other.
How do you determine whether a blog is successful? Is it a reader amount, dollar amount, time, exposure, etc…?
Tough question. I think that blogging is a journey — it sounds silly but the blog is a work in progress. There will always be ways to make it better and bigger. The trick is to take pride in what you’ve built but still be able to see how to improve it.
How do you determine what a “successful” blog post is for you?
Some of the posts that I’ve written in 45 minutes became our top-read posts, whereas blog posts that I’ve slaved over and rewritten a million times disappear into the ether after they’re off the front page. I think a great blog post poses a really good question, and allows discussion for all sides of the question.
Is there different fashion advice for corporate vs. small business in terms of taking on fashion trends in the office?
Know your office! Whether it’s big or small, if you have a conservative office, I would be very wary of trying too many fashion trends unless you see your supervisor doing it first.
What are some of the skills you’d recommend learning for 20 something’s interested in one day starting their own fashion related business?
Whatever business you’re in, read voraciously, and don’t skimp on the business reading. Know who your competitors are and what they’re doing. Know who your clients are and what they’re doing. If something can affect your bottom line — such as the price of cotton or the success of a factory — you need to know that business really well, too. If you’re a business owner, it’s not all inspiration and parties.
Having worked in the magazine industry what’s the biggest difference you see in writing for a publication opposed to having your own blog?
The feedback is amazing. Even back when I wrote cover stories for Family Circle, which had a passalong circulation of about 24 million people, I would hear one or two people maybe tell me they liked the story. Versus when I started Corporette and I could see (via Sitemeter or Google Analytics) that 300 people had read my story — that was so, so much more gratifying than writing the cover story for the major magazine. (Now we get more like 14,000 visitors each day.) The other side of the coin is that the feedback is immediate. Reading a magazine is kind of a solitary experience — if you happen to hate a fashion spread you say, wow, that’s dumb — maybe you take the time to write a letter to the editor, which might get published about 3-6 months later. Compare that to not liking a fashion spread on a blog — you can immediately say “that’s dumb!” and a million other voices chime in, immediately, to agree or disagree.
Last but not least, are there any new projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to share?
I’m working on a bunch of new things, but I prefer to keep them quiet until I’m ready to make them public. . . thanks for asking, though!
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