A woman uploads a YouTube video of herself reviewing the most popular makeup brands while wearing the latest fashion trends – with just the click of a button, she just made money. How? Fashion blogging is a real life example of how self-branding can be turned into a business. The authors of the article, “‘Having it All’ on Social Media: Entrepreneurial Femininity and Self-Branding Among Fashion Bloggers,” discuss how fashion blogging is one of the most commercially successful and publicly visible forms of how the internet shapes the way people interact, communicate, behave and think with each other in a societal setting. However, they are confined to the restraints of the roles of women as consumers in society – a restraint that they use as a strategy to gain their following.
Through the qualitative research of the textual and visual content uploaded by the top-leading fashion bloggers, the authors, Brooke Erin Duffy and Emily Hund, show how the most popular fashion bloggers portray “having it all” on social media to create entrepreneurial femininity. To the public, it looks easy and enticing – a life full of glam. The camera lens shows them living their carefree lives. Little do they know, the top-ranked fashion bloggers are good at what they do because of the strategies they employ to attract attention. To determine how fashion bloggers strategically promote themselves through various social media platforms, they “conducted a qualitative analysis of the textual (blogger narratives) and visual (Instagram images) content of the top 38 US fashion blogs” (Duffy & Hund, 2017). Bloggers structure their content into three topics: the destiny of passionate work, the glam life, and carefully curated social sharing.
Although each top-ranked fashion blogger earns an income from their digital media brands, they promote their blog as an outlet for their passionate work whether it may be style, art, photography, makeup, etc. Whatever their passion, their social media pages are tailored to it, which will attract viewers with similar passions. Their “glam life” is portrayed through traveling across the world, receiving luxury swag, attending exclusive and prestigious events, and more. This makes their audience entranced in their lifestyle – they want to be them. Since they can’t be them, the next closest thing is watching their lives through their digital media. The third interrelated topic, carefully curated social sharing, is how the bloggers show off their passions and glam lifestyle to the world – through social sharing (Duffy & Hund, 2017). Each topic draws in their audiences to continue to follow their social media channels. They want to be them, live in their shoes and have their glam life.
Fashion bloggers have become conduits for financial independence and female empowerment. Through effective branding strategies people (in this example, fashion bloggers) can promote themselves on social media platforms, gain a following and turn their self-branding into a business. Research by Duffy and Hund supports that “despite their [fashion bloggers] seemingly effortless nature, bloggers’ online presentations were paragons of discipline in their displays of passionate work, glamorous lifestyles, and selective social sharing in their construction of blogging as a way to “have it all”; the interviews revealed the significant amount of time and energy required to achieve this” (Duffy & Hund, 2017). Although their lives may seem like a breeze, they are putting forth a significant amount of work for them to appear that way to their audiences.
Fashion bloggers have unveiled the rigorous labor, discipline and strategy it takes to go into the production of the digital self. It actually was not as easy as just a click of a button, after all. They are proof that social media platforms are tools that, when used effectively, can help brands and companies build their brand in a way that their consumers can interact with.
Written By: Jenna Pugliese-McNamara
Duffy, B. E., & Hund, E. (2017). “Having it all” on social media: Entrepreneurial femininity and self-branding among fashion bloggers. Social Media + Society, 1(2) doi:http://dx.doi.org.liblink.uncw.edu/10.1177/2056305115604337