The Fashion Blogging Sphere in Zimbabwe
I wanted to touch on the topic of the Business side of Fashion Blogging in Zimbabwe. In the past 4 years I have been blogging, the industry has significantly grown. With a fairly larger number of Fashion Bloggers in Zimbabwe as compared to when I started. With that a lot of Fashion Bloggers have taken on the role of Blogging as well being a Stylist, both ventures I had taken together before. With different brands, styles and fresh ideas; it’s easy to be taken or compared to the next blogger and quite frankly it’s easier for Zimbabwean brands to exploit you. Ever heard the “You will receive great exposure from working with us” slogan? It’s quite common and quite frankly unfair, because on a global scale blogging is just as strong as the craft of the next person. I am going to throw in the economy is tough part and I am going to say blogging is very unknown in Zimbabwe; that’s because it is but if you are a blogger taking your brand and knowledge to the next level; then you need to understand who you are and where you want to take it.
Some of the questions you should be asking yourself are:
Who are you?
What does your blog/brand represent?
What is your business angle?
Know your Brand
The misconception behind blogging (especially Fashion Blogging) in Zimbabwe is fame. I will say yes, you could potentially get famous and yes you could potentially be an influencer. But do you know who you are and what your brand represents or are you just swimming along with the fish to get ahead? In a previous post I talked about blogger expenses, this is where you need to know and ask yourself what you stand for and what you believe in. If you are a budget savvy blogger who loves thrifting, then share that because it’s who you are. If you love watches and own at least 100 pairs of wristwatches (vintage and designer); then document that. Take us through your experiences and journey of that one particular element of when you are thrifting or one particular element when you discovered that vintage Rolex. These little elements show that you know and understand who you are and what you stand for. I stand for Zimbabwean Fashion and Events in a Gorgeous and Glamourous persona; it’s that simple for me. Remember these two things; you blog/brands need to have Ethics and a Code of Conduct. If you have something that you do not believe in or quite frankly do not agree too, then simply don’t associate with it; that is how your brand will be different from the next.
What is Your Business Angle?
I am a well-known Zimbabwean Blogger and Stylist with projects that include Induna Magazine, Samantha “MisRed” Mussa’s website and just recently DIVAS Inc First Guy Issue. My business angle was being a stylist and with each one of these projects I stuck to my mandate of being “Gorgeous and Glamourous” with a Sophisticated, Classy and Chic persona. The business side of Styling involved Co-ordination, Project Management, PR and Styling for the said day. These are the two angles that I was known for and that I invested in, although I will openly share that being a stylist is not a walk in the park nor is it well received in Zimbabwe. But I was good at it at a creative level and was not good at it on the business angle of it. You might be wondering how I mastered the creative and not the business side to it? I did a lot of free gigs to the point where I thought to myself it would work to my favour, when I was ready to charge I was given the free exposure bit. Here’s my lesson and mistake to you, yes do free gigs and yes there are cases where the exposure is good but when you are ready to turn it into a business, do your research and do it well! Have your portfolio and documentations ready, learn to negotiate (hey, cover my transport maybe?), share your work on social media, tag the relevant people and openly tell the aforementioned brand to mention and tag you in return. Get advice and talk to like-minded people; ask questions and nag if you must so that you understand and implement well.
Be Upfront and Speak Out
Bloggers are not well known in Zimbabwe as mentioned above but realise that you and your blog are part and parcel of the emerging creative industry. In most cases you feel you do not fit in or you are not doing enough, but you are doing more than you know by keeping your social media active, writing and creating content; and purchasing data bundles just to upload your Instagram or check for comments on your blog. For the longest time I did not speak out; not confidently enough. I could not say “I Am A Fashion Blogger”, and I did not say it loud enough; nor did I not say “No” when I felt a styling gig went against my ethics or when I felt undermined. Being a Blogger is a job within itself and if you treat it as such you have to be professional enough to charge for it. I failed to speak up because after I graduated I told myself that automatically I will get a formal job and I was comfortable with that. Two years later I was still unemployed and running my blog through selling my closet (Yes, truth). When I couldn’t do that anymore I had to learn to put myself out there, be assertive or choose to curl up at home and give up. I am still learning to speak up and not have to explain myself anymore. And if a gig doesn’t work out, I nicely wrap it up like a Lady and move on.
If you are a newbie blogger, want to start a blog or has recently gotten into the business side of it; then share your experience in the comments below so as to help or encourage anyone who passes by.
Stay Gorgeous and Glamourous,