Inside The Fashion Poet:
How to build a profitable lifestyle blog
Annie Vazquez told us how blogging has changed over the years, how to make money from branded content, and why she is launching a project outside of the fashion world
This is the next in Accent’s series of posts that explore how online publications around the world work. Every week, we find stories about the people, tools, and ideas that are driving online media. Today, we chatted with Annie Vasquez, founder of The Fashion Poet, a leading Miami lifestyle blog.
Starting The Fashion Poet
Before starting The Fashion Poet, I worked as a journalist. I started off doing stories about the community and politics, but I wanted to write about fashion. My editor said that it’s really hard to get into that industry, but I’ve always been really driven—if I want something, I go for it. So, I made a portfolio and gave it to the fashion editor. She hired me, but then the recession happened and they killed off the fashion section, which led to me starting my own project.
In 2011, there were a lot of things going on in Miami that were not written about. So I decided to start a blog. I used to write for AOL and for magazines, but eight months after starting my blog I got my first client, and I made so much money that I decided I didn’t want to work for anybody—I wanted to work for myself.
My first client was Coach. When I first got their email I deleted it because I thought it was an ad. They sent it again and it said that they want to hire me for their sunwear campaign because Miami was an important market for them. They picked one Florida girl and I was that girl, which was huge. It was a three-month campaign, they sent me sunglasses, and I hired a photographer to do shoots that showed off different parts of the city. That campaign really helped get my name on the map and made more people want to work with me.
The writing process
I used to post 2-3 times a week, now it’s once a week because the industry has changed a lot. Everybody is on Instagram now and fewer people visit blogs.
The production of posts is a huge process. Often, my photoshoot starts at 7:30 AM and I have three looks. At 6:30 AM I have my hair and makeup done, I shoot for three hours and then I come back home. Then I select images, the photographer edits them and sends me back, and I upload them to the system.
You do have to develop tough skin when you enter the world of working with professional brands
Advertising and branded content
I do branded content for the blog and my social media, but I try to make it look as organic as possible so you won’t know it’s an ad unless you see the caption (it says #spon, #sponsors, or #ad).
Usually, brands approach me and tell me about the campaign they want me to be a part of. They ask how much I charge or tell me what budget they have, I send them a media kit and a pricing sheet, and then we negotiate the terms and sign a contract. When I work with brands, I can do a blog post or something on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook. I also do videos for companies or even events. Sometimes people ask me to be a spokesperson for their brand or do something else. For example, Mary Kay hired me to be face model for a Spanish TV show.
The work can also get really creative. An interesting campaign I did recently was for Baileys. They flew me to New York for an activation where we set up a beauty lounge in the middle of the city to help women get ready for their night out. I also was a brand ambassador for Veuve Clicquot and they took me to Paris and to the Champagne region to stay in their mansion. I also did a road trip with H&M. I’ve had a lot of great opportunities, and I’ve really grown as a business woman.
You do have to develop tough skin when you enter the world of working with professional brands. For example, I recently dyed my hair red, and some clients decided they didn’t want to work with me because “it’s not on brand.” I said “What do you mean, my followers like my hair!” Other people say they are interested in working with me, but they have other people they are talking to as well, which can sometimes be hard to hear.
Tools and Analytics
I work with several brands at once and also have my own posts, so things can get confusing sometimes. That’s why I map everything out in Google Calendar, and all my social in Hootsuite.
For analytics, I use the built in tools on social media platforms as well as Google Analytics. While numbers are important—my blog is a business, after all—I also try to publish things that feel right, even if they aren’t generating as much traffic. For example, when I first started publishing travel posts they weren’t doing very well, but I cared about them, and now they’re very popular. You really have to believe in your product and have patience.
How to work with brands:
5 simple rules for bloggers
Make things more formal
Always work with a contract and ask for their signature approving fee, time of payment, form of payment and lists your roles and companies roles. Keep a copy.
The key to making money is organization
Use accounting sites like QuickBooks to keep track of your invoices, expenses and more.
Stay on schedule
Make sure you invest in a good paper calendar and also use a digital one to write deadlines, note meetings and due dates.
Sites like Hootsuite help you to plan your social content and help you stay on top of your A game with pre scheduling content to go live on certain times of the day.
Ask for feedback
Always ask clients for feedback so you can continue to build future relationships and improve your work.
The new project
It’s great to work with other brands but in order to make real money, I think you have to do things on your own. That’s why I decided to launch an ecommerce site for wellness products called Annie The Alchemist.
It all started when I posted some wellness content on Snapchat and it got a ton of traffic. People started looking for my recommendations on wellness products, so I thought maybe I could sell my own stuff. It’s important for me and my future as an independent business owner, but also gives me a sense of purpose, like I’m really helping people.