A Peek into the Blogging Industry

November 10, 2016
Richmond student and alumni share the business side of blogs

By Ayaka Hasegawa, '19

It was a cool, autumn day in New Jersey. Amy Littleson, ’17, was home for fall break after the first few weeks of her freshman year of college. With some time to think, she reflected on her semester so far. A business major at the time, Littleson was taking several numbers-based prerequisite. Although she knew she wanted to study business, she felt like she needed a little more color and creativity in her life. That was when she decided to start a blog, and name it after her favorite Audrey Hepburn quote, “I Believe in Pink.”

Three years later, and on the verge of graduating, Littleson’s blog has shifted from hobby to part-time job. She posts two to three times a week and is active on her social media. She has worked with a designer to revamp her website, hired a local photographer to up the image quality, and even brought on an intern this year who helps out with graphic design and web updates.   

During her sophomore year, she became the campus influencer for rewardStyle’s affiliate influencer program, LIKEtoKNOW.it, which allows her followers to purchase featured products on her blog. From there, she realized that she could monetize her content through collaborations and affiliate links. Littleson was able to expand her followers and now, companies like Goodnight Macaroon and Madeline and Company reach out to her to feature their products.

Her business even led her to rethink her business major. She complemented her business marketing courses with journalism and rhetoric and communications studies to create a self-designed major in Integrated Marketing and Communications.

“I never imagined that my hobby would turn into a business and then inspire my major and career path,” Littleson says. “But it all felt so natural to design my life around what I loved to do most.”  

Once blogging becomes more of a job, it creates opportunities to not only collaborate with brands but also meet other bloggers and business owners. After two years of running Sweet Sauce, a fashion and lifestyle blog, Megan Wilson, ’09, says she is now part of the Richmond community. For example, she partnered with River City Food Tours to show three local restaurants and three boutiques where people can meet the owners, and try their food or learn about current fashion trends.

In addition to the tours, Wilson has also collaborated with many owners of local boutiques, leading to the launch of her personal shopping discount program. Followers can hire her to be their personal stylist and get discounts at several boutiques in Richmond. Owners often allow her to take a first look at some of their clothing pieces and fashion trends, which are in turn sources of inspiration for her blog content. Wilson loves that her blog enables her to create relationships with people and be a voice for the Richmond community.

Sometimes a blog can lead to another job. Littleson is sure I Believe in Pink played a role when she applied for a public relations and social media internship with Lilly Pulitzer this past summer. She has been a fan of the brand since childhood and the chance to be a “Pinktern” was, she says, her “ultimate dream job.” She was shocked and excited to land the position but believes her experience in style, writing, and running a business helped her stand out from the crowd.

Although blogging opens up many doors, it can have some downsides as well. Katie Sands, ’15, who started HonestlyKate two months ago, shared the struggle of managing her blog with her full-time acting conservatory program in New York City. Sands studied theater at Richmond and aspires to be an actress, but she is also passionate about fashion and puts her energy into creating new looks and trying different trends on her blog.

Still, being new to the blogging world, Sands revealed that it is costly to run a site, especially in the beginning. It’s expensive to buy clothes for new content as companies won’t offer partnerships and free products until bloggers have a certain number of followers.

Despite feeling stressed or anxious at times, Sands has not given up and continues to reach out to bloggers and designers in the fashion industry, hoping for more collaborations and expansion of followers.

All of these bloggers seemed to have a strong focus, passion, and sense of direction despite some of the obstacles they face from day to day. Littleson, Wilson, and Sands all agree, they never want to feel forced to write; they only aim for authenticity and posting what truly represents them.

“I have always said that I will stop blogging the second it stops being fun,” Littleson says. “Though it has its ups and downs as any business does, it is by far the best source of creative energy, color, and expression I have in my life.”