By Juliana McLeod
Photos: Sarah Tahami
On Wednesday, Nov. 5, Kristen Uekermann — AKA The Boston Fashionista — visited the Fashion & Retail Society. The popular blog writer spoke to members about how she started her business, why she chose to start the venture, and the ups and downs that have come with the job. Best of all, Ukermann divulged her advice for starting a blog and making sure to maintain it.
Currently, Uekermann has a day job at Harvard, which she said she absolutely loves. However, Boston Fashionista realized that she wanted a way to let our her creativity, and what better way to do that than through a blog? On top of that, Uekermann was looking for an opportunity to meet fun, stylish people around Boston, and knew that having her own blog would give her the chance to network with these people.
So, she began the blog. She did not start it just for money, and she recommends not starting a venture only for the bucks. A blog creator needs to have motivation and must hope to gain something from the blog, something besides money, Uekermann said.
A blog creator must also find a niche, which “keeps you focused and honest when working with sponsors.” So, what’s Uekermann’s niche? “Looking at fashion, style and design through a New England lens.” The name, Boston Fashionista, truly says it all.
To keep up with this niche, Uekermann aims to reach out to everyday women around Boston that do not relate to big-time bloggers, who are sipping champagne at a Parisian cafe with their Italian boyfriend while taking photos of every moment. If you think about it, there are actually very few people in the world that can relate to this.
Instead, girls stuck in their dorm rooms doing math homework are longingly looking at these bloggers’ photos from the other side of the world, and not relating to them whatsoever. Uekermann wants to grab the attention of Boston women who are forced to deal with the city’s indecisive weather, but are determined to remain stylish while doing so. By reaching out to women like herself, Boston Fashionista can relate to her audience.
Essentially, “if you’re interested in it, someone out there like you is interested in it.” Sometimes this means trying something that will not work, but that’s okay. Uekermann said to just try again, and again, until you find something that works for you and your audience. She has had plenty of experience with this, explaining that, at one point, she tried to be a beauty writer. This didn’t go very far when she realized she had no idea how to talk about beauty products (“the lotion feels nice?”).
Uekermann also emphasized the importance of quality over quantity. When she first began The Boston Fashionista, she uploaded an outfit post every single day for two years, which she described as an unsustainable strategy. When she paused her work on the blog to run for library trustee of the Brookline, Mass. library (talk about being a busy woman), she found that this break in her blog gave her a new perspective on how to run it. This was when she discovered her sweet spot for publishing: 2-3 times per week.
Other pieces of advice that Uekermann handed out were strung around the unbelievable importance of networking, whether to write negative reviews and how to deal with sponsored content. Uekermann assured us that we’re not the only ones that find networking horrid and awkward, but it does work. The blogger has a 30-second spiel, as she calls it, to pitch her blog whenever she meets a new person. Not just someone in the fashion industry, but anyone. She explained that no one is not important enough or too important to talk to about the blog. You never know when you can help them, or when they can help you.
This goes the same way for other bloggers. “Throwing business some person’s way never hurt anybody,” Uekermann said. For example, if a brand that does not fit Uekermann’s blog style reaches out to her, she won’t make a deal with the brand, but she’ll give the company another blogger’s contact information. In doing so, she’s helping both a friend and a company. If it doesn’t help the other blogger, c’est la vie. But if it does, the blogger is bound to help her in return. Plus, “the brand will always come back to you.” Yet again, the power of networking.
As for negative reviews, Uekermann stays away from them. “If I don’t like something, I don’t write about it. I don’t need to contribute to that negative storm.” That storm sometimes includes sponsors that want Uekermann to promote a product even if she does not like it. The fashionista explained to the group that if she promotes a product, she genuinely likes the product and she notes if the product is sponsored content, always.
Most importantly, though, is to treat your blog like your job, Uekermann said. Never apologize for it and never make up anything about it. Just keep your promises and stick to your timeline.