All month long, we're talking to key players in various aspects of the online world. Today we've caught up with Sara Zucker, one of the fashion world's most popular Tumblrers, editor of the Farpitzs blog, and @Glamour magazine's community manager. Although she has pursued a Master's degree in Library Science, Sara's been trailblazing online since she began blogging in 2008. In the interview below, Sara shares some of her insider perspective on the ever-intertwining relationship between brands and bloggers.
WATM: Tell us in your own words about your blog, Farpitzs, and your work with Tumblr. How did you get started? What do you generally blog about?
SBZ: I started Farpitzs in 2008 when I was in grad school getting my MLS and certification in Archival Studies; I was bored, poor, and living with my parents. A friend suggested that I join this new-at-the-time site Tumblr and it quickly became a massive part of my life and a solution for my struggling social life. The blog was basically created to document everything that I wanted to purchase at the time, but couldn't, in addition to highlighting an ever-growing affinity for street style. It is a fashion-based conversation and reads just as I would speak. I've never been very good at holding things back, so if I hate something in the industry, don't think I won't tell you!
WATM: How many monthly visitors do you get on your sites?
SBZ: Around 40,000 visits per month not including the 45,000+ eyes viewing my posts through their Tumblr dashboard each day. I do zero outside advertising and promotion other than passing a business card across a table at a party.
WATM: Do you make money from blogging? We are interested in learning more about your collaborationsyouve done a lot of them. How do they come about? And how do you choose which ones are right for you to do?
Rarely, but not because I don't want to (a girl's gotta pay the bills, you know?). Most of the payment I receive is in the form of product for posts, through freelance writing off of my site, or as compensation for those collaborations you've mentioned, a majority of which have come about through friendships I've made. Admittedly, while I have done a lot of them, I am adamant about refusing work from a brand that I don't fiercely care about. If I don't like your product, I don't blog about your product--it's that simple.
WATM: What are the general demographics of your readers? What sorts of stories resonate most with your readers?
SBZ: I have a wide demo, probably 70% female and 30% male with ages ranging from 15 to 35. It's a weird feeling to be read by teenagers--I've definitely cut down on my cursing because of it. The stories that tend to resonate most are the long-form posts that talk about body image issues or how to succeed in the fashion, marketing or publishing industries. The importance of being a blogger is to write as brutally honest as possible, about anything. In the end, you have no one to please but yourself and you should've created that blog for purely selfish reasons.
WATM: How do you see independent style bloggers impacting the fashion industry and the way business is conducted in our industry?
SBZ: The industry has gone a little crazy creating the blogger as a novelty. FYI: We aren't a passing fad. That being said, many e-based writers are chosen for collaboration by looks alone and not for the text-based content created. A picture is sometimes worth 1,000 words--other times, it could use another 1,000 words below it and either they can be written or they can't.
WATM: How did you build your readership and what are the best ways, in your opinion to attract and keep a loyal readership base?
SBZ: I am no expert when it comes to building a readership primarily because it hasn't been a priority for me. I don't post photos just for the "likes" and the "re-blogs." My goal is--and always has been--to let my readers in on the fashion-based things that I learn and experience on a daily basis.
WATM: Tell us about your day job. What do you do as Glamour magazines community manager?
SBZ: I couldn't possibly give away brand strategy, but what I will say is that I am helping to make Glamour a go-to destination for fashion fun on the Internet. Find us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, and Google+!
WATM: What are your plans for the future of your site? Any plans for expansion into other areas? (retail, print, video for example?)
SBZ: All of the above would be lovely as long as it fits with my lifestyle. I can't do a project if it isn't "me," though I am admittedly unsure of how my Long Island accent and overly voluminous hair will translate onto video.
WATM: What do you think is the future of the publishing industry? From your perspective, how is digital fashion coverage impacting the world of fashion mags?
SBZ: As someone who has a formal post-undergrad education in the field of Library Science, I will fight hand over fist to defend print, but having a digital plan is the way of the future. It should act as a separate, complementary, equally-as-important entity to what is on paper. Monthly magazines are no longer seen as sources of recent news in the industry so much as arbiters of discovery--they should be altered to announce emerging designers, changing of trends, or to discuss topical issues. Websites are for instantaneous developments and short, concise thoughts.
WATM: Id love to talk to you about yourselfwhat do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
SBZ: I would love to do digital strategy for a luxury brand. From an outside standpoint, I can see that some brands are put off by my realism (I rarely post about things that I cannot afford and, at the moment, I can't afford much!), but I very much want to make high-end brands more approachable in the online sphere. If you snag a consumer when they're young--even if it's for aspirational purposes--they'll be a loyal shopper for life!
WATM: Additionally tell us a bit about what you like to do when youre not at work- do you have any hobbies?
SBZ: Some of my hobbies include taking naps, making the meanest grilled cheese this side of the Eastern Seaboard, breaking in leather boots, starting scrapbooks and not finishing them, and attempting to drink iced coffee all year round. I also particularly enjoy seeing movies by myself--you don't have to share your popcorn with anyone!
WATM: You have awesome personal style...what are your favorite brands or stores?
SBZ: Thank you! My wardrobe is a stew of Club Monaco, Diane von Furstenberg, vintage, and whatever makes my curves look less curvy. Favorite stores include Barneys, The Dressing Room, Cure Thrift Shop, and any Nars makeup counter. Favorite brands include Khirma Eliazov, Anna Sheffield, Katherine Kwei, and Surface to Air.
WATM: Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers out there?
SBZ: Never start writing just to get product because that's gross, but if you do get something for free, don't lie to your readers. Most importantly, be consistent with the timing of posts, writing voice, and overall aesthetic. It's easy to make a blog, but it is far harder to sustain one.
Read more from our Virtuosos series here.