Finding Your Voice (And Putting It on the Web): UWFW Wednesday Recap

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by Heidi Arenberg

The first thing I noticed about the panel of bloggers at Street Smart: Blogging for a Stylish World, MODA’s event on Wednesday evening, was the shoes. I realize how creepy that may sound, but when nine style bloggers sit lined up at tables right in front of you, their footwear gets noticed. From pointy toe pumps to strappy sandals to platform booties, every chic pair delighted me. And every pair also intimidated me. These are accomplished fashion and lifestyle bloggers, eight women and one man who have created names for themselves and amassed significant followings. Somehow, their success in the modern and fast-growing field of blogging to build a brand was reflected in their fancy footwear, and I felt small in comparison. Well, that is until they began to speak and openly offer advice to the crowd of amateur bloggers.

“J. Crew is my high-end,” admitted Jessica Quirk of What I Wore, making the Target flats I was wearing seem a little less out of place. The self-proclaimed everyday girl, or “Midwest Jess,” gave a lot of advice during the discussion. When one attendee asked for tips on how to begin a blog, she simply replied, “Just start.”

Chelsea Lavin of Chicago-based blog Style Block concurred. “A great thing about blogging is you can start now,” she said. Comforting words for any college student itching for a creative outlet. And according to these seasoned bloggers, that’s just what a blog should be: an extension of yourself.

Corri McFadden, Chelsea’s counterpart at Style Block, disclosed that she and the other Style Block ladies work full time when not blogging, a fact that goes to show what a rewarding hobby blogging can be. And it shouldn’t feel like work; Corri went on to say that between reading and homework and classes in the day, students don’t have time to write pages worth of blog posts on something like a pair of pants. Jessica added that if at any time you’re no longer enjoying blogging, it’s time to stop or change how you’re approaching it. It shouldn’t be so serious, and it should come easily.

But that’s not to say that the blogosphere can’t have some serious perks. Bjorn Nasett of Fashion Farmboy, a rural Wisconsin native, excitedly spoke of some pretty cool personal experiences like going to New York Fashion Week and meeting designers and celebs. Jessica gushed about the one time she stumbled upon the opportunity to wear an Oscar de la Renta gown.

One way these Midwesterners met such fortune?

Networking.

Corri talked about how helpful passing out business cards at events can be. But Jessica quickly quipped, “Never feel like your location is going to stop you.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t have classy networking events to attend. It just so happens that it was merely Twitter that landed Jessica time with the Oscar de la Renta piece. Every blogger agreed that social media is a godsend for blog promotion.

However, the most useful recommendation popped up several times. Be true to who you are. Write about what you want to write about. Do what you love. Amy Gee of Flash Revolutions combines her passion for photography with writing. Karissa Kreager of Glamour Guru enjoys mixing high-end items with cheaper finds. Shayna Miller, a Madison Magazine columnist, adores being a style editor because she gets to shop everyday “with someone else’s credit card.” And Jessica cautioned to not write about fishing when you’re truly interested in clothing. “But if you were in Hunter boots fishing in Alaska…” started Corri, evoking laughter from the crowd.

And just like that, it all came together: they all have amazing shoes because they write about amazing shoes. Because all they think about are amazing shoes. Because they genuinely love amazing shoes. Starting a blog is as simple as that: focus on what makes you happy, and you’ll get happiness in return.

The Panel:

Bjorn Nasett, fashionfarmboy.com

Jessica Quirk, whatiwore.tumblr.com

Karissa Kreager, fashion-gg.blogspot.com

Chelsea Lavin, Corri McFadden, Bridget White, Erin Brennan, style-block.com

Amy Gee, flashrevolutions.com

Shayna Miller, Madison Magazine

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