Another Perspective on Frustration in SL Fashion

         A newer blogger wrote a post about the frustrations of fashion blogging  and it made me want to discuss my thoughts on not only...

     A newer blogger wrote a post about the frustrations of fashion blogging  and it made me want to discuss my thoughts on not only blogging, but also designing- so really my perspective on the fashion industry in second life with my experience over the last nine years.

       I was a designer in SL from 2006 to 2010. I loved 2D clothing. I owned Sexy in Pink, abbreviated **SIP** in all the folders bought by my customers. Painting that was so much fun! However second life moved to 3D clothing and I had (and still have) no idea how to make that (even though I have tried). Blender is my nemesis. I drew all my clothing by hand. I started in a time when there were no templates, those did not exist. So the thought of not making my own clothing was just not for me. It HAD to be my own original designs or nothing.

     Now while I was a designer, I was totally clueless about bloggers. At first I did not even know that they existed at all, for like the first two years of my store. I made enough to own my own island and cash out regularly, but I am sure I could have made more with bloggers. More about that in a moment. I also designed in a time when there were basically NO events in second life. Yes that is right, only the big charity fairs- hair fair, clothing fair (which I participated in), shoe fair, etc. Events are the second most frustrating aspect of fashion blogging today for me. It is hard to keep up with all of them. If you visit them, they are laggy. It makes it hard to know where blogger copy items come from. Some designers are better with notecards in boxes than others. When I owned my store,  people went to main stores to shop and I hung out inside my store and talked to customers at least some every day. It was such a different landscape back then and although I don't own an in world store anymore, I imagine it’s just so different now for designers with all the events ruling the fashion scene.

(Please remember how old my store is, lol. It was cute for back then. You can see my hand drawn textures and my seams that always matched because I am a perfectionist.)

     I closed my store early 2010 and that was a dark time in my second life. SL had been my artistic outlet and with that missing I felt so lost. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I found fashion blogs and started reading them and following them. After all I had a lot of spare time on my hands now, lol. Blogging is time consuming yes, but designing- vender photos, making vendors, setting up your store in world, adding to marketplace (it was Xstreet in my day, I am old), advertising, updating your store blog- well designing (original items) is just MORE. I don’t know if I explained that well and bloggers might not like me saying that, but it just IS so much more. Designing is like making something from nothing and spending tons of time doing that (I once drew a pair of jeans for two months before releasing them) and then doing all the work that is similar to what we do as bloggers on top of that. So I get how designers feel about their designs. It becomes like a part of you. It is no longer a shirt. It is a part of your soul.

   Ok, so my next evolution in SL was transitioning to blogging. I finally found the fashion blogs and became a fan and then decided that might be a really great way to still use my 2D art skills and have my artistic outlet in second life AND be a part of the fashion world in SL. So I started blogging in early 2011. Man was that hard at first! I made so many mistakes, lol. The big blogs had their own domains, so I thought I needed that too. So I bought my own domain and started blogging and of course spending TONS of money, lol. I had no idea how much money blogging was going to cost me, lol. I of course blogged free stuff at first too because I needed to. I did not apply to any blogging groups or designers partly because I was still kinda clueless about how all this worked and also because I did not think I had the right. I needed more time on the task. I felt like I needed to develop readers and feeds and have a blog I thought worthy of a designer wanting to partner with me. I still feel that way. That might not sit well for new bloggers, but that is how I feel- then and now. Why would a designer give promotional items to blogs with very few views? I know I would not as a designer. 

     Blogging was hard to break into and then tragedy struck. In real life I had my purse stolen and had to cancel all my credit cards. One of the things I forgot to update with my new card was my blog server. So when it ran out, I thought it was paid with my card on file and it was not because that card did not exist anymore. SO basically after a month, the servers drop you and that is what happened to me and all of my first year of blog posts. They were just gone. I called godaddy (my server) and they told me there was nothing they could do about my old posts. They said they sent me warning emails and I am sure they did, but I rarely actually check second life email. I was already feeling frustrated with trying to break into the blogging world. Even though I loved styling and taking pictures, it was costing me a lot of money and time. Added to that losing my blog posts and my blog domain (someone bought it and I could not get it back), I thought I would just give up completely. I want to add that I NOW know you can back up your blog posts and save them on your hard drive. Yet another thing I was not aware of back in 2011. How I wish I had known that, lol. We can add that to all the mistakes I said I made in my early blogging days, lol.

     I almost quit blogging, but I missed it after three months and that is when I started Kirstentacular in 2012. There have been ups and downs, but I am thankful that I decided to keep going. My blog is my platform and I love shopping/ fashion/ styling/ photoshop. I don't love all the "after" stuff- like credits and advertising my blog posts (which always feels like spam and I am not a fan), but overall I love blogging. At this time in my blog, I do feel like I have paid my dues with almost five years of blogging, built up decent daily blog hits, 9 feeds, my average flickr views are usually 1500-2000+, and I use social media- facebook and plurk. I take high resolution pictures that are crisp and sharp and my signature photography element is fantastic vibrant color. I also use photoshop, but I don't feel like it is a fashion bloggers place to overuse it. I want the designs to shine but to be authentic to how they are in the game.  I think I am a really smart bet for any designer to partner with, but I still don't get stores and events I want. It is tough! There are so many talented fashion bloggers. I blog for 14 stores and one event. I don't use the S word because I don't think it belongs in the second life fashion world at all. You should be getting paid for that word to apply. I call them my partner or one of my official stores, or I am one of their official bloggers.

    Going back to when I was a designer, I want to comment more about bloggers from that perspective. I mentioned that I would come back to that topic in my first paragraph, but I wanted to talk about being a blogger a little bit first. As I said, I had no clue that fashion blogs existed at first. My first encounter with one was a blogger telling me that she blogged my dress. I really did not understand what she meant, rofl. I went to the link in the notecard and saw the pictures and kind words and I was so flattered. I thanked her and sent her a gift card to the store. I suppose that was my version of a few blogger copies without really knowing it. I just thought it was a nice response, lol. I did not really notice much about that blog post as far as sales of that dress so I did not yet put two and two together. To be honest, she was most likely a smaller blogger and while the blog post was nice it probably did very little for my sales. Then Celebrity Trollop blogged my store and she did a real blog post with both positive and negative remarks- bloggers did that often back then. My sales skyrocketed. It was incredible. I of course had my AHA moment and sent her things after that, but I STILL did not understand the blogger world. I did not have any idea how big it was or who the best bloggers were. Strawberry and Gogo were both blogging back then and I had never heard of them. I WISH a blogger had contacted me and told me about blogger copies and blogger groups and requested those items. As a designer, I just had no idea how the fashion blogger world worked. I just wanted to stay in my space and make things, lol. The picture on the left is of a customer and now jewelry designer, Dita Tran, in one of my Sexy in Pink designs called Hologram Squares. I had a TV in my store filled with customer pictures wearing my designs. I always loved to see that!

      Now back to the inspiration for this perspective post, Leesee (the Time and Lace blogger). Her first point and the reason behind writing the post was about a designer that took the time to tell her what they wanted when their items are blogged. I do think the request was most likely a bit much, to be honest. It is impossible to highlight every item you are wearing in your look with close up pictures of each one and when you use something- you should absolutely list it in your credits (imo). I do think that if you got a blogger copy (even from a blogger group) that you should highlight that designer in up close and detail at least once a month. This is why I don't belong to any huge blogger groups and why I rarely apply to events. I can't do en masse designers justice.

    However the verbage used was the item was “tagged.” Did the designer mean in flickr? Did you tag the designer as a person in the photo in flickr? If so, then I totally understand where the designer is coming from (if that is what they meant). That would be very frustrating for a designer to go look at a picture that you are supposedly in and try to find your design and have trouble even seeing your nail polish. If you add a designer as a person included in your picture in flickr, make sure the design is EASILY visible and a main focus. If it is not, do NOT add that designer. You should not add every designer to every picture. You can add them to your list of words or in your description, but not as a person actually in the picture. If the designer meant your list of credits at the end of your blog, then yes I agree that was an unfair request. We are looked at poorly as bloggers if we do not credit all items in our pictures so readers can buy them if they want. Even if its small, if you can see the polish, you should list that and designers should not get upset that you did so. It is free advertising for them and if they have any reaction it should be thankful.

     However, what I mostly thought about that first point was how much I wished for more feedback from designers and for that designer to take the time to contact this blogger was special, imo, even if it was negative feedback. I think this because the time and lace blogger’s next point was that there is a wall between designers and bloggers. YES, totally. I would love more feedback, even if its constructive criticism. The few times I have received that, it made me a better blogger. At first it is hard to hear because just like designers our pictures and blog posts become a part of our soul and we are protective of them. In my early years, a shoe designer commented on ankle brake. I was not aware of it and now I can’t stand to look at pictures that did not fix the ankles. I am so thankful for that constructive criticism. I would love to know more of what designers like and do not like about my blog posts. I only blog for brands that I ADORE. I want the designers to adore my blog/ pictures/ and posts as much as I adore them. If they do- I want to know. If they don’t I want to know even more. Feeling like I am doing the best I can to make things look amazing, and not really knowing how designers feel and getting very little feedback is my personal biggest frustration as a blogger.

     Inventory is hard for everyone in SL. Designers have all those billions of textures they upload that they have to keep up with. It really gets out of hand! I had mine in a texture organizer and that saved my life because it was so much content. Designers also have 3D objects that they have to sort and organize and keep up with as they create them. It is a lot of inventory organization and work. Bloggers have boxes to open. They are often a box, inside of a box, inside of a box. They sometimes have no notecard inside them and I have no idea where the item is located and have to search around on my own for the event and slurl. Organizing your blogger copy items is very time consuming and yes frustrating. I keep mine in separate folders and as I open them, I immediately put them in those folders. When I blog the item, I move it to the Blogged folder inside the main blogger copy folder. You really need to be a very organized person and at least at some level enjoy organizing. I happen to be organized and organizing is one of my favorite things to do. The main idea of this paragraph though is that inventory is a wash, because both designers and bloggers are frustrated with organizing and keeping on top of inventory.

      Blogger expectations. If you don’t like the blogger requirements, don’t apply to that store. If the requirements change and you don’t like the change talk to the designer and if you still do not think the requirements are something you can meet- stop blogging for that store. I have come into contact with a few "you must blog everything" blogger requirements, and that’s just not a store I would try to blog for. I do not officially blog for very many stores though, compared to some bloggers. It seems like a lot to me and I have no idea how someone blogs for more than about 20 stores. I see some bloggers that have 50+ stores and I don’t know how they would blog that many stores in one month effectively. The ones that do seem to post 5+ posts a day and not only could I not do that because I physically could not process even the pictures that fast let alone all the other parts, I would never want to do that much volume. I blog because it is fun and that would make blogging lose all joy to me.

     Flickr Views: At first I was really not a happy camper at this change in blogger requirements. I was not really involved in flickr. Flickr was just an afterthought because I was told I needed to have one as a blogger, but my blog was my passion. I put my time and energy in developing views on my blog not my flickr. However, I kind of think of the flickr views as constructive criticism I am now very thankful to have received. I did not have my blog pictures linked to flickr. When I did that, my blog views incresed as well as my flickr views. I was not involved in the social media aspect of flickr. It was just a picture storage place for me. Now I am very involved in flickr and I actually love it now. I love the feedback via comments that I get on flickr that I do not always get on my blog. Forcing myself to become more active in flickr just to see if I could achieve the blogger requirements being asked (which I did and then some), has made me a better blogger and increased views of both my flickr and my blog. 

     The one point that really did shout the loudest for me personally was remembering that any blog of your items should just be looked at as FREE advertising. Free advertising of a product that does not actually cost the designer extra expense for copies of their product. In the real world, making copies of a dress would cost fabric and labor for each copy, and a host of other overhead costs per unit. In second life, after a design is made there are unlimited copies available to the designer without any additional cost to them. In the real world, companies give out promotional items to actual reviewers even though it cost them money because they know it is a smart business decision. So in second life, it should be a no brainer for designers to send out blogger copies to their bloggers when it is a virtual product that does not actually cost them anything to reproduce. After the initial upload costs have been paid the rest is pure profit. I believe designers should view blogger copies in this light and as long as the blogger is using their items at least once a month in a way the designer likes, that is a really great partnership, in my opinion. Overall, a little more respect and communication between bloggers and designers would be wonderful. Both are very hard jobs!

Hair: .: fiore :. SIMONA Hair @ Hair Fair 2015 (Redhead)
Body: Maitreya Mesh Body - Lara V3.3
Skin: [Pink Fuel] Harley v2 <Peach>
Pose: Signature Pose - Ade_004 @ My Slink Obsession July

Love, Kirsten Corleone

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