[The following is a guest post by Jordanna Stephen. Jordanna is President of Touch of Pink Public Relations in Brooklyn, NY, freelances for Kick PR and blogs at Fabaholics Anonymous]
Tierra M. Wilson is the “Jane of all trades” when it comes to the online fashion industry. Calling herself a freelance fashion techie, Tierra is a full-time fashion blogger, a social media optimizer (don’t know what that is? Well keep on reading because Tierra gives three tips to be a successful one), and a freelance stylist.
When she’s not blogging or getting to know all the hottest and newest social networking sites, she’s catching up on celeb gossip (a guilty pleasure we share in common) and perusing the seasonal looks from the classic house of Chanel. With only 24 hours in a day, I was curious as to how she does it all, why she picked this industry, and her views on the growing online social networking trend and it’s impact on fashion PR industry.
Jordanna: How did you decide that you wanted to be a fashion blogger and stylist?
Tierra: I absolutely die for fashion and I love technology. I had to figure out a way to enjoy both of my dreams. Sitting behind a computer in a server room just wasn't enough and fashion without Twitter, tags, and WordPress is just no fun for a geek; so fashion blogging just came naturally. One day after a vacation from work I asked myself "Can I make a career out of fashion blogging?" and I decided to go for it.
Jordanna: You recently became a full-time fashion blogger, which can be quite time consuming and sometimes not as profitable as us bloggers would like. Why do it full-time?
Tierra: I do it full time because I love it, life is too short, and it’s my career. I also do it full-time because it allows me to make serious connections by giving me the flexibility to promote face to face as well as online. Going full-time has actually been more profitable than I expected; fashion industry professionals love the idea that they have a little fashion blogger full time typing away promoting their business. I've definitely picked up a lot of extra work because I am a full-time freelancer and not just a fashion blogger.
Jordanna: How do you think fashion blogging has changed the fashion industry? (with regard to its impact on fashion, public relations, etc.)
Tierra: This is of course a huge debate between bloggers and traditional media, but the facts can't be denied. I would be more inclined to buy a black dress if my neighbor said that the dress fit great on her body and felt good, then I would if I just saw it on TV or just read an article about it in a magazine. The same concept goes for blogging; people want real people telling them what to buy and what not to buy. Fashionistas want to hear how a fellow fashionista would wear the new runway trend and how does colored tights really look on someone who is 5'1' and a size 10?
The public relations industry has really had to change and adapt to this new venue because they need fashion bloggers to push a product. Who better to sell something in your neighborhood than your neighbor?
Jordanna: That is so true. It seems new neighbors are springing up everyday. Do you think the media trend will ever shift away from blogs?
Tierra: Yes and no. The concept of blogging will still be there but I think with the introduction of Twitter and our need for quick and visual content will definitely separate the great fashion bloggers from just the good ones. I also think video and online TV has a long way to go and will eventually be the medium that we all look to for advice. Bottom line, eventually people are going to want to see faces and make sure you practice what you preach. A great example of this is a post I did for GadgetSpice highlighting the new Beautiful Strangers.TV, where two fashionistas give fashion forward strangers 30 seconds of fame by asking them what products they use, who cuts their hair, and who arches their eyebrows... simple, addictive and genius..
Jordanna: You’ve turned me onto a new site. Thanks! So, would you say with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, FadMashion, etc. is it easier for fashion publicists to promote their clients?
Tierra: Definitely! Not only is it easier, it’s free, which is enough to make everyone jump on the band wagon. But it's important to remember that social media marketing is a long term relationship with consumers. You have to act like a human and give as much of yourself as you take. You can't go to Stylefeeder, my favorite social media site, and expect to get traffic to your boutique if you don't upload clothes, respond to comments, email your style twins, give feedback... etc.
Jordanna: Exactly. It’s all about being interactive. Let's shift gears. Outside of internet journalism, what services do you provide?
Tierra: For fun, I promote local fashion events. I also provide Social Media Optimization to fashion industry professionals as well as offering a cohesive design look throughout their social media venues.
Jordanna: When I came across the term, Social Media Optimization, I said to myself, “Finally, there’s a real term for that.” S.M.O is a service that I think is great and timely. Can you explain what it is and how you do it?
Tierra: Social Media Optimization is a fairly new concept and is a way to help a client generate publicity through social media sties. Since I focus strictly on offering services to the fashion industry I found a simple three step process that works.
I've found the best way to be successful in SMO is to first research new media venues that will benefit your company. Not every social media site will help you so it's important to look at your online goals and objectives and create a social media map that will benefit your needs. Next, and I can't emphasize this enough, you need to create cohesive profile across your chosen social media outlets. All of my social media sites look the same, from Myspace, Twitter, to my company website. Users will recognize you on Youtube if they run into your profile and then remember your page on Myspace; the connection has to be established. Lastly, I spend a certain amount of time everyday commenting and interacting with users, swapping ideas, giving advice, uploading a personal look book my client would recommend, or uploading what I wore today from a boutique I'm promoting on Chictopia, etc. Of course there is also a science to it and a little bit of luck, but with the right person you can really promote your business.
Jordanna: Do you have any success stories as being a S.M.O.?
Tierra: I am a contributing blogger on Stylefeeder's blog the Tastemaker's Diaries but I'm also an avid Stylefeeder because I just love the site. For one of my clients, Careerbags, I created a Stylefeeder account and uploaded images and links from every piece from their fall line complete with descriptions and started interacting with users. I did a post for Tastemaker's Diaries about CareerBags and they received over 200 hits in one week and the post was emailed to all of Stylefeeder's female members. It's about understanding and combining your blogging connections along with social media that equals success measurable by numbers.
Jordanna: Unfortunately, not everything is all roses. What challenges do you face as a fashion writer? as a stylist? as a social media optimizer?
Tierra: My major challenge is keeping up with the two very fast changing industries; fashion and technology. I literally have to breathe fashion and SEO (search engine optimization) techniques everyday to make sure my clients are happy; that means reading every fashion magazine out there and every major fashion blog to make sure you know what's going on. Clients want results and numbers and sometimes it's hard when you realize that, for example, Google has changed its ranking rules again or that ruffles aren't hot this week.
Jordanna: With everything you do, how do you schedule your time? When is a work day over for you?
Tierra: I can't really schedule my time and to be honest work is never over for me, especially since I want to make this a living. I post about 29 posts per week between 200-500 words from about 11pm - 2:00 am in the morning. My social bookmarker, Liberty (she's also a fashion blogger) then goes and sends all my posts to social bookmarking sites around the web. I visit social media sites, upload pictures and interact with new contacts from about 7:00 am - 3:30 pm. I go to about 3 to 4 local fashion events a week to make sure local people are aware of what I do and who I am. I sleep when I can.
Jordanna: I think we have all been there. Who do you look to as a source of inspiration or for help? Is there someone you admire within your field?
Tierra: For help I am very excited to welcome Liberty to my team who is a writer for About.com, Teen Style Lounge, and Snarkstress. She a great help and she understands how stressful the work can be. I also constantly look to Debbie at Freelance Writing Gigs for quality work and potential clients.
There are two people I really look up to. The first is Dina Pradel, my editor and VP of Marketing at Stylefeeder. She an amazing woman with an impressive resumé and is always there for advice. She gave me my first real opportunity to blog to a real audience and our readers have really helped grow my business.
The second is Yuli Ziv, Co-Founder & Editor-In-Chief of My It Things. She grew as a recognizable force in the fashion and technology industry with her online magazine that puts bloggers on the front page. I admire her because she takes her Editor-In-Chief title very seriously. She literally interacts daily with all of the users on her site. It's amazing and I don't know how she does it.
Jordanna: What do you see yourself doing in the next 10 years?
Tierra: In ten years I see myself still blogging but contributing more to the industry by providing fashion industry professionals with quality fashion bloggers and quality social media gurus to help promote their dreams online and bring in measurable results. I also see myself coming up with a concrete way to measure social media marketing; because of all the factors that can contribute to success or failure, it’s pretty hard to measure it.
Jordanna: Here are a couple of fun questions. Who are your favorite fashion designers?
Tierra: I only have one favorite designer and brand and that's Chanel. I love the classic look. Throw in a few trendy staples from H&M or a local trendy boutique and that's my look.
Jordanna: Other than your own blog, what are your favorite blogs to visit?