Welcome to our third installment of our Expert Interview Series. This time we sit down with Alexa Curtis, as she discusses brands, fashion, and loving yourself. As always, our series is geared to help our readers get educated in a variety of fields as we interview everyone from CMOs to bloggers to other Digital Marketing experts.
Writing her first blog at the age of 12, Alexa Curtis is an active social influencer. She has been inspiring thousands of teenagers to love themselves and promoting positive life ideology. Here, the founder of A Life in the Fashion Lane talks about her interest in fashion blogging and offers advice to brands on marketing to influencers like her. Read on:
Tell us about The Fashion Lane and your background as a fashion blogger.
I’m originally from Eastern Connecticut, and I never fit in during my time attending public school. I always knew I was “different” but I was bullied so severely that I almost began to convince myself I was just weird. When I was 12, I decided to start this blog called A Life in the Fashion Lane, and every day after school I’d go home and post outfit pictures of myself. It was a way for me to cope with the bullying and grow my confidence. I really just wanted to inspire other teens to follow their dreams.
Now, A Life in the Fashion Lane has gone from a tiny blog to a full-time company. Between TV segments, sponsored posts, social media, sponsorships and more, I’ve overcome so many obstacles to turn something so small into something so much bigger than I ever imagined.
From a consumer’s perspective what catches your eye marketing-wise when you’re online?
Colorful photos on a website with a focus toward teens.
How do you interact with brands on social media?
I try and answer a brand or fan as much as possible, because it definitely makes you such a more relatable person. Once you start making revenue as a blogger, you have to start viewing yourself as a brand and not a person. The same way Forever 21 would reply to my tweet is the same way I reply to someone when they tweet me or leave a comment. It’s so important to be interactive and interesting, because people get bored really quickly.
Can you share about a brand you enjoy interacting with. What sets that brand apart? What about examples of attempted brand engagement that fell flat? What turns you off from a particular brand?
There’s soooo many times when something you think will do really well turns around and does really poorly. I stopped thinking so much about the number of likes and followers I have because it made me go crazy, but I think focusing on creating captivating content is much more important than the likes you get.
I love working with a brand like British Airways, because they’re so interactive with me. When they sponsor me and I fly with them, they reply to everything that I share on social media, which is really impressive. I get oddly turned off by brands who offer to send me something but then expect me to pay for shipping and return it. Like really?
How can fashion bloggers like yourself help brands gain more exposure?
Brands use bloggers over celebs nowadays because they know that we have lower rates and stronger reaches. People follow someone like me because I’m relatable. Even if I post a sponsored picture, it’s going to be something that teens can afford to buy. By working with me, you’re getting honest and real content that doesn’t have the word #ad attached.
What do you look for in the brands you work with on your blog?
I am no longer a fashion blogger, I prefer to consider myself an influencer. I started as a fashion blogger, but when I realized my story and situation is much stronger than fashion (which can be very superficial) I started looking for brands that align with topics I speak about. Like confidence, self-love, inspiration, motivation, etc. So if you’re a brand that promotes insanely thin models and drugs, it’s unlikely I’m looking to partner with you.
What makes you turn down a particular brand when it comes to partnerships for your blog?
Besides asking me to cover all their shipping expenses?! Haha. I’m pretty flexible in terms of what I cover because my aesthetic is somewhat all over the place, but if you’re cool and affordable, I usually say yes to working with you.
If you ask me how many followers I have and then say that my rates don’t align with my numbers, then I usually don’t answer any emails from that particular brand going forward. The effort and time I put into making sure a brand will get a huge amount of exposure from working with me is unusual for most bloggers who have quadruple the followers I have.
I’m so passionate about inspiring people and changing the world that my mind never turns off, especially if I’m collaborating in a long-term partnership with a company. It’s like dating; if I’m not “good” enough from the get go, don’t think you can come back around for a second try.
How do partnerships between a blogger like yourself and a particular brand work generally?
It depends on the arrangement. For example, how I collaborate with British Airways is different than how I collaborate with Bridg-it, the anti-bullying company I’m partnered with. They compensate in different ways. Many bloggers don’t blog full time, so they just get tons of clothing in exchange for giving a brand publicity. Someone like me, who has a company, has to charge for certain opportunities. Free clothes are great, but I have to pay an employee, so I can’t compensate them with tons of clothing (as much as I wish I could).
What advice can you offer marketers who would like to work with bloggers?
I’d say do your research. Just because you don’t have 100k followers doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy. I’ve found that so many brands don’t even care anymore about who you are or what your message is, they just care about the numbers. If you don’t actually know what I’m trying to do, then why are you pitching me something? Don’t waste my time if you haven’t done your research on me.
The digital landscape is always evolving, and how people search and land on your blog or webpage is changing. If you’re interested in learning how to optimize the customer journey from SEO to conversion, check out our webinar recording “From Search to Purch(ase): Closing Customers Quickly.”