In this post, I’m going to explain some real advice on how you can actually build followers on Instagram and social media by working in fashion blogs. Special thanks to Aswathi Balakrishnan for the inputs on the Birdy Num Num podcast.
Be warned, being a top fashion blogger in India or anywhere, especially on Instagram, is competitive and difficult. The hunt for more followers can be challenging…but not impossible.
If I can do it, anyone can.Aswathi Balakrishnan, Social Media Influencer and Leading Blogger in India
How Do You Become a Fashion Blogger?
I started to wonder, in an increasingly crowded space, how do you maintain your creativity and identity, where unlike in comedy or acting or singing, somebody else could wear the same outfit or modify your copy (captions) and take a similar point of view?
So I reached out into my network to see who would want to talk about it.
And luckily Aswathi is one of the top influencers in Bangalore, is awesome and recognizes the more you have nothing to hide or disclose the more you succeed.
The full clips and snippets are below, but basically what I took away from the chat was that being a model or blogger on Instagram is a lot of planning, dedication, client work, and brand building.
Introducing Aswathi Balakrishnan
Aswathi is also one of the top south Indian fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers, and most knowledgable social media marketers in the country and also kills it in the Instagram and digital marketing game.
To the newcomer who simply thought it’s about pretty pictures and easy money (I apologize wholeheartedly), it is much more than that.
In fact, dare I say…you can learn a lot from a style or makeup blogger to apply (pun, get it) to your own social media marketing strategies.
What is a Fashion Blog?
Sanjay: So what’s a fashion blog? Is it Instagram? Or writing? I’m confused.
Aswathi: A fashion blog is loosely defined as a blog, or Instagram post, or youTube channel with the goal of promoting lifestyle, fashion and more. As the personal brand of the individual expands, you’ll see more and more content around fashion, travel, makeup, beauty, wellness, technology, etc…
Sanjay: I see…Birdy Num Num podcast
Before, some context on the social media and fashion blogging craze, hot of the press from last week:
Zara’s Indian partner just announced a cheaper fashion chain of Instagram styles it plans to bring to stores.
- You will literally see something on your feed on Monday.
- Buy it on Tuesday
- As is the case with fast fashion, wash it twice and then never wear it again.
Oh Lord, help us.
WHY are FASHION BLOGS and BLOGGERS IMPORTANT?
We live in a world that is changing daily.
People with cell phone videos are quickly becoming more credible than outdated news reporters, kids are funnier than industry protected celebrities, and in the world of fashion…the eyeballs are moving to creativity, individual styles, and social media.
In fact, you don’t need to see it to believe it, you’re already living it.
Chances are you probably saw way more subtle advertising on your Instagram feed this morning than Hermes or H&M catalogs you read.
Influencing is now, in 2019, actually becoming…well…influencing.
Instagram’s Influencer Marketing in India
Is the Instagram “GRID” the future of shopping?
As a stand-up comedian, my first observation from the world was simply looking at girls trying to be models on Instagram.
I’ve always been fascinated by girls who get 5000 likes on a selfie.
And a little jealousy, fine.
But growing up I dismissed it as, pardon my candor…just hot girls getting likes because dudes in Indore have free time.
Also, as a content creator, especially one above 30 I was probably more annoyed at how I spend 60K INR (1K USD) to make a video with camera’s and editing and food and labor and cabs and crew and TIME…and these girls put up a pouty selfie on a 4-second boomerang and get 1M views.
This fashion blogging is some bullsh*t…Or so I thought. Jio is a blessing and a curse.
Then years back I had cast Aswathi through my other friend Varun Agarwal in one of my sketch comedy maid videos with Sumukhi Suresh and I, and my eyes had opened up.
Through my non-designer sunglasses of course. So here we are.
What is Fashion Blogging?
This industry is some serious work.
There’s a right way to do it (Aswathi) and a wrong way to do it. (I leave no names).
But the same industry can be ripe for abuse.
Problems of Fashion Blogging (India or anywhere):
- abuse by copycats,
- ulterior motives and…
- just like we’re seeing with stand up comedy…a game set up for easy cash and then commodity.
Top fashion influencers in India like Santoshi Shetty and Komal Pandey share their style tips, charge money for influencing and help brands build buzz on their sales and product launches.
In a simplified SanjayComedy.com definition, on top of the great definition above, Fashion Blogging is also
- posting content about fashion to build awareness and engagement through fashion blog mediums (as mentioned above, IG, WordPress, twitter, etc..)
- inspire and influence increasingly fashionable consumers
- ultimately drive sales
- attend industry events, brand activations, etc…
- Massive digital marketing.
What isn’t Fashion Blogging?
- Not having a strategy
- Not having a goal in mind (e.g. thinking to yourself that you want to be the top Instagram blogger for Ray-Ban)
- Not planning posts (not using apps like Planoly or whatever is popular to plan your next 30 posts).
- Randomly putting out an image of you and your cat. Called “off brand” in the business.
A lot of girls (and guys) get 10K IG followers, quit their job and then realize later when the audience has moved onto the next person.
“Oh wow, you have to promote your local pizzeria, think long and hard about your style choices, create a WordPress blog also.” (e.g. What do these Fashion bloggers do if IG makes you pay for reach tomorrow?) and also find a way to monetize your audience.
How Much do Fashion Bloggers earn in India?
Top bloggers like Santoshi Shetty and Komal Pandey can charge anywhere between 10,000 INR for an IG story to more than 5 lakh for a full-on post.
The range all depends on:
- the product,
- how many organic followers the person has
- the budget (duh)
- if any barter is involved (e.g. keep a free phone worth 50,000 INR)
- the audience (e.g. is it a million dollar Infosys product or just a biryani nearby)
- the number of posts aka deliverables.
What are Deliverables in Fashion Blogging?
- Number of Instagram posts
- Number of Tweets
- Number of Retweets (from brand’s twitter)
- Number of Instagram Stories
- Number of youTube Videos
- Number of Facebook Shares (from Brand’s page)
- Number of Native Facebook Posts (on your page to your audience)
Fashion Blogging isn’t Easy
This is a serious plan, with strategy, metrics, techniques and of course, styles.
You need to do market research, understand trends, see how best to engage with audiences and what the market is looking for.
Just like anybody in comedy can tell a couple of dirty jokes, anybody on Instagram can put up a pic.
And just like with comedy, context and purpose can be everything.
Quality is a Different Quantity
A person with 10K followers who gets 1K likes per post is way more valuable than someone with 100K followers with 100 likes per post.
(And yes Sharon, both of those pages have organic followers. But that’s how much engagement varies.)
What Does an Influencer Do Daily?
Social Media influencing has come a long way worldwide. But I’ve always wondered what does it really mean to be a fashion blogger or “influencer”?
And how is social media influencing different or unique in India, with so much more Instagram likes, comments, and also…strange social media behavior?
Like I get that they have to keep up with the latest fashion trends in India, they’re some of the most viewed profiles of Indian girls on Instagram, and the term is synonymous with “Indian Instagram models” (well any country actually) or modeling.
And yes creepy dudes like to slide into your DM’s everywhere.
Aswathi basically summed it up that she plans her week out, she goes on shoots, she answers emails from brands, she plans out her GRID on her feed (the front page of your brand), and for those brands that she’s really keen to work with…it’s ok to be proactive. She also makes it a point to not read those strange messages.
But ultimately your work speaks for itself.
In the Instagram fashion blogging world…your resume IS your work.
Brands take 10 seconds to quickly scan your feed and then decide from there.
Is Jio reducing the value of a LIKE?
I also have this theory I’m working on to explore in my podcast and stand up comedy shows that Jio and cheap internet is creating an artificial bubble in the likes/comments/advertising game.
Example: Some girl at your gym has 1M Instagram followers for honestly nothing more than looking very nice. She’s not an actor, she’s not a fitness coach, she’s not a comedian or a writer…she just…is.
If a million people follow her and 90% of those are from some small village or Bangladesh or wherever…does it really make sense for that person to get 5L to post a pic holding up a $100 shampoo saying “#NowOnAmazon? Is anyone in Bangladesh going to buy that shampoo ever?
Is a potential bubble going to burst across the world because guys in a net cafe in Dhaka are liking every single Instagram pic with cleavage they see?
Luckily Aswathi is fully aware of the situation, but like a filmmaker who can’t do anything but to ignore the massive problem of piracy, you just gotta keep moving the ball forward and not get involved in things that don’t affect your business.
Redefining the term NONE OF YOUR “BUSINESS!”
Ok sorry, had to.
But in a nutshell…You know your brand, you know your strategy and in deep in your heart of hearts, you know where you’re adding value and where you’re not.
These days everybody wants to be YouTube or Instagram celebrity, but most don’t realize that as with anything in life, nothing is as easy as it seems.
You will see that guy or girl from your college who explodes overnight or gets a movie or viral video, but for the majority of us, we need a much more thoughtful approach.
You’d rather build a strong loyal audience than aim for masses.
If you don’t believe me, look at how long any social media person has been posting and you can most likely trace their first posts and see their grind/struggle until something clicked.
Go slow to go fast as my friend Rajiv Satyal says.
TL;DR: Quality over Quantity leads to Quantity you Want (Followers)
For anybody who wants to know how to succeed in this game and build real followers and engagement, I urge you to listen to the clips above or simply follow Aswathi on Instagram!
The FULL AUDIO ONLY 1 Hour chat with Aswathi on all audio podcast platforms is here on the Birdy Num podcast.