Fashion Blogging in Bolivia
22 Nov, 2018 | Sasha Vasquez
Photo: José Rolando Ruiz
It’s not all champagne and cavorting with models, but it’s still great gig
‘Blogger’ is a word so common nowadays that it’s hard to believe that less than five years ago most people in Bolivia had never heard of it before. Nowadays though, it has become an overused but highly misunderstood word.
A few years ago I slowly started to learn about what fashion blogs were. I became fascinated by the one-on-one vibe that bloggers had with their readers. The tips, the tutorials, the life hacks, the outfit inspiration – it was a real approach to fashion, none of that overpriced, unapproachable glossy couture I was used to seeing in magazines.
In my first year of blogging, I encountered only raised eyebrows, weird looks and lot of ‘A fashion what?’
The only problem I saw, was that most of the bloggers I followed were from the United States or Europe, so even if they wore affordable brands like H&M or Zara, most of the things portrayed in their posts were impossible to get here in Bolivia. That’s where it all started: I wanted to make fashion available to people like me – people that live in Bolivia, who live busy lives and want affordable fashion for real people. Thus, Pilchas y Pintas was born as a creative outlet where I could share fashion inspiration, tips and tutorials.
In my first year of blogging, I made nothing. Instead of being able to monetise my blog, I encountered only raised eyebrows, weird looks and a lot of, ‘a fashion what?’. I got used to having to explain exactly what it was I did every time I met someone new. Blogging was such a new industry that back then, even I wasn’t sure what this new ‘job’ was all about.
Of course, I didn’t see Pilchas y Pintas as a job until my third year, when I received an email from a possible client. It had finally come, the day when someone was willing to pay me for blogging. The excitement came along with many questions, like ‘How much should I charge?’, ‘How many posts would be required?’, ‘How many photos should I include?’. In the end, that first job ended up being tremendously underpaid and required much more work than it was worth.
It took me another couple of years before I began to really understand the amount of work we bloggers put into our content should never be taken for granted. Most of the time it is fear and self-doubt that make us forget that every blog post requires time to brainstorm, write, shoot, upload and promote.
The blogosphere has evolved and expanded quite a lot since when I started. When I began blogging there were only three fashion bloggers in Bolivia, today there are many more. Different styles and approaches to fashion have flooded our social media and it’s amazing to see that Bolivian people have become more interested in the content created by national fashion bloggers. We have evolved from being the weird girls taking photos in the middle of the street, to actual business women (and men) who have a voice in the Bolivian fashion industry. We share the latest trends, showcase the hottest stores and attend the biggest events. It’s quite amazing, if I dare to say so myself, but it’s not all fun and games.
The growth and demand for bloggers and influencers in the Bolivian fashion industry have opened many doors for us bloggers, but not all of those doors have nice prizes behind them. Like all small industries, blogging can be amazingly ruthless. There’s a lot of competition for likes and followers, to find the best photoshoot locations and to get the biggest clients. It can be very easy to get swept up into this cutthroat circle. Inevitably, this creates a lot of pressure, especially considering that blogging is usually a one-person job. If the blog does well, then hurrah for you. But if it does poorly, you are the only person to blame. Everything that happens, both good and bad, is 100 percent on your shoulders, and this can be a heavy weight to bear.
On the other hand, many clothing brands still don’t understand what bloggers are and how they differ from influencers or brand ambassadors. Even though they are eager to work with us, they still don’t quite get how to do it correctly. The idea behind fashion blogging is quickly misinterpreted and with this, the authenticity that fashion bloggers are used to being known for is starting to slowly fade away.
The excitement and popularity of fashion blogging grows as fast as a badly poured Paceña on a hot summer afternoon, but bubbles over just as quickly.
Like all things in Bolivia, the excitement and popularity of things grows as fast as a badly poured Paceña on a hot, summer afternoon, and then fizzes out just as quickly. People here get bored of fads and soon move onto the next one. But not all is lost, and even though the blogging trend might slowly lose its power, fashion (and non-fashion) bloggers who have a genuine voice and a true essence are here to stay. The key is to focus on useful and real content. Yes, there will be ads and publicity along the way, but as long as you don’t lose yourself in it, you should be fine.