The Business of Blogging | Garance Doré

BoF examines the rise to fashion blogging fame of Garance Doré, a self taught illustrator, HTML coder, photographer, video presenter and writer.

Garance Doré | Photo: Scott Schuman

Did you arrive here from Garance Doré’s blog about our Webby Award nomination? If so, join her and support us with your vote for a Webby Award to show that fashion means business.

NEW YORK, United States – Of all the bloggers who have risen to fashion’s A-list over the past few years, 37-year-old Garance Doré, is perhaps the most versatile. Her editorial offering is a coherent and seamless blend of beautiful illustrations, honest and authentic writing, striking photography and most recently, short narrative videos, which give her audience a view into her daily life.

Born to an Algerian mother and a father of Italian descent, in Corsica, far from the heart of the French fashion industry, Doré — who now lives in New York and last year won the CFDA’s Eugenia Sheppard Media Award, alongside her boyfriend, the renown street style blogger Scott Schuman of “The Sartorialist” — never dreamt of working in fashion.

“There is not a lot of fashion, it’s a very rural society,” Doré says of the rustic island where she grew up. “It took me a while to figure out where I wanted to go. I had all these dreams, but I had no idea that they were possible.”

At first, Doré says she did the responsible thing and found a job. “When I was about 25, I was working in the cinema as an assistant programmer, which was really cool [because] I was choosing the movies and going to Cannes,” she says. “That was my first job, after all these years of not knowing where I was going. I realised I can have a job, I can do it, but I really [wanted] to be an artist.”

So, Doré quit her job and took a creative and entrepreneurial leap.

“I decided to give myself a year and try to be an illustrator. It was my dream job,” she remembers. “At the time, my illustrations were in art publications, but it was totally different. The drawing would take me a week to do, and the problem is when you’re paid to do an illustration for a magazine, it’s $200 per page,” recalls Doré. “I was like ‘[this is] just not going to work!’ So, I told myself I have to be able to work faster. I’m going to do a blog because I need to push myself. I promised myself ‘I’m going to draw one illustration every morning and publish it on my blog.’ That’s how it started.”

But illustrations were only the first step in developing Doré’s blogging skillset. She taught herself HTML and experimented with other forms of content. “The problem is [that] an illustration doesn’t draw you in. It’s beautiful. People want to put them on their walls, but it doesn’t make them comment,” says Doré. “As soon as I started writing, [I received] all this response. It’s such a good way to bond with people to talk about fashion, how you dress, what you do.”

Within a few weeks, French newspaper “L’Express called me and they did a little thing about me in the magazine,” recalls Doré, who, in 2007, moved to Paris to seize the early opportunities her blog was generating.

Doré pondered the idea of taking photographs as well, inspired by Schuman, who she first met in 2008. “I was such a fan of Scott, it was crazy,” says Doré, giggling as she recalls the first-time she met her blogging hero. “I never want to meet the people I admire most because I can’t deal with losing my dream about someone. It was the same with Scott…but he was actually more funny [in person] and we became friends.”

It was Schuman who encouraged Doré to dream bigger for her blog. “I was still very French. I didn’t even acknowledge that I wanted to do something with my blog. Scott would tell me your blog is getting so many comments,” she says. “He was like, ‘What do you imagine for it?’”

“At the time, I had my small camera and I was like I’ll [take] some pictures, so I showed them to Scott,” she says. “Scott told me ‘Your pictures are great, one day you’re going to be a pro, you have it!’ He told me to buy a new camera, so I could go to the next level.”

With each new addition to her blogging repertoire, Doré relied on feedback from her audience to help hone her craft. “What I love is [that when you] put your stuff online, you can see how people react,” she says. “When I taught myself illustration, I suffered a lot because I couldn’t show it to anyone. I’m a writer for Vogue Paris and I love to do it, but apart from a few tweets from people saying they love the column, it’s not the same. I don’t get all that feedback.”

Indeed, perhaps the most important factor in explaining Doré’s success has been the optimism and honesty of a voice that elicits passionate engagement and feedback from readers. “When I [started] my blog I wanted to talk about the stuff that you don’t hear in magazines. I love the idea of having a club. Not something closed. I think a lot of times I surprise people with my frankness and that’s also how I [connect] with people very easily. For me, I think there is nothing you can’t talk about; the moments of shame, hurt. I think this for me is about growing.”

As her skill set and reportoire have grown, so has her international reach. Doré, who has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter, declined to reveal traffic figures, though her Alexa ranking suggests a monthly readership numbering in the hundreds of thousands. While her blog was already very popular in France, Doré says her international traffic first took a leap when she started publishing photos, which transcend language barriers, and then again when she began to have her writing translated from French into English, while still retaining her quintessentially French point of view.

To continue on this trajectory, Doré has her sights set on video. Doré has already been experimenting with short videos, often documenting her experiences during fashion week, or interviewing designers like Stella McCartney and Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Kenzo.

“Video is the future of the Internet,” asserts Doré, whose YouTube videos get about 10,000 views each. “Some people say in a few years 90 percent of content will be video, so, it is really something that is worth exploring. My goal is to understand how to make the best possible video. I’ve watched TV all my life, [but] the people who are watching the most videos on the internet are 13-year-olds who are going to be 20 in a few years. [Video is] going to come to its maturity, and they have [totally different] habits. They spend hours looking for things on the Internet to share.”

Last week, Doré debuted a new video series called Trending where she directly addresses the camera for the first time. “When I started my language was still very, very ‘sit down’, like TV. With Trending, I want to break that. I don’t know if it’s good. It’s the first time where I really do it as a blog, talking to the camera, talking about what I saw at fashion week. This is something for me that’s more modern.”

But how does Garance Doré make money?

Though she shares ad-sales resources with Scott Schuman, and has received sponsorship from Net-a-Porter for her video series like Pardon My French, Doré is thinking beyond basic banner ads and sponsorship. “Advertising is changing. It’s really becoming about native content and shooting. We’ve done a lot of collaborations.”

Indeed, Doré’s main source of income comes from “collaborations,” a catch-all phrase for illustration commissions, photo shoots, brand endorsements and everything in between. “A collaboration is anything that I would do with a client,” she explains. “One of the most successful projects I’ve done was the Dior video, where they said ‘do your thing.’ They’d seen Pardon My French and they just wanted me to talk about the Lady Dior. They had an exhibition in Japan and I went to Japan. I decided to use the bag as my travel diary, so I had everybody leave a little note on the bag and we made that whole thing where I met a calligraphist, a manga artist — each time the bag starts white and at the end it’s beautifully decorated.”

So how was Doré compensated? “We charged them a fixed fee, through my agent,” she says.

To manage the increasing flow of collaborations, Ms. Doré is currently building a small team to help her with various elements of the business. She can been seen moving around fashion week with a growing retinue.

One member of the team is focused solely on the business side of things, while the others focus mainly on creative elements. “[One] takes care of the ads, develops ideas with me, sitting down and making creative ideas, works with me on Pardon My French — and I’m growing her expertise,” says Doré. “Another takes care of the fashion side, so shoots for the blogs, spotting new stuff — and writing too. And now I have another person to help [with the] shop,” a small e-commerce boutique selling her prints and illustrations.

As she looks into the future, Doré is philosophical: “I think that we’re just at the beginning of the big shift; it’s very early and, yes, people are still thinking when is it going to end?” she says. “But it’s never going to end, it keeps growing and evolving, and I think that print magazines are going to have a totally different mission in a few years,” she says.

“We’re living in a revolution, we’re lucky, and that doesn’t happen a lot.”

Did you arrive here from Garance Doré’s blog about our Webby Award nomination? If so, join her and support us with your vote for a Webby Award to show that fashion means business.

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24 comments

  1. This is a different side of Garance than what she presents on her own blog. It’s a relief to read how strategic she is with her work.

    Melissa from San Francisco, CA, United States
  2. dommage la fourrure.
    C’est bien degueu!!

    irene from Pioltello, Lombardy, Italy
  3. Love Garance, she’s so sweet and down to earth, which is hard to find in the fashion world. When I met her randomly at a fashion event she wasn’t surrounded by a clad of fellow industry A listers she was doing her thing–shooting off in the corner. Amazing.
    XX
    The Accessory Editor
    http://www.theaccessoryeditor.com

    The Accessory Editor from Broomall, PA, United States
  4. Proof that passion leads to payoffs.

    Annie from Miami, FL, United States
  5. An interesting insight into how a blog can become a business. Simply, be creative, be versatile and work hard! Well done, Garance, you deserve your success.

    Anne Mellino from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  6. This is really interesting. I blog because I want to get to my dream (Fashion Designer), and this shows that blogging really does help.

    Tolly
    Age 12
    http://www.tollydollyposhfashion.com

    Tolly Dolly Posh from Lautrec, Midi-Pyrénées, France
  7. i think its great how she manages to do all these collaborations and still keep her blog so “real” and “personal”

    tripstreasuresblog from Ostend, 09, Belgium
  8. I love this article, she’s so inspiring. And please visit my blog trulylovefashion.blogspot.com

    Aga from Poland
  9. At first I enjoyed her blog, but for me, anyway, when you break up a family all bets are off. I am no longer a fan.

    And how on earth does a Frenchwoman just move to the US and go into business? It’s certainly not at all easy to do the reverse. Since this is about the business of blogging, I would have loved to have seen this question addressed in your article.

    Caroline from Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  10. A positive example of perseverance pursued with no less than the mentorship of the pioneer: she plays at home, ca va sans dire. Inspiring how she endures towards the new adventure of video as a new language as well as her belief in native content.

    francesca b. from Miami Beach, FL, United States
  11. Her mix of talents make her unique in the blogging world, and the fashion journalism world. While I admire the writing talent and the perspective of the fashion journalist in the traditional press, Garance has crafted a unique place for her legitimate perspective / voice / vision. I have to admit that I browse rather than read her blog and I have long admired her talent as a photographer and her eye for style.

    Elaine from Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
  12. Imran, did Garance share what percentage of her income comes from the actual ads on her blog? So many smaller bloggers keep working towards sponsor/banner-ads, which nobody (who knows what they are doing) seems to be embracing anymore. What’s your take?

    Petya K. Grady from Memphis, TN, United States
  13. Ahh I love it, reading how my blogging inspiration started from scratch. It’s definitely a new perspective, and it’s so incredible to read

    nadya
    http://thedillychic.com

    Nadya from Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
  14. Phénomène intéressant : sur son blog il me semble que Ms. Doré devient de plus en plus “américaine” ou “mondiale”, alors que cet article de presse américaine (et surtout la photo) met surtout en avant des côtés “français”.
    En tous cas, c’est un plaisir de la suivre depuis plusieurs années et de constater qu’elle garde les pieds sur terre, et la tête en l’air, sans être artificielle.

    Aude from Paris, Île-de-France, France
  15. Thanks for this insightful article! I love Garance and her blog, she is a huge inspiration for my blog, Alizabet.com!!!

    I linked back to this article on my weekly Links Loved // No. 7 roundup, I just HAD to share!

    Ashley from Chandler, AZ, United States
  16. Garance is an inspiring business woman. She is focused and determined, but at the same time relaxed, funny and very authentic. I wish her all the best and success with all of her projects.

    Friederike (www.theprojectstyle.com)

    Friederike from Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  17. Thanks you for an great interview. I teach interior design, and try to inspire my student to blog as a way to learn and make contact with likeminded people. This will be a perfect example of this can be done in a successful way.
    Cheers from Sweden,
    Lisbeth with the blog
    http://wabisabi-style.blogspot.se/

    Lisbeth from Sweden
  18. Personaly I feel that fashion blogging is dead. There was a time when the public was shut out of fashion shows and editors and photographers had the “insider” on what everybody was going to wear 6 months down the road but those days are gone. Pandora’s box has been opened and now anybody can join.

    As for the Dor’e/Schuman union, it’s no great mystery, he’s a good photographer who has a lot of money and has the connections to make his girlfriend a fashion sensation.

    Like I always say “there are people in fashion who make tons of $$ and they don’t know much and there are others who know volumes and don’t make a dime” It’s sad but very true.

    thefashiontribune from New York, NY, United States
  19. A big inspiration in my life, Garance Doré, best international blogger.

    Fran from Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
  20. I just have one question when are women of color ‘non asian’ bloggers going to be invited and courted by brands and the press?

    leila from Paris, Île-de-France, France
  21. Feedback? That’s precisely the problem. There’s no conversation taking place on Garance’s blog. Have a good look at the comments section, it’s all ‘I love you, cupcake cuddles’. No interaction between the readers.

    If a reader wants to share an idea, recipe, whatevers, she/he can’t because comments are not rated. This is terribly unkind and more like a magazine than a blog.

    Maybe that’s part of the reason she sounds so bored these days.

    Woody from Porto, Porto, Portugal
  22. Bon courage, garance tu es une grande bosseuse ,

    Souad Bouziani from Morocco
  23. I love her blog so its fascinating to read how she built up her site and continues to manage it as it grows. Great perspective.

    AfternoonSocial.com

    Afternoon Social from Grande Prairie, AB, Canada