2020: Learning from the Past Decade as a Blogger

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clothing on a rack behind a desk with a computer

We just survived a decade where we decried those who like simple pleasures in life to be “basic bitches.” Street style took over where looks were graded less on fashion and more on uniqueness. We one-upped one another with how much of a quirky unique special snowflake we were at cocktail parties and tried to outdo our friends with photo holiday cards and vacations in Facebook albums. Being ordinary became one of the worst criticisms you could receive.

During this decade, what was unique and quirky in less than a year became overdone and passé. It was a constant revolution of bomber jackets and Beachbody, Airstreams and all-white McMansions, chevrons and Supreme, joggers and jeggings, rosé and Rockstuds, Baby Shark and the Harlem Shake, Golden Goose sneakers and Gucci belts, anything Mid-Century to anything from the ‘90s. It even became trendy to buck all current trends, as long as you made sure to tell everyone about it on the Internet.

This past decade was THE decade of the influencer. While blogs and social media existed before the 2010s, it didn’t really become a thing, and definitely didn’t become a common career until the past few years. Overnight new bloggers and social media stars came on the scene with fresh ideas, a fresh look, and fresh skills in technology, social media, and SEO. Instead of reading House Beautiful or Architectural Digest, we were scrolling through Instagram; instead of Bon Appetit or Cooking Light, it was perusing Pinterest for recipes. Those of us who had children growing up this decade, we saw how YouTube videos of toy unboxings replaced Saturday morning cartoons. To stand out in the crowd influencers were always looking for a way to have a “thing” – a catchphrase, a hashtag, an aesthetic, a way to be remembered and, fingers crossed, go viral.

The 2010s was when online shopping was perfected. It seemed every retailer had an app you could download to your phone and in an instant order a new dress, a new kitchen appliance, a new makeup palette, a new throw for your couch. Social media was an extension of customer service and many companies had DMs, comments, and replies open for engaging with customers. Everyone from Refinery29 to the New York Times employed affiliate links on their websites, making a commission from each click. Instagram gave accounts with at least 10,000 followers the ability to use a swipe-up function in their Instagram Stories, so you didn’t even have to leave the app to buy what she’s wearing or using. Brands like SHEIN, Romwe, and Fashion Nova came on the scene offering ridiculously cheap fashion that was so cute and delivered so quickly no one allowed themselves the moment to wonder how in the world they made those clothes so cheap. Amazon was king, and Walmart was hiring every influencer in America to earn back that throne. By the end of 2019 if shipping wasn’t free and in less than a week it seemed archaic. If Prime next-day shipping wasn’t fast enough for you, many retailers let you order online and pick it up two hours later at a store in your neighborhood.

woman's hand selecting a blouse from a clothing rack

This was also the decade of How-To. The 2010s started with learning how to make quirky earrings and embellish a sweatshirt. It then moved on to how to dress with capsule wardrobes, styling challenges, and YouTube makeup tutorials. Thanks to our massive consumption over the decade, the trend became tips on how to get rid of stuff – how to spark joy and become a minimalist. As a website owner, I knew the best way to bring traffic to my site was to have a blog post that was titled with something like, “Five ways to style a sweater” or “How to get the look for less” or “The six things every woman needs in her closet.” Thanks to the convenience of the internet, we stopped thinking for ourselves and found gurus across the world to teach us how to live.

By the end of the decade, we started having a conscience. When our family chose to cut out paper towels, sponges, and paper napkins in 2008 we had friends who laughed, rolled their eyes, and questioned the cleanliness of our home. Come the end of the decade, half those friends had also found ways to cut down their disposable consumption. In 2013 after more than 1,100 people were killed when Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, many began questioning where and how their clothes were made. While the term “greenwashing” has been a term since the 1960s, it became a household word in the 2010’s thanks to brands attempting to look ethical and environmentally conscious to wizened customers. Thing is, consumption didn’t stop, it just was greenwashed. Ads on Instagram for reusable water bottles and straws and Q-tips and tote bags and makeup wipes and produce bags.  If you were looking to be more environmentally conscious or choose ethical brands, there were courses on how to become a minimalist, books to buy to tell you how to throw out everything and spark joy, and ethical clothing influencers encouraging you to buy more, not less. And if there was one trend that sustained the entire decade, it was a graphic t-shirt proclaiming your beliefs, especially if a portion of the sales went to a charity or initiative.

Related Post: How do Blogs and Influencers Make Money?

But the thing that was a constant throughout the entire decade was that if you bought X you would achieve Y. There was always a purchase that would make you thinner, make you healthier, make you prettier, make you cooler. There was always a course or a gadget that would make you richer, more organized, more efficient, more successful. You could buy a program or membership or another gadget to finally have you stick to a resolution, achieve that goal, shred or detox or heal your gut to greatness. I often scrolled through Instagram and Facebook and wondered how 200 years later we were again being swindled by snake oil salesmen.

And I was one of them.

While I have been blogging since 2005, I didn’t consider it a business until 2010. I had a baby the previous year, was promoted at work, and struggling to maintain two blogs (back then I had one blog for outfits and one for fashion advice). A friend suggested I merge the two blogs into one, and I decided that if I was going to continue to blog and take time away from my family, it had to be financially worth it. I had to make at least as much as I would as a barista at the Starbucks down the street. This paid off; by 2014 I was making as much from my blog as I was from my day job. In 2016 I exceeded my salary from Corporate America and at the end of 2017, I made the decision to quit my day job to focus on the blog full-time.

two women perusing a clothing rack in a store

I make money from this blog in a variety of ways, but the top three are sponsored posts (a brand pays me to talk about them), ads (you’ll see them between paragraphs, in the footer, and sidebar), and affiliate links (click on a link on my blog or swipe up on my Instagram Stories and make any purchase and I’ll earn a commission. Read this post for more details on how blogs and influencers make money). I make money because you come to my site to read my thoughts or see my outfits, I make money because you like what you see and click to buy or learn more about a product, and I make money because brands see you come to my site and they want you to learn about them. And each year of this decade, my top moneymaker has been affiliate sales. I make money because you spend money.

This both makes me proud and gives me insomnia. As blogs are shuttering around me it’s thrilling that my blog continues to grow in regard to traffic, subscribers, and followers on social media. As consumers become more aware of the virtual snake oil salespeople who will shill anything for a dime, it’s an honor that I have earned your trust and you will purchase what I recommend. As more articles are published about brands not seeing a return on investment by partnering with influencers, it’s exciting that brands continue to want to partner with me and pay my rates. But am I part of the problem?

Each year with my blog I make a resolution, a goal, and a focus. In 2018 I refused to work with any new brands that didn’t go up to a size 16. In 2019 I started with the goal to offer more affordable brands; that didn’t work out and I share why here. I switched to focusing on longevity. How to style and re-style and re-style again the same item. Which beauty products I continue to buy again and again. The 2010s was a decade of fast fashion, get the look for less, and follow these five steps for instant success. I wondered, could I focus on buying slower and smarter and still be financially successful?

The answer is yes. The only dip in the whole year was the two months this summer when I took a vacation from sponsored content and sale picks. But not only yes, I was able to control the narrative. Other than a couple the first half of the year when I was still focused on working with affordable fashion brands, I partnered with brands I use and truly love. I wrote content I enjoyed writing, not content that would appeal to the SEO gods just to get ad revenue. I curated my sale alerts to brands I feel good promoting and fit with the brand I have built. And those sale alerts, I didn’t just share great deals but great items that either I own and know are good or look to be worthy purchases that will provide more than one season of style. I proved you can be a conscious consumer and still have a successful business.

And so my goal for 2020 is to continue on this path. This is not the blog where you will get the look for less, and you won’t be told the five must-have trends for the season. This is a blog where you will always receive honest and detailed reviews so you can make an informed purchase. Where the items reviewed are ones that aren’t a flash in a pan, but something that you can buy now and wear for years looking stylish every single time. Where it’s not only okay, but chic to rewear things over and over, whether it’s to the office or to a wedding or gala and I’ll help you find those things that are enjoyable and chic to wear multiple times. Where you will learn how to have more style with a smaller wardrobe, and where you will get advice not to dress exactly like me or a celebrity, but to find your own personal style and gain confidence with fashion and with making smart purchases. I will continue to focus on brands that have a good range of sizing. I will continue to link in widgets to items at a variety of price points. I will continue my capsule wardrobes, sale alerts, and discussing trends to help you see how you can do with less and make informed purchases. I will continue to share when a brand gives back, has an eco-friendly business practice, But I will do it all with a goal for all of us to buy less.

I want to thank you all for being here. There are literally millions of blogs and influencers, you have your pick of the bunch and I don’t take it for granted that you choose to read Wardrobe Oxygen. I am constantly looking for ways to make this blog better for you, so please continue to provide me with feedback through comments, emails, and DMs. If you like what you read, share it! The best gift you can give to any business owner is a word of mouth referral (which we saw in this past decade to also include shares on social media and in emails and texts). I look forward to engaging with you in this new year and together we will spend less and look more stylish while doing it. Happy new year and new decade!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I echo the well-deserved kudos you received from everyone else. I am another person who reads only your clothing related
    blog . I won’t say fashion blog because to me, fashion is only about what is hot at the moment. I call your blog a style blog. What you offer us is substantive, enduring, doable by regular humans and fun!

    Although I doubt anyone would call me well dressed, I do dress considerably better thanks to you.

    2019 was one of the very worst years financially, health wise, work wise I’ve had in a long time. December finished off a horrible year by forcing me to be in the hospital for a week with a life threatening infection. A day after I got out of the hospital, my boss called to tell me I lost my job. Excuse my dark humor but it was like, “You’re laid off. Merry Christmas.”
    It was not any job, I have been working for the same non-profit for 16 years in a variety of positions. Non-profits live and die by grants and no grant funding is ever certain. Especially federal and state grants are so susceptible to the whims of politics. I didn’t do anything wrong. In fact I aways got high marks on my evaluations. Yet somehow I feel ashamed, like I got fired.

    The upshot of all this is that I am going into business for myself again. I have been in business before but that was many years ago and I’m sure requirements and tax reporting has changed.

    It’s hard to not be pessimistic, but 2019 is behind us. I wish positive things for everyone and myself in 2020!

    1. Oh gosh Chris, I am so sorry. What a tough year and even tougher ending to it. I am sending you positive vibes fir your own business. What’s wonderful is most everything is on the internet. I’ve spent this weekend “adulting” my business in regard to finances, taxes, etc. and learned so much thanks to experts sharing their advice on the web and government agencies having improved sites where I can do a lot from the comfort of my own phone and during non-business hours. I’m rooting for you. <3

    2. I’m new to your blog & positively thrilled to say I am a follower. Your review of the past decade was on point. You’ve already helped me in many ways, not only in fashion. I retired one year ago and trying to find my way in my more simplified lifestyle. Thanks for helping me in my new beginning.

  2. Great overview of the decade. No wonder I’m so tired! LOL. Like others, I love that you keep it real, and even though I’m quite a bit older than you, I love your writing, especially the Weekend Reads and the posts on wearing items multiple ways. Here’s to a new decade!

  3. Just wanted to say how much I’ve loved the more “freestyle” content you’ve been doing over the holidays. You said it would be an opportunity for you to care less about deadlines and targets, and more about just riffing on topics you care about. Well – the great thing is you did it BUT it doesn’t feel much different from the content you share and conversations you start with us through the year. By which I mean it is the same high quality, thoughtful, honest, authentic content we come to you for throughout the year. I really appreciate it.

  4. You are the sister I wish I had, the friend who is authentic, the blogger I most enjoy. Thanks for keeping it real and for introducing me to Universal Standard. . .first time I loved a pair of jeans the first time I put them on (and ordered them online!!). Here’s to a wonderful new year, new decade!

  5. Love your blog and recommended readings at the end of the week. I especially enjoyed your series on how to wear the same outfit for three different occasions during the holidays. Talk about shopping your closet. You are truly inspiring.

  6. I enjoy you because you’re a terrific writer among many other things, and there are a lot of bloggers out there that are not. A perfect example is the first half or more of this post—it’s a lovely and on point summary of the last decade, so well written I’d love to share it on my FB page. Happy 2020!

  7. Love your blog and have been reading for ages.
    My only request is that you add maybe a weekly wardrobe challenge for us (wear one item each day this week you haven’t worn for 6 months, for example, or things in which we are challenged to wear in new ways what we already own or use them in a new way) . You are inspiring! Thank you!

  8. I so enjoy your blog and have been following for a number of years. I’ve dropped all but you and 2 other blogs. I love that you are genuine, not pushing for buying more, more, more and have great articles and aren’t afraid to share who you are and your values. Here’s to another great decade ahead!

  9. First of all, this is an amazingly written article. It should be published in a magazine or something. You have summed up the decade so perfectly. The overspending, the consumerism, the fast fashion and the cutting down & minimalism, the trends that disappeared and those that stayed…a great read.
    It was also nice to learn more about your blogging path.

  10. Hi Alison! I am a newcomer to your blog – I found you through Not Dressed as Lamb earlier this year. I read you for many reasons, not the least of which is you write well! I appreciate your timeless, classic style (with a personal twist) and commitment to quality, qualities to which I too aspire. I am further drawn in by your practical advice and informed opinions. More than that though, you are authentic; I feel like we are friends having a chat over coffee whenever I sit down to read a post. Your post today affirms all of that, and I applaud your integrity. Keep going!

  11. Another long-time reader here, echoing so many others. Yours is the only blog I read regularly – love what you do and how you’ve evolved.

  12. All I can say is BRAVO! Your comments are clean, and precise in the direction you want your blog to go, and I’m here for it. Always look forward to reading you every.single.day!

  13. There are less than 10 blogs left on my reading list, from the 93 I followed in 2010!

    … And yours is one of my favourites. I so appreciate how you’ve grown and changed and even admitted when you’ve been wrong. You deserve any and all of the success!

  14. I love everything I just read here! I am so happy to see more and more bloggers embracing an ethical and sustainable wardrobe for the long haul. Continued success to you and I am looking forward to continue reading your blog this year!

  15. Love this and love you. You’re the only fashion blogger I still read after all these years. I appreciate your authenticity, transparency and overall awesomeness. Here’s to another amazing year for you!

    1. Nanette, it means so much you’ve stuck around all these years since our Blogspot days! I’m glad we’ve stayed in touch. Happy new year to you and yours! <3

  16. You are obviously committed to sustainable practices and it’s clear that it is a priority to you and your family. However, it’s hard to read your thoughts about the pervasiveness of greenwashing when you often wear and recommend Everlane. It’s been well documented in the media that their so-called “eco-friendly practices” are actually not very eco-friendly. They are doing very little – if anything – in the way of using sustainable fabrics. Their jeans are the only product in their line that are manufactured in a sustainable facility. I love reading about your focus on slower fashion, but Everlane really isn’t the brand you should be recommending. Not to mention their woeful size range.

    1. I hear you, and I do find Everlane’s claim to be “eco-friendly” problematic. But I don’t wear Everlane because I believe them to be more sustainable. I wear Everlane because the pieces I have are quality, transcend trends, and last. Their cashmere has survived far better than brands that cost three times as much. I’m famous for blowing out the inner thighs of my jeans in one season yet my Everlane jeans are still in great shape after a year of hard wear. While their sizing isn’t awesome, they have increased to XXL/35 for jeans. The focus of the fashion on this blog is geared towards pieces that will last so you can purchase fewer items. I’m all for a sustainable brand, but if the clothes aren’t something I can still be wearing three years from now, it’s not really sustainable so I’m always on the hunt for that which just reduces the need for any brand, eco-friendly or not, to create less.

      1. Thanks Alison. I can appreciate that perspective. Thanks very much for offering your thoughts on the topic!

  17. Alison,
    The past decade was a challenge for me personally. I lost and then regained 40 pounds (due to a work politics and stress). Your blog has helped me focus on “wearing the armor “ I needed to face the workday world with fashion. I even turned to your blog when I broke my wrist last year to review how you dressed and dealt with your broken arm. Although I am 20+ years older than you, I look you your recommendations for beauty products, style and fashion. You are genuine which is very rare these days. Kudos to you for your inspiring blog.

  18. Alison, you have such a way with words—the way you summed up this past decade is impressive! I’ve been reading WO for many years now; seems like I found you a bit before the broken arm. Although we don’t personally know each other, I feel so much pride over your blogging success because you deserve it. It’s been interesting to follow along over the years & see the progression of WO. As blogs have become more popular, I’ve found myself following several & over the years, they’ve replaced magazines for me. Yours is still my favorite & has been the one where I learned how blogs make money. Thank you for being upfront about this with us. I wish you continued success in the new year!

  19. What can I add that others haven’t already said in their comments? Really, nothing, but I have to chime in. Alison, simply said, you are just SO AWESOME! I get so much out of what you put out there on topics as diverse as fashion/clothes, body image, and lifestyle choices. I have benefited so directly from your blog, ans you so honestly and generously share about your experiences and the choices you make.

    At the moment, what this post validates is my strong attempt to stop consuming except for what I truly need; and to make the most out of what I already have. Sometimes I so want to just engage in retail therapy still!, yet I have managed to almost entirely stop that bad habit. I have the added incentive now that I’ve retired, and am living on a more fixed income. That, and my horror at what our consumer society has done to the planet! I want my baby granddaughter to inherit a planet that is still a beautiful place to live.

  20. I started reading your blog when Emerson was about 3. I found your blog and advice relevant then and I find it relevant now. When I went looking at blogs yours was one of the few that spoke to people who were not model thin and did not dress in designer clothes. Back then, I had to look presentable and appropriate. I have been a loyal fan since. Your advice and recommendations are well thought out and I appreciate that. I look forward to another decade with your blog, your family and especially you! Happy New Year!

  21. Great post! I’m trying to buy less and generally buy thrifted or consigned , but go through your site to buy Soma underwear and Colleen Rothschild skincare (thanks for the rec). Am reading “The Conscious Closet” and would love anything from you on ethical and stylish brands. Happy new year!

  22. I too echo the other responses. Your blog is knowledgeable and real. I try to buy from your links. Most of all I appreciate that you put yourself out there even when it’s scary. Props to the women in this community who support you and each other as well.

  23. Well said Allie, and I agree with all the posters above. I don’t want disposable fashion; I want things that will last and can be restyled. Keep doing your own thing.

  24. Thank you, Allie, for being honest and striving to be a force for good! I’ve read your blog since 2013 and am while I found you through capsule wardrobes, I’m glass you changed with me. Reading your thoughts, I’m feeling validated to shun apps with increasingly aggressive ads and sponsored content, like Instagram and Pinterest.
    One thing I’d like you to change would be to put the sales alert in your weekend reads to the bottom. I love reading them, both for your personal life and the articles you link, but having to scroll through lots of sales is exhausting. Not only do I want to buy more thoughtfully, these sales don’t apply to me in Europe. I’m sure it’s a service many appreciate, but could you put it after the recommended articles? Thank you!

  25. This post made my head spin! No wonder we’re all so tired. What a decade! And the 2020s show no sign of being any less complicated. I’m so happy to be able to retreat to your little corner of sanity. Keep it up, please!

  26. You said it so well. I will always read your blog, as it realistic and not catering to the excesses that some promote. I appreciate that you are socially aware.

  27. I love this place you have created to inspire, encourage and bring fun back in creating outfits that look great on our bodies! Thank you Miss Allie, I think you are fabulous!

  28. Echo these comments. Love you, Allie! Keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll support you. I actually expressly buy products from your site following your post about how blogs make money and I do the same for others I follow, although I don’t follow too many more. We {{heart}} you!

  29. I am an 10+ years reader of your blog. Completely agree with Karen and Melissa above. I love and trust your honest reviews of clothing but even more, I am heartened and refreshed by your positive attitude and thought provoking approach to the larger issues of fashion and style. Happy New Year!

  30. Allie I have been with you since you had your two separate blogs. I only have three blogs I read regularly. Here is a virtual pat on the back and hug from a faithful reader that enjoys her first cup of coffee with you every morning you post.
    Blessings in 2020.

  31. as usual your review of the past decade is well written, interesting and thought provoking, which is why this is one of the few blogs i check in with on a regular basis. i wish i would have discovered your blog earlier in the decade, but now that i’m here, i’m looking forward to what the next decade brings.

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