Wardrobe Oxygen’s 2023 State of the Blog

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Wardrobe Oxygen's 2023 State of the Blog

My daughter started high school this year. It's back-to-school season, it's the 4th quarter, and it's a time of change. And I'm feeling the need for a bigger change this season than just switching out my linen for denim, my cotton for cashmere. I feel it's time for a bit of a change with Wardrobe Oxygen.

Don't get me wrong, please know THIS BLOG IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE. I will continue to post here more than anywhere else. I will continue to share what I wear, my thoughts on trends, shopping advice, capsule wardrobes, the occasional beauty and wellness and product reviews and my life, especially relating to perimenopause and midlife. That will not change, nor will the amount of content I write here.

However, over the years, Wardrobe Oxygen has changed with the times, while keeping the important things the same. I created my first Wardrobe Oxygen-branded social media platform in 2010 (Twitter), and since then have dabbled in Facebook pages, and Facebook groups, did a couple of Facebook Live videos. I tried Snapchat and gave that up when Instagram Stories came on the scene. As for Instagram, Stories remains my favorite but I have done scheduled and ad-hoc Lives, created Reels, and still share in-feed traditional photos, usually of what I wore. I've dabbled in YouTube and Google Web Stories, got a bit too into Pinterest, and ended up contracting that work to a virtual assistant.

I played with Threads, deleted it in August for a social media reduction, and haven't added it back to my phone… yet. I secured a Bluesky account but haven't touched it. And remember Google+? Wardrobe Oxygen had a profile over there, too.

The point is, that Wardrobe Oxygen for most of its existence has been more than just this website. As the needs and interests of audiences have changed with new technology, apps, and trends, I try to keep up so I can reach the largest audience where they are most comfortable.

Wardrobe Oxygen's 2023 State of the Blog

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in subscription-based programs for content creators, influencers, and subject matter experts. And I have been vehemently against that for Wardrobe Oxygen. I want to keep my content accessible to all, as I know not everyone can afford the other methods out there to receive style advice or a sense of community from like-minded folk. This is something I believe fiercely in, and it will continue to be a tenet of Wardrobe Oxygen.

However, because these subscription tools have become so popular to share the thoughts of content creators and SMEs, I have been thinking of how to use them to again, reach the largest audience where they are most comfortable. And it has me thinking about newsletters.

See, I don't really have a newsletter, and other than a couple of failed times over the years (some may remember my last attempt last summer), I never have. Sure, there are buttons all over this site encouraging you to subscribe but when you do, all you get is what is called an RSS newsletter. This is an automated program that sends out a newsletter at 9am ET any day there is a new blog post. The “newsletter” has built-in widgets that share my Instagram feed (when the widget isn't broken), and items to shop, that when I remember and plan well, feature items in that day's blog post.

This template for my RSS newsletter was created over five years ago. It's buggy, it's hard to read on some devices, and it has branding for a company that created it but I no longer work with and I can't figure out how to remove it. And I can see from my metrics that I am bleeding subscribers, and most of them are folks who subscribed in the past year. I am not offering what a 2023 audience desires.

In a perfect world where I have a team of folks who get Wardrobe Oxygen, I'd have a whole newsletter program.

I'd have a welcome series. Thank you for subscribing, let me tell you about Wardrobe Oxygen, let me tell you about myself, and let me give you a heads up on what you can expect. Here are some posts from the archives that I think best sum up Wardrobe Oxygen. We're glad to have you here, now enjoy regular content.

I'd also like to have a digest email.

Once a week, here are three blog posts that went live since the last newsletter, and here's a link to the site to see if there is anything additional that was published. Here's a collage of things I recently bought, or are a trend I am digging, or a certain color that is on my mind all week. Here's some stuff from the archives you may have missed, and a bit about what's up with me that you can't glean from the recent posts.

Then, folks can choose when they subscribe, do I want to be notified each time there is a new blog post, or just get the weekly digest? This seems easy enough, but honestly blogging in 2023 is hard AF and I am a business of one and as seen by my non-existent newsletters over the years I just don't have the bandwidth or the tech know-how to craft these new templates, create this digest email, and the welcome series.

I have been interviewing virtual assistants and marketing companies to find someone to create all this for me.

I am being quoted anything from $250/month to over $5,000/month and none of them really comprehend Wardrobe Oxygen. This isn't your typical fashion blog, but this audience is not the kind who wants a text-heavy boring-ass newsletter showing up in their inbox. Y'all are smart, busy, and I think pretty damn cool. You deserve clean but not boring, smart but not complicated, cool but not cliche. You deserve something… something that I would want in my own inbox.

I was discussing this with my husband. He doesn't read blogs, he doesn't “do” social media, but he has a few podcasters he listens to regularly and have subscribed to a few of their newsletters and programs. He mentioned this one guy he follows who has a subscription model, with the most important content free. The second tier is additional content, stuff if you want to dig in further but isn't his core content.

That costs, but if you email him and tell him you can't afford it, no questions asked he signs them up to get it for free. And then the third tier costs a bit more and that's where you can find the message boards, the community discussions, the info on in-person events and ways for this community to rally together over causes or connect to do activities together.

I really liked this idea… having the same content available for free, and giving subscriptions free to anyone who can't afford it, quietly through email, so all can access all, but I can still get paid for creating all this additional community and content. He shared that this guy does all this through Substack.

A year ago, Substack reached out to me and encouraged me to start a newsletter there.

I struggled to find a way to make it work without taking from what I already offer for free. I decided against it, and instead set up Buy Me a Coffee so folks could “tip” me in thanks for content on their terms and their schedule but no one felt obligated and I wasn't gatekeeping content.

During this discussion, my husband suggested using Substack exactly like this podcaster.

  • Each time there's a blog post, create a Substack newsletter and use the concept of how I share my blog posts on Instagram Stories. A little paragraph with the why this post was written. This would also help with those who have complained I keep republishing content, so I can explain how it's not just a simple republish, I actually rewrote most of the piece, spent hours sourcing new items, creating new collages, doing research so they know it may have the same name but is worth reading. I can share what inspired me to write about this topic, or share a bit about my life to put everything in context.
  • I could have a weekly digest Substack newsletter. It could be super simple, and just be ICYMI, here's what I shared on Wardrobe Oxygen. And then I can also share if I was interviewed on a podcast or mentioned in a news article, something I bought that week I like, somewhere I went, etc. and it doesn't have to have beautiful photos and be SEOed to death to help the site.
  • Speaking of which, Weekend Reads could move from my site to Substack. This would help my site's size and its SEO, and those who have said the RSS newsletter gets caught in spam, their job blocks my site, they can't recall which Weekend Reads had that article on X, etc. would have the post in its entirety in their inbox, for free. No need to become familiar with another platform, download another app, or sign into another website (such as Patreon, which I like better but not for the added hoops to jump to access content, which I know current readers won't do).
  • Then, if I end up having the bandwidth in the future to create additional content on top of what I am doing, I can have a paid subscription model, with some way to offer it free to those who need it. And if I never go that route, no harm no foul.

This got me thinking. I think of some folks who went the 100% Substack manner and I stopped following them because they'd keep the interesting stuff for the paid subscribers and the affiliate link shopping stuff for us poor peons who can't or won't pay. That's not the only way to make this work. I can do both, and in fact, this could be less work and cost than the work I envision for a traditional newsletter program and no gatekeeping.

Recently, another influencer I follow went to Substack, and the only way I knew was because their newsletter came from there instead of Mailchimp. They took their email list, imported it to Substack, and started using that platform just like if they switched from Mailchimp to ConvertKit or Flodesk or any of the other programs out there. It didn't change the content or even how it was received in my inbox. The only difference was the lack of a fancy template. It felt like a sign to me to start thinking about this seriously.

But I wanted to get a temperature gauge from you before I did anything.

Each creator's audience is different and those who spew advice are usually generalizing their niche. And when you're a style/fashion/lifestyle blog, that generalization is that the audience is women in the USA between the ages of 22-35 who follow certain influencers, watch certain shows, use certain social media platforms, even all drink from the same brand of water bottle. And I know that y'all aren't those people.

And if I am going to do a change, a trial of a new-ish social media platform for my newsletter, and I want to know your thoughts on that platform, I also figured I should do a State of the Blog and get to know the current Wardrobe Oxygen audience to be sure I truly know you and am creating the right kind of content for you and meeting you where you are on the internet.

So I created this survey. It is anonymous, and every single question is optional (and please, if it doesn't relate to you, don't answer it because when you answer with “other” and that it isn't for you it creates a whole other category and makes the data really confusing). I appreciate your feedback, and the time it takes to complete this.

Wardrobe Oxygen is NOT going anywhere. But this is the start of a new season, a new quarter, and in some ways, a new season in my own life. And I think that Wardrobe Oxygen is deserving of a bit of a glow-up. And it will glow even more brightly with your input. Stay tuned, I will be sure to share the results of the survey in an upcoming post. AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

With MUCH love,

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. Alison, thanks for your transparency about this. I totally agree with this: “I think of some folks who went the 100% Substack manner and I stopped following them because they’d keep the interesting stuff for the paid subscribers and the affiliate link shopping stuff for us poor peons who can’t or won’t pay.”
    I can’t justify $8 a month to read someone’s blog, no matter how much I love it. With the amount of blogs I read, that adds up fast! I reserve those types of contributions for social causes. (Someone else pointed out that streaming services are $15 or more a month, but that’s something *everyone* in my family uses, not just me.)
    Anyway, I’d be super sad to lose Weekend Reads – I look forward to it every Saturday morning–but I would like you to do what is best for YOU and easier for YOU so that you can continue making money, supporting your family and not losing your sanity in the process! Good luck with whatever you decide and thank you for bringing such great content. (I did fill out the survey, but just wanted to say a bit more here.)

  2. I enjoyed filling out the survey this weekend & look forward to seeing the results! For some reason, I always find things like that so interesting. I must confess, I don’t really understand much about Substack but maybe I can learn.

  3. I get lots of newsletters via substack in my email and don’t read any of them. I subscribe to 2 patreons for 2 different podcasts. One has lots of extra stuff for patreons and one is just a waste of my $ and I need to cancel. I’d rather give that $ to you. Should I be using a substack app? I really hate how everything is behind a pay wall in Substack but understand people need to earn $. It’s just subscribing to all those substacks starts to add up. Another question, I’ve found brands I buy from like Colleen Rothschild and Universal Standard through you but now i buy it through emails and not through an affiliate link. That seems not good for you. What is the answer for that?

    1. I usually come back to the blog to search the brand/product and click through. It’s not much faff and I like knowing Allie will get a kickback.

  4. Filled out the survey, hope it’s helpful. Thanks for making this a topic of discussion with your followers/readers. As i said in my survey response, so many other people I follow have shifted everything to Substack in the past year that it almost feels like a joke. A trendy thing to do. The fact that you’re considering it and discussing it with all of us helps me see that you’re taking this potential shift seriously, not just jumping on the latest bandwagon. I appreciate that. It seems very true to how you run Wardrobe Oxygen in general and is one of the many reasons you and your site (and social media) are one of my favorite places to visit on the web.

  5. I subscribe to several Substack newsletters and am trying to envision yours and how it would work on that site. The newsletters I read on Substack generally are 90-95% text, with a photo here or there. Your posts contain far more visual information, which seems essential to your content. Perhaps it’s possible and I’m just not seeing it.

      1. I would be so sad if Weekend Reads were not accessible here. I am unlikely to get involved with substacks because I keep my social media close to the bone, but Weekend Reads is a highlight of my week.

  6. Hey, I just want to mention two things:

    1, I don’t refuse to use Substack for moral reasons, and I get some (free) newsletters by people who use them, but AFAIK this is the way in which some folks find it problematic: https://www.techdirt.com/2023/04/14/substack-ceo-chris-best-doesnt-realize-hes-just-become-the-nazi-bar/

    2, I am a paid member of a few Patreon communities and when posts come out, I get them via email. Just naming that because it seemed like you may not know that is an option.

    1. Thank you, you always keeps me informed! I am on a Patreon community and maybe it’s because it’s not posts that I have to log in? Or maybe it changed because I stopped paying this year. I want to be able to always have a free option, so providing more information like this about these community platforms is extremely helpful!

      1. Happy to be part of the conversation!

        One of the communities I am a part of had a free tier, and that’s where I started, and then she decided to keep that tier for only people who couldn’t pay. Since I am a middle class white woman, that ain’t for me! So I subscribed. Unless Patreon has changed since then, I’m pretty sure a free tier is available…?

        Also, my Patreon communities are mostly podcasts. The posts are really just announcements of new episodes, maybe with some background info, and a link to listen in the app (which I don’t do because I import the subscription into a podcatcher). The only one that is basically a blog subscription is the one I described above.

        1. Sweet, after your comment I went into my email and I hadn’t subscribed to that Patreon since 2021 so yeah, I’m pretty out of the loop with that platform. I do receive a lot of Substacks, and subscribe to a handful, so it is somewhere I am more familiar so far.

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