How to Grow Your Blog Audience w/ Cora of The Lingerie Addict

cora-harrington-the-lingerie-addict

February 9, 2015 • Brandmakers

Have you wondered how to get more people reading your blog? Read this.

A few weeks ago as I was doing research for my post “Can A Woman Be Professional and Still Model Lingerie?”, I found Cora Harrington’s blog The Lingerie Addict (TLA). I instantly fell in love with all that the blog stood for.

One of the things that really amazed me about Cora’s story was how she was able to build a large community (and follow) and provide extreme value to her readers. With lingerie blogging being such a niche segment of the fashion blogging market, Cora talks about the specific things she’s done to help build her blog audience and grow her brand (and influence) over the years.

Some of the things she covers in this BRANDMAKERS:

  1. How changing the blog’s name was one of the most influential moves she made for the blog
  2. Why not listening to others opinions of what she should do helped her stay true to the vision she had for TLA
  3. Why she thinks alot of people don’t  (or can’t) turn their “ideas” into realities
  4. What she wishes she could change about the lingerie industry…and more!

My biggest takeaway? In order to build your blog audience, focus on the value in the message you want to deliver.  (CLICK TO TWEET)

Check out the interview below!

What inspired you to start The Lingerie Addict?

Cora Harrington (CH): I started writing The Lingerie Addict (TLA) because I was interested in lingerie (at the time I was dating someone and wanted to buy something nice), but I had no idea how to shop for it. While there were a handful of other lingerie blogs when I started (almost all of which have since gone defunct) there was very little actual product advice. No shopping guides. No reviews. No how-tos. So I started just writing reviews of things I was buying and sharing things I was interested in buying.
My site grew very slowly and  organically from there. I actually started off as a stockings blogger named Stockings Addict, and then a couple of years later, I decided to make the switch to covering all kinds of lingerie, and I’ve been a lingerie blogger ever since.

How important has having a “vision”  been for your brand?

CH: Having a vision for my brand became a lot more important when The Lingerie Addict started to become more visible, but I didn’t start off with a brand vision. I really can’t emphasize enough how much I stumbled into doing this. It turns out there was an as-yet untapped niche for the kind of content I was writing.
I really can’t emphasize enough how much I stumbled into doing this. It turns out there was an as-yet untapped niche for the kind of content I was writing.
As my site became more popular and began attracting more readers beyond the couple of dozen I started with, developing a cohesive and coherent brand vision became vital. In TLA’s case, our brand vision is centered around inclusivity, particularly for traditionally marginalized groups (like women of color and LGBTQIA persons). While we don’t get it perfect (I don’t know if there is such a thing as a perfect version of diversity and inclusivity out there now), that vision absolutely informs everything we do, from the language we use to the brands we feature to the writers we hire. The goal is to always make TLA a welcoming environment. That doesn’t mean an environment free from disagreement, but it means a place where people can feel safe looking at and discussing lingerie without having to worry about body snark, racist comments, or transphobic remarks.

What kind of challenges did you face early on in launching the blog and how did you overcome them?

CH: I’d say the biggest challenge I faced early on is a challenge I’m still dealing with now, and that’s focusing on a niche that is still heavily stigmatized, especially in the United States.
I blogged anonymously for a long time, and even after I began sharing my face and voice on TLA, I didn’t share my real name until I’d been a fulltime blogger for nearly a year. I’ve never been ashamed of running The Lingerie Addict, but so many people hear “lingerie” and think “porn,” that there’s a real social consequence to being a lingerie blogger.  I had to take that into account before making the decision to fully commit. One of the ways I overcame that is by focusing on the fashion element of lingerie. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with sex and sexuality and being sexy, or with discussing the role of lingerie in sexual relationships. However, that aspect of lingerie is so widely covered already that I believe the value TLA brings to the conversation is its focus on the fashion of intimate apparel, and its approach to making lingerie accessible beyond just the bedroom.

What’s been some of your biggest “ blog successes” ?

CH:Being able to do what I love every single day, and being seen as an authority in my niche are two of my biggest successes to date. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of running a website that you sometimes forget to take a break and look at all the good things that have happened. I’ve been able to work on The Lingerie Addict full-time for the last 3 years. It was a huge risk, but every year has been our best year ever, so it’s just a constant kind of reaffirmation that running TLA is what I need to do right now.
Another major blog success has been the numerous media mentions that The Lingerie Addict has received. I’ve been quoted on the websites for Vogue Italia, CNN, Forbes, among others, and it’s incredibly gratifying to know that major media publications see The Lingerie Addict as a reputable resource for intimate apparel news and insight.

Why do you think The Lingerie Addict became so popular?

CH: Focusing on a specific niche has been everything for The Lingerie Addict. TLA is dedicated solely to the fashion of intimate apparel, and how lingerie intersects society. Being a lingerie blog specifically has enabled TLA to stand out in a way that would not have have been possible otherwise.
Being a lingerie blog specifically has enabled TLA to stand out in a way that would not  been possible otherwise.
My readers expect a level of intimate apparel coverage that you just can’t get from a more general subject matter blog, and that’s made all the difference in terms of attracting and retaining an audience.

What are some your top branding tips?

CH: Branding has been absolutely vital to TLA’s growth, and though I don’t have any formal business or marketing training, I found myself branding TLA before I even knew what a brand was. Our new logo is already readily identifiable with the brand, which is what I think any business or blogger wants.
Avoid what’s cute or trendy or popular, and go with what you most want to be identified with next year or 5 years or 10 years.
Avoid what’s cute or trendy or popular, and go with what you most want to be identified with next year or 5 years or 10 years.
It’s easy to be swayed by fads, but a good brand has to transcend all that. The best brands have an element of personalization that’s unique to you and no one else. That personalization gives the brand intimacy, and allows visitors to instantly connect with you and what you represent which helps build rapport and encourage return visitors.

What marketing platforms have been especially useful for your business growth and why?

CH: Social media has made all the difference to The Lingerie Addict’s popularity, and recently, Pinterest has been a major source of new growth for TLA. Lingerie, like the rest of fashion, is highly visual, so being able to leverage a platform that’s all about powerful imagery (like Pinterest) has been integral to our growth over the past year or so.

Why is empowering women through lingerie so important to you?

CH: Women are constantly being told how they should or shouldn’t dress and how they should or shouldn’t act and what they should or shouldn’t do. These rules start in childhood, before many girls even reach puberty, and they never go away. And so many of these rules are attached to our bodies and ideas of what an ‘acceptable’ body should look like or how an ‘acceptable’ woman should behave. I see lingerie as a way for women to express their identity, irrespective of the rules.
I see lingerie as a way for women to express their identity, irrespective of the rules.
Underneath your clothing, no matter what face you have to present to the public, your lingerie can truly represent who you are on the inside. There’s a power of expression in intimate apparel that I don’t think any other aspect of women’s fashion has.
Your lingerie can truly represent who you are on the inside. There’s a power of expression in intimate apparel that I don’t think any other aspect of women’s fashion has. Your lingerie is where you get to really be yourself.

This is why you also don’t see a lot of articles geared towards “fixing” your body or “improving” the way you look on The Lingerie Addict. I want TLA readers to feel like they’re fine as-is, and to view lingerie as a source of excitement and exploration…as opposed to a chore or a purely functional endeavor.

cora-harrington-poc-photo-1

Credit: POC photo

 

What’s been the most influential you’ve done for TLA that has helped to build your brand?

CH: The most influential move I’ve ever made for the site was changing my blog name from Stockings Addict to The Lingerie Addict. Most people reading TLA have no idea that we even went by another name, which I think shows how effective the rebrand was, and how it was the right move for my site. I had no idea when I chose to call my blog The Lingerie Addict that it would become what it is today. I’m just so thankful that I happened to come up with a name that’s both easy to remember and resonates with my readers.

Is there anything you wish you could change about the lingerie industry?

CH: We could probably dedicate an interview just to this! I love lingerie, but as an industry, the world of intimate apparel seems to lag a decade or two behind the rest of fashion, and that gap has become especially noticeable in recent years. Every season, I talk to brands at tradeshows who still think the internet just a fad and that this social media thing is an unproven trend. So many lingerie brands see their refusal to develop a functional website as a point of pride…when really it’s just a sign of impending obsolescence.

I wish the lingerie industry in general was more welcoming towards new technologies, as I think we’re about to see a major reshuffling of the entire intimate apparel industry with a lot of older brands displaced by newer, younger brands that have no hesitation whatsoever about taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal.

I also wish the lingerie industry was more receptive towards diversity, in all its forms. The mainstream fashion industry obviously has problems with diversity as well, but all of the issues present in ‘regular’ fashion are amplified to an extreme degree in intimate apparel. So many lingerie brands are completely opposed to using a plus sized model or a model of color. There’s a definite undertone of conservatism inherent to the industry, but, as with the failure to embrace technology, I’m not sure anything other than a total upheaval will change that.

What keeps you going?

CH: My readers really keep me going. As one of only a handful of lingerie bloggers, it’s easy to feel bit isolated sometimes; the lingerie blogging community is so very small. But when I receive an email from a reader telling me how much my blog has inspired them to try new things or empowered them to explore new sides of their personality or even given them cool ideas for a wedding shower, I just feel reinvigorated and reenergized.
As a blogger, there’s no greater motivation than receiving words of appreciation from your readers, and they’ve definitely encouraged me to keep going when I’ve felt a little lost or less motivated.
As a blogger, there’s no greater motivation than receiving words of appreciation from your readers, and they’ve definitely encouraged me to keep going when I’ve felt a little lost or less motivated.
Besides that, I’m getting a lot of inspiration from women in the plus sized blogging community right now. I so admire bloggers like Gabi Fresh, Marie Denee, Chastity Garner, and Nicolette Mason. They’re all great examples of blogging businesswomen who’ve really gone against the tide of what’s been traditionally popular, and they’ve built a huge global fanbase and incredibly successful brands as a result.

Why do you think many people never turn their ideas into realities?

CH: Honestly, I think a big reason is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of mockery. Fear of isolation. It’s very risky to put the necessary time and energy and resources into an unproven idea. When there’s no guarantee of success, you have to entertain abject failure as a possible outcome. You don’t have to dwell on it, but you have to accept that it may happen and be prepared to deal with the results. And that’s something a lot of people aren’t willing to do because it’s hard.
It’s also true that a lot of people aren’t able to turn their ideas into realities. Because of their situation in life, their risk threshold has to be a lot lower. I think of myself as a pretty hard worker, but there are lots of hard workers out there, so it’s not just about having a good idea or working the hardest. I was single when I started blogging, and totally okay living in a cubbyhole of an apartment when I decided to do this full-time.
Right now, my expenses are shared with my life partner, and we don’t currently have any children, which means I have a lot of free time to spend online talking about underwear. My family and friends have been nothing but supportive, and I can you tell that things would be a lot harder if I had to deal with the kind of pushback and negative stress that comes from people not believing in you.
My family and friends have been nothing but supportive, and I can you tell that things would be a lot harder if I had to deal with the kind of pushback and negative stress that comes from people not believing in you.
I’m healthy. My spouse is healthy. My parents are healthy. My in-laws are healthy. There’s a lot of stuff in my favor. So, in so many ways, it’s been relatively to turn my ideas into realities…or at least to give them a fighting chance. I’ve been able to commit to my blog, and invest a level of time, energy, and resources that not everyone has access to, and I don’t think that should be ignored.

What are your future plans for The Lingerie Addict?

CH: I see 2015 as the time for TLA to rededicate itself to its mission of being a comprehensive resource for all things intimate apparel, and for being a vocal advocate, not only for diversity in all its forms, but also for independent lingerie brands, ethically produced lingerie, and small, artisan craft processes (such as antique-inspired corsetry). That’s a huge endeavor to take on, and it’s certainly an ongoing sort of project.

What makes you shine?

CH: Being stubborn has definitely helped. From the very beginning, I’ve had people telling me I needed to change what The Lingerie Addict is about. At first, I was told we should be a more “PR-friendly” blog, and less critical towards the industry. Then I was told we should be a bra fit blog, and only focus on topics related to bra size. Then I was told that I should be “quieter” about my ethnicity and my commitment to diverse voices because it was making people uncomfortable and made TLA less “marketable.” And who knows, maybe The Lingerie Addict would have been a lot more popular if I’d followed all that advice. But then, it wouldn’t have been my blog anymore; I’d have felt disillusioned and burned out and likely given up years ago.

Who knows, maybe The Lingerie Addict would have been a lot more popular if I’d followed all that advice. But then, it wouldn’t have been my blog anymore; I’d have felt disillusioned and burned out and likely given up years ago.

So I think having a strong sense of personal identity and a strong sense of the story I want to tell on TLA has been a huge source of energy and has given me the resilience to blog for as long as I have.

What did you enjoy most about this BRANDMAKERS? Share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below!

Share this: How to Build Your Blog Audience. @thelingerie_addict shares her tips. http://bit.ly/190HCzX (CLICK TO TWEET)

Connect with Cora/The Lingerie Addict online:

Website: http://www.thelingerieaddict.com/
Twitter: lingerie_addict
Instagram: @thelingerieaddict
Pinterest: @thelingerieaddict
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TLAfans

 

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Rana Campbell is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Ranacampbell.com, a site dedicated to personal branding and helping people learn how to SHINE in their personal and professional lives.

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  • Love this interview! We’ve always been a fan of The Lingerie Addict, Cora + her team’s work. One point she made that resonates was in the last paragraph. I believe consistency is key to building a brand. People will always have their opinion on what you should/could do, but truth is, do any of them have the experience of building THE Lingerie Addict as a brand?

    • So true! So glad that you enjoyed the article. Sometimes we can’t let what others say hinder the vision we have for our brands.

  • Natasha Roy

    I’m really glad Cora talked about how her blog was made to include people of different races, backgrounds, sizes, and sexual orientation. When I found The Lingerie Addict, I fell instantly in love. Here was a blog that talked about lingerie in a serious (not too serious of course) manner and was more than helpful in giving it’s readers an understanding of lingerie in terms of fit, price, function, anything you can imagine or have questions about lingerie. As I followed her blog I noticed the images coming up on my screen were not always the typical, highly stylized photographs of thin models in sexy lingerie. I found organic images of women of all sizes and colors. That is really when my respect for this blog increased. I can count on TLA to give me honest advice on lingerie and how it fits people of different sizes, and how it affects that attitudes and lifestyles of people who choose to wear lingerie in terms of sexuality and just for fun. She caters to people who are in the LGBTQ* community and makes them feel comfortable and confident in using lingerie.
    All of that aside, I am glad that she hit upon what any good blog should do to brand themselves; which is specificity and consistency. TLA does a fantastic job of specifically being a blog about lingerie and of consistently giving it’s readers informative, diverse, and relatable content.

    • I totally agree with all that you said, Natasha. Thanks for sharing! There’s so much we can all learn from Cora and the way she runs TLA 🙂