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Fashion blogger finds her niche

NIKI Blasina is addicted to coffee, loves documentaries, and owns an Ed Hardy hat (glitter, skulls and all). These are just a few things she recently revealed to readers of her blog in a post titled "25 Things You Didn't Know About Me.

NIKI Blasina is addicted to coffee, loves documentaries, and owns an Ed Hardy hat (glitter, skulls and all).

These are just a few things she recently revealed to readers of her blog in a post titled "25 Things You Didn't Know About Me."

In 2010, Blasina's blog, A Haute Mess, made MSN Canada's list of top fashion blogs in Canada. Not long after she starting blogging in 2009, Blasina quit her day job to write full time. The popularity of her site led to a regular column with MTV Canada, a spokesperson position for a national ad campaign and numerous media appearances. She has attended three seasons of New York fashion week, and admits she cried the first time she walked up to the tents. It was a dream come true.

However, the Vancouverbased fashion blogger still isn't sure why her site has succeeded while so many others don't.

"I still kind of wonder that all the time. I'm like, are people actually reading this?" she says with a laugh.

"The goal of my blog has always just been to have fun with it and just to kind of show a sense of humour," she explains. "There are a lot of fashion blogs that take themselves too seriously, so my goal has always been just to make sure that my personality was a big part of it, and I wanted to show that fashion was fun and we don't all have to be fashion snobs. You can be goofy and still have a really good time with it."

Although she always wanted to work in fashion and was interested in fashion writing, when a friend suggested she start a fashion blog Blasina says she thought the idea was silly.

"I just didn't know if I was the right person to do it," she notes.

Blasina grew up in Vancouver and attended St. Thomas Aquinas secondary in North Vancouver. After completing a degree in psychology, she began working on a public relations certificate at BCIT. It was then she decided to start her blog as a creative outlet and as a way to network within the fashion industry.

"It has been a bit of an adventure since I started it," she says. "It just ended up turning into this whole other thing that I did not expect."

She certainly didn't think the blog would turn into a moneymaker, but it did produce some revenue thanks to the site's exposure, which resulted in freelance writing jobs, as well as ad sales and affiliate links on her site. Most of the site's revenue comes from ad sales and not affiliate links, she notes. (Affiliate links are a common way that websites earn revenue, and involve various layers of commission based on how many times a site has been viewed, or how many readers click on a link, or readers purchasing something from a link featured on the site.)

Blasina notes that everything she wears on her blog she's wearing because she likes it and has worn it, and everything she wears she has purchased herself unless she specifically states otherwise.

"That being said, I still don't wear gifted items if I wouldn't buy them myself, and I always turn down free product if I don't think it fits with my personal style. I don't post photos of outfits to sell products or to advertise, and I have made it a practice from Day 1 to only blog about brands and products I genuinely think are cool. People read my blog because they value my taste, and I stay true to it," she explains. A Haute Mess does not target a specific demographic, but web traffic tracking shows the site's audience is primarily women between the ages of 18 and 35.

"I know who my audience is but I don't actually target anyone in particular. I just kind of keep that in mind, and I know my taste and obviously the people that read my blog kind of relate to my taste, so if I'm pitched a product or something that doesn't fit with that I won't blog about it for a paycheque because I know that my readers will be like, "What are you doing? That doesn't fit here.' "

Although she chooses not to write about certain accessories - bellybutton rings, for example - Blasina says the broader subject of fashion fits well with online media.

"I think because fashion is so visual," she notes. "It's kind of just a wearable art form, right? So you have to actually see it."

Blasina covers a range of topics on her site, including new collections, favourite designers and new products. Lately, she has also been doing a lot of personal style blogging.

"I honestly just like to write about everything. I have so much fun with my blog just kind of goofing off and joking," she says. "There's not really any subject in particular that I like to write about. I actually find the personal style stuff the most challenging to write about just because it's like, "Well, this is what I wore today.' What else do you want me to say about it?"

She says it's satisfying when readers like the personal style posts, which include photos of her outfits, because she finds them challenging to write.

"I've been doing it for a few years and I still feel really silly doing it. I still find it unnecessarily narcissistic, but I do it just because that seems to be what readers like and those posts get the most traffic."

When asked what the most popular fashion topic is right now she says it's hard to say because fashion moves so quickly.

In March and April the hot topic was spring and summer trends, but that's old news, explains Blasina, who is already getting pitched fall products.

She says as excited as she is to write about them and tell people about them, she also knows there's a huge part of her audience who are shopping her posts, so she doesn't want to show them something they can't buy for six months.

"When things become seasonally appropriate they become hot topics," she adds.

One topic she is happy to talk about is her upcoming move to New York. Blasina is set to start attending Columbia University's journalism program in August.

"I want to actually go and learn how to be a real journalist," says Blasina, adding she loves writing about fashion right now, but "I just recognize the shelf life that my blog has right now, and I figure if I want to make this a career I should probably have some sort of credential to back me up other than, 'Hey, I started a blog, people read it.'"

She plans to continue blogging as much as she can while she's at school.

"Having that new chapter in my life and that new adventure, I think it will give me a lot more to talk about."

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