Well it’s all a load of goop isn’t it? All these celebrities setting up blogs called Goop (Gwyneth Paltrow), Preserve (Blake Lively), Jam (No one yet, but they will, you just watch!) or whatever else. Just sweeping into an industry they know nothing about and stealing all the traffic with their huge names and their stellar following. As Martha Stewart curtly said about Lively’s new venture ‘why would you want to be me if you could be an actress.’ Ouch. Grazia reports that Lively responded ‘I want to have my own path professionally and as she said I’m an actress…so now I sort of have two careers going on.’ Or as Camilla Long put it in The Sunday Times Style ‘the Gossip Girl star has been persuaded to launch a lifestyle website that doesn’t so much imitate Paltrow’s own internet temple to happy towels and onion water, as provide exactly the same brand of spiritual diarrhoea about the “greater good” and special “treasures” before trying to persuade you to spend $25 on a bottle of artisanal ketchup.’
So why indeed are these celebrities becoming bloggers? It’s not like they need the money per se. There are already a number of blogs around that focus on the celebrity and their lifestyle, providing a place for news, press releases and fans to engage. Many like Olivia Palermo and Lauren Conrad’s US blog operate through a simple affiliate system and advertising, so when you link from her website to buy, they get a commission from that sale. And think about all of the others that a create a holistic view of a celebrity’s persona, like Jamie Oliver’s website, a clever insight into his foodie world, recipes, links to restaurants, somewhere his fans can go for updates and information.
But Goop and Preserve go one step further than simply telling us about their favourite recipes have the buying process integrated into their website, making this a virtual boutique of sorts. Therefore a bigger selling platform and opportunity, but also a lot more leg work. But we all know that Goop and Preserve seem to embody a new wave of high profile blogs where there is an end result to all the organic traffic and social media links.
Sooo why are they bothering;
1) Celebrity Domain Authority. So some celebs have their own websites. Some are worth noting like Olivia Palermo’s and Lauren Conrad’s, but in the main celebs are sticking to social media channels, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or a bit of Tumblr. When they are branching out into an actual website, the majority (mileycyrus.com for example) are usually sparsely updated and contain a dry press release plus the opportunity to purchase a tour poster or a mug. Kim Kardashian’s website is part of the ‘celebuzz’ network which also includes other celebrity websites grouping all the other members of the Kardashian family plus others such as Lindsay Lohan and Holly Madison under their SpinMedia umbrella. These are not exactly heavy on content (picture plus ‘hey this is the latest t shirt I designed/album I launched/snack I ate’ but they are creating a place for their fans to go. Or as they put it, they attract celebrity obsessed fans who; ‘come because SpinMedia understands the complex relationship between brands, content and millennial consumers. We provide a platform that feeds their obsession with music and pop culture – and incentivizes them to share stories, join communities, and explore.’ Yah, like exactly – more traffic for celebs = more money for celebs. So although existing, they do little to create a community, or enhance the profile of the celebrity. The answer, a blog/website run as a separate business with its own content. The cherry on the cake is the whopping social media presence the celebrity has which can enhance the traffic back. Goop 58.7k Twitter followers, 129k on Facebook, 109k on Instagram. Preserve (and so new) 58.7k Twitter, 10k Facebook and 40k Instagram.
2) Becoming their own Daily Mail. Back in the day, a celebrity’s every word would go through a media training programme, a publicist a PR, but the internet has changed all that. A mere drunken tweet can bypass everyone and land on the front page of The Sun, not to mention get them in trouble! Remember when Ashton Kutchner had to publicly hand over his twitter account to his management because he couldn’t trust himself. Well having your own website or blog can leapfrog the media and speak directly to fans. Gwyneth posted her ‘conscious uncoupling’ statement on Goop first…all the news that generated would link straight back to Goop, strengthening her domain authority. Clever huh? And for Blake, surely we’ll be looking for a glimpse into the the life of her and her gorgeous movie star husband! First hand, oh yah.
3) Selling their lifestyle. This is the perfect opportunity to create more than a celebrity image, to create a lifestyle means they can grow into other areas. Gwyneth’s cook book and health ideas all came off the back of Goop. It’s a good way to test the waters before publishing anything in print. Blake Lively may also be keeping an eye on what is working for her audience too. A website, blog or even a social media channel is a marketing channel for anything the blogger may be selling. Think of ultimate Chelsea girl Millie Mackintosh, who sells her eye lashes through a link to an external website (and from 10th September 2014 through her own transactional website), but builds on her image by creating an indulgent world of everything from her style to her fitness secrets to health, beauty and hair tips, she can add so much value to any brand she is working with using her blog and social reach. Blake Lively professes to be hungry, and not just for enchiladas or nachos or whatevs, she’s hungry for experience. Love the overly flowery language or hate it, she’s creating a world she wants us to be in, to grow with her, clever and content rich, where her customer is likely to stay along for the ride.
4) Controlling their image. In the same way a music video is controlled, a celebrity calendar is all the right angles, social media is filtered and photo shopped, a website can give enough of a glimpse into a lifestyle, creating the perfect celebrity image. No splashy headlines, no cellulite, no celeb fights, no swearing, just a picture perfect ideal. Millie Mackintosh and Rosie Fortescue have created successful style diaries where they echo the success of fashion bloggers before them and add their outfit each day creating a tribe of followers who watch their every move. Creating fresh content every day, the girls mix designer with high street so they can stay relevant to their audience. Remember the whopping social media following from earlier? Their links to Made in Chelsea really paid off Millie Mackintosh 799.3k on Twitter, 23k Facebook, 773k Instagram and Rosie Fortescue 301k Twitter and 1k Facebook, Instagram 231k plus At Forte Fashion has been named by Cision as one of the top 20 UK fashion blogs.
5) Good old fashioned cash. Wahey! Celebrities are not the only people to think the World Wide Web is a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end! Whether they are adding indirectly to the promotion of their latest film by talking about it on Twitter or adding a direct affiliate link, or acting as a boutique, it’s all selling, it’s all marketing. But the internet is a hard place to exist…it’s not the easy money making land that it looks from the outside. So much more goes into a website than we would even care to admit, copy, content, SEO, PPC, link backs, domain authority, marketing, PR…you can’t just set a website up and hope everyone finds it, and secondly that they return. Earlier this year, The Mail reported that Goop was $1.2million in debt. So just because you are a big celebrity, it won’t necessarily convert into cash, a lot of hard work and great content might. Which means that rather than just Gwynnie sitting at her typewriter, there’s a whole team behind her, and strategy set out by her management team.
So to look at the blogging celebrity as a bit of a vacuous episode, a vanity project for celebrities is to misunderstand the true purpose behind it. The future looks like it will increasingly move to a place where every celebrity will want a little place to call their own, whether a social media channel or a website. And a word to the wise, just as celebrities jump on board with online and blogging, bloggers are starting to reach the heady heights of celebrity status. They are not only in adverts, they’re spokespeople, brand ambassadors, they’re being flown to sit front row at fashion week, they have their own shoe collections (theblondesalad), they’re at the top of their game, next step a total blogger/celebrity democracy, every man for himself!