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In The Know: Anna Shearer, Influencer and founder Le Fashion Fetish

Tom Bottomley
21 February 2019

In the second instalment of The Industry’s "Masterclass" in boosting sales via social media, following last week’s event at the W London – Leicester Square, we hear what "macro" influencer, Anna Shearer, of Le Fashion Fetish had to say.

Working with influencers can maximise your social media following and sales conversion rate. Shearer regularly partners with leading brands to help drive awareness, improve engagement, tell compelling stories and, crucially, improve their sales. She has built her blog, Le Fashion Fetish, which focuses on luxury fashion, beauty and travel, into a globally respected forum and gained close to 130,000 followers on Instagram.

She originally did a course in fashion and buying at Philip Green’s Fashion Retail Academy back in 2008 – the year it was launched. “I studied there for a year and then interned at Kurt Geiger, as well as at BHS,” said Shearer. “My first ever job was as a buying assistant at Urban Outfitters, and then I was a buying administration assistant at ASOS. I decided I didn’t like buying! But I still liked fashion, and I liked the brands, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, I left and then started my blog.”

The idea of starting a blog might not have actually come about had it not been for Shearer’s lecturer at the academy, who had told her entire class that they couldn’t apply for a job in fashion and be taken seriously unless they had a blog and it was on their CV. Sound advice as it turns out, especially for Shearer, and especially because it was such early days of blogging.

“At the time we were, like, what the hell’s a blog?!” she admitted. “It was more of a hassle in the beginning, but now it’s a dream. You grow your following, and start getting freebies and offered money, then you can turn it into a business.”

That all sounds far too easy, but Shearer said it wasn’t really a business until about four years in, so plenty of building up of a significant following, and plenty of time producing relevant content for her growing following, was spent to get to a more powerful level which brands look out for.

“I worked for free for ages,” she said. “It was just like a passion project for me, but then my other Instagrammer friends started to ask me why I wasn’t charging the brands for being included in my posts. Some of them were earning a salary out of it, so that’s when I decided I’d better start charging too!” These days, Shearer usually gets briefs that she works to, keeping as much control over what she posts as possible.

But what did she have to do to really turn it into a business? “It’s like a start up really,” she said. “It really is trial and error. You make mistakes, and you learn from them. I had an agent for two months but I didn’t like it because, as the fees became higher, they were taking more of a cut. I’m also a bit of a control freak in terms of emails and negotiating. Though I am now looking at hiring my sister to be my PA and agent to help me out.”

It was when Instagram really became “a thing”, and there was there only two or three bloggers on it at the time, that Shearer really began to grow her readership and email database. “Instagram used to just be a website, and it was so easy to grow your following,” she said. “Now it’s completely evolved from what it was, and it’s got something like seven different platforms.” The influx of the apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and You Tube also helped Shearer grow her following, though Instagram remains her biggest platform.

Shearer does a lot of brand partnerships, and she much prefers to be emailed than sent a direct message (DM) via social media. “I don’t like it when brands just DM me out of the blue,” she commented. “I just direct them to email and go from there to start a relationship. DM’s can tend to get lost because I get so many from followers too.”

When she was starting out, it was more likely to be Shearer approaching brands rather than vice versa, but now they come to her. Though her blog was originally fashion only, it has now grown into beauty particularly, building a strong relationship with brands such as L'Oréal, as well as with travel companies. The three areas go together nicely. “You can go to Fashion Weeks with the brands, and events which involve trips abroad and that kind of thing,” she offered. Regularly posting positive, inspirational and aspirational updates is what it’s all about.

Brands usually approach Shearer with their budget, and say “what can you do for this?” It’s then a case of negotiation. She works with beauty brand Lookfantastic on a monthly basis, with a monthly fee, and they also gift her products and give her a voucher to use on their website. It helps, of course, if Shearer is also a fan of the brand and its products, and she then becomes an ambassador for that brand. Being a long-term ambassador for a brand is what Shearer believes to be “a really good way to go, and probably the way things are going to go in the future, rather than just doing one-off gifts here and there.”

Recent changes to transparency guidelines for influencers have, however, now come in to play [read our legal expert's guide here]. Effectively if you’re being paid to promote something then that has to be clear, but equally if you’ve worked with a brand in the past, and you happen to be wearing something of theirs that you’ve bought yourself that appears in a photograph on a post of yours, you still need to credit the brand with a hashtag. Fines can actually now be issued for not complying to the new rules.

“You also only used to only have to put #ad if it was a paid post, but anything gifted didn’t require that,” she said. “But now they’ve solidified the law that you have to put #ad even if it was just gifted.”

It seems the new landscape for influencers is a bit more complex than when the phenomenon first started, but Shearer has the know-how to take it to the next level despite now referring to herself as "an old school blogger". She likes to keep creative control so there’s consistency and so her followers know its been posted from her and not another source making it look like it’s from her.

“Some brands can be really controlling about what your posting,” she said. “Personally, I hate that kind of campaign. I had quite a global brand work with me once and they could log in to my Instagram, post an image and caption it themselves. They changed it around so much, and I was like, “but that’s not even me!” What’s more, and what’s worse is, her followers would know it wasn’t coming from her and know it wasn’t her tone of voice at all. Another learning curve in the life of a modern-day influencer.

Read the top tips from Natalie Hughes of The Fashion Digital on how to supercharge your social media sales here.

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