It seems like every time I turn on the TV or check out Instagram, I’m bombarded with speculation on the Kardashian-Jenners. Did Kylie have her lips done? Will Khloe stay with Lamar? Did you see Kendal in the Victoria Secret’s Fashion Show? WHY didn’t Kim just name the kid Kanye? Is Kourtney going to get back together with Scott?
I’m not ashamed one bit to admit that I’ve been following them religiously the last couple months.
Yes, I am a 28-year-old-woman with a Master’s degree and years of experience writing about feminism, and I’m mildly obsessed with the Kardashian-Jenners, the family America loves to hate. I’m not sure why they receive so much negative press. Probably a bit of jealousy and some pearl clutching feelings of entitlement from viewers.
People claim they’re famous for being famous. They claim Kim wouldn’t be where she is without her sex tape. Which is probably true. But is slut-shaming her really going to discredit the entire family’s work ethic?
If the comments section on any Kardashian-Jenner article could be summed up into one sentence, it’d be “They have a lot of money, but only because they all had plastic surgery and sexualize themselves, they’re just stupid and slutty.”
For the record, our judgments on people we don’t know actually says more about us than it does about them. People like to justify their own perceived shortcomings by labeling others as “bad people” or just lucky. This can be a slippery slope. Once we start judging we are distancing ourselves from empathy, compassion and the joy of celebrating the successes of other women.
I think the Kardashian/Jenners are branding and PR geniuses and I hope to one day be half as savvy as they are as public figures, marketers and business women. My love for them is rooted in a deep appreciation for branding, marketing, and PR, but also for their swift use of their assets as resources for themselves. Love them or hate them, they’re laughing their ass off all the way to the bank.
You might be asking yourself what the Kardashian-Jenners have to do with blogging? Well… everything.
Kim Kardashian was the most googled phrase in 2014. The sisters are worth an estimated $300 Million in 2015. Kendall had the most liked photo on Instagram in 2015. Khloe launched a NY Times Best Selling Book. Oh… and little 18 years old, Kylie Jenner went from unknown little sister of reality stars to a multimillionaire in her own right. She’s the most followed person in the world on Snapchat and has 41 million followers on Instagram. Her new app that just launched immediately hit number one in the app store and has surpassed all of her sisters’ in popularity.
They’re content creators. That’s what they do on their TV shows, apps, and social media channels. So am I and so is every other blogger out there. If they weren’t labeled as celebrities, they’d be fashion, beauty and lifestyle bloggers. Sure, they’ve got a major production budget and endorsement deals, but we’re not all that different. They take followers on vacation with them all over the world and gives tips and advice on topics they’re passionate about: beauty, fashion, travel, fitness and home decor are a few favorites.
What can bloggers learn from the Kardashian/Jenners?
Be relatable to your audience
The sisters aren’t afraid to appear flawed. Khloe frequently discusses her sexual escapades while joking about being a “slore.” Kim’s ugly cry has become the stuff of internet legends. Kourtney isn’t afraid to show off her obsession with organic foods and health related issues. They present themselves in a polished way but expose both positive and negative aspects of themselves in order to appear more human to their followers.
Don’t be afraid to show your quirks. Imperfection makes you come off as more likable. Perfect isn’t real. Gloria Atanmo from The Blog Abroad does this REALLY well. Her personality comes off as funny, imperfect and dynamic while still being incredibly likable. Don’t try too hard, just be you. If funny isn’t your thing, you don’t have to be funny. Be what comes naturally to you.
Acknowledge, thank and give back to your people.
The Kardashian/Jenners are well known for giving back and going above and beyond to show their appreciation for the people who support them. Recently Kim hosted all of the fans she follows on Twitter at a special brunch. She went as far as to fly people to LA from international locations like South Africa. You gotta give it to the woman, she goes all out.
Host giveaways, post shout outs and do round-ups featuring fans in your community. Remember to always give credit and engage with the people who are supporting you. No one likes to be ignored. Big time celebrities do this in big time ways, but it can be as simple as liking or commenting on one of your readers photos. The internet is a two-way mirror. As bloggers we should be giving just as much attention to others as we receive.
Invest in parallel products and business opportunities
One thing the Kardashian-Jenners have figured out that most bloggers haven’t, is that you won’t make the bulk of your money from the hub of your business model. They make some of their money on the KUWTK reality show, but the bulk of their income comes from endorsements, public appearances, and branded product development. They have fragrances, clothing lines, their DASH boutiques, book deals, a makeup line and a hair products line. They frequently open pop-up shops in locations of interest and are constantly promoting their partnerships with other brands as well as their own.
Creating products can be very time-consuming, but if you can create a scalable business you can be very very successful with this as a monetization model. DIY bloggers like the women behind Me and My Big Idea have worked together wonderfully building a line of organization themed products. Maybe you’re a travel blogger that partners with a luggage company. Or a fashion blogger that develops your own line of winter accessories. Think outside the box, the possibilities are limitless. As bloggers, we live in a mostly online world, but that doesn’t mean all of our business ventures have to be virtual.
#StrongLooksBetterNaked who has tried any of the recipes in the book? A photo posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on
Don’t be afraid to cross industries
They are five sisters with different interests and brands. They’ve starting to differentiate between their identities and open up more as individuals. Over the past year, the sisters have been working diligently to establish their own personal brands. It works to their advantage because they represent different aspects of their fan base. Kendall can focus on being a youthful career woman while Kim focuses on rocking the fashionista scene. While Kendall and Kim are taking on the world of luxury style, Kylie focuses on street style. Khloe focuses on fitness and Kourtney takes on interior design and mommy blogging. Somehow, they all still work together.
Diversifying the voices on your channels is smart marketing. Find other content creators with brands that are similar to yours but have strength in areas you lack. If you’re a solo female travel blogger, try partnering with a fashion blogger to work on travel fashion related content. If you’re a food blogger, partner with a travel blogger to do a feature on food in a destination. There are a million and two ways to collaborate. Working with other people just makes your business stronger. We’re only in competition if we allow ourselves to be.
just da baby 😘 A photo posted by Kendall Jenner (@kendalljenner) on
Know who you are AND who you aren’t
Kim was able to spin viral media coverage of her sex tape into a reality show where she controlled the image of herself as a monogamous, family loving, sober, and calm personality. If you go back far enough in the show, she comes off as a rather boring wet blanket. DUH this was done on purpose as a counter to the images Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and other LA socialites were putting out in the early days of reality TV. The Kardashians knew they needed to be relatable enough to draw in audiences but still maintain their “lifestyles of the rich and famous vibes.” They accomplished this by showcasing their traditional family values while highlighting their successes. I highly doubt you will ever see a Kardashian-Jenner going to a NASCAR event or earning a PhD. Why? Not because there is anything wrong with either of these things, but because it’s off message and off brand to the lifestyle they’re promoting. I’m sure you’ll see surprising things from them because shock sells, but it will always be well polished and curated shock value.
The more you know about who you are and what you do as a business, the easier it is to control and distribute the messages you’re trying to put out to the media. For example, I will never promote an androgynous fashion line through the use of product placement in my photos or content. That’s because hyper androgyny doesn’t fit with my vibes and identity. Sure, I’ll host a giveaway or promote the products in other ways that are a better fit, but I know who I am and what I will and won’t do for money. In the same vein, bloggers shouldn’t try to copy the vibes or esthetic of other bloggers or brands. It will come off as inauthentic and people will be able to see right through it.
My beautiful website could’ve never happened without @ryandubs and the awesome Ultrabrand.com ❤️ thank u so much!! A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on
Tell your story in your words
The Kardashian family has 209 Million followers on Instagram alone. They always tell their own stories first. They use social media and more traditional forms of media to craft their narratives from their own perspective, which allows them to send direct messages to their closest fans. They know they live in a fishbowl where people are always watching and they use that to their advantage when they’re telling the story of their lives. For example, Kourtney recorded giving birth and broadcasted it on national TV. Or Kim announcing the birth of her son Saint on Instagram. This is smart business because it draws their audience closer to them and makes fans feel like they have a window into their real lives. They also frequently set the record straight on tabloid photos and rumors about their personal lives. In times of potential scandal, they are able to spin the messaging to their liking. For example, when Kylie announced her relationship with older boyfriend, Tyga, they decided to release the information first on Snapchat. The Snapchat audience is her biggest following, but is also made of her younger fan base. They gambled that the younger crowd would be more understanding of their controversial relationship. The least scandalous member of the family, Kendall has even done this. She’s spoken candidly about not wanting her sister Kim to attend fashion shows she was walking in. She got to tell the story first from her own perspective before tabloids could make stories up that pitted the sisters against each other.
Lots of bloggers hire virtual assistants to help them create content. Be very careful when you are doing this to ensure that the voice of your content aligns with your brand, especially if you are your own brand. If something scandalous is happening in your world, be the one to acknowledge it first, be honest and not too PR-ish when you’re writing. You can’t have skeletons if you put them out there yourself. I did just that when I realized my Instagram following had become connected to my self worth. I acknowledged my issues and made a pledge to change publically so that my audience can keep me accountable. In times of scandal, the family has used the attention to parlay business opportunities. Kim’s sex tape isn’t a taboo subject for her anymore because it’s a money making opportunity. When Kylie initially lied about having lip injections, the media went wild. She responded with “Kylie’s Lip Kit” which has become an intense overnight success. We may not have large scale scandals in our lives in the same ways that celebrities do, but we do have life changing events that are not directly related to the focus area of our content and that could cause a bit of an uproar. When you are your own brand it is important to show a bit of your life behind the scenes in an authentic way. I recently announced that I will be slowing down my digital nomad ways for awhile and settling into my apartment in Washington DC. While this is not directly related to traveling, it is a huge life change for me and can be controversial for someone who built her brand on being location independent. My followers want to know when I’m making big changes in my life. Will it change my business and my brand? Maybe, but like the Kardashians, if you stay ahead of the gossip, you have more choice in crafting your narrative.
Monkey 🐵 bread is SO bomb! I filmed myself making it just for you dolls! Go to my app for the full video http://bit.ly/1HHi1fU A video posted by Khloé (@khloekardashian) on
Own Access to Your Followers
Last season, Kim mentioned on an episode of KUWTK that she was worried that their “ride was over” after her infamous 72-day divorce from basketball player Kris Humphreys. She said that she told the family, “I hope you’ve saved your money because we might not get a renewal on KUWTK”. That has to be a terrifying feeling. Knowing that the hub of your business model could come to an end. Probably as a response to that fear, they’ve developed their own apps and websites that they own the rights for and control. This allows them to deliver a paid service direct to their fans and make income off of their fans directly through affiliates, promotions, and other blogger-esque deals. It also allows them to control their customer list. They now have an email list of hundreds of thousands of people should they ever lose their show or lose control of their following.
One of the limitations to relying on social media for marketing is that the companies who own social media sites can change their policies at any whim. We saw this when Facebook changed advertising policies and limited the number of friends that see promoted posts. That could happen on any site that you do not own. Which is why it is so incredibly important to have a self-hosted blog. You have control of your following, your email list and the way your content is distributed. Sure, go ahead and use social media but also have access to a site that you control. If Blogger suddenly decided to start charging for their services or if Instagram changes their advertising structure, lots of bloggers will be 100% screwed, don’t be that blogger.
Be professional, polite and embrace opportunity.
The Kardashians are famous for always stopping to pose for the paparazzi. They will arrive early to events, but won’t come out of the car until the cameras are ready for them. It’s an opportunity for free publicity. They also make sure to make eye contact with each reporter on every red carpet and answer questions from their personal perspective only. This prevents them from making over generalizations and talking about issues they may not be completely informed about. Their thoughtful answers make them media darlings. Bloggers and reporters love to work with them because they take the PR aspects of their job seriously. Becoming media stars has lead to a 100 million dollar 4-year extension on KUWTK. Not bad at all.
Being late for appointments, not delivering promised content and not reporting analytics results on brand collaborations are all excellent examples of not being professional. Keep it together and try to maintain as professional of a balance as you can with your blogging contacts. Try not to burn bridges and maintain contact with people you’ve worked with. The blogging world is small, you never know who that person is connected with.
What do you think? Are the Kardashian/Jenners businesswomen to be idolized? Let me know in the comments below.