“You’ve got to have a very healthy ego to do what I do,” says Phoebe Montague, the woman behind fashion blog Lady Melbourne. “There are literally thousands of photos of me on the internet.” Montague started writing in 2007, and joined up with blog brand management and advertising agency Nuff Nang early on. The partnership opened doors to big brand partnerships (e.g. Westfield and Chambord) and introduced her to full-time bloggers who ran their blog as a brand. “I was just completely turned on by the idea,” she says.
So at the beginning of 2010, Montague let go of her own fashion label, part-time job and study commitments and threw herself into blogging. It’s only since then the blog has generated a liveable income. Cashflow is always a struggle, (“I’m not making mega bucks!”) but that keeps her grounded in reality. “I don’t live in a designer world. I do a lot of op-shopping and I make my own clothes.”
Lady Melbourne now has nearly 28,000 readers, but it’s been a long road. “I’d been going to Fashion Week for years before I got invited to go there. In an industry where they say it’s all about who you know, I definitely started on the outside.” She built her audience simply by always being there. “I make sure I blog every day, am involved with Twitter, respond to emails, go to blogger meet-ups, comment on other blogs and really get involved in the community. When you make those connections with people, it helps your standing in the bloggersphere. “
She has no work/life balance issues. “What I do requires me to be ‘on’ all the time. But I’m so passionate and happy doing this, I never feel like it interferes.” You can’t ever take a break from your social media profiles, she says. “If I disappeared for a couple of days I could risk losing followers and miss opportunities.”
Lady Melbourne will always be a website, Montague says, but she hopes to have her own column in a newspaper before long, and maybe even step into television one day. “There’s nothing worse than working in a job that you hate. That was me four years ago. But now I’ve got a fledgling business that I call my own, and I feel like I’ll never look back from it.”