According to Nick Blunden, chief commercial officer, BoF, creating a community around the content was a particularly important first step of the journey towards success. He spoke at the second day of the FIPP World Congress in London on 11 October.
BoF started its newsletter around nine years ago and now has 350,000 subscribers who receive the daily update each morning. It is, for example, the first thing that fashion designer Anya Hindmarch reads every day.
Complementing BoF’s written content and images is video content too. This was first started around 8 to 9 years ago although Blunden admits that it’s not the be all and end all when it comes to content. “Getting the content on the site is the most important thing and that doesn’t have to be in video form.”
One unusual development that BoF has taken for a company that started life purely as a digital business is to create its own printed magazine. Started five years ago, this was launched to give BoF readers even more opportunities to engage with its content. However, it has also helped the fashion business to build more ‘trust and credibility’ with its audience, reckons BoF’s Blunden.
Events is another area that the company has branched out into in the last five years, with the focus again on engaging with the brand’s community. Every year it hosts the BoF 500 which rewards the people shaping the fashion industry while BoF Voices is an extremely exclusive invitation-only event costing £5,000 per head. Here members of the BoF community can hear talks from those at the leading edge of the fashion industry on subjects as diverse as sustainability to untapped business opportunities in the technology industry.
Rather than using an external agency to put its events together, Blunden explains that it works much better to use the people who actually helped create the brand – in other words its own staff. Nor are the events confined to the UK where the blog first started ten years ago. Importantly BoF has become a global brand hosting events across the world and hiring stringers and staff in other countries including China.
Clearly one advantage of diversifying its business from being just an online publishing company to a multi-platform industry is that of increased revenue opportunities. In addition to revenue streams from ads/sponsorship on the site and from its many events, BoF has recently launched a paid for membership service (BoF Professional) which allows subscribers to access all the content on the site. It also makes money from its careers section and from its various courses for those working or looking to work in the fashion industry.
Asked what has made BoF so successful, Blunden concludes: “Always stay true to your mission statement, put your community first and focus on quality which is more valuable than quantity.”
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