Beauty and style maven builds her own personal brand through social media
Lisa Jean-Francois is a modern entrepreneur. Her business isn’t just one tangible product. As a working mother passionate about style and beauty, her personal brand draws readers and viewers to her blog and YouTube channel, Lisa a La Mode.
The Lisa a La Mode brand encompasses many elements, but online content creation is at its core. Online content creation represents an extremely lucrative market for today’s fashion and beauty bloggers. According to Women’s Wear Daily, top fashion bloggers who have built large followings over several years can earn up to three million dollars a year. Some, like Chiara Ferragni and Leandra Medine, have expanded their blogging empires and started a luxury footwear line and published a book, respectively.
“I have goals beyond blogging, and growing my personal brand will allow me to do that,” said Jean-Francois.
The self-starter began uploading YouTube videos in 2012 when she moved back to Massachusetts with her husband, after spending some time in New York. During her time of transition and momentary unemployment, Jean-Francois put together makeup tutorials using affordable drugstore beauty products. Even though uploading video blogs was a fun way for Jean-Francois to express herself creatively, she soon began to run it as a business, even before she knew it could become one.
To attract more attention to her channel, Jean-Francois sought out engagement through other social media platforms. She created Facebook and Twitter accounts and connected with other beauty bloggers. “I just started really getting into social media and began to understand the power of it and how it could help me,” she said. “I set up a blog for the sole reason to have a place to put more of my YouTube content, so people could find me in different ways.” She also invested in high-end camera equipment and outsourced blog designs to create more polished and professional content.
Growing her brand
Her YouTube channel currently has nearly 22,000 subscribers and features weekly videos on natural hair tutorials, makeup tips for women of color, fashion looks and video marketing advice. The blog, with an average of 150,000 monthly page views, features posts written by Jean-Francois on beauty and style news, personal anecdotes and style photoshoots.
Up until July of last year, Jean-Francois worked in administrative and corporate jobs in higher education before deciding to become her own boss and develop her brand full time. After experiencing a hostile work environment at one job and feeling limited and unfulfilled at another, Jean-Francois plunged into the self-employed world of blogging, “where you have nothing beneath your feet,” she said.
A year into full time blogging and working from home, Jean-Francois said her daily routine consists of dropping her three-year old son at preschool in the morning, writing posts, creating videos and working on monetizing content through brand partnerships.
Through contract agreements, Jean-Francois styles, features or reviews fashion and beauty products provided to her by brands and then publishes her views on her blog and social media channels in exchange for compensation. It’s a form of advertising that remains popular among blog readers as long as the content contains value. If a blogger has built a big enough following, honed a unique voice and created a rapport with followers, she or he can create strong engagement and sales for a brand.
In fact, this practice has become common among bloggers, so much so that the Federal Trade Commission requires them to disclose brand endorsements and sponsored posts to avoid lawsuits from misled readers.
For an upcoming contract, Jean-Francois plans to do an autumn-inspired photoshoot at a pumpkin patch, styling clothes that a brand provided supplemented with her own personal flair.
“I have found that posts that are simply, ‘This is what I wore today’ does not fly with my audience,” said Jean-Francois. “I have to create a story to go along with the pictures.”
An additional element to the Lisa a La Mode brand is providing advice and consultation to other female entrepreneurs in the blogging, fashion and beauty world. Jean-Francois kicked off her brand consulting services last July and has worked with five different clients throughout several months.
In a highly competitive and crowded blogosphere, many bloggers need the business acumen to diversify their revenue streams, which Jean-Francois does with her YouTube tutorials, content writing, fashion styling and brand consulting.
“It’s constantly changing and it’s creative,” she said.
As with any other business, it’s not without its challenges and sacrifices. “There is no financial security,” Jean-Francois said. “When I quit my job, I sold my car and downsized my whole lifestyle.”
However, Jean-Francois is glad she gets to spend more time with her son while working from home. “He makes it worth it to me,” she said.
“There is no unemployment insurance or 401(k),” she said. “But it allows me to be creative and fluid in my movement and time.”