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How fashion geeks turned a blog into a business

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Founded in 2009 by Virginia Ngai and Christina Ko, Hong Kong Fashion Geek is an English-language fashion blog based in Hong Kong with around 30,000 unique visitors and over 145,000 page views every month.It has banner ads running along the top and right-hand side of the blog, which come from an ad network who sells ad inventory on behalf of the blog.   Advertisers who approach the founders directly are fashion and lifestyle brands targeting female readers, which make up almost three-quarters of the blog's readership."Our general rule of thumb for the right-hand side column ads is that as long as it's not a pop-up or any ad that disturbs the reader's experience, we will let the network put it on. We stay away from other types of ads that may generate more revenue but interferes with the reader experience, even if it's only activated when triggered by the reader," said Ngai, who works in public relations.The blog began accepting ad placements around 2010, and now has over 10,700 followers on Twitter whereas it has only approximately 4,400 followers on Facebook and 2,600 on Instagram."We started our Twitter account much earlier than our Facebook and Instagram accounts," said Ngai.  "Another reason is that in terms of audience, about half of our readers are from the US and Europe where Twitter is used more often than in Hong Kong.  It seems like Facebook and Instagram tend to be more Asian-focused."41% of the blog's visitors come from the US and Canada and 8% from Europe, whereas only 42% of visitors come from Hong Kong.Ngai says she has not done much formal promotion for the blog, which has grown mostly through word-of-mouth and organic re-posting of blog entries, with posts about warehouse sales being the most popular.The founders send out a weekly newsletter to about 3,000 readers with a round-up of the week's posts but the newsletter contains no ads. One-off newsletters advertising brands are sent on a case-by-case basis."We send eDMs by brands on a case-by-case basis if the brand is something we like and can recommend to our readers or if we think it is appropriate for the site," said Ngai.Advertorials in the form of sponsored posts represent another source of income for the blog.

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