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Dave Bowden’s Guide to Starting a Men’s Fashion Blog

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Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Dave Bowden’s Guide to Starting a Men’s Fashion Blog

Welcome to our interview with Dave Bowden, the creative force behind Irreverent Gent, a distinguished blog in the realm of men’s fashion and lifestyle. As the founder and visionary, Dave has carved out a unique niche, blending style with insightful, engaging content.

Today, we delve into his journey, uncovering the inspirations, challenges, and strategies behind his success. Join us as we explore the world of Irreverent Gent through the eyes of its founder and gather valuable insights for aspiring bloggers and fashion enthusiasts alike.

Inspiration Behind Irreverent Gent

SBS – What inspired you to start Irreverent Gent, and how did you choose your niche in men’s fashion and lifestyle?

Dave – I was inspired to start Irreverent Gent by my grandfather, who’s currently 93 and was always the most well-dressed, charming guy in the room. 

He taught me the value of dressing well and behaving like an old-school gentleman, and I started the site to share that ethos with other guys. 

Researching Topics for Men’s Fashion Blogs

SBS – Can you describe the process you use to research and choose topics for your blog posts?

Dave – There are basically two prongs to my approach to topics: depth and breadth. 

On the depth side, I try to cover topics as thoroughly as possible. For instance, with suits, I have posts about what to look for if you’re buying your very first suit, how it should fit, and what the best brands are. 

I try to think through all the questions that a reader might have when shopping for suits and answer each one. 

The breadth side is where keyword research comes in. Once I decide I want to write about suits, I start doing keyword research around that general topic to see what specific questions people are asking so I can direct my efforts towards the questions that are asked most often. 

Keeping Up with Men’s Style Trends

SBS – How do you stay updated with the latest trends in men’s fashion and lifestyle?

Dave – Actually, one way I try to distinguish myself and my advice is by not chasing trends too closely. 

The aesthetic that I find most appealing and that I recommend to my audience is what I call modern-meets-classic. Instead of trying to keep up with the latest fad, I try to adapt the look of classic style icons like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman for the 21st century. 

Growing an Audience for Fashion Blogs

SBS – What strategies have you found most effective for growing your audience and increasing engagement on your site?

Dave – A combination of SEO and email marketing has been the most effective way to grow my audience and keep them engaged. 

By targeting keywords that I know people are searching for and then providing a thorough answer, I build both trust and authority, which makes readers more likely to sign up for my email list, where I can continue to do more of both. 

Creating Content that Engages Men

SBS – How do you approach content creation to ensure it resonates with your target audience?

Dave – By remaining laser-focused on who I’m writing for and the modern-classic style that I recommend.

For instance, when I write a post about the best chukka boots, I’m not just listing out the most expensive boots on the market. 

I’m thinking through all the various types of chukkas out there, the various price points and construction methods, and the overall value they provide. 

Then I ask a simple question: Which ones would my core audience be most likely to appreciate? 

A reader who’s 21 and wants something super modern might not consider my list the “best” chukkas, and that’s totally fine. My goal is to make sure that a reader who’s 35 and doesn’t want to spend more than $300 on a pair of boots finds a pair that works well for his lifestyle, tastes, and budget. 

Overcoming Blogging Challenges

SBS – Can you share some challenges you’ve faced in managing and growing your blog and how you’ve overcome them?

Dave – I would say the biggest challenge is balancing quantity and quality. 

The more high-quality content you have, the larger the audience you can attract and the more you can grow. 

However, the challenge is that creating truly high-quality content takes time, energy, and money, which requires patience. 

I want to be in it for the long haul, which means constantly reminding myself that slow and steady will win the race and resisting the urge to go for quick wins that will ultimately be fleeting. 

SEO and Social Media Strategies for Bloggers

SBS – What role do SEO and social media play in your content strategy, and how do you optimize for these?

Dave – SEO is by far the biggest driver for me. 

I optimize for it by doing deep keyword research and making sure I focus not just on the query or phrase that I’m targeting but also on the intent behind it. 

I put myself in the shoes of the reader and ask, “What would I want to see, learn, and know about this topic?” 

Measuring Success in Blogging

SBS – How do you measure the success of your blog, and what metrics do you focus on?

Dave – As with any business, profit is probably the single most important metric, but there’s so much more that goes into it. 

The two I mentioned before in reference to keyword research — depth and breadth — are also important. Am I going deep on the topics I want to cover? And do those topics have enough breadth (i.e., are enough people searching for answers to those questions) to help a lot of people? 

I find that focusing on those two is the best way to ensure that the site continues producing revenue and, ultimately, profit. 

Starting a Men’s Fashion Blog

SBS – What advice would you give someone just starting out with a fashion or lifestyle blog?

Dave – Think about what you want to say and what you — uniquely — can contribute to your audience. 

A lot of people start a fashion blog or social media account because they’re interested in style, but they don’t have a unique voice or idea to contribute, which makes it almost impossible to stand out from the crowd. 

Think about what kind of aesthetic you prefer and how you can best articulate, then think about what kind of audience will be most interested in what you have to say, and focus on those two things to the exclusion of everything else. 

Balancing Content and Monetization

SBS – How do you balance providing valuable content to your readers with the business aspects of running a blog, like monetization and partnerships?

Dave – This is something I struggled with early on because it’s always tempting to include the brand that’s going to give you the best affiliate commission or that sent you a free product to try. 

But what I’ve learned is that, in the long term, the only way to make money blogging is to build trust with your audience, and that means maintaining editorial integrity when making recommendations. 

You should approach every recommendation as if you were giving advice to a family member. Would you really recommend those shoes, even if you didn’t make a dime from the recommendation? If so, go for it. But if not, resist the urge to include it anyway because it’ll come back to bite you in the long run. 

Successful Brand Collaborations in Blogging

SBS – Have you collaborated with brands or other bloggers, and if so, how do you ensure these collaborations are successful and authentic?

Dave – I’ve collaborated a lot with brands, and I find the best way to do it is to be transparent with both the brand and the reader. 

Transparency with a brand means being upfront about what you’re willing to offer. Are you guaranteeing you’ll include their product in a post if they send you a free sample? Or do you accept samples only on the condition that there are no strings attached? Brands are willing to work with you in both cases, they just want you to be upfront. 

With readers, transparency basically means putting your cards on the table and revealing whatever you agreed upon with the brand to your audience. 

For instance, I recently wrote a review of some Chelsea boots and disclosed upfront that the brand sent me two pairs of boots, but I made no promises other than that I’d try them. 

In both cases, having an editorial review policy also really helps because you have a place to articulate your stance clearly.

Effective Time Management for Bloggers

SBS – How do you manage your time effectively between content creation, site maintenance, and other responsibilities?

Dave – It can be a struggle juggling all three, but generally, I find that something like the 80/20 rule works well. It means that 80% of my time is spent on content, while the other 20% is divided among other tasks, including site maintenance and other administrative responsibilities. 

Future Aspirations for Irreverent Gent

SBS – Finally, what future plans or aspirations do you have for Irreverent Gent, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Dave – As bland, AI-created content floods the internet, my vision is for Irreverent Gent to be an authentic, unique, and trusted voice in the world of men’s fashion and lifestyle. 

The best way to do that is to create content that’s honest, thoughtful, insightful, engaging, and (of course) irreverent, which means sharing personal anecdotes and opinions so readers know I’m real, I’m passionate, and I’m here to help them.


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Dave Bowden’s Guide to Starting a Men’s Fashion Blog