Chicago is an inspiring city; maybe it’s the Midwestern mentality of getting things done and helping others out along the way, or maybe it’s the diversity of the city that inspires its communities.
Whether it’s food, fashion, writing or art, creative-minded people in Chicago always have something to talk about. While some chat about it over lunch at the local café, others take to the web to blog about Chicago’s many scenes.
“I love being able to help other Chicago bloggers pursue their dreams,” Graham says.
Over 300 bloggers belong to Windy City Blogger Collective, in which they can network, connect with and support each other. It’s this community of online bloggers that make up the creative and trend-setting side to Chicago. Graham says the Chicago blogging community is generous with time and advice, and there is never competition.
Graham herself is one of the most successful food bloggers in the Chicago area, and has run her blog for three and a half years. She recently left her full-time job at Groupon to pursue blogging full time instead.
Let's just be awesome and friendly and work together to make amazing things happen. That's my goal. @WindyCityBlogCo Love my blogging pals!
— Kit Graham (@thekittchen) April 16, 2014
With Chicago being the food city that it is, Graham has been fortunate enough to collaborate with both well-known and up-and-coming eateries. Recently, she has reviewed Bar Takito in the West Loop, and Mon Ami Gabi near Lincoln Park. She said she gets to eat for free when she reviews a new hot spot, but makes money from her blog another way.
“To make money blogging I write about products for compensation. Being active on social media to connect with these brands helps,” she said.
Jena Gambaccini, of ChiCityFashion, started her blogging career on social media six years ago. Gambaccini tweeted style tips and fashion articles and soon, she gained a following (currently more than 12,000 Twitter followers) that wanted more.
“I made the choice to focus on Chicago fashion for my blog,” she says. “New York and L.A. get too much attention sometimes, and Chicago’s fashion scene is unique.”
ChiCityFashion focuses on how Chicagoans dress, such as what to wear for the unexpected and ever-changing Midwest weather, as well as fashion tips for the biggest music festival in the city, Lollapalooza.
— Jena Gambaccini (@ChiCityFashion) July 30, 2015
For her blog, Gambaccini’s goal is to change the perception that there is no fashion in Chicago. The city’s welcoming attitude helps drive the fashion industry forward. “Chicago is always open and encouraging when it comes to not only fashion, but to any field,” she says.
Graham agrees that especially for the blogging scene in Chicago, everyone is willing to help everyone else. “Other bloggers are so generous with time and advice…we all know each other in Chicago,” she says, adding that she knows Gambaccini and loves her blog.
These two successful Chicago bloggers attribute a major part of their success to the city that inspired them in the first place. “There are so many events in Chicago and so much to cover when it comes to content. On any given night, there is something for everyone and something to do,” Graham says.
As for advice for aspiring bloggers in the city wanting to make it big, they both had had similar insight. “Only blog if you have a unique point of view. The only thing you have is your style and your authenticity,” Gambaccini says.
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle,” Graham said. “Use others as an inspiration and as a resource, because being nice in the industry gets you far.”