Life is complicated.
Looking good shouldn’t be.
So states the homepage of Style Girlfriend, the female-run fashion website designed to help guys with their wardrobe.
They believe that looking good shouldn’t just be for men with six-pack abs and a black Amex.
Style Girlfriend’s clients are average guys who want to get into better touch with the styles and behavior that today’s women are attracted to by tapping into a friendly, female perspective.
Style Girlfriend, now a bustling young company with seven stylists and five writers, is working on their first pre-seed funding round. It started as a weekly column written by founder Megan Collins that was posted to a friend’s website. The column quickly resonated with a wide audience and was even nationally-syndicated by a newspaper chain.
She later moved the content to its own site — first powered by Tumblr, but later by WordPress — where the library of content continued to attract an expanding readership from around the world.
Recently, Style Girlfriend shifted from a content-only platform to add personalized styling services for men, powered by WooCommerce. While blog posts are still a driver of substantial affiliate revenue, they now also serve as the primary marketing tool for the quickly-growing service offering.
We sat down with Megan, who categorized herself as a non-technical founder, to learn more about her entrepreneurial story and why WordPress and WooCommerce are such a perfect match to meet her vision.
Q: Tell us a little about your background.
When I came out of advertising and began blogging, the feeling that suddenly I was “allowed” to share my work in my own thoughts and words was scary.
It had been mostly my own fragile ego that held me back from switching careers for so long. It was absolutely not the technology, though I did worry that my inability to code was a barrier for creating this kind of blog and website.
Using WordPress, at least I was able to take away that excuse for not being able to try a new entrepreneurial venture. Starting with WordPress really helped me to feel like I could figure that part out.
Q: You’ve been writing specifically about style for a long time. If you think back to when you first took Style Girlfriend online, what did blogging feel like?
“Oh, back in my day, we had to blog three feet in the snow. Both ways.”
Yeah, blogging to me felt like this amazing gate had suddenly collapsed in terms of keeping people out who had an opinion. It was great for people like me who had a ton of imposter syndrome around being a writer or performing technical tasks.
I started Style Girlfriend on Tumblr, but quickly realized that I couldn’t do a lot of the things — especially around SEO — that I really wanted. So we moved to WordPress.
And once we moved I was like, “Oh this isn’t even hard.” It was just having the training wheels removed and realizing, “I can still do it. I can figure this out.”
I’ve been lucky enough to hire some great developers to help customize themes and create the experience that we want on the site. And the site itself has gone through a ton of iterations through the years. But even if I hadn’t, I’m confident that I could have purchased a theme and worked with it on my own.
Now we use WooCommerce for our two online styling services. One is the Wardrobe Refresh, which includes a 1-on-1 video call with a stylist, a 5-piece shopping list and outfit inspiration, and the next level up is the Wardrobe Reboot, which is more robust and features a 12-piece shopping list and specific outfit direction from your stylist.
Q: When you were selecting an eCommerce platform, did WooCommerce seem like an obvious choice? Like, “I’m already on WordPress so I’ll use WooCommerce?”
WooCommerce was strongly recommended by our developer, who primarily works with WordPress. We looked at Shopify, but I didn’t want to start Scotch taping too much together. I’d much rather have things all housed in one dashboard. I was trying to keep the tech simple to use for someone like me, a non-technical founder.
With WooCommerce, we’ve been able to easily extend our offerings as well. For example, we’re now using a gift card plugin. So now you can purchase the Refresh or Reboot option for yourself or for someone else.
We’ve also now added the WP Affiliate plugin because we’re creating an affiliate program for referrals.
Q: Thinking about the design of the site, was there anything specific you were trying to accomplish?
For the shop page, where we share monthly favorites that users can click out to purchase from a brand or retailer, I just really wanted to emulate a beautiful eCommerce site. I wanted the user to feel like, wow, this is just like shopping on Nordstrom or Mr Porter. People can browse quickly because there’s a nice overlay that happens when you hover on a product — it shows the brand name, product name, things like that.
And thinking about my team’s side — I wanted it to be super simple for us to update products, and it is.
Q: What do you feel is the most important thing for visitors to see when they first come to the site?
I want them to understand what the service offering is: that we’re doing men’s personal styling and that we’re doing it virtually.
Things have really shifted since 2020, when we went from a content platform to a service platform. Now the content also serves as a big part of our marketing. There are competitors who have really cornered the search engine market for keywords like “men’s personal shopping”. But our content still shows up for tons of other searches like, “Best chinos for work,” And we’re able to tell people who click on our site, “Hey, by the way, we have these services that you’ll really like.”
Q. What’s the most noticeable way WooCommerce fits into the everyday life of the business?
Well the best experience is when it’s totally frictionless that we barely think about. But it’s still an amazing feeling to be notified when someone makes a purchase. It’s good to know that everything’s working in the background and the process is going how you’d like it to.
Q: What are the places you go to research marketing and eCommerce?
For better or worse? I’m a very active Twitter reader, especially about marketing topics. I can sort of passively learn without necessarily going out and being on blogs. I’m not necessarily Googling, “Best practices for landing pages” because I already discover those resources on Twitter.
I also get Nik Sharma’s newsletter every Sunday, and the tips he shares have been really helpful.
Q: You generate affiliate revenue from all of your content, but now also offer the personal styling services. How does that break down for your business?
Right now, our blog content is still our main source of traffic and affiliate marketing is our primary revenue driver. But we’re seeing a lot of traction with both brand partnerships and our new services.
In fact, we saw 85% growth in services revenue year-over-year, so that’s great.
It was encouraging to see that growth, especially during the pandemic, because it was like, who cares about what they’re wearing right now?
In another sense, however, it’s totally not surprising. I mean, you can only work from home in your pajama pants for so many days in a row before you start to feel like a total slob, right?
Q: Have you seen an uptick in affiliate revenue as the service side has taken off?
For someone who’s paid for the styling service, who has received a shopping plan literally created just for them, the conversion rate is substantially higher than for visitors who just land on a blog post.
But we don’t recommend products just to make a commission — if a product isn’t in an affiliate program, we’ll still include it if it’s the right choice. And, unlike our competitors, we don’t carry our own products that force us to push the same items over and over again to every client.
Q: What role does where you live — New York City — play in your business?
That’s such a tricky answer because technically, I can work from anywhere. Right now I’m spending a lot of time in my home state of Wisconsin.
As long as I have a wifi connection, I can open up my computer and be at work, and all of our team is remote as well. Still, I wouldn’t have the relationships that I have without having built them in New York.
So, it’s tricky to say I can work from anywhere, because I wouldn’t have the business that I have without having built it in the city.
Q: What’s next for Style Girlfriend?
Right now, our focus is raising a pre-seed round of funding and continuing to grow Style Girlfriend on WooCommerce.
WordPress and WooCommerce are the perfect match for content-driven eCommerce stores. Without a background in technology, Megan’s tapped into this power to grow her business and adapt to successfully offer new services.