You’ve surely read, followed or bookmarked an advice website at least once in your life. Well, we’ve just interviewed Alison Backman, one of the pioneers of the advice genre online, editor in chief of AdviceSisters.com and LeatherAndLaceAdvice.com. So, when she agreed to do this interview, we were SO excited!
1. How did you start your website and what was your biggest motivation when you started blogging?
I was working on other people’s websites, offering life, love and career advice as “Advice Sister Alison.” I began writing wedding and relationship advice with my twin sister Jessica for sites throughout the world. We used a signature “Double-Take” format sort of a “head & heart” approach where she did an emotional view, I did the more practical view. We also participated in “Love at AOL” and since we were sisters and gave advice, AOL dubbed us ” The Advice Sisters.” The name stuck, and we trademarked it.
When our first book Recruiting Love, Using the Business Skills You Have To Find The Love You Want was published in 1998, we realized that we would really need to promote it online as that’s where our audience already knew us. So we started advicesisters as a relationship site. Having a place where we could interact with fans and promote the book was really the motivation to start advicesisters.com.
2. And what’s your biggest motivation now?
Just as Jessica and I were really getting famous (we were widely credited with bringing the advice genre online and touted as the “Ann & Abby for the new millennium”) Jessica died suddenly. It was not just a devastating loss for me personally but also one for the Advice Sisters. I was already a certified image consultant (that’s another story) so I started writing beauty reviews and they became a huge monthly feature.
Eventually, I changed the format to a magazine with sections and today advicesisters.com focuses on beauty, fashion, lifestyle, travel, tech, food & wine, luxury, and advice. You might say our focus is on the things that help make life easier, more successful, more interesting and more fun for our primarily adult female readers.
As an aside, I didn’t abandon the Double Take advice format. I have a new website called LeatherandLaceAdvice.com where I still use the Double Take format but this time, with a male co-author.
3. You’ve been in the game for more than 20 years and you’ve witnessed the blogging industry going through a lot of changes. Where do you think the beauty & fashion blogosphere is heading to?
The industry has changed so much. I don’t have a crystal ball to know where beauty and fashion is heading let alone in just three years but here’s what I hope will happen: I hope the frenzy around social media influencers dies down as they are not journalists, they making money by endorsing products they may not even like to direct sales to companies.
I hope (and I can see the trend moving this way again) people online seeking out websites where skilled writers provide in-depth features about people, products and services that are truly interesting and relevant to their audiences. And I hope that eventually the online community of writers will be treated as seriously and as well as print has been.
4. What are the top qualities of a truly beautiful woman?
The first is confidence. You can be the most beautiful woman (physically) in the world, but if you lack confidence in yourself, your beauty doesn’t shine,
The second is knowing your own style. I see models in fashion shoots with hair, makeup and clothes that of course they didn’t choose, but that they don’t feel beautiful in. You can see that they are uncomfortable even on the page or screen. There are also many women who feel that they need to slavishly try every trend (e.g. blue, green or black lipstick) when it doesn’t look good on them may look fashion-forward but they aren’t enhancing their own beauty.
The third top quality of a truly beautiful woman is being a kind and happy person. Disappointed, mean and sad women can’t hide it shows on their face and in their body language. The true beauty draws you in even in a crowded room because she likes herself and she likes life.
Someone you like or love looks beautiful to you over time. When I ride the subways I see lots of people who definitely would not be considered beauties, but you can see they’re married, they have children, they are snuggling with a loved one, or laughing with friends. To those who love them even a woman considered unattractive will be beautiful.
5. Can you mention your top 3 most inspirational women?
My grandmother Tillie Bader has always been and will always be the most inspirational woman in my life. She traveled alone at age 16 to America. She immediately began learning English and working on bettering herself. Although she married and lived the traditional life of wife and mother, she was incredibly smart. She was the one who wrote letters and filled in checks for many of her friends who never bothered to become educated. She managed to keep her family and her home together during the great depression and despite all the hardships she had the most generous and loving spirit of anyone I’ve ever known.
My Aunt Bernice Blackman Elkin is another inspirational woman, She wanted to become a nurse, but was convinced that she would do better if she went to medical school. Initially she was an anesthesiologist. After getting divorced and raising two boys by herself, she moved out West and became the first female psychiatrist in Casper Wyoming.
Eleanor Roosevelt is not related to me but I admire her for all the great things she did for this Country. Her saying ” No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” is one we should all keep in mind, especially in the light of social media.