Starting a blog:
Hello! It is here: my blogging tips! I have spent a lot of time putting this together, based on all the information I have acquired over time, so I hope it helps you! Obviously, everything I am sharing is based on my experience – I’m not a blog wizard. However, I have been blogging, on and off, for over three years now and have learned a lot from Google and other blogger friends! I am going to be sharing with you: how to start a blog, collaborations (how bloggers make money), editing, and more! If there is anything I didn’t mention, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Naming your blog:
You will need to decide what you would like to name your blog. When I first started blogging, it was actually a totally different name and platform; it wasn’t even fashion related. (Brownie points if you remember my first blog name!) Some people will go with just their name or will come up with a name. This is important because this will be the brand for your blog. I picked Styled Grey, as I felt it fit my brand. Through this whole blogging experience, I was mostly self-taught. One thing I would suggest, if you’re not sure on how to do something, Google it. I feel like Google always has my back and helps me find the answer!
You will need to decide which platform you would like your blog to be on. When I first started, I used Blogger because it was free and very basic. I think it would be good if you know CSS coding and can figure out how to nicely customize it. I use WordPress now, which I am very happy with. I pay $99 a year, and it has several different custom templates, in which you just input your information (which works perfectly for me since I don’t use coding!) WordPress does have the option to do CSS, however, but beyond my scope of talents. So, some options for platforms are: Blogger, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace (I think Squarespace is an online store, geared for retail.) You will need to obtain a domain name so you have ownership over your blog name and it’s specific to you! GoDaddy is a great one to use; that is who I have always used. (You will have to renew it every few years.) Once I switched to WordPress, as part of the plan, they include a domain, so I no longer need to use GoDaddy.
How to gain a following:
I want to first start out about saying that being a profitable blogger does not happen overnight. It takes months and even years of very hard work. If you are doing this just for the “money” and that is the only thing your mind is set on, I would tell you to forget it. Believe me, there have been many times I have felt discouraged and felt like my blog was going nowhere. I started my blog as a hobby because I truly love putting outfits together and taking photos. You will get discouraged when you see other bloggers who do it full time, started around the same time, getting great partnerships, great engagements, and you may not be there yet – it is okay! Life itself can be a roller coaster and things in life do not come easy; being persistent is important!
Ways to grow your following:
1. Social Media – This is the biggest one for me. I could say I started gaining my following from social media, primarily Instagram. I have heard over and over that “likes” don’t matter; but when you are working with companies, they really do. You need good engagement by your followers (this is often referred to as “analytics”). It actually is not good if your engagement is low. “Liking” and commenting on other people’s images can help you increase your following; you are putting your name out there. I would highly suggest to NEVER buy followers; it looks bad as they’re fake accounts and it’s not good for branding or collaborating with companies. Teaming up with other bloggers to do a “Follow Friday” is beneficial for building your following – a win-win situation that helps you and helps them.
2. Create original content – This one is absolutely huge. There are so many bloggers out there now that you have to be unique and create original content to set yourself apart. I always look for inspiration and moods for photos so I have an idea, and I will brainstorm on what I want to do. If I don’t plan each look out, it would be very unorganized and not creative. One thing I always do, which I believe has helped a lot, is to think, If I were a random person that found my page, would I follow myself?! Just as if I were to follow other bloggers who I love following. Creating original content will also help you tremendously when working with brands. One thing I try to not do is to be “super sponsory” — I feel like no one likes that and it’s a turnoff to your readers. (Yes, that’s a thing.) Try to treat everything as if you purely love it and as if it’s not sponsored. You might think, Well, I would do that anyways. But I see so many sponsored posts that look so not put together or well-thought out and it looks like they did it for the money. There is nothing wrong with sponsored posts, because it is how you can make money, but make sure it’s real and relatable.
3. Quality images – This, too, is very important to me and has been a huge part of my blog! Quality images show how professional you look, and that’s important if a brand is wanting to work with you; it just looks good. You can either find photographers in your area to work with weekly, monthly, whatever works with your schedule. Usually photographers will charge an hourly rate or some charge per outfit. Personal Tip here: I’m a photographer – please don’t ask to have a photographer take your photos for free; it’s very rude and inconsiderate to the photographer, who is also trying to build a business. If you have a decent camera yourself, you can get together with a blogger or a friend and take photos of each other – again, another win-win situation for you and for them.
4. Hashtags – Lastly, this one could go back to the social media reference. I do use hashtags on my blog under tags. Definitely on Instagram, it has helped me. I save a bunch of relatable hashtags in my notes; when I post a picture, I paste it in the comments. This will allow your photos to pop up in those hashtags, and it is another way for you to have exposure and be seen. This, personally, has definitely helped my page grow.
How to make money:
Do not think the second you start your blog that you are going to start making a living off of blogging because you won’t. With that being said, here are a few different ways you can make money:
Collaborations: You can charge a fee to work with brands and create content for them, posting on your blog and social media. If you want to work with a brand, don’t be afraid to reach out to them to collaborate – I do it all the time!
Adding sponsored logo on website: I have not done this, but you can add a brand logo to your site, basically an ad for them, and you can charge a fee.
Affiliated links: If you follow bloggers, you are used to seeing “Like to Know It” links. This is a popular way for bloggers to share our items – you can shop, and we earn a small commission. Another one is “ShopStyle.” With RewardStyle, which is “Like to Know It,” you earn a commission when one buys from the link. With “ShopStyle,” we earn a commission if you click on the link. So those are valuable ways you can earn money doing what you love, and you can also do giveaways and host events.
Process for each blog post:
I wanted to share my whole process for each blog post, so you have an idea what it takes from creation to completion. Since my blog is fashion based, I will create my outfit / shop for pieces if I need to. I will put the outfit together and decide what poses I want to create just by looking in my mirror. I mainly shoot with one of my blogger friends, Olivia Rink, and together we will usually plan ideas out, locations, and look at photo inspiration to give us an idea of what we want to achieve. After taking pictures, I will edit the photos. I have a folder saved on my laptop for each outfit and name them accordingly, so I have it easily organized. I start a blog by uploading the images, usually adding between 5-10 images. I decide what I am going to talk about and then link all the items in my post. Once I publish a blog post, I go onto “MailChimp,” which is where I have my email subscriber list, and send it to my subscribers. Next, I will share my post on all of my social media outlets. I wanted to explain this process to show you that a blog post takes time – it’s not a 1-2-3 and done.
Editing – Okay, this is one of my most asked questions: What do you use for editing? I use “Lightroom” and “Photoshop.” I mainly use Photoshop if I need to take things out of a photo or for creating collages. I most often use Lightroom for editing and it is invaluable! I have downloaded a few presets to help my editing process. One thing to remember, when buying presets, it’s not like a filter — when you use it, there is still so much adjusting you have to do. Instagram theme: I edit my photos with just a few filters.(I’ve been sticking to warm tones!) As far as an Instagram theme, I used to be very particular and only post certain photos. I don’t want my feed to look clustered, but I really just post anything now. One thing I like to do is post a far-away shot, then a detailed or closeup shot for variety.
Being consistent – This is very important. When I first started blogging and had no clue what I was doing, influencers that I looked up to and admired always advised to be consistent. When I first started blogging, I would blog; then not do any blogging for a few months. So this is where consistency is important – if people are following you, hopefully they look forward to your posts and want to keep reading, so consistently post! I have to be honest, in this area, I am not as consistent as I would like to be. It is a struggle to consistently blog when you work full time in insurance, also have a side photography business, and run a blog. My advice would be, simply: Pick a realistic goal, stick to it as much as possible, and enjoy what you do!