Happy Friday! The sun is shining here in the Roc and the hubs and I have a marriage conference to attend this weekend at church. Hopefully we will come back refreshed and never fight again.....haha, probably not because we are both strong willed but at least we will make some time to invest and encourage each other.
I am so excited that you are interested in starting your own blog. Blogging has been such a fun and exciting journey for me! Let me be clear, it is a LOT of work! However if you can take your passion and turn it into a blog, I say go for it!
I started fashion blogging almost one year ago in April. I originally starting blogging to showcase my personal style and see where it lead me. Little did I know almost one year later I would have established my own name and started a business. There is a lot of good information I want to share with you, so this this will be a 2 part series. Next Friday I will share some more helpful resources for you. So lets dive in and get right to the point!
Part 1: Starting a Blog
Know your WHY...
In any (business) adventure it is always a great idea to sit down with a Pen and paper and establish your reasons for why you want to start this new adventure. Having a clear vision of where you are now and where you would like to be in 6 months helps you establish goals. If you want your blog to be successful you need to have a goal. Even if it is a small goal, having at least one goal makes you strive and push yourself a little harder than normal. Once you have let some ideas flow organize them and envision how you want your blog to look.
Create a Blog First
Many people take the steps backwards and will create an Instagram and Facebook account before the blog. As your following grows on these platform naturally so will your blog. However if you do not have a blog, you are unfortunately stunting your growth on the blog. Think of it like a tree. Your blog should be the focal point (the base of the tree) and your social platforms such as Pinterest, Facebook, twitter, etc are the branches. The goal is to have the social platforms direct back to the tree (your blog). There you can expand and discuss further what you have shared on your social platforms. Also your audience can get to know you on a personal level a little deeper with your blog. Always remember that people are looking for other "people". Not just a computer screen with attractive features. It is ok to be raw, in fact I find more people enjoy that and can relate. I mean c'mon we are all doing life together, right?! If you are knowledgeable in the computer realm Wordpress.org is a great site to start and you can purchase themes to personalize your site. Squarespace is also a very easy and convenient site to use and a great place for beginners. If you have the funds to hire out, I would recommend doing that. A clean polished blog is going to attract the eye and bring your followers back. Also you will have someone with knowledge and resources about coding and SEO and all that good stuff that is needed for growing your blog.
Invest in a Good Camera
When you scroll through Instagram and come across a feed that you love and decide to follow it, most likely the reason is because the pictures were appealing to the eye and caught your attention. Social media and blogs are all about visualization. If our eyes like it, we want to see more. Nothing ruins a picture quicker than poor lighting and a grainy photo. Have you ever gone to a successful bloggers site and seen grainy photos? No. People will look at a picture first before they even read words. If you lost their attention on the picture, 9/10 times they won't even bother to read the caption. The iPhone 8 Plus or X has a great camera from what I have seen and that is great to use from time to time however if you are taking blogging seriously, a professional quality camera is necessary. Before you roll your eyes, and think you don't have the funds, I bought my camera brand new on eBay. Ebay and Amazon periodically have great deals, just keep you eyes open. My camera had a great sale and I bought it for about $400. You will also need to invest in a lens to accompany the camera, but for now just keep your eyes pealed for some good deals. Not sure what camera to get? Ask a photographer or do some research online.
Success does not happen over night. Shocked? Don't be, unless you go viral on youtube you will have to work for what you want. I am on social media a lot. Too much if you ask my hubby, but I am on working. Once you create a blog and put up wonderful pictures, now is NOT the time to sit back and wait to see what happens, Now is the time to engage or get SOCIAL! Comment on pictures, like photos, leave comments on others blogs, ask a few blogger friends if they would like to participate in a giveaway together to spread awareness to you your name (blog). YOU HAVE TO MARKET YOURSELF. No one will do it for you. The world does not know you exist, you need to let them know. There is something unique you (we) all have to offer offer and I will not know about it, unless you spread the word. But please please don't comment on other feeds and say, "hey follow me if you want to see this..." that can come across as tacky. We want to be classy, people will appreciate you much more. Most importantly be genuine. People can see right through FAKE. If you are looking to invest in others so that they will follow your blog long term, be sincere with what you write and how you act. It will go a long way.
Content is King
Have you ever heard this saying before? If there is anything you can remember when posting on Instagram, remember these 3 important words. When trying to grow your follower base, include content that can be relatable, desirable and enjoyable. Some of my favorite fashion bloggers post only once a day, sometimes every other day but the content is always fantastic. Don't ever feel pressured like you have to post every day on Instagram to stay relevant. If you have strong content your followers will stick with you and you will gain new followers along the way. What makes for good content? Look around on Instagram and Pinterest. See whats trending, see what people like and put your own personal twist on it.
Next Friday I will dive a littler deep with Part 2 and share some ways on how to be compensated for your blog posts (small or large following). Also some tips on fighting the algorithm slump and the important of hashtags and which ones to use.
PART 2: Starting a Blog
Know your Worth
So you have your blog, with a nice camera and you start to slowly see people start following you on social channels. You may even have a company reach out to you, and offer you a free shirt or a free headband for your child in exchange for a photo. Your going to hate me for this......DONT TAKE EVERYTHING FOR FREE........
Are you still with me? Let me explain why. Nothing in life is free, we all know that. As a blogger you are starting to establish your name and your brand and you want that to have value. By taking something for free, you are removing the value that you have to offer. I recently read an article from a company owner stating that companies are now catching on to bloggers and realizing they can forfeit paying for advertisement because bloggers will do it free of charge. Yes, you read that right companies that normally would pay to have that dress advertised is giving it to you and still pocketing money. So now you go out and take a picture in it, edit those photos, create a blog post, and then post on your social channels. So what collectively took about 2-3 hours you just did for the cost of the dress, maybe $40? Is your 3 hour’s worth $40? As a mom and wife every time I am working I am taking time away from my family, and If I can't be with my most loved ones I better be content with what I am being paid. To be paid $40 (in clothes) and be away from my family that long is not worth it for me.
Now I understand not everyone will agree with that concept and that is fine. When I first started blogging I took everything for free, and I loved it. However looking back now I see ALL the time I spent writing and taking pictures and spent so many hours just for a free shirt here and there. Time is valuable, don't let the idea of something free cloud your judgment. Especially if a company knows they can use a new blogger and get away with not paying the marketing cost. If you are serious about being in the blogger world, you need to treat it just like a regular job. If you work, you get paid. You would never tell your boss they don't have to pay you today but you will still put in a full work day.
So how does one with a small following make any money? Surprisingly companies love working with new bloggers. New bloggers are like fresh babes, untainted by the world. Their excitement and passion is evident and your blog is not filled with all kind of advertisements from other companies. If a company contacts you, DO NOT be afraid to ask to be compensated. Even if it is for $20. Time is money, always remember that! Also ask yourself does this fit me? Does it match the aesthetic of my blog? Does it truly represent me as a person? The moment you put your name out there, you are establishing your own brand. Saying no to a few companies in the beginning may be hard, but will be worth it once your followers realize what your specific brand is.
Also do not hesitate to reach out to companies. Remember when I talked about marketing yourself? Let the business world know you exist. Email companies and tell them what you have to offer. Even if you have 500 followers, that’s 500 new potential clients that company could obtain. Be confident in who you are! So how DO YOU make money blogging? This is something you will need to research deeper for yourself however Rewards Style and different Influencer Apps are a great starting point.
That Pesky Algorithm
Right when you feel like you succeeded in mastering the algorithm it changes on you. I know, we all want it to go back to the way it was. Isn’t that life, going back to the good ole days? Well since that doesn’t seem like it will happen lets focus on what we can do. Instagram no longer shows posts when people send them. Now it goes in order of your interest or posts that have higher amount of likes. So when you post, many times your followers may not see what you put up, that’s why posting several times a day is a great way to bring traffic to your feed and blog.
Going back to part one of “blogging 101”, Content is going to be your key component. You need to give your followers something to make them want to come back to your site. I for one will admit I am working and will probably always be working on creating better content for my blog, Think about the first time you go to a new restaurant or store. Why do you go back? A few reasons…
1,) visually appealing
2.) Your preferred taste/style
3.) Price is right
4.) Something you can share/talk about with friends
When creating content, focus on what your audience would want to see. Get their feedback, ask questions. Find your blog posts or Facebook posts that generated the most likes and comments and consider what people were so interested or curious in. Continue to push yourself.
Oh my friends, this is the good stuff. Hashtags are a make or break situation. The second month I started blogging; TJ Maxx messaged me and asked if they could share my content. I was over the moon! TJ Maxx is one of my favorite stores and the fact they asked a small blogger with about 1000 followers was so encouraging at the time. I remember logging into my Instagram account one day and seeing hundreds of new followers because of that specific repost. How did I manage to score something so amazing? Hashtags.
Each picture is allotted 30 hashtags. When I see people only using 10 or 20, it makes me go a little crazy because they do not realize the potential they are missing out on. Remember when I discussed marketing yourself? This is a great way and may be the only way for others to find you.
Which hashtags should you choose? There are so many out there but don’t get caught up reading 15 different google searches on what to use. Can I give you a secret? Find a blogger that you have noticed growing quickly and see what hashtags they are using. Try using some of those for a few days then switch yours up a bit. I don’t like to keep mine the same for more than a few posts. When you do go to post, if a major event is happening or show is being aired try using that as a hashtag. Anything that is currently trending is a great starting point.
I hope this inormation was helpful! If you have any questions or would like more advice please feel free to reach out. Have a great weekend!