Happy Saturday y’all! I’ve received so many questions over the years from readers and friends alike, asking for tips on how to start a fashion blog, increase engagement, establish brand partnerships, etc. After a lot of thought, I decided to do a tell-all via a miniseries on the blog. This is the first installment! Today you’ll learn everything you need to consider before starting a blog and then how to get one launched! Stay tuned for information on monetizing, growing your brand, and more in the coming Saturdays!
Before you decide to start a blog, there are few questions you should ask yourself:
1. How much time do you want to spend on it?
One of the things I tell people more than anything else is how time consuming blogging is. I love what I do, but I work on it all day, every day. It’s not just taking outfit photos and posting them on the blog. While every blog offers different content and posts different amounts, here’s a rundown of things you can expect to be doing on a regular basis if you are wanting to become a successful blogger:
- Taking and editing photos
- Finding products online and then creating collages in Photoshop
- Shooting and editing videos
- Writing content for the blog and then creating different promotional content for blog content on all of your social channels and for the newsletter
- Creating unique campaigns and content exclusive to social channels
- Updating various sections of your website with new widgets, products, shop sections, and more
- Planning for future posts by doing research, keeping your editorial calendar up to date, and analyzing past performance data
- Responding to reader questions and comments on all social channels and email
- Responding to emails from brands about partnership opportunities and creating content for those projects on top of the content you’re already creating
Because I post on my blog nearly every day of the week and I’m always posting on each social channel (and sending a daily newsletter), that’s a lot of content I have to produce on a daily basis. While I wouldn’t say “don’t start a blog” if you don’t plan to spend a lot of time on it, if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands as it is, I would definitely consider whether it’s worth it to you.
2. Do you have a unique idea/perspective?
This isn’t necessary, but I believe it’s important to truly think about what you can offer a reader and see if it’s unique to what else is out there. The blogging world is so saturated now, so how do you plan to stand out from the crowd? Do you have a talent for beautiful imagery and photography? Is it your hilarious personality that shows through in videos? Do you have an audience niche like fitness or DIY? Are you in a city that doesn’t have any bloggers? Like I said, it’s not crucial to your blog’s success, but it may help you target the right audience up front rather than trying to do all categories and being too vague. You don’t want to get lost in the crowd!
3. Why are you starting a blog?
Are you passionate about trends and designers? Or does blogging just sound more fun and like less work than your regular 9-to-5 job? If you’re starting a blog in hopes you can quit your full-time job, I would think twice about starting one. As I mentioned above, it’s a lot more work than you would ever guess, and you don’t make money right away. It took me three years to make enough to leave my job, and even then I was barely scraping by and picking up babysitting jobs here and there for extra cash. I also have to pay for my own insurance and have to worry about taxes every year because a company doesn’t withhold any money for me.
When I started my blog in 2011, I had no idea there was money to be made. I literally started my blog as a creative outlet while I was living in Houston and going through a bad breakup – it took my mind off of things and I really enjoyed talking about trends and sharing new finds with my readers. rewardStyle didn’t exist, and brands did not understand the power of blogger influence in retail, so I was truly doing it for fun. Even these days with rewardStyle and ShopStyle and other various affiliate networks out there, it’s difficult to make money. I’m very grateful to my readers for being engaged with my content, but that’s not the case for everyone. I have blogger friends who make 95% of their income from sponsorships and can’t rely on their commissions each month, whereas it’s a pretty even split for me between my commission revenue and sponsorships. Just like in retail, you never know what you are going to make each month which can be pretty stressful. (Stay tuned for more information on how to make money on your blog!)
4. Which platforms are you wanting to devote most of your time to?
For me, I create the most content on my blog, and then all of my social channels are secondary. On the other hand, I have several blogger friends who have been way more successful on Instagram or Pinterest, and their blog is secondary to the content on those social channels. It really is up to you what you want to dedicate your time to, but I will offer one thing to consider: the only content you own is on your website. I’m sure you heard about the Instagram update that’s surely coming soon – it may disrupt the way you are used to seeing your feed by showing you “popular” posts vs posts in reverse chronological order (like it’s always been). This means the content you used to see everyday may no longer show up in your feed – the fact that Instagram has full control of this could potentially threaten your main revenue stream if you rely solely on Instagram. That’s why it’s so important to have a place where you are sharing content that only YOU can control. It will always be there.
With that said, it is very important for brands to see your readers are engaged on other channels as well as your blog. They are looking to partner with bloggers who are influential on ALL of their channels – the blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and now even SnapChat. You don’t need to have an account on all of these channels, but choose which channels you enjoy using and creating content for. A brand will be confused to see you only have 1,000 followers on Facebook but 100K on Instagram. Unless they are working on a targeted social campaign, they are looking for bloggers with a well-rounded audience on each channel.
5. Does it cost money to start a blog?
Yes, and there’s really no way around it. Here are a few things you would potentially need to pay for to start your blog:
- A domain name + hosting for your website
- A web designer (or a pretty theme on WordPress)
- A good camera and lenses (or hire a professional photographer)
- Adobe PhotoShop, Lightroom and Final Cut Pro X – and any other software you might need to edit photos and video
- Clothes + beauty products – getting free clothes and products is not guaranteed and should NOT be expected (especially as a new blogger) and it’s not stuff you want a lot of the time, which means you are responsible for buying clothes and products you want to feature on your blog. It can get expensive!
HOW TO START A BLOG
This may seem redundant after everything I’ve said above, but here’s a rundown of what you need to do in order to launch a fashion or lifestyle blog:
1. Buy a domain and reserve social media handles with your blog’s name – coming up with a good name these days is SO hard, considering how many fashion blogs there are out there. Once you find a name you like and have double-checked it isn’t taken, buy the domain right away! I would also reserve social media handles on EVERY social channel. You may not want to use YouTube right off the bat, but you’ll want your name available to you if you decide to do video in a year’s time.
2. Hire a web designer or customize a theme yourself using WordPress – if you are hiring a designer, this can sometimes take months to create, so just know that if you aren’t doing it yourself, it’s not going to be an immediate process!
3. Buy a camera and all the software you need to edit the photos (or hire a photographer) – unless you have a lot of time to teach yourself how to shoot, I would recommend hiring a local photographer to shoot photos for you at first. That way it’ll give you time to learn the ropes and eventually you can get your friends, boyfriend or another blogger friend to help you shoot.
4. Come up with an editorial calendar – it’s a good plan to at least have a vague idea of the types of posts you plan to do. For example, I do outfit posts on MWF, THE EDIT is always on Tuesday, etc. If you have a calendar, it will help hold you accountable for posting consistently.
5. Start posting content consistently on each channel before you announce your launch – I would recommend having about two weeks of content live on your site and social channels when you launch your blog and announce it to your friends and family. That way when they forward your blog and Instagram (etc) on to other people, they’ll already have an idea of the content they can expect to find on your site.
And that’s it! From there it’s all about posting consistently and growing awareness. Tune in next Saturday for the next installment of this blogging miniseries: How To Grow Your Readership + Increase Engagement! If you have any specific blogging questions, please email me! In the last installment I’ll be answering all of them!