I’ve been running my blog now in one guise or another for over five years now. Yikes! People often ask me how I find the time and inspiration for my blog, so I thought I’d put all my advice into a post.
Whether you’re thinking of starting blogging, or a hobbyist blogger hoping to take their site to the next level, here are my tips.
Even with so many huge bloggers out there today, I believe there’s still an opportunity to make an impact on the blogosphere. But if you want more than just your family and friends to read it then it’s going to take time, and a lot of commitment from you. Despite the work, I can honestly say running Twenty-Something City is one of the most enjoyable things I do. Blogging should be great fun, whatever your reason for starting!
Before you start…
It’s important to think about what you want your blog to mean to you and what you have to say. Chances are you won’t nail this as soon as you start – it took me two years for my blog to become Twenty-Something City and another two for me to really get my act together.
However, the more thought you put into your blog before you begin then the more likely you are to succeed. If you want your blog to ultimately become a business then you have to treat it like one. Put together a mission statement i.e. a short description of what your blog is about and what you hope to achieve. Obviously, with everyone and their aunty having a blog these days then the more original the better. Maybe you’ll call your blog Books and Bagels and only review books and bagel shops, or your style is entirely black and white and you’ll be The Monochrome Miss (two cracking ideas there – you’re welcome).
That’s not to say you need to reinvent the wheel here. It’s not like there can only be one fashion blogger from your town, or veggie foodie or parenting blogger. However, you need to think about what’s unique about you (and your style), and what you have to say. Even if your blog is just a hobby you should take pride in the content you are creating.
Running a blog is a sizeable time commitment. Be realistic about how much time you have to spare. It’s incredible how much time goes into each post – from creating the concept, to photographing outfits, to editing, to writing, to social promotion. I’ve previously written about the misconceptions of blogging, and I’d recommend having a read before you commit to your new online presence.
Let’s get technical – what you need to start a fashion blog
It’s definitely easier and cheaper than ever before to launch a blog. In fact, you could decide to go down the ‘Influencer’ route instead and just stick to social media, though personally I think being able to write excellent posts is more valuable.
Let’s assume you’ve decided to launch an actual blog. You’ll need to sign up to a hosting site, such as WordPress or Blogspot. Wix is another option, though personally I think this is better suited to business websites over blogs with lots of written content.
Now the whole self-hosted thing is a little confusing (it took me YEARS to get my head around it) but I would recommend going self-hosted as soon as possible if you’re even slightly serious about your blog. Essentially, when you sign up with a blogging site you’ll receive a .wordpress or .blogspot URL or similar. This means your blog is just an extension of the site in question. you don’t ‘own’ it. That’s where self-hosting sites come in. I use Siteground, who I pay a yearly fee for hosting me plus a fee for my custom blog URL. Overall it costs me about £100 a year to have my blog hosted. For more infortmation about self-hosting check out this post by my blogger pal Bry Jaimea.
So you’ve cracked the self-hosting business. Excellent. But what to call your blog? It’s not an easy decision. Try to find something that relates to you without being too predictable or limiting. While you can change your blog moniker down the line, this can be detrimental to building up a strong following. I used to be The Shoestring Shopper, but once I realised I wanted to cover more than budget fashion Twenty-Something City was born. Personally I like my name as it’s catchy and just the right amount of vague, though I feel it captures the ‘aura’ of what I’m trying to create.
We’ve talked software – what about hardware? Personally, I would recommend a laptop or PC for writing posts. I tried to write on a tablet when I was in America for three months and it was such a headache. Technology has moved on since then, however, so if tablets or writing on a phone is where you’re most comfortable then go for it.
Now for the biggie – the camera. While for some people DSLRs are bae (tbh I wouldn’t give up mine now I’ve got one) an expensive camera is not essential. These days phone cameras are brilliant. Heck, the iPhone 8 camera seems more flattering than my expensive lenses! Most phones will do the trick to begin with. What is more important than the make or price of your camera is the lighting and framing of your photos. This will take a while to crack, so don’t expect your first post to be a masterpiece! Like everything, practice makes perfect. Blogger Ruth from Urbanity has compiled this useful blog photography for dummies post you should check out.
How can I get ideas for quality content?
Ahh, the million dollar question! You can read countless articles on blog post inspiration, but to create content of real depth and value then it has to come from you. I’ve written previously about why I think bloggers should avoid the cliched posts everyone is writing and instead write about what they are passionate about.
However, we’ve all got to start somewhere. I definitely recommend some sort of introductory post – something to tell viewers what to expect from you. If you are focusing on fashion then seasons and trends are excellent thought starters. Alternatively, you might find an amazing item of clothing and work your post around that. For my blog posts, I like to find a related topic to my look rather than solely focus on the make up of the outfit. Generally readers find this more engaging.
Let’s briefly talk about SEO, which stands for search engine optimisation. If there’s one thing I wish someone had taught me about blogging before I started it is SEO! Essentially, there’s no point writing great posts if no one can find them. Think about what people are likely to search on Google, e.g. ‘what to wear to Ladies Day’ and create posts around it. You don’t have to frame all your content about what you assume people want to read (this makes for a very boring and inauthentic fashion blog in my opinion!) but it will benefit your blog stats in the long run. You should also focus on optimising your posts for SEO with strong titles, alt-text on your images and focusing on keywords etc. This post by Classic City Chic should explain more.
A fashion blog must be visual. Yes, you could do ‘easy win’ posts such as wishlists using product photos, but to really make an impact in the fashion blogosphere then your blog has to convey you. Don’t be afraid to stand out: wearing the outfits of your wildest dreams will amass a much better following than if you keep to trends and what you feel you ‘should’ wear. Are you a little unsure about exactly what your style is? I’ve written my advice for finding your own look in this post.
One of the biggest hurdles for any fashion blogger is who is going to take their outfit photos. I won’t sugarcoat it: it can be a real pain in the arse. You need a trusty friend or blogger pal or three, or maybe a housemate or boyfriend to help out. Try to find locations for your photos that aren’t your garden. You’ll probably feel awkward at first but it will be worth it when your photos are bangin’. If you’re looking for advice on how to pose for outfit photos then I’ve got you covered here.
How can I work with brands on my blog?
Most of us would love our favourite brands to get in touch to offer us free clothes, or even better payment to promote them. However, I cannot stress enough: if you’re only interested in freebies then you’re blogging for the wrong reasons. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘free’ in blogging. If brands gift you clothes or other items it’s in exchange for quality content created by you. This is a lot of effort and I will always weigh up whether a collaboration will be worth my time (and if I have the time!) before I commit.
What about sponsored posts? It is possible to make money from your blog but this won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to build a following and readership before you can justify charging for blog content. Instead of thinking about what you can milk brands for, share lots of organic content sharing items of theirs you’d buy anyway. This gives you a chance to impress with your styling and show your enthusiasm for the brand.
I hope this post answers some of your questions about blogging! If you want to know anything else then please get in touch.
Happy blogging and remember: it all comes down to your creativity!