I’ve been getting a lot of requests on how to start blogging and why I started blogging. Chances are, if you’re thinking about starting a blog – you should! If it is something that you want to do but you’re worried about how much time it will take or how people may judge you, that is totally normal but don’t let it cloud your judgment. Take your time and feel out what you want, but don’t let worries like that get in your way.
// Why I blog //
For me, I wanted to do marketing in the fashion industry. I landed a great start to my career at a tech company doing partner marketing which I totally love but that means – no fashion. I needed some sort of creative outlet to feed that fashion/creative side – and that is what drew me to pull the trigger. It’s funny because a lot of people think that I blog full time. The reality is that it’s really hard to make money blogging when you’re just starting out. Making enough money to live off of by blogging takes time and is totally achievable but it’s not my overall goal. While I do make money blogging, and it would be really cool if I made enough money to fund the other parts of my life, there are benefits to not having it be your main source of income. I blog because I needed a creative outlet. I may be putting my foot in my mouth but I literally love my job and can’t imagine my blog being my only job. It’s kind of hard to transition your hobby into a job because once your hobby becomes a necessity in your life in order to make money and pay bills, you look at it from a different lens. I guess I am nervous that I would take it too seriously and not look at it as creatively as I do now. Back to the why: I love organizing things and archiving fashion inspiration in a sleek and easy-to-view way and blogging does that for me. I feel like it’s sort of a way to organize my thoughts and my life in general in an aesthetically pleasing way. Its the same reason why people love instagram, you can sort of organize and archive those awesome highlights in your life and look at them anytime you want. I also love spreading knowledge about the things that I like and use. I completely love it any time one of you tells me how amazing the Glossier product you just purchased is or the acne home remedy that you use too! That’s a really exciting thing for me and I love connecting with people about that sort of simple life stuff.
// How to start out //
Personally, I started growing a following on Instagram in college and it transformed from there. Some good resources that are way more knowledgeable than I am are Marianna Hewitt’s Blog With Me account on Instagram. She shares a ton of tips and tricks that I really love and follow myself. Another great one is The Influencer Podcast. This chick is kind of sales-y and ultimately wants you to buy into her templates and programs – I personally don’t need that because I literally work in partner marketing. Yes, my work is based around marketing a relationship between a tech company and a web design company… but the language is generally the same as marketing between a blogger (me) and a brand. So if you ever run into the opportunity to partner with brands where you need a contract and a planning brief, let me know and I would be happy to share my template for free. It takes me two seconds to make these templates and should be free to you guys anyway! However, her podcasts are free and have a lot of information. Just don’t get too sold on her templates for sale.
As far as your website goes. Most bloggers use WordPress.org. The difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is the hosting. (Internet basics right here:) every website needs a server to host all of its content. I use a hosting service that also provided me with my domain name. Domain name is the name of your website blahblahblah.com. You have to buy, and pay monthly, for the blahblahblah. Mine is like $5 a month or something really minimal. You can buy domain names and hosting from websites like godaddy.
//Designing your site//
If you don’t know how to design a website on WordPress.org, there are a ton of classes you can take or people you can pay to get the job done on a budget. A good resource for outsourcing jobs is UpWorks. UpWorks is a freelancing website where you can hire freelancers to design and create specific features on your blog. I recommend taking a class then using resources like UpWorks for small add on projects. The reason behind this is because if something goes wrong on your site, you need to know how to fix it. Plus, no one is going to be better and more passionate about putting your blog together than you are. I designed and coded my blog in college from a really cool class. If you are in college I would recommend looking for a class like that and taking it as an elective. I designed the blog my senior year and didn’t touch it again till months later. If you are not in college, there are a ton of good community classes you can take. For example, if you live in Austin, University of Texas holds a really interesting Blogging for Beginners class you should check out.
// How to grow your following //
I am going to start out with dont’s. Never use apps that follow accounts for you. You are generally going to get a pool of people who don’t actually care about your photos and therefore won’t like them. They also use things called ghost accounts. They use computer generated account that aren’t created by real people. Which means, you’ll get a lot of followers and the same amount of likes which is bad for reporting purposes and messes up your standing in the Instagram algorithm.
Start by engaging with the audience you DO have and the Instagram algorithm will treat you well. Comment on other peoples stuff, like things you genuinely like, follow people you would want to follow you but don’t be creepy about it. If they don’t follow you back, who cares? You will most-likely be on their “discovery page” and if they like your stuff then they will follow back eventually. I engage with my peeps all the time. I listen to what y’all want to see, send you links to clothes you like, give you my opinions when you ask. It’s genuinely my favorite part of blogging.
Another thing you can do to increase your activity on Instagram and grow your following is to take a look at what posts do the best on your instagram. The posts that get the most likes are the ones you should be using as inspiration for the future. For example, y’all freaking love pictures of Charles Neel. It’s actually hilarious. But because of that, I am starting to think about doing some different post ideas. You guys also love pictures of my dog Dexter, which like, no surprises there, he’s cuter than both me and Charles Neel combined. I also get a ton of responses from my beauty tutorials (which is hilarious because I am so lazy with makeup but maybe yall like that… idk) so I am starting to do more of those. Basically, you need to feel out your audience and see what pictures they like the most and then create more posts like them. Look through your last 2 months of pictures on Instagram and see which got the most likes, then use those as inspiration and ask yourself, “what is different about this photo that people liked?” Now, I also think to myself, forget it — I am doing what I want with this thing, who cares what people like the most. And oftentimes, I get good responses from that too. So don’t feel like you’re locked in a box and have to recreate the top 10 pictures from the last several months. I love posting landscape pictures or scenery even though I know it won’t get as many likes, I just love the way it looks on my feed so I don’t really care if it only gets 300 likes and pictures of Charles Neel and Dexter get 1,000+. Who cares, you run the show, do your thing.
// How to work with brands //
Again, this is a very one-sided view but this is how I got started. In college, there are a lot of companies that need brand ambassadors to grow their reach to college students. I was a brand ambassador for companies like Kelly Wynne, Ali & Ariel, and Bumble. It’s a great way to learn more about the brand side of things because, essentially, you want to be an asset to them and increase their brand awareness as well and driving conversion. (P.S. if you say those two things, brands will immediately think you know what you’re talking about because you’re speaking their language. All they want to do is increase their reach, and make more money so advertise yourself as someone who wants to make that possible for them.)
Since college, I have been working with bigger brands like Leesa, Function of Beauty, Ritual, Glossier, Wildfox, Daniel Wellington, and obviously my fav – Kelly Wynne. A great way to get in the door with big brands that you want to partner with is just by connecting with them on Instagram. You can follow brands that you want to work with and message them about the possibility of working together. I have even bought their product and taken pictures in it then tagged them so they see I am a fan of their products. Brands generally want to work with people that have around 10k followers but since I knew how to talk to them and worked with brands before as a college brand ambassador, it was easier to get my foot in the door. Just remember, when messaging a brand, tell them who you are and WHY they should work with you. If you have promoted brands before and it was successful, say something like “I previously worked with Kelly Wynne and we had a really successful partnership.” You can even send them a picture from that “campaign.” If you have ever been featured on a brand’s Instagram, SAVE THAT IMAGE and send it to future brands. It will be compelling for them to work with you if you have done it before and they like the example and proof of content. It is also really easy for brands to send you free items. Never feel weird asking for a “trade” if you have 7-9k. It is low impact for the brand and should get them more followers and increase sales. Now, you should still be respectful when talking about trade or money. Waiting till they respond or the second communication (direct message or email) is an appropriate time to talk about the trade. Generally speaking, in any negotiation, telling someone what you are going to do for them first and then asking for the trade or what they can do for you, is typically the most effective way to get what you want. Manipulation 101.
Hope you guys enjoyed this crash course on blogging and if you have questions or any areas you need help in please let me know via Instagram DM!