A few weeks ago, I asked you to send in any and all questions you had about blogging via Instastories so today I’m answering them.
Let’s jump in…
What made you want to start blogging?
It was 2010 and I had a friend who had started a cooking blog. I loved the idea and she encouraged me to start one too, about fashion, of course.
I was always creative (loved crafts, fashion, sewing, etc.) and searched for a way to talk about fashion in a more attainable way. At the time, the only thing out there (aside from other girls who were just starting blogging), fashion magazines and their posts about what was worn at a runway show. It was cool but it wasn’t real life for the average girl.
Once I started blogging, I became obsessed and it just became this creative, powerful outlet I love to spend my time doing. I started reading other blogs (which I still love to do) and this community started growing. It’s so crazy how it’s blown up over the last decade.
How do you choose what to blog about?
Choose something you love and go from there. It needs to be something you enjoy and can speak to. For me, I’ve always loved clothes and shoes. My mom jokes that I was picking out my outfits at age 2–seems so funny! But I knew what I liked even then, so it just made sense.
Don’t choose something because someone else is doing it. There is a niche for everyone. I know a girl who is a grown woman and is all about Disney World, and her followers eat it up! Do you love animals? Maybe it’s a craft you’ve perfected and want to help others learn too. Think about what you get excited to talk about, and if you had a friend that loved something you love and could speak to it for hours on end–what would it be? Go from there.
How much time and planning goes into each blog post?
Anywhere from two to twelve hours.
From conception to publishing, there is a lot of work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to bring a post to life. For outfit posts, there’s a lot of planning and organizing before I meet up with my Photographer (outfits, location, hair and make-up), then we usually spend two hours shooting outfits, and I wait to get the photos. From there, it’s editing the photos, uploading them to my computer, re-naming each image, uploading them into WordPress, sourcing all the items I’m wearing online, linking everything (this is one of the most time consuming and tedious parts), adding in the photos, writing the copy and linking related blog posts I’ve already written. Once the post goes live, I share it across all social platforms, usually talk about it on Instastories and confirm all links are working properly.
If the post is for a brand I’m working with, you can bet there is even more preparation that goes into it because I’m not just doing this for fun now, it’s now for my readers and someone else. This means I’m often extra diligent about scouting a location, buying props, and spending more time with my Photographer to ensure we capture exactly what we need.
Often times I think to myself, ‘I’m just going to write a quick post’ — which turns into a two hour thing. It always takes so much longer than expected or appears.
What’s your advice on someone who wants to start a blog for the first time & to gain an audience?
Just do it!
I would say the steps should go sort of as follows:
(1) Pick a name for your blog, check Google, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to ensure it’s not taken
(2) Buy your domain (I’ve always used GoDaddy)
(3) Register your Instagram handle (Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest aren’t as important and could always default to your full name if needed)
(4) Start writing, use your own quality photos, be consistent.
As for building a following, I’m not sure if I’m even the right person to ask! I feel so small potatoes in comparison to many other girls. If I had to pick a few things to live by, they would be to create quality, consistent content, be yourself, be authentic and don’t do things for money that you wouldn’t do in real life. Also, promote on Pinterest.
I cannot tell you how many sponsorships I’ve turned down because they aren’t in line with me and the blog. Bottom line: I’ve spent years earning your trust and gaining your readership, I don’t want to screw it up with one lame sponsored post that doesn’t benefit any of us.
How many photos do you take versus your Photographer for your content?
I would say 90% of my outfit photos on the blog are taken by my Photographer, Lisa. We have been working together for three years and she is my go-to person when I have a new item or outfit I want to photograph or a campaign to shoot wherein I’ve been hired by a brand. I always tag her in the blog post or Instagram caption if she’s taken the photo.
For Instagram, it’s more of a 60/40 split, just because I’m hearing your feedback of liking more real-life, mirror selfies and the like. I also like to switch things up in my feed so it’s not all outfits for a little variety.
When Lisa isn’t around, say when I’m on vacation, I can usually bribe Marco to snap a few quick pictures to capture an outfit ; ) like here & here. It’s not his favourite thing to do, but he appeases me at times!
Something I never do anymore but used to do all the time when I first started blogging, is use a self-timer. It’s really hard to get a quality photo, a good angle & in focus all at once–plus it’s super time consuming just to get one good one.
Would you hope to make blogging your full time job?
It would be a dream come true to be able to blog full time, but I’m not so sure it’s in the cards for me. For a long time, I thought and hoped it would be, but my following isn’t large enough to make that a reality at this point.
Ultimately: more followers = more work with brands = more money.
I’m a creative person by nature, and blogging brings me a lot of happiness and I do it because I enjoy it–not to make money. I like helping others, I like connecting and chatting about fashion, I like helping people get dressed and push their comfort zones to wear something they might not have thought to wear, and just being around like-minded females who love clothes and shoes as much as I do.
Do I wish that my passion would evolve into a real, full-time job that could pay my monthly bills? Yes. Do I think it could remove some of my joy? Perhaps.
That said, I did read this really interesting post the other day, and it spoke to me. Why do we have to monetize everything that brings us joy? The straight answer: we don’t.
And while, sure, I would love to make more money blogging because the little bit I do make, I typically invest it back into my blog. There’s also an “adult comfort” knowing I have my career to fall back on. If I don’t feel like blogging or being ‘on’, I don’t. While I certainly do put everything I have into this space because it brings me joy, if I stopped tomorrow, it wouldn’t change my ability to eat, pay the mortgage, put gas in my car, buy some shoes 😉 etc.
Does it cost money to have a blog?
It doesn’t have to, but it typically does.
When I first started, I wasn’t planning on spending money to blog, but now it definitely costs money to fuel this passion.
The main costs would be hiring my Photographer, website hosting fees, camera equipment, Accountant for business taxes, apps/programs (eg. Adobe for video editing), more iCloud storage, etc.
How many readers/views do you average per post?
Anywhere from 300 – 600 readers a day for the blog.
What do you use for your analytics?
Google Analytics & Statcounter.
What’s your fave thing to blog about?
Right now, I’m really enjoying the Tuesday Try-On posts–and it seems like you guys are too. It’s probably the most and best feedback I’ve ever gotten on a series on the blog.
I like that it’s more interactive since it is a blog post + Instastories, which I also feels caters to more people and their taste. The whole idea behind it was to have a more educational way of sharing items I’ve just purchased and also getting them out there before they sell out and then people are bummed they can get whatever it is I’m sharing.
The posts are quite time consuming, between filming the try-on for IG Stories, taking the pictures, editing them and the stories, sourcing all the items online, linking everything the night before on my LiketoKnow.it profile (spoiler alert 😉 if you ever want to see what’s coming the next day), then putting the actual blog post together, writing the copy, uploading all the video, including captions for every other clip or so, sharing the blog post on social, and responding to comments. I would say it takes about eight hours for every Try-On Tuesday that I do (the swimwear one was longer), but I truly enjoy it and it seems like everyone else does too, so that’s definitely what keeps me going.
Did you build your own blog?
I purchased a template from Pipdig, installed it myself and have customized it over the years.
When I started my blog, I had a little bit of HTML knowledge, just from playing around in the past, but was by no means an expert. The beauty of any blog website, is they set you up, to some affect, simply by creating an account. How you make it your own is completely up to you and how deep you want to go.
For many, many years, it was all me building and modifying the site to make it as nice as I could. You can see some of the changes over the years here. When I didn’t know how to do something, I Googled, and found a lot of my answers.
After six years of blogging, and changing things up a lot over the years, I kind of came to realize that if I wanted to make my blog any better, I’d have to migrate to WordPress. I researched a ton on how to do this, without losing years of content, and it looked extensive, and scary… so I put it off. For an entire year.
Then I came across Pipdig and loved their templates. I purchased one to jazz things up be then was disappointed at the lack of options Blogger had, over WordPress. I then saw they offered a migration service and I personally felt the price could not be beat. I contacted them and started working with the owner, Phil, on moving my blog over. Trust me, I was scared and had a million questions for him, but he patiently walked me through everything and it took about a week for everything to migrate without any down time, which was fantastic.
I cannot recommend him enough, and recently used him again to transfer my URL over here as well. Smooth sailing, happy customer!
What platform do you like the best?
I was just thinking about this the other night, actually. I have only been on two: Blogger, originally, and WordPress for the last two years.
Blogger is great to get started, and I really liked it and found the interface easy to use, understand the learn. It’s also free, which was a huge asset and absolutely imperative when I was starting.
WordPress is absolutely perfect for my current needs and I am so glad I made the switch. It was scary and there was a learning curve, but the reason I love it so much more is there is so much more you can do with it. There are tons of plug-ins on the back end, more HTML versatility (which, TBD, I don’t dabble in much anyway), but mainly the simple things you guys would notice are things like the ability to change the cover/preview photo of a blog post that isn’t the same as the first photo, having the ‘SHOP THE POST’ preview on the main page (versus just inside the post itself), create menus at the top with drop-downs, and just a lot more creative control altogether.
How do you find time to have a full time job and still blog? You’re amazing!
That’s so sweet–thank you!
I truly appreciate a comment like that, because I know blogging can come off as easy, and effortless (I think that’s the point, and even I get sucked into that trap with others), but there truly is a lot of work and time spent making it look that way.
If I didn’t love blogging, I wouldn’t make time for it, bottom line. It’s a ton of time and having a supportive partner is absolutely invaluable. I’m currently sitting in the car as Marco drives working on this post.
I also don’t have kids, so that obviously plays a big part and I just dedicate a lot of time to this. It makes me happy, so I make it a priority. That said, I do find it a juggling act at times and that’s why often times I don’t blog every day, an inconsistent with my Instagram posting and have basically let my YouTube channel go down the tube in the past year. There are only so many hours in the day, right!? 🙂
I’ve wanted to start blogging as I now have time (my children are now adults). How did you start?
Awesome! Just do it.
Sign up for Blogger or WordPress (or Squarespace), come up with a blog name, sign up for Instagram, and blog about something you love. It will not be perfect and it doesn’t have to be. Just start somewhere.
I think a lot of people wait and think, ‘My blog has to be perfect to go live‘ — and yes, there are some people with a ton of money and resources to do that and turn it into a business right away, but it doesn’t have to be. If this is something you are passionate about and want to just do it for fun, then you should. Trust me, when I look back on my old blog posts I cringe! But it’s the journey that’s brought me (and everyone else) to here and you’ll learn a ton simply through trial and error.
That’s all for this one, if you have any more questions, I’d be happy to answer them–just send ’em over via Instagram. Hope you have a great day xo