When I started blogging just over three years ago, I’m going to be honest with you, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But through trial and error, mentorships and some Google searches, I’ve seemed to have found my way. Now that I have over 3 million views, viral articles and sponsors like Nordstrom, H&M and Billabong (just to name a few), I feel a bit more assured in my abilities. This is one of the most common question I get from my followers, so here is my best answer. Reflecting back on my, ahem, humble beginnings, I have learned many lessons that I now want to pass on to you.
1. Do have professional looking pictures. Most people are visual and taking your pictures in good lighting with a DSLR camera can make a world of a difference.
2. Do have an aesthetically pleasing (and minimal) layout. A blog that has too much going on can turn off potential followers in a second, even if your content is spectacular. When in doubt, go simple. Take inspiration from your favorite (and successful) bloggers.
3. Do embrace social media. It is a major part of the blogging game nowadays. For example, I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter so I procrastinated until about a year ago. Now I’m far behind on that platform. Same thing goes for Instagram, if I would have been an early adopter, I would be exponentially more successful.
4. Do brand yourself. This one is imperative. The name of your blog, the quick phrase summing it up, colors, fonts and a signature really matter. It establishes an identity for you online (which isn’t the easiest thing to do). Also set the tone for your site. Are you aspirational or relatable? Practical or high fashion? Define exactly who you are and what you stand for.
5. Do find your niche. Think about it, what makes you different from every other “fashion blogger.” Do you do nails? Does your blog cater to a niche market like plus size, petite or tall? The niche I found for Chic Street Style was a high-low fashion approach (that was rare for bloggers at the time). Also, I did tons of lists, packing guides and outfit logs (for study abroad, an internship) that I felt like there was a real lack of at the time. My followers really resonated with that and helped to make me successful.
6. Do post consistently and regularly. Make a schedule that is reliable. Whether you post every Monday, all weekdays or just twice a month – just pick a number and stick to it.
7. Don’t overcomplicate your site. Polka dots or zebra print might be your thing, but don’t make it your background. The more whitespace the better, so your followers can focus on your images.
8. Don’t try to imitate other bloggers. Yes, they are successful for a reason, but being genuine will go very far. You will never beat someone at their own game, so make your own.
9. Don’t write novels for content (all the time). Unfortunately, this is exactly how my first handful of blog posts were. People like lists, snappy and witty content that gets to the point. Think about it like this, “would I take the time out of my busy day to read this?” If the answer is no, try again.
10. Don’t have grammatical errors. This is the one even I have to actively work on. A type can tank your credibility (and get harassing comments) like nothing you’ve ever seen.
To those of you who are starting or have started your own blog – congrats! Hopefully this can help you find your stride and find the fulfillment that I get from inspiring others through my website.
As always, thank you for reading.