Blogging is amazing, satisfying, fulfilling, and well- hard. Beginning this journey, I knew that like with any new venture, there was going to be a learning curve. But man can that curve be hard to get over sometimes. I still am doing so, and continue to learn new things every day. But what if someone had told me half of this crap when I started? I would have saved so many hours spent reading, messing up, wasting my time… you name it. Don’t get me wrong, the learning process is a wonderful thing, but I am going to make it a tad bit easier for you.
At First You’re Going To Suck
This sounds harsh. But it’s true. It’s impossible to know everything that you are going to need to know on your first day of blogging. The key here is minimizing this window of suckage. Keep your sucky period as short as possible and your blog will get off of the ground at a faster pace. I wish that I had had high quality photos on Progression By Design straight out of the gate!
Seriously ya’ll, this is huge. I used to be so bad about comparing myself to other bloggers. Why is she getting more brand collaborations? I have been blogging longer! Why is she more photogenic than I am? How the hell is she managing to post two perfectly styled Instagram shots a day? Who even has time for that? And the list goes on. Stop. When I finally stopped putting so much energy into comparing myself to other bloggers, I was able to reroute that energy into my actual blog. There is nothing wrong with looking to other bloggers for inspiration and motivation, just don’t sit on your phone and obsess over it every day.
Well no s*** Marie thanks for pointing that out to me Captain Obvious. But no really. It’s not as obvious as you might think. Yes you want to be fun and trendy, but just because everyone is posting flamingos, pool photos with those giant food shaped floaties, and tassels, doesn’t mean that you have to (or should). Your end goal should be to become an industry leader not an industry follower. You want to appeal to your target audience and their interests (see below), while simultaneously sparking new interests in your readers.
Instagram: A Neccessary Evil
Okay evil may be a little harsh, but frankly, keeping up with my Instagram is something that I really struggle with. I know that everything doesn’t need to be perfect at the end of the day, but when it comes to Instagram, my OCD definitely comes out to play. Styling and curating pretty photos is a lot more time consuming than one would originally think. However, the bottom line is that you need to have one. Brands use Instagram (as well as your other social media accounts) to gauge the size of your following, your industry influence, and your professionalism, among other things. It is a little unfair that unless brands have access to your media kit (a compilation of your blog stats that you send to inquiring brands), they don’t know that you actually have thousands and thousands of unique visitors a month. Brands often use your amount of social media followers to gauge your blog’s traffic. Inaccurate and unfair? Yes. But it is just a part of the blogging game.
Read about the photo editing app that permanently upped my Instagram game
Pinterest Is Your New Boyfriend
You need to eat, sleep, breath Pinterest. Pinterest is the number one traffic driver for Progression By Design, and I shutter to think about what my blog would be without it! Read all about using Pinterest to drive thousands of visitors to your blog and then hop to it and get pinning.
Hire a Photographer
As a fashion and lifestyle blogger, having original high quality photos is extremely important. Not only do they look professional, they will drive more traffic to your website on websites such as Pinterest or Instagram. Hire a photographer in your area! In the short run this is much cheaper than buying a thousand dollar professional quality camera. Some photographers cut bloggers a special rate since they will be needing a photographer so frequently. I currently pay less than $100 for three outfits.
If you can’t afford to pay a photographer regularly, get to saving! Buy yourself the best camera that you can afford and learn how to use it. Get a friend or a tri pod and a clicker to shoot your outfit photos. Use Adobe Lightroom to edit them and you are in business!
It can be easy to forget the little details when you are scrambling to get ready for a shoot. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT shoot with bare or nude lips. You will look you haven’t had water in nine years and that clearly is not a trend this season. Also, bring a comb with you to the shoot and use it! If your hair has a chance to look bad, it will seize this chance I promise you. Don’t ruin the photos that you are paying for with messy looking hair.
Monetize Your Blog From the Beginning
Some bloggers don’t want to have ads on their website, and that is totally fine. I used to be one of them! But I now have a few discreet Google Ads on my site and I don’t think that they hinder the reader’s experience at all! I make decent money from these few small ads, and VERY decent money from Padsquad, the mobile advertising platform that I use. More details to come on this later!
Develop a Branding Strategy
Creating a brand identity is really important when it comes to growing and developing a loyal readership. The visual branding of your website sets you apart from other blogs and helps convey your message to the reader. I go into more detail about specific strategies in How to Brand Yourself.
Work Your Behind Off
If your goal is to make money with blogging and have thousands of visitors a month, you need to understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Monetary success comes after months and months of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Blogging has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, but also one of my biggest challenges. It has taught me that instant gratification just isn’t going to happen with the things that are worth working for. Sometimes in the beginning it felt like I was talking to myself and that no one wanted to read my blog. Now with thousands and thousands of visitors a month, I can finally see my hard work come to life!