I decided to write this post, How To Start a Blog, because recently a lot of my friends and acquaintances have been asking me this question. I never thought I'd end up giving advice about blogging, but on my third year of running a fashion and lifestyle blog I'm finally very proud of what I have achieved and how much fun I have had along the way.
Blogging has become a huge part of my life, not only as a hobby but also as a professional platform - running a blog can help you open doors to industries you are interested in. In my line of work, I deal with social media, SEO, content editing - all of which are key to running a successful blog, and FashionFake made it onto my CV about a year ago when I realised that a blog is a very valuable platform.
Without further ado, here are my tips on how to start a blog!
- Decide what you want to write about. This starting point is important because it can dictate a lot, like the name of your blog for example. I always wanted to write about fashion, so it was natural that I chose something with the word 'fashion in it'. There's no rules on what you can write about: fashion, beauty, movies, food, games, music, pets, travelling, computer hacks, porcelain dog collectibles even; write about something you are passionate about and something that will give you enough posts. Writing a lifestyle blog gives you the flexibility to write about almost anything that is relevant to the kind of lifestyle you lead - that's what keeps readers interested, YOU. But at the end of the day, it's your blog and if you start by being a beauty blogger and then two years down the line decide that you actually want to write about food - you can.
- Choose your blog name. That is a biggie - it can be so tough to choose a blog name! It's probably where most people get stuck. I chose FashionFake because when I first started my blog it was going to be all about fashion and nothing else, now if you ask me whether it was the best name the answer will be "I'm not sure". Of course it's a name that I like because it makes me think of my blog, but in hindsight I wish it was something more varied. The problem is that if you choose a name which you don't like or don't bond with from the very beginning until the very end, it can be really tricky to change it three years down the line as your readers, along with PR companies and Google, will recognise you as your original name. By changing it you risk confusing your readers and social media followers, and the PR companies who you previously worked with or who's radar you are on.
- Make the right decision about which platform you are going to use. WordPress and Blogger are the dominating platforms, however there are blogging platforms such as Ghost, Medium, Weebly, LiveJournal and many more you can choose from. For me, Blogger was the easiest to get to grips with - it's very simple, it allows you to alter some of its own templates to customise them, it's clearly laid out and there are thousands of templates to choose from. I have also worked with WordPress before but it's not a platform I really get on with. Some bloggers actually switch to WordPress later in their blogging career because it has more capabilities than Blogger and I think you can build more complex templates. Do your research, find out which platform is best for you and stick with it because migrating from one to another is a tough job!
- Set up social media profiles alongside your blog. Social media is unbelievably important if you want to promote your blog and really start mingling in the blogging circles. One of the reasons why bloggers stick around and push through tough times with their blogs is all thanks to the blogging community. The gals and guys online are so helpful, supportive and friendly - I have made some amazing friends though Twitter. Social media is also valuable if you're hoping to work with brands as you can connect with them and reach out to help them notice your blog in a sea of talented people. My favourite social media platform for blogging are: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LookBook (for fashion profiles) and Pinterest. But there are so many to choose from depending on what kind of posts you put out, like Snapchat is on the rise for bloggers; Vine is perfect for vloggers, don't forget LinkedIn for business and career building alongside your blog and Google+ which really helps you with your rankings but I have to say I'm really not a fan (shhh!) It's a personal preference.
Ok so now your blog is set up, you're making new friends on Twitter but there's a couple of other things to think about such as the template, photography and content.
- You can make your own template, or find a great template for an incredible price. For the first two years, I used one of the Blogger templates and customised it with my own headings - it was free and easy to do. If you're a HTML genius, you can design and instal your own template but if like me you're knowledge extends to basic HTML edits, then it's best you get someone else to help you. I now use Pipdig for my blog template and they have some gorgeous designs for around £30 - you can spend as little or as much as you want on your template, it doesn't have to cost you £100.
- Now, onto photography. So many of those who want to start a blog get either discouraged because they don't have professional photography skills, or go out and spend their savings on a camera which costs them hundreds of pounds. I'll let you in on a little secret: I have only ever used my iPhone to take photos for my blog. I've had some incredible feedback where other bloggers where genuinely surprised to hear that I don't use a Nikon or a Canon - don't get me wrong, I am saving up for a beautiful SLR camera but in the meantime I am very happy with the quality of my photos from my iPhone. The secret is to download a good camera app, I use Camera+, and for editing I use Afterlight. And you can see from the photo below, the quality of images on your blog improves over time so don't criticise yourself too much in the first couple of months! (PS I can't believe how similar my outfits are! I promise they're new clothes!)
- Content is key. Great content is key to any website or blog so as much as pretty pictures and a cute blog design might help you keep your readers, it's content that will bring them here in the first place. If you're naturally good at writing, content will be really easy to master - there are lots of great sites which explain things like how SEO works and why it's important, what search keywords will work for your blog and your posts, and if you get stuck on something you're not sure on just Google it! I have taught myself a lot of what I know, and working in the industry I always keep up to date with what's happening in terms of online content.
These are my top tips to help you on your way to starting a blog! But to finish this post, I just wanted to point out some things which have been brought up in conversations with budding bloggers:
- Do start a blog because you want to write about something you're passionate about - as a hobby or as a portfolio
- Don't start a blog because you want freebies - it doesn't work like that and bloggers work incredibly hard to establish relationships with PR companies and work with samples
- Do express yourself and your personality - everyone loves reading about new things and people who are either the same or different as them, but you've really got to be yourself or your readers will soon see through you
- Don't copy other bloggers - take inspiration from them. There have been occasions where starting up bloggers have just outright copied posts, pictures and templates from other bloggers and trust me, it never ends well
- Do experiment with photography - do't be discouraged because you don't have the latest equipment, it will come in time! Download apps to help you take and edit your photos and you'll probably get through ten before you find the right one
- Don't feel like you're not good enough. Every one is different and your skills and abilities will develop, PR emails will come with time, invitations to press days will arrive when your blog is ready. All good things take time, and that includes your blog too
Here we go - my tips on how to start a blog! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me on my email or social media platforms - I will do my best to reply to you all! Also, if you are a blogger and have your own blog tips, leave them as a comment below - I'd love to read them!