Every morning I wake up to a fresh batch of emails. Inquiries from companies seeking collaborations. Prayer requests from faithful readers. And yes, even some spam. The type of message I most frequently receive? Passionate emails from new bloggers seeking advice on how to start a successful fashion blog.
Since there already are TONS of blog posts outlining how to start a blog – like this post and this post and this post – I won’t spend much time discussing the mechanics of creating a blog. That’s homework you should do on your own. Instead, I intend to share some crucial lessons I’ve learned on my blogging journey thus far.
Let me preface this post by admitting that I’m NO Chiara Ferragni or Aimee Song. I’m not raking in millions of dollars through my blog, nor do I have millions of followers on IG. I have, however, partnerned with over 10 established brands and been featured on several notable blogs since taking fashion blogging seriously 8 months ago. I say that not to brag ( though I’m extremely grateful to have experienced such success) but to show that I’ve experienced some success with my blog – enough to be able to provide some quality advice for those just starting out. I hope this post will help you with the start of your own blogging journey.
Stay true to your mission.
This point is important, so I’m going to take a disproportionate amount of space in this post to discuss it. When starting a blog, consider these three crucial questions: 1) What’s the point of your blog?; 2) How will your blog help others?; and 3) What makes your blog different from existing blogs? The answers to these questions will help you determine your blog’s mission — and you shouldn’t stray from your mission. Your path to fulfilling that mission will likely evolve over time, but the core goals of your blog shouldn’t change.
Please don’t make monetization and fame the sole aim of your blog. Blogging is not a get a get-rich-quick scheme. Most bloggers never see a dime from their blog, and those who do only generate an income after building a loyal following and honing their talents. When you start focusing on money, your readers will notice and your blog will suffer.
If you’re a faith-based blogger like myself, remember that blogging isn’t a vanity project – it’s an opportunity to share your faith with the world. Thus, it’s especially important for you to keep your faith at the center of your mission.
Finally, I implore my fellow modest fashion bloggers to remember that modest dress does NOT equal a modest heart. Let’s help each other to remember that modest dress is an outward display of inward humility and reverence for God and his holy standards. It’s easy to get lost in the glamor of fashion blogging or the stress of maintaining a blog. You must continually pray for God’s guidance in your blogging endeavors and trust that He will help your blog blossom into a space that is glorifying unto Him.
Write well and take good photos.
In order to differentiate yourself from other bloggers and provide value to your readers, creating good content must be a priority. As the old adage goes: Content is king. Writing well and taking good photos are key to creating good content.
Learn how to become a better writer and story-teller by avidly reading well-written and engaging books and blogs. Take a creative writing course. At the very least, download plugins like the Grammarly plugin to ensure you don’t have egregious typos throughout your posts (i.e., using non-existent words like “alot” or confusing “their” and “there”. Most importantly, you should spend some time getting to know your readers – the problems they need your help with, what type of posts they like to read, etc. Learn how to create content that resonates with them.
If you’re a fashion blogger, invest time into producing good photos. The fashion blogging space is saturated with talent, so there truly is no room for poor quality photos. Find a good photographer. Better yet, become your own photographer – there are plenty of online and local classes to help with that. If you’re not the best photographer yet, that’s OK! Learn how to ‘fake it’ by becoming good at editing your photos.
Also, this is crucial advice too many fashion bloggers ignore: Prepare for your photo shoots in advance. Taking photos for your fashion blog should involve more than throwing on your clothes and snapping some photos. You’re essentially becoming an amateur model representing your brand and creating photos that will potentially be shared with tons of people. Try on your outfit(s) beforehand. Channel your inner ANTM and practice your poses so your photos don’t look painfully awkward. Pay attention to all the details of your outfit and your ideal body angles. And for neatness’ sake, iron or steam your clothes before the shoot.
Calculate blogging costs + Set a budget.
Now, this is something I didn’t do until very recently, so I learned this point the hard way (once I ran through about $200 more than I anticipated one month). There are a lot of ‘surprise’ costs involved with blogging. Website Hosting. Blog Design. Photography. Photo editing programs. Plugins. Clothing, accessories, and makeup for photo shoots. Before creating your blog, calculate your costs in advance and create a budget that works for your income level. Remember, your blog will be a hobby at first, and it doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning. Take your growth in stages.
BE SELECTIVE WITH THE BRANDS YOU PARTNER WITH.
Once you get good at blogging, brands will start knocking on your door. In the beginning, you’ll be so elated by each brand’s interest in a partnership that you’ll be tempted to say “YES” to every offer that comes your way. Don’t do that. Be mindful of your mission, your audience, and your capabilities before agreeing to work with a brand. And only work with brands that you honestly would support apart from blogging. If you don’t like the company’s products or if the company’s mission is grossly misaligned with your own, don’t partner with them.
Network, Network, Network.
Blogging often requires hours of solitude to craft those meaningful posts that resonate with readers, but it takes a village for your blog to truly become successful. At some point, you’ll exhaust your network of family and friends. That means you have to network with your fellow bloggers.
But don’t network in the icky, self-serving way. Truly invest in your fellow bloggers. Join their mailing lists, comment on and share their blog posts, and feature them in the #followfriday shout outs in social media. Do ALL the things you hope for someone else to do for your blog (Jesus’ golden rule extends to blogging as well).
Join blogging groups with like-minded women who aim to encourage and help each other succeed. My absolute favorite group is the Peony Project. If you’re a Christian female blogger, you should join this group ASAP.
Weekly link-ups (or blog hops) are another excellent way to meet and support fellow bloggers. But don’t just drop a link and dash. Not only is that a selfish approach to link-ups (and a sure way to annoy the link-up host), it’s a waste of an opportunity to network. So share your link and then visit at least 2 other blogs from that link up. Here are some of my favorite link-ups:
- Monday – Style to Inspire with Rhea Et Cetera
- Monday – Modest Mondays with the Modest Mom Blog
- Wednesday – What I Wore with the Pleated Poppy blog
- Wednesday – Style Me Wednesday with Shopping My Closet
- Thursday – Throwback Thursday with Happiness at Mid Life
- Friday – Favorite Fashion Friday with Penniless Socialite
- Friday — Style Files with Lauryncakes and Brigette Style
Don’t stop Learning.
Think of blogging as a never ending intellectual journey. Like all things digital, the blogosphere is constantly evolving, and it’s important that you evolve along with the space. Once you’ve mastered the basics of blogging and have established a regular posting schedule, take your learning to the next level by reading how-to posts from expert bloggers or enrolling in intermediate blogging classes. Blogger Babes hosts great monthly classes online, and The Influence Network, the leading faith-based blogging community for women, also hosts some excellent blogging courses, from what I hear. There are endless opportunities for learning how to improve your blog – set aside some time each month to explore them.
If you’re determined to start a blog, you’ll have to let go of your aversion to social media, particularly Instagram. I understand the hesitation – I resisted Instagram for years because I considered it the land of unnecessary selfies and food shots. However, Instagram truly is a GOLD MINE for fashion bloggers. Not only is it a key platform for engaging your existing audience and finding new followers, it’s where most companies go to find fashion bloggers to partner with. Think of Instagram as your digital fashion blogging portfolio. Instagram has also given a noticeable voice to the modest fashion community – there are hundreds of us out there sharing the beauty in modest dress, and it’s a beautiful things to witness.
If you need help with your Instagram game, I HIGHLY recommend Melissa Camilleri’s 21-Day Instagram course. Melissa’s class helped me understand how I could personalize my feed to stay true to my mission and vision, even if it didn’t’ look like other Instagram accounts. That’s why I feature scripture and inspirational quotes in every third photo in my feed. Here’s a screen shot of my Instagram feed after I implemented what I learned in her class:
Seriously, don’t forget to have fun while blogging! I’m sure you read through this list only to realize there are some not-so-fun aspects of blogging. And I’ll be honest: Blogging is a LOT of work. When you aren’t in the ‘spotlight’, you will spend hours writing posts and then spend double that time sharing posts so that people know you even exist. But if you’re truly passionate about your blog and your mission, the work will be worthwhile and it won’t feel like work. You’ll just have to remind yourself of that from time to time. Smile and enjoy fruits of your labor, girl!
Linking up with these lovelies: More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express // Style to Inspire // Manic Mondays //Mix It Mondays // Pink Sole // Still Being Molly // Turning Heads Tuesday // Style Elixir // Garay Treasures // Pleated Poppy //Because Shanna Said So //Stylish Housewife // The Wednesday Pants // Style Me Wednesday // Happiness at Mid Life // The Red Closet Diary // Mix Match Fashion // Thursday Fashion Files // High Latitude Style //Friday Favorites // Birdie Shoots