I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately on blogging and branding advice of sorts (like I really know what I am doing here). So I thought I make a post addressing this topic. As the title reads, I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be one. I am an amateur, at best. Blogging is my hobby and while I’ve gotten a few paid sponsor posts, some sale commissions, and lots of goodies, it’s not supporting my bills in any way.
I think we all strive to be the next Sincerely Jules or Song Of Style – who wouldn’t love a closet full of dream-worthy designer clothing and getting paid to travel the world? But let’s not sugar coat it- the competition is tough. The blogging world is so crowded and cramped you will struggle to even find room to breathe. It can take years for a website to catch on, if at all, and only after the blogger has dedicated some serious time to social media and outreach—in other words, branding.
So how do we amateurs become one of those BOOKMARKED bloggers? Honestly…
I have no effing clue.
Or I’d probably be famous already. It’s still a learning process but I can tell you what I’ve learned so far….
Through repetition, in developing a daily practice of posting, I am beginning to see the thread of what my creative voice looks and sounds like. I have ceased making my blog a competitive sport and relaxed into using it as a means for my passion for styling. It is my space to be creative with and do as I want. This has freed me to start sharing myself a bit more through my writing/photos with my readers. Stepping back and putting myself in the place of the viewer, has led me in the direction of creating content that I would like to read/see.
If you’re using blogger like I am, below are resources I often refer to for coding/design tutorials to personalized my blog:
Loving Life Designs
For some of you that don’t know what that means.. Your domain name is what people will type to find your site. i.e. – although I am using blogger platform instead of seeing “gypsytan.blogspot.com”, my domain name is just plain ol’ “gypsytan.co” (.com was taken). You don’t want another business attached to your brand. It’s only a small investment ($10/year) – skip a latte or two, it’s worth it.
Yep. I head over to your About Me page (make sure it is easy for your readers to find it)
Then I read.. “Hi I am Jane Doe, I’m started this blog because I love to travel and I love fashion.”
Now you’ve lost me. We all love to travel and if you’re blogging about fashion, you obviously love fashion. It’s rhetorical.
Start with a short paragraph describing what your blog is about. But don’t be afraid to get a little deeper. I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten from labels wanting to collaborate partly because of my philosophy on life – stated in my About page. Keep it real. Keep it relatable. Keep it conversational.
|write your thoughts|
Not to sound harsh but unless you’re writing your blog for your friends and fam, most of your readers don’t give a damn about your life. I actually encourage you to let your personality shine through your writing but don’t make a whole blog post about your interests or your life-story. Readers care more about what we can teach them.
For fashion/personal/food bloggers, taking good photos is key to developing a following. I still have a long way to go but like I said, I am using my iPhone 6.
The best hours for outfit photos are later in the afternoon with natural light—”the magic hours!”—when the sun is near the horizon and gives a soft hazy front light. When you photograph, say, at noon, you will often have harsh shadows in your face.
I use VSCOcam, Afterlight, Picfx, Diptic, Squareready to edit my photos on my iPhone.
But do break up your contents with photos. No matter how awesome your content is- the presence of photography makes it more fun to read- we don’t want people to feel like they are reading an essay.
Blog layout is really important to making your blog compelling to visit. I am indecisive and a perfectionist. The two combination has led me to spend many wasted hours on on formatting/coding. Don’t do what I did. But do stick with the clean fonts, theme, alignment throughout your blog.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire someone to help you get started. Can’t afford it? I bet you have a friend who is willing to help. I have seen messy formats and 20 color schemes that make me want to gouge my eyes out.
I use three different fonts throughout my blog and black, dark grey, and blue to highlight links. Choosing fonts might not be important to you, but it makes a big difference in my eyes.
Personally, I love a post to be aligned to the left and pictures, all with the same width, centered. Post aligned left or justify, are easier to read. Don’t center it (unless its a one liner), because it looks like you’re writing a poetry.
Make sure the heading stands out, and the footer with the share links are easy to find.
|Example of a nice layout | Dear Miss Modern – Stella Blog Web Kit|
Use your social media as your tool. I actually gained a huge following on my Instagram first then decided to start a blog because of friends and followers encouragement. Don’t be too cool to respond to your readers’ questions and comments. I personally love hearing back from my favorite blogger babes and always impressed when they addressed me specifically, so I try to do the same. Be humble and complimentary- but be real.
COMMENTS: I recently download Disqus for my blog. It is so user-friendly. Totally recommend everyone to use it!
Other sites to check as a tool to brand your blog (for fashion bloggers): Blogloving, Lookbook, Chictopia…
PET PEEVE is when people ask me to follow each other or leave comments requesting to check out their blog- that just makes me NOT want to follow or look at their blog. Not to say you can’t comment on a blog post and end it with your name and your domain name. Just don’t spam. Save that for the musubi.
Best of luck to you all babes. I hope this is helpful. Just be patient. I’ve only been blogging for 9 months and I’m just a tiny star in the galaxy. Sit down. Relax. And keep typing…
Please, please, please leave some inputs and tips as I am always learning and want to share this knowledge. I want to update this list (and I will credit you).