Just because I’ve been blogging for over a decade doesn’t mean I consider myself an expert at it. And while I have a communications degree and about 20 years of experience in marketing, I’ve never felt as though I have the necessary expertise to mentor others and dole out advice on starting your own fashion blog. However, I am often asked just that, “How do I start my own fashion blog?” I’m not sure I have all the answers, but what I can do is tell you my fashion blogging story and hope you’ll find some helpful tips to get you started on your journey.
1. Know your intention and establish your direction before you begin. Originally, I began my blog as a way to communicate to my friends who were constantly emailing me: “Where can I get a pencil skirt for under $60,” “What do you think about clogs,” “What’s the one fall trend I have to buy now?” So in the beginning, Lollie Shopping was a hobby, and as such I relied on the free blogging platforms Blogger and later OnSugar to host my blog. Because it was “just for fun,” I didn’t think it necessary to buy a URL, sign up with a web hosting service and learn WordPress. Of course, I eventually did all that, because I believe you should….
2. Allow your blog to evolve. Okay. So originally my blog was a hobby, but unbeknownst to the world, Lollie has some really sharp writing skills. And unbeknownst to me, people like that. I started getting a lot of compliments and attention from brands, and my readership grew. Soon, I was approached by editors to write for their publications. that was when I realized that I needed to present my blog in a more professional manner. But it wasn’t until a dear friend of mine (Las Vegas’ resident WordPress expert) jokingly threatened to buy my blog’s associated URL and hold it for ransom that I finally caved in and decided to turn my hobby into a job.
Lollie Shopping is still fun, but my focus is much more serious and sophisticated than it was before. It has also transformed into a women’s lifestyle blog where I write about more than just fashion. Here’s what I tell a lot of people: if you are okay with being an amateur, then Blogger, OnSugar, Tumblr, WordPress.com and Square Space are fine. But when you’re ready to go pro, buy a URL, sign up with a host service, download and install the WordPress software and purchase a premium theme. If you’re hoping to land a super cool blogging job (like I have) with a well-respected company, having an actual website as opposed to using a free blogging platform just looks so much sexier and makes you look like you really know what you’re doing.
3. Have a mission. When you are starting your own fashion blog, you should establish your mission in the beginning, and even post it somewhere on your blog. While your blog should evolve, don’t allow your mission to change. There’s a point to your blog. What is it? State it and use it as the guideline for how you manage your blog. My mission has always been to inspire others to believe they can look good no matter their age, body shape or income. This mission statement is the backbone of Lollie Shopping.
4. Write right. Only about half of you will agree with this tip. Yes. There are a TON of bloggers (and even published writers) out there who can’t write worth a dime. Their posts are filled with typos, spelling and grammatical errors and even embarrassingly unsuccessful attempts at cultural references. And some of these folks are being treated like VIPs, nabbing endorsement deals and/or being given truckloads of expensive merchandise for free. As you carve your path when starting your own fashion blog, you don’t have to be a good writer to attract millions of hits to your website. But I BEG you to please write with care and respect for the written word, because writing is an art. Do it for your mom. Do it for your seventh grade English teacher. But mostly, do it for yourself. Should the Internet come to an apocalyptic end one day, and all of our blogs go away, you can at least enter the world with excellent writing skills. Being charismatic can only take you so far in the job market. Being a great writer will take you anywhere.
5. Write what you know. This is the oldest writing tip in the book, and it applies to all kinds of writing, from fiction to non-fiction to blogging. So blog what you know. Maybe you’re not a writer. Maybe you’re a stylist or a designer or a photographer. So style what you know. Design and draw what you know. Photograph what you know. Rely on your own personal expertise and knowledge as the topics for your blog posts. You ARE an interesting person. And you DO have something cool to say. Always remember that.
6. Be honest and sincere. This is super important and will help you maintain integrity. First of all, being honest is the law. The Federal Trade Commission established a law to regulate bloggers who receive gifts and/or financial compensation for a blog post. Now, it’s a completely unfair law considering Steven Spielberg can place Pepsi and Pizza Hut all over his blockbuster films without ever having to tell his audiences that he got paid for it, but nonetheless, it’s a law. So abide by it. If you get money for a blog post, say so. If you got a free gift, reveal that.
When I get paid to blog I say “sponsored blog post” at the end of the post, or I’ll add the words “dedicated post” prior to the main title of the post. For gifts, I normally mention I received a complimentary sample within the text of the post, or I’ll simply state “complimentary gift received” at the end of the post. And if I really, really like a product, I say so. If I don’t…, well, honestly, I just won’t blog about it. I don’t want to do bad reviews of products. I’d rather just not give them the press. But I do contact the publicist or brand and give them my negative feedback, hoping that it will help them to improve their product.
7. Find a way to stand out. About a couple of years into my blogging, when the site started garnering interest, I got a lot of pressure from others to move to New York. Truthfully, if I didn’t live in Las Vegas, I’d live in New York. I LOVE New York. It’s a fabulous city. But there are a bazillion fashion bloggers there. And at least half of them are amazing! How could I possibly compete with that? How would I stand out?
Here in Vegas, I’m one of a handful of fashion bloggers, and I get treated as well as the top fashion bloggers in New York. Why on earth would I want to leave that? I may not sit front row at Marc Jacobs’ fashion show, but when Tim Gunn comes to town, believe me, I’m invited to interview him. Being a Las Vegas fashion blogger helps me to stand out, as opposed to blending in with the many struggling, still unknown fashion bloggers in New York. Find your niche and stand out from the crowd.
These are just my tips for getting started. Staying successful is a whole other blog post, and maybe one day I’ll write it. But for now, my advice is to take a leap of faith and go for it. Blogging is an intellectually and emotionally rewarding adventure worth experiencing. Don’t deny yourself of that. Take a deep breath. Believe in yourself. And… just… blog.