Of all the e-mails I receive, some form of ‘how did you start your blog‘ has always been one of the most common questions. So, for those of you who have e-mailed me in the past don’t think I was ignoring you (and I’m so sorry I can’t get to all your e-mails)! I just wanted to make sure I put all the info I could together in a post like this to share with everyone because I have so much to say.
After only blogging for a little less than a year and a half, I’m sure there are people out there who know more about this topic than I do, but I do feel like I’ve learned so many new things that I’d love to share with anyone interested in getting started.
As my blog has transitioned from a hobby – to a part time job – to my now full time job, it has been a huge learning experience and I believe that it’s taught me more about myself, management, and business than I could’ve learned anywhere else. Yes, school was great and I learned a ton of valuable things, but there’s nothing like the learning experience of being your own boss where you have to run every aspect of your business on your own.
BEFORE YOU START
Ask yourself WHY do I want to start a blog: This is the FIRST question you need to ask yourself before you take one step further. Why are you starting a blog? What do you hope to share with other people? If you’re main goal is to make money or become ‘instagram-famous’, don’t take another step further because as easy and glamorous as blogging may look – that is NO WHERE near the truth. The only thing that can truly make a blog successful is someone who is so passionate about what they’re sharing/blogging that they will go through failure, vulnerability, hard-work, etc. to create something they love working on day in and day out. You may have to be willing to work a full time job while spending all your off time (and sleeping time) developing your new passion, which can be exhausting.
OK, so you’re passionate about it: You NEED a plan. I spent several months brainstorming and creating future content to use so that I had a direction of where I wanted to take things. Right away I could tell it wasn’t going to be easy and I obviously had the thought that it could be a total bust and I was just wasting my time. But, I was so determined to make it work that in the end, the dedication paid off. Before you start, ask yourself: who do I want to reach, what is my target audience, how much time am I willing to put in to this?
SO, if you’ve made it to this point, I take it you’re pretty determined to get this thing going! So here’s a look at the ‘daily life of a fashion & lifestyle’ blogger and what all goes on behind the scenes and how I created OliviaRink.com – a place where I can express who I am, what I believe in, what I’m passionate about with hopes of sharing and inspiration young women everywhere.
Getting Started: picking a name & creating a website
Picking a name was SO HARD FOR ME. I knew I wanted to write about petite fashion and that was originally my main focus, but I didn’t want the name to limit me in the future. The best advice I can give for coming up with a name is to make it short, sweet, and memorable. A lot of things went in to the decision to change my blog from Lovely Little Style to OliviaRink.com, but the main reason was to simplify things and not put boundaries on what my blog was about.
Once I finalized the name, I made sure the domain name was available on GoDaddy.com. I came up with a lot of ideas I liked but sooo many were taken – there are a lot of darn websites out there! So definitely poke around on GoDaddy to see what’s available and when you find the right one, purchase it (typically $10-$15/year). This gives you the OliviaRink.COM – and establishes you as the owner of that domain.
Website Hosting – I originally started my blog through Blogger (www.blogger.com) and I LOVED IT. It was easy to navigate, design, and see the performance of my blog. If you’re just starting out and don’t know much about coding/websites/etc., Blogger is the perfect place to start. After one year of blogging, I decided I wanted to upgrade things and revamp my site and hire a web designer (read more about it in THIS post). I did some research on finding a designer that could help with my branding and also give me a a new look that was easy-to-navigate and hosted on WORDPRESS (which is great for those of you looking to hire a designer). Here are a few ideas that went into the development of OliviaRink.com and read THIS POST to see more of the details:
Other potential logo ideas:
Branding Your Blog: the design, aesthetic, and your voice.
The way you brand your blog is everything from your photography style to your logo design. I take every single brand I work with into consideration before agreeing on anything to make sure it’s a good fit for my brand. People follow you because they like YOU, YOUR voice, YOUR ideas, YOUR style. So it’s important to stay true to that and be your own person – it will be more fulfilling to you and your readers. Whether you’re designing your blog on your own or you’re hiring someone else for help, be sure to use the colors, layout, and design that YOU love and does the best job of expressing the focus of your blog. You are your brand when it comes to your website, so be sure to let your true self show in the process!
How to get more followers: gaining a following, continuing to grow, keeping things original & unique.
For some reason people seem to think there’s a trick to gaining a whole bunch of followers. BELIEVE ME, I’ve tried to figure that trick out, but the only thing that gains you real, interactive, loyal followers is by creating unique, original, and consistent content that others want to look at and read! Aside from creating inspiring content 4-5 times a week (which is a huge job in itself), there are other ways to continue to grow your audience:
-Utilize Social Media: Instagram is everything these days whether you like it or not and people are using it for everything now. Yes, it’s a silly iPhone app, but it also has huge profit potential and it’s a perfect mini portfolio to show the world what you’re offering. Original content, being smart with posting times, and being consistent with posting things you know your followers will enjoy are a few helpful tips to nailing the ‘gram. Commenting and interacting with other bloggers you admire is also a great way to network and get your name out!
-Word of Mouth: Like I said before, you are your brand, so get the word out there the most authentic and genuine way you can! When you meet people you think might benefit from reading your blog (in my case, other petites!) I always try to hand out a business cards and let them know about it. People generally respect other people’s passions, so whoever it is you come in contact with, spread the word!
-Consistency: before I started my blog I did 25+ outfit photoshoots and had written all the content for them before I even launched. I read that in order to really make a statement in the beginning, you need to have constant new content being published so people have a reason to go back. So they know each time your blog pops in their head, they’ll want to go visit it because they know you’re consistent with uploading new and interesting things. Aim to post 4-5 times per week in the beginning – that ain’t easy people but it’s the best way to get the ball rolling!
-Original Content: ask yourself why you visit your favorite blogs & websites over and over again? The main reason is because there is always new and interesting content to read that helps you in some way. Staying original and coming up with new ideas can get exhausting, but it’s also what makes this job fun and exciting. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing about and you stay true to yourself, it will show in your work.
Finding Inspiration: keeping things fresh, interesting, and on-trend.
There are a few different ways I look for inspiration for blog posts. For the most part, I like to blog about what I’m feeling at that moment, because it’s always easiest to write about the trends you really love, the feelings you’re feeling, or a thought you’ve been wanting to express. Pinterest is great for inspiration and following along with other bloggers is also great – but you have to be careful to not copy ideas. I originally followed as many other bloggers as a could in the beginning, but after a while I decided to unfollow most of them to stop comparing myself and thinking I needed to be doing what they were doing.
Fashion and design books are a great place to look for inspiration, but one thing I return to over and over again is my style icons. I love the classiness and charm of Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, and Kate Middleton and other stylish and inspiring women, so I’ve always tried to incorporate those leading ladies while putting my own spin on it.
Since my blog focuses on petite fashion tips, feminine fashion, tips for 20-somethings, etc., I try to research and come up with relevant topics and concerns behind those things. What do petites struggle with most? What new trends are happening that I love and think align with my brand, what common things do 20-something women deal with that needs to be talked about. I always want to keep it personal because it makes blogging so much more fulfilling when I can use my voice to reach other girls out there going through the same things!
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN:
So much planning goes into running a blog. If you grow it to the point where it’s not only your hobby but your business, you need to treat it like one. My weeks are filled with answer e-mails, running social media, styling outfits, planning photoshoots, filling in my content calendar, networking with brands and bloggers, attending conferences, constantly learning and watching youtube videos, writing copy, finding inspiration, etc. etc. etc.
I have a blog planner, a personal planner, and a dry erase wall board that has saved my life. I am the type of person who likes to write things out by hand and be able to see a few months in advance, so I definitely suggest buying a simple full year dry-erase board to use as your main content calendar (target, office max have them). Plus, things always change so being about to easily erase and move things around is so helpful. I have to plan several months in advance for specific holiday and event posts, so being able to see that far ahead is crucial.
I use a big clothing rack in a separate room to plan outfits as I come up with different ideas for looks. I also like just laying outfits I plan on photographing out on the floor to put all the finishing touches together.
For those of your with an Instagram husband, you are SO LUCKY. But for those of us who don’t have that convenience, finding a photographer bestie is A MUST. I work with a photographer on a weekly basis and it is probably the most important thing. You have to find someone you are comfortable working with and really admire their style – the style of photography totally establishes your brand! Depending on the agreement you have with each other, you’ll most likely have to agree upon a certain payment per post or per hour of working together. A lot goes in to making the photography on your website look perfect, but good photos are KEY!! (SO thankful for my girl Meagan Gilbert!).
I know that’s a TON to read, so I’ll stop here, but I’ll try to do another post in the future answering any of the questions you leave on my instagram, in the comments below, or in my email! ([email protected])
Thanks for reading, hope this post helped you in deciding your next step!! xoxo, Olivia
All Photography by Lexi Hoffman of Styled Grey