17 Jun Blush and White [Plus: What Running a Fashion Blog is Really Like]
My friends often ask me what fashion blogging actually entails. On the surface, they usually see glitz and glamour and lots of pretty pictures, often of free stuff and cool events. But, as any fashion blogger would tell you, it takes so much dedication and hard work to get to that point.
Blazer: Robert Rodriguez
Today, I thought I’d share with you how I go about blogging and what I think it takes to succeed as a fashion blogger.
- Posting schedule: I commit to posting every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I treat it like a job and have challenged myself to stick to this schedule for 1,000 (starting May 1st, 2016).
- Content calendar: I need to be more disciplined at doing this, but in theory I should be planning posts a few weeks out. This way, I can better coordinate my content with certain holidays/events by creating content for that occasion.
- Upload posts: After I have all the content (more below), I upload it online. Making sure formatting is correct and that there are appropriate links to products and other web sites can take a long time. Other more technical tasks like resizing photos, adding keywords, optimizing SEO all take time too.
- Answering emails: As a blogger, I get outreach from brands. I try to respond to every email, even if the brand is not a great fit for my blog.
- Researching brands: For the brands that I think could be a good fit, I try to better understand what it is that they stand for, what their product is like, and what’s on their social media. I want to make sure the brands I collaborate with are a good fit for me and that they’ll also treat me fairly (e.g. give me credit if they use my photos for social media).
- Revisit brand/mission: Every so often, I come back to my “about me” section and carefully reconsider what I’m trying to stand for and convey. I tweak the language and try to make my messaging more clear.
- Trend assessment: It’s important to know what’s happening in the fashion world and who the new players are. I subscribe to newsletters and feeds to get fresh info every day.
- Procuring the right items: Shopping is fun, but it can also be challenging, especially if you’re trying to find a really spectacular item and manage your budget at the same time. While I am all for rewearing pieces in my posts, I don’t want too much same-ness, which means I’m always on the lookout for new pieces. Part of this also entails researching the brand, trying stuff on, and running to the post office to return stuff that didn’t work out.
- Scheduling photography: Finding time to take photos is hard, especially when you have to coordinate more than one schedule AND work around unpredictable weather. I so envy the fashion bloggers who have professional photographers as significant others, like Gary Pepper Girl!
- Identifying shoot locations: Ok, so you’ve figured out when you want to shoot. The other part of the equation is figuring out where, which entails finding the right angle to actually take the photos and trying to see how you can avoid having too many random people in the background.
- Photographing outfits: Pretty straightforward. Or so it seems, until the wind picks up and gives you crazy hair (see below…), or there’s that bright orange car in the background that just won’t move…
- Creating content: Then, it’s time to write the actual content! I know a lot of bloggers who don’t write much content, but I think it’s half the fun of blogging and a great way to share things of value with other people 🙂
- Photo post-editing: Time to pick a few photographs from a bunch of photos, then apply filters (if applicable) and optimize the framing, etc.
- Bloggers: As with any job, it’s always good to know other people doing the same thing so you can swap tips and provide moral support to each other.
- Brands: Sometimes brands find you, but other times you need to go out and actively network with the brands you want to work with. It helps when you have a huge following, but knowing the right people never hurts either.
- Social media: Time to curate content for another platform(s)! Whether you’re on Facebook or Instagram or any other platform, you have to be strategic about the content and message that you share. Take Twitter for example–you need to condense your message to 140 characters or less. After you figure out your content, then it’s time to grow your following by engaging with other users, always easier said than done.
- Other misc. channels: cross promoting with other bloggers, getting featured in magazines, sponsoring events can all help grow your brand and awareness. It takes a lot of creativity and time to get started but finding an effective way to get your content and brand out there is absolutely key.
- Ads, affiliates, sponsored posts, etc.: Once you have the following, then it’s a matter of finding people who are willing to pay you for your time. Identifying, cultivating, and establishing those relationships take time too. I think every blogger dreams of accomplishing what Rachel Parcel of Pink Peonies did, which was to bring in $1M in revenue over the 2015 holiday season alone!
So how much time does this all take? I would say each of my blog posts take between 3-6 hours to produce. Every week I probably spend equivalent time (or more!) on marketing and admin…
I think the biggest misconception my friends have is that running this blog is a hobby for me. It’s not. I’m treating it as a business and I run a lot of experiments on how to grow traffic and do things like maintain an income statement. I know I have to invest a lot of time and resources up front, but I’m hoping that the payoffs will be worth it, not only financially but also in the brands I’m able to partner with.
I’ll admit upfront that I am by no means an “already made it” blogger. But having engaged with and followed those who are far more established than myself in the fashion blogging world, I believe the following are critical elements to success.
- Strong brand: The successful bloggers have a strong identity, know what they stand for (and what they don’t), and can articulate this in words and through photographs. I met Wendy of Wendy’s Lookbook once in Hawaii, and she told me that she’s extremely conscious of the backdrop for all of her photos. As a “city girl,” her photos never have any green in them and always have elements of a cityscape like buildings, streets, etc.
- Consistency: It’s easy to blog for a while, but many bloggers get discouraged if they don’t get traction or don’t prioritize their blogging because of their day job, resulting in inconsistent output of content. Top bloggers post consistently, not only because that’s what readers expect of them, but also because it’s a way for them to be disciplined about their brand/business as well.
- Marketing skills: Take a scroll through Instagram and you’ll find literally millions of people calling themselves bloggers. To break through the noise, one must have really great digital marketing skills and top notch content. I’m still working on this one myself, so if anyone has tips, I’m all ears!
For other bloggers out there, if there’s anything you think I’ve missed, let me know in the comments!