[image via Zoe Report]
Happy Monday! I started this little bloggy thing with Kristin almost a year ago, and in that time my most common e-mail isn’t related to clothes or shoes or what my favorite spray tan is.
My most common question?
“Hi, I want to start a blog. How do I make it successful?”
My first thought, “Umm…I have NO CLUE what I’m doing! I’m going to give the worst advice ever.”
My second thought, “Well…I kinda got a degree in this….maybe I could send them some of my old papers?”
My third thought, “Katey, that is weird. Don’t do that.”
My fourth thought, “Blogging is the strangest industry. I want Mi Cocina.”
So I don’t think anyone has ever gotten a really clear cut answer from me, and I thought that even though I think I have no advice to offer, I can at least share what keeps me going!
I asked what you all wanted to know on Instagram and I found 5 of the most common questions, so I thought I would answer those and then share my tips to cover other questions!
[disclaimer: I have reread this post 5,000 times. I’ve thought my tips were good and I’ve thought they were the worst things in the world. I contemplated posting this SO MUCH, but at the end of the day this post isn’t for me, it is to hopefully help a few of you! If you disagree with any advice and want to let me know, please keep in mind that I seriously don’t know what I’m doing. We all use different methods and I just wanted to share mine in case someone wants to know. :)]
Most Common Questions:
1. How did you start blogging?
If you have read Chronicles of Frivolity from back when I was in school you might notice a little brunette bombshell is missing from the posts. I started blogging with my best friend Kristin while we were still in school and working at PR firms. We both were getting PR degrees and wanted to grow our knowledge of how the industry worked. [Blogging is a PR tactic. When I was at A PR firm I was running blogs for specific accounts, now I just run mine. I just might work with PR firms on campaigns with other bloggers, too!] We never even started a blog with the thoughts that people would read it, we just had degrees that taught us how to blog for companies. We wanted to transcend that into a blog that would represent helping girls and doing what we did best, spending money on frivolous things: clothes. The blog took Kristin to a really amazing job at a PR firm and she is basically running all of social media for a massive company [but that’s a secret ;)] and the blog became my full time job.
2. How do you gain a following?
I’m going to sound like a PR nazi when I say this, but fostering relationships leads to a following. You have to meet someone’s need before you tell them what you want to say. Why are people on social media sites? They want interaction with other humans. Make friends! Collaborate with other bloggers! Reach out to girls! I genuinely want to get to know girls on social media and through blogs, and feel like I’m best friends with them. You have no idea how many times I’m mortified talking to Paul and saying something along the lines of, “So today Britney got engaged and her fiancé did it in the cutest way.” After I’ve described Britney’s engagement for 2.5 hours and he asks how I know Britney I’m like, “Cough…um like you know back in the day on Instagram…cough.” Pour yourself into people and they will pour themselves into you.
3. How do you make a website?
Just sign up at a blogging site! You have different options like WordPress or Tumblr.
4. Any don’ts?
I think do’s and don’ts of blogging are all personal preference, but I think my biggest don’t is this: Don’t promote your brand on someone else’s. Nordstrom doesn’t comment on Neiman’s website in the review section saying, “Head to our page and see how we have clothes, too!” I don’t think a lot of people do that, but when I see it I get so confused.
5. Where can I learn more?
Most bloggers have a background in something related to blogging and I think a lot of their success is due to that. 99% of bloggers I am friends with and admire their growth have a background in: PR, writing, marketing, graphic design or the fashion industry. If you have never worked or studied those industries they have workshops for you! Check out blogger organizations in your area and they are constantly having little weekend trainings to help you learn these tips and tricks. Have a date night with google and you could be booked the next few weekends out just learning all about the process of building a website to promotion. I don’t know many organizations in other areas but Dallas has Dallas Blogger Collective and they are always having workshops!
1. I know, I know, I know. Who says don’t focus on growth? That is honestly my most common question. But let me be really honest: the market is over saturated. Seriously. Everyone wants to blog and everyone has a blog, so growth takes time. On average, it can take about 2-3 years for your blog base to build. Sometimes it happens more quickly for others and sometimes it is longer. We aren’t all meant to grow at the same rate and that is what makes this community really inspirational. We gain different things from different types of blogs! It is normal to think you aren’t impacting as many people as you want, but it is so much more important to genuinely impact a few people than fall on deaf ears to thousands. Focus on what makes your blog unique, not numbers, and growth will come.
2. Have a foundation of the process, not the end result. Don’t blog because you want to be a blogger. Don’t blog because you like bloggers. And especially don’t blog just because you like clothes. That almost sounds blasphemous. The blog world can look shiny and pretty and like you always have fresh flowers and packages delivered to your house. It is supposed to look like that. Bloggers work really hard to make it look like that. Seriously. ^^ Blogging is the strangest industry! Blog because you love helping people, blog because you love writing, blog because you love photography, blog because you love having a creative outlet. Make your blog foundation something you love, not something you aspire to be, and you will get to the level you want to be because you have fallen in love with the process, not the end result.
3. There might be one little trick to growth: consistency. Being consistent can clash with something creative and new like starting a blog, but it allows your readers to know what to expect. The first six months can be a trial where you figure out what you like, but once you hit that mark become consistent. I’m consistent with my camera, I’m consistent with my graphics, and I’m consistent with my posting schedule. Don’t mix those up too much, because you want people to be able to look at your blog without seeing the title and say, “That is Chronicles of Frivolity.” To answer a few questions, I use a Nikon D800. If I edit my photos I’ll use Adobe Elements. If you’re blogging, plan out your posts! Make a commitment and stick to it. I think 2-3 posts a week are great if you are starting out! It is so much better to be able to plan your posts out with creative ideas than run out of ideas and post each day just to post! If you can’t code, don’t worry! I barely can! Find other graphic designers or web designers that are trying to break into the industry just like you, and work out some sort of trade. This industry grows when other women help each other out! Building consistency is what will bring amazing opportunities your way, because brands want to know your taste and what to expect.
4. The most important thing I learned in schools was to be transparent, with companies and with life. Sometimes I will have a post planned to talk about a sale or an outfit idea, but if something is weighing on my heart I just talk about it. That may be a turnoff for some people, but the reason blogging is so valuable is because it is a representation of a person, as opposed to just a product. People fall in love with people, not just brands. If you look at major bloggers you may think they are only posting products, but they started out as people on a blog once, so their reader base already knows them. Be sure to let your readers know who you are. If you go through a breakup, great, share! So have other girls! I’m not saying to use your blog as a means of therapy [but girl, go for it!] but use it to allow your readers to peek into your life. I love seeing dogs and date nights and personal moments on my Instagram feed, show yours!
5. Don’t compare yourself to strangers on the internet. I could make a list of 5,000 things that I don’t do well enough blogging and an even longer list of bloggers who are a lot more inspiring than I could ever hope to be, but that takes time. It takes time away from doing what I truly want to do: help girls. If you start to stress that no one is reading your posts or you aren’t receiving the feedback you want, shut the computer off. You are fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalm 139:14], God created a masterpiece with you and your blog is just an extension of yourself!