Scroll down to enter the $250 Nordstrom gift card giveaway!
Blogiversary Outfit Details: Tularosa Audrey Pintuck Dress (also love the pink version!) | Gucci Soho Disco Bag | Steve Madden Gerard Sandals | Baublebar Slim Bar Pendant | Sugarfix by Baublebar Earrings |Daniel Wellington Classy St. Mawes Watch (c/o) | Urban Decay Lipstick (Sheer Lavender)
My Blogiversary: What I learned in the First Year of Blogging
So I finally had my one year blogiversary! Thank all of you who read this blog for your support and encouragement over the year! Your support truly means the world to me.
I started this endeavor on a whim last summer. I had just lost all my baby weight (which wasn’t exactly easy after having four kids) and gotten my body back in shape. Having spent the last ten years in mommy mode, I was a bit fashion clueless at the time. My sister-in-law told me one day, “April, you need new jeans!”. I looked at her rather dumbfounded, but took her advice. I decided I needed a whole new wardrobe revamp! So I was surfing online and happened across my first fashion blog – Cute and Little. After reading a few of her posts, I thought, “I can do that.”. I knew all about taking pictures, having been a professional maternity and newborn photographer for the last seven years. I had given it up to focus on family, but I missed the creative spark that photography afforded. To me, picking out clothing was not at all different from styling a newborn baby for their first portrait session, And I didn’t have to deal with clients! So I trained my daughter to take a few pictures (she is a natural at it) and set up a WordPress website. That was only the beginning….
Fashion Blogging is a Tremendous Amount of Work
If anyone tells you fashion blogging is easy, they are lying. Fashion blogging is just like any other self-employed job and you get out of it only what you put into it. A great deal of effort goes into each and every blog post. Planning the post takes time. What is the topic going to be? What outfit will I be wearing? Where will I take the pictures? Once that is accomplished, then there is the photo session itself. I’m not into the “keeping it real” casual look, so hair and makeup take time. Then there is the session itself. That can take between 15-25 minutes. Editing the photos takes 20 minutes (I use Photoshop and Lightroom) and then writing the post takes another 30-60 minutes. Then of course you have to promote your post on social media (something I really didn’t do as a portrait photographer) if you want anyone to see it at all. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest are all important. Making your post for the world to see is central to building your blog following. When it is all said and done I put 20-30 hours a week into this blog, and that is on top of a full time job as a physician, and of course taking care of my family.
Making Money is Even Harder
Some people think that fashion blogging means easy money and an easy life. Nothing could be further from the truth! Ten years ago, when no one even knew what a fashion blog was, perhaps that was true. But now, it seems like there are thousands of fashion bloggers, and it can be tremendously hard to stand out in the crowd. You are not really selling a physical good, and you have to produce quality content. Your blog needs to be seen by thousands of people for anyone to consider you. This is where “alt tags” become important (so Google can find you) and of course social media is important. Your posts shouldn’t really be about the cute outfit of the day, but they have to be engaging, creative topics that people will actually want to read! This doesn’t happen overnight, and often takes months or years to build a name for yourself. Persistence really is key. The longer you can keep your blog active and engaging, the more people will get to know your brand.
Making any money at all in the beginning is tremendously difficult, and you really shouldn’t expect it. For me, the rewards initially came through (and continues to be) clothing that was given to me in exchange for a blog post. I have some pretty discerning tastes, so I have been fairly selective about which brands I will partner with. The longer I do this, the more I realize that it is OK to turn down a company if it isn’t right. Then there are “affiliate links”. Each item I post about is linked through an affiliate link. ShopStyle is what I used initially as anyone can do it. ShopStyle is a pay per click affiliate linking program, so if you don’t get a lot of clicks you won’t make any money. RewardStyle is an invitation-only service, and I was accepted into it about 5 months of blogging. RewardStyle pays a higher commission, but people actually have to buy what you are advertising. If people don’t see your site, then that isn’t going to help.
Then there are sponsored posts. These are posts that are paid for by the company who wants their brand to be discussed. This is something that really only happens after you build a substantial following. I am just now starting to do sponsored posts.
Social Media is Key
While your blog is the ultimate representation of you and really the only thing you own, you cannot forget the importance of social media. Instagram is where it is at when it comes to this, and building a presence on Instagram is so important to retailers. You can’t just post a picture and be done with it (maybe if you are Kim Kardashian or you were on The Bachelor it works but I’m not quite that famous). You have to like and comment on lots of other people’s pictures and that in turn generates interest in your page. This in itself is a huge endeavor! Of course Pinterest is equally important, and that tends to take much less time. Facebook is important, but not like it used to be (pages are typically hidden from your followers unless you pay to promote them). Twitter can help too. How can a person keep up with all of it? This is where Pinterest schedulers such as Tailwind can help. Hootsuite is what I use to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter.
Have a Niche
With thousands of bloggers in the blogosphere, how can you stand out in the crowd? It is so much easier when you have a niche. For me, it is about living as a petite woman. at 5’2″ I can’t wear typical sizes, and so it is only natural to blog about style for the vertically challenged. Of course I also love to talk about photography as this is what I truly love doing!
It’s not the Destination but the Journey
Isn’t that what is always said about anything that takes a lot of work? But it really is so true. I have made so many good friends through this journey, and for me that is the most rewarding aspect of blogging. The best thing I did was join Style Collective. This group of ladies was instrumental in allowing me to meet other bloggers! And by meeting other bloggers, I made good friends, and had more opportunities to network with others. My life has never been the same since doing this! Overall, blogging is an incredible investment of time, money, and creativity, but because of the friends I meet I want to keep doing it. Time will tell where the future leads…
*This blogiversary post contains affiliate links.
And speaking of friends, I have teamed up with my friend Jessica of PetiteStyleScript to host a giveaway! The winner will receive a $250 Nordstrom gift card! There are multiple ways to enter, an each separate entry counts as a chance to win. The giveaway begins tonight at midnight and ends August 16th. Good luck!