Friday, April 25, 2014

How to be a Blogger - Starting a Successful Beauty or Fashion Blog by Alexa Poletti

Hello cuties! Following my Beginning Modeling Guide, I had tons of requests to write a blog post about how to be a blogger. So, here I find myself writing one for you. Please note that I've done almost no research on the topic, so take what you read here lightly. One day I just started a blog, and I have just figured it out as I went. Also note that this whole post is based on starting beauty/fashion blogs, but you can apply many of the same principles to blogs about other topics. So here are my tips, tricks, and guidelines I follow on my blog. I hope you enjoy them, find them useful, and start a kick-ass blog.

Choose Your Host:
Where you choose to host your blog is totally up to you. Personally, I use Blogger because I like its design, I find it easy to use, easy to customize, and because Google search engine seems to crawl Blogger blogs pretty regularly when showing results. But, you know, Blogger isn't the only one out there. I host my photography blog on Wordpress. So it's really just whatever your preference is.

The appearance of my blog is just a standard Blogger template that I've customized to be pink and bubbly with a navigation bar across the top. I love all of the customization options. Remember, if your blog doesn't look visually appealing, no one is going to stick around long to read what you have to say, so make sure it looks good!

Here are screenshots of what some of the customization options look like:

You can also add Google AdSense to Blogger blogs so that you can use your ad space to make a (very little) bit of money from your blog.

A lot of people don't know about this feature! If you go to your dashboard, you click "Earnings" on the side bar. Then you can apply for Google AdSense account. Google will then review your blog and decide if they think your blog would be a good fit for them. If you are approved, they can place ads on your blog and will pay a small amount for the ad space. Google is looking for blogs that are updated regularly, have a decent following, and have a topic so that they can place related ads. Google AdSense is not something you should try to apply for until after your blog starts getting decent traffic. But even if you get approved, don't expect to make a lot of money from your AdSense ads, but hey- every little bit counts!

A lot of people ask me why I don't use Tumblr to host my main style blog because you can have viral posts that get reblogged forty million times. The two main reasons I don't use Tumblr for my main style blog are because I am too tempted to reblog every cute thing I see (which gets messy and detracts from my original blog content) and because no one reads long text posts on their dashboard (or clicks on "Read More...") and I have a lot to say. Don't get me wrong, I have Tumblr and I LOVE Tumblr. I just don't think it's right for my style blog. I use my Tumblr as an inspiration blog where I reblog things that are cute, fashion that inspires me, things that get me excited, and where I answer questions from fans and readers. My Tumblr is a whirlwind of kawaii pastels. 

Find Your Niche and Stay on Topic:
Pick what you want your blog to be about and stick to it. You definitely don't want to have a blog that is alllllllll over the place. You want your readers to know what kind of content to expect when they come to your blog. You should really be able to describe your blog in one neat sentence. My blog is a Japanese-influenced fashion and beauty blog. You don't want it to be like... "my blog is about my life and school and fashion and makeup. Oh, and sometimes my pet."

The more of a specialized blog you have, the more people are likely to find your blog. Think about the number of fashion blogs there are out there. Then think about the number of j-fashion blogs. Obviously, the number of blogs specific to j-fashion are far fewer than blogs that cover every fashion trend that's ever happened, so you have a way smaller pool to compete with in search engines.

Make sure you link everything! Link your favorite places to shop. Link websites you think your readers would like. Link other beauty/fashion bloggers. Most importantly, link YOUR OWN social media sites ALL THE TIME. You want to cross your platforms as much as possible so that people know other ways to find you and connect with you. This could be a Facebook fan pageTwitterInstagram, or any other site you may want to link. People are very lazy and won't go to websites if they have to do anything more than click, so do everyone a favor and create links!!

SEO: Keywords, Titles, and Labeling
I am far from being a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert, but I do know that how you word your posts is very important. I'm not going to talk about this much because again, I'm not an expert, and it probably wouldn't kill you to do a little bit of your own research.
The titles of your entries should be something that may pop up in a Google Search. Think keywords. You wouldn't want to put something so vague and personal like "MY DAY WITH JESSE!!!" as the title. Instead, you could put "Roller Coasters, Funnel Cakes, and Cheap Fun at Six Flags" as your entry title, and then chat about your fun day with Jesse in the post. That way when people Google "roller coasters six flags" your entry could potentially get a hit. Titles are not the only way to get the interest of search engines. Keywords, labels, and even how you word sentences in your blog are all things that search engines notice. It's a really a very complicated subject, so I am going to stop there, haha. Just keep it in mind when working on your blog.

Make a Schedule and STICK TO IT.

Get a calendar or dry erase board or even use your phone. Create a manageable posting schedule that you can handle in addition to your work and/or school load. Having a schedule helps you know what needs to be done and by when. If you have some free time, look ahead and knock out future posts. Save them as drafts and schedule their publishing date to match your schedule. This is better than posting all of your finished entries at once. Most importantly, you want to keep your blog active! If you miss a post, it's not the end of the world, but when you have followers who look forward to your blog entries, you don't want to let them down!

I want to start a beauty and/or fashion blog. Where do I start? What kind of posts should I make?
The following are types of posts that I like to do. Of course, you should run your blog however your pretty little heart desires. ☺♡ There is not a "right" way to do it.

Product Reviews Related to Blog Content
Whether you want to start a makeup or fashion blog, you can always do product reviews. People love to read about what others think of products before investing in them blindly. Start by reviewing things you already have. Review your favorite eyeliner or favorite accessories. Companies don't need to sponsor things in order for you to write a review about them. Tell us where you got this item, why you like it, etc. Include lots of pictures! People aren't likely to read huge blocks of text, so I like to break it up with photos. The photos don't need to be fancy, but they shouldn't look awful either. Smart phone photos are fine. I use an iPhone 5 for most of the photos on my blog. If your goal is to get companies to send you free stuff for you to review on your blog, you're going to need a blog that has reviews on it. No one is going to sponsor a review if you have no history of reviews in your blog.
Here is an example of (part of) a product review:

Of course, you can find full reviews by clicking the "Product Review" tab on the top of my blog. They are all pretty long. 

Outfit of the Day / Makeup of the Day / Face of the Day
If your blog is about style or makeup, show us how you bring your passion into your life. This shows readers what your taste in makeup/fashion is like and also displays your talents. It makes you more personable and relatable and helps readers feel connected to know there is someone behind the blog. Certainly, this is not something that you need to do EVERY day. I mean, some days I don't even get dressed. So, that is an example of a day I would definitely NOT do a #ootd :p hehehe. Again, pro photos not needed. Here is an example of my OOTDs aka Daily Style Posts, where all the photos are taken with my cell phone:

If you learn something cool, share it! A lot of people read blogs and watch YouTube to learn new tricks and tips. If you are a makeup junkie, show us how it's done! Put yourself out there on YouTube. If fashion is your thing, show us how to style or sew or anything! If people are on your blog, they obviously think you have something to offer.
Here is an example of a makeup tutorial I have on YouTube:


The main thing you should know about being a blogger is knowing that it takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to take photos and thoughtfully create entries that people want to see and read. It is also very rewarding and it's really fun to go back in time and to see how far you've come. I put a ton of heart into my blog and it can be truly exhausting at times. But I am, and always will be, hugely dedicated to my fans. I will continue to blog and hook you guys up with style tips for as long as I can possibly do so, because it is something that I love very much.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post. I hope you have found some of this information helpful and will be able to use some of it on your own blog. If you have a blog, leave the link in the comments below! I would love to look at them!!! :3


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