So, you want to start a fashion blog in 2017? It might seem a little daunting if you've never done it, but we all have to begin somewhere. Here are a few questions and tips to help the aspiring fashion blogger get started.
What is the difference between a fashion blog and a personal style blog?
Although these two kinds of blogs can overlap, the main difference is that a fashion blog focuses on fashion at-large (trends, designers, news, lookbooks, fashion shows, etc.) while a personal style blog focuses on what the individual blogger wears or likes. Personal style blogs rely heavily on things like “Outfit of the Day” posts, life updates, and so on, while fashion blogs tend to have their eye on what is happening in the fashion industry. Be sure to decide which kind of blogging you want to do before you get started.
Who inspires you?
After you’ve decided what kind of blog you want to launch, the next step is to do some preliminary research by seeing what established fashion bloggers are doing. If you already follow a ton of fashion blogs, then great! You’re almost halfway there. Make a list of the blogs that you like and then expand on it by looking up lists of top fashion blogs, and be sure to check your favorite bloggers’ various social media platforms to see who they themselves are follows of. Of course, don’t forget to add in mainstream fashion publications to the mix. Their methods may differ from that of the blogs, but you can definitely get a lot of useful info from these fashion industry mavens.
When do you want to get started?
Select a (realistic!!!) launch date and commit to it. Write it down in your journal, put it on all of your calendars, tell your (supportive!!!) friends and family. You need to set a concrete deadline for yourself so that you’re not “thinking of starting a fashion blog” for months instead of actually working on it.
What will set your blog apart?
We all know that there are a ton of fashion blogs out in the Internet ether, which is why it’s important to figure out how to make yours stand out. The best way to do this is by figuring out your niche or theme. Will you focus on streetwear, high fashion, or a combination of the two? Will you pay attention to what fashion-forward celebrities are wearing? Plus-size fashion? Eco-friendly clothing options? Do you want to focus on specific designers, or maybe designers from specific backgrounds? What kinds of regular posts do you want to do? What’s the tone of your blog — is it earnest, newsy, or conversational, and what kind of audience is reading these blog posts?
A very smart friend of mine gave me this advice when I asked her to help me narrow down a name for a project I’m currently working on: write down a list of words you want to describe your site. That can help you shape it and figure out your blog’s theme and tone.
What will you name your site?
My friend’s advice helped me come up with a cool site name for my project, so I would definitely suggest giving that a shot. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people around you for input. However, I would suggest NOT doing this openly on social media for fear that someone might purposely steal the name out from under you. It may sound a little paranoid, but it's also entirely possible. Bonus points if you’re able to identify a domain name that also carries search engine optimization (or SEO) value!
Once you decide on a name, the next step is to search for the domain to make sure it’s available and buy it as soon as you can (or, use a free domain). That same wise friend is a domain hoarder because she constantly thinks of cool web addresses that she doesn’t want someone else to happen to think up and snag first.
What do you want your blog to look like?
Now that you’ve figured out your blog’s name and niche, it’s time to think about how you want your site to look. Aesthetics are important on the Internet, but they matter even more when you’re launching a blog dedicated to such a visual medium as fashion. Figure out a color scheme and the font(s) you want to use. Think about how you want to present your content by checking out website templates, as well as your favorite blogs, for inspiration. Sketch out a logo or commission one from an artist, but be sure that you are ready to pay them. Solidarity amongst creatives!
You should also take the time to map out your site, figuring out how you want to keep all your high-quality content organized. For example, do you want your blog posts to post in a single column, news feed-style, or would you prefer a more image-heavy layout with teaser blurbs? How many sections will you have and what would you like to name each of the tabs? It’s usually good to get some of these things flushed out before you begin to design your site.
What kind of blogging platform do you want to use?
Now it’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of establishing a blog. Meaning, it’s time to figure out which content management system (or CMS) you’d like to use. If you’re already good at web design and have some coding experience, you might want to look into something like Wordpress (for the record, Wordpress also has site templates available that you could also customize).
If you are more of a newbie, you could use Weebly or Wix, which both allow you to drag-and-drop site elements onto a blank page or one of their templates. If you’re looking for an even simpler solution, then there’s Squarespace, which offers a CMS AND hosting service, allows you to register your domain name, and makes it easy to design your page with drag-and-drop elements, similar to the other sites mentioned.
Which web hosting service are you going to use?
To me, figuring out web hosting is one of the most boring aspects of starting a new site, but it’s also one of the most important because they provide server space on which to store your site’s files, and sometimes, email services, domain registration and more. Shop around to figure out which option works best for you based on things like price and user reviews. Some of the more popular hosting services are GoDaddy, DreamHost, Bluehost and HostGator.
What do you want readers to know about you?
Besides your content, the most important things you need to have on your website are your “About” section and contact info. People need to know who started this site and why. They also need to know how to reach you in case they want to network, interview you for an article, or offer you a business opportunity. A quick bio will suffice and some of the aforementioned hosting services offer email, so you can get a professional email address.
How regularly do you plan to post new content?
A publishing schedule is key. Think about how much time you have during any given week to post content and plan around that. Do you want to post three times a week, once a day, or a few times a day? How feasible is that given your regular schedule?
Of course, there will always be some surprises that pop up and you'll want some room to be creative, but having an outline will save you a lot of headache. Stay organized by making content and social media calendars for yourself. I prefer to do this using my Google Calendar, but an old-fashioned planner can also work.
What kinds of regular features do you want to write?
It's an important question to ask before planning your content. Sketch out a list of the types of posts you'll write regularly. This could include things like seasonal roundups, celebrity fashion posts, and styling tips — just brainstorm and figure out what will be both fun for you to write and fun for your audience to read.
Which social media accounts do you need to set up? How many can you reasonably manage?
In the beginning, I suggest all bloggers focus on the big three social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For a fashion blog, I might also suggest looking into Tumblr and Pinterest, as well. Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram posts are where you’re probably going to find the most like-minded people to become your followers, as these platforms are highly aesthetics driven.
Secure your social media handles as soon as you can, and try to make them uniform so that it's easier for people to follow you. Start following all of the people on your inspiration list as well as all of your personal friends.
As for how often you should post on each account, I would suggest you start by sharing links on Facebook and Instagram (as well as Tumblr and Pinterest) at least twice a day, and Twitter several times a day. Of course, you should use your accounts to promote your content, but you can also share posts and articles from other outlets and play around with relevant memes and fashion photos. The best news is that if you won't have time to manually post on social throughout the day, you can schedule content for Twitter and IG via Hootsuite and schedule posts on Tumblr and FB directly on those sites.
While we’re at it — how will you get photos?
All websites need images, but they aren't always as easy to come by. Although some bloggers simply download and repost images they find online, doing so is not only unfair to the photographers, but also risks getting into some legal trouble. Here’s and old, but great post on how to legally get photos for your fashion blog.
The top two ways to get images for your blog are to take photos yourself, request press images directly from designers. Most companies will be grateful for the additional coverage. Just reach out to their publicists. You'd be surprised how many brands have their PR reps’ contact info readily available on their websites, and are more than happy to set you up with images.
This is also a great way to get yourself on brands’ PR lists so that they email you press releases. Of course, you might get a ton of spam, but it can also provide you with up-to-date fashion news to cover.
With these tips and ideas, you’ll be on your way to making your creative mark on the online world of fashion in no time!
Lauren McEwen is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and the social media manager for the Harry Potter fan series, "Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis."
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