Monday, 1 July 2013

Blogging / Your Questions Answered

Being a full-time student and trying to keep my blog interesting and lively is a little harder than some may think. I don't mean that as a complaint in any way - I love it. I love it not only because I get to blog about major interests of mine but I love it when I receive e-mails off my readers. Sometimes these e-mails will be messages about what they like about my blog and others are asking for advice. Because I'm really busy I don't always get a chance to reply to each individual message. As much as I'd love to give you all advice specifically on your blog and give you feedback I don't have enough time in my day! It would take me quite a while to sit down and write back to you all! So, instead of you thinking that I haven't read your lovely messages or that I have read them and just ignored them, I wanted to do this blog post dedicated to your questions. I've taken some of the common questions from the e-mails you have sent me but I have also included some general info about my blog and how I got to the place I am today! So here it goes, your questions answered..

Starting off

Photo taken from Google images
Setting up your own blog for the first time can be a little bit scary. I have to say starting my blog didn't take much thought to begin with. I'd read a few blogs prior to starting my own blog but as I've mentioned before I started my blog on a spur-of-the-moment. I wrote my very first post a few moments before midnight! I generally wouldn't recommend starting your blog off this way but there are some things in life you can't plan and for me that was blogging! I learnt as I went along, gained inspiration from the most random things and blogged about it in the hope that someone would find it even mildly entertaining! Five months later I won Best Teen Fashion Blog in Company Magazine's Style Blogger Awards and that for me was when more opportunities started to spiral and my blog became more popular! My advice to those of you wanting to start your own fashion/beauty blog would be this:

♥  Commit to your blog - even when you take short breaks away from your blog your views will start to decrease.  Readers like regular posts, a constant feed of new material. Not only this but if you're not dedicated to your blog how do you expect your readers to be dedicated either? Building a blog will take time, from the layout to the content. I guess I was probably quite naive at the start and didn't realise how much time and effort blogging took. Luckily I had the time in the beginning to put aside and build the platform of my blog but make sure you do. 

Find your individuality - Carbon copies are both boring and really uninteresting. I've seen so many blogs that are literally twins of other popular blogs. You should find your own way of blogging. Your style of writing will come with time and readers will like that you have your own style. Don't ever copy content off other blogs, this is not only so disrespectful to the blogger who has taken time and effort to create posts that readers enjoy, but it lacks creativity to just copy and paste. 

Surround yourself with inspiration - Just as writers have 'writer's block', bloggers can also have their own form of writer's block. To avoid those days where you have nothing to say make sure you surround yourself with plenty of inspiration. This could be to read other blogs and gain inspiration or tips off them (keeping your individuality of course!), gaining inspiration off a certain product or even (if you're like me) gaining inspiration from a magazine, a picture or even a quotation! Ideas can come from the strangest places in my experience, but it's important to constantly surround yourself with plenty of material to gain the inspiration. 

Your Questions Answered

How do I gain followers? 
I think that some bloggers need to realise that blogging isn't all about the followers. Followers are a plus to blogging but gaining followers shouldn't be your main objective. The advice I would give to this, however, is to always post regular posts so that readers don't get bored and promotion is definitely key to gaining followers. By promotion I mean using tools like social media to make people aware of your blog. Tweet your new blog post links onto social media, join a network like Independent Fashion Bloggers and connect and interact with other bloggers! I, myself, do not have nearly as many followers as other bloggers out there yet but I don't blog just for followers, I blog because I love to blog!

How do I get people to read my blog in the first place? 
Stats come with time. When I first started blogging I'm pretty sure the first few people reading were just friends and family but that was ok. Getting readers can be frustrating at first but I gradually gained more and more through the likes of social media and linking my blog on that! Just keep promoting your blog and keep people updated with your new posts.

How do I get companies to send me stuff? 
I usually get approached by PR companies rather than approaching them myself. However, a good starting point if you want companies to send you stuff is to make sure you have a contact e-mail so that they can get in touch about their product through that. I'd recommend setting up a separate e-mail for this so that you dedicate the e-mail address specifically for PRs to get in touch. Make sure the e-mail address is clear, not too complicated and clearly allocated on your blog so that companies can actually find it! Another little tip that I would give is that you should realise that when companies send you stuff, it's not so that you can get 'freebies'- companies expect you to review their product and in return you get to keep the product that you have blogged about! If you're still struggling after doing all the stuff above the only other advice I would give is to buy the products you want to review yourself! If companies see that you write effective and informative reviews about products the chances are they will want you to review theirs! Keep reviewing even if it means spending a little money here and there!

How do you make your blog popular? 
Winning Company's Style Blogger Award for Best Teen Fashion Blog has probably gained me most of my popularity. I would definitely recommend that people enter amazing competitions and get involved in any opportunities like the Company Style Blogger Awards as they are an amazing opportunity to showcase your blog and gain popularity. I entered the competition on the closing day so I was surprised and really grateful that I gained enough nominations and then votes from readers that I then went on to win the award. If there aren't any competitions that you can find that are appropriate or relevant for your blog I would suggest (again) to promote it through social media, make your friends and family aware of your blog and ask them to spread the word! You'll be surprised how far word of mouth can go when it comes to the popularity of your blog!

What camera do you use? 
I use a Canon EOS 1100D to take pictures for my blog. It's easy to use and I love it, I'm learning as I go along and I've developed a bigger interest for photography through blogging. I would definitely recommend my camera to anyone who is thinking of buying a good quality camera for blogging.
Click here to buy your Canon EOS 1100D!

What are the bare essentials that I need to be a blogger? 
♥ An internet connection is pretty essential. 

trusty laptop that you can edit photos on, save work safely and can travel around with you! A good laptop is the key to blogging! You'll literally be using it more than anything else.

A good camera that you can take photos on. When I first began blogging I was pretty clueless as to how important good quality pictures were to my blog post. At the very start of my blogging days I used to use my iPhone which I thought was a good enough camera to snap pictures on. I was shocked at the difference in quality when I switched my iPhone pictures to a much better suited device, my family Canon camera. Canon cameras are pretty expensive and I appreciate that when you first start out blogging, splurging on a high end camera is sort of the last thing on your mind but they are definitely worth it and readers will notice a big difference in quality, as will you! Your camera doesn't have to be a Canon camera but just make sure that it is capable of taking good, clear, quality photos because photos also make a blog post as well as the writing! 

An organiser - Blogging isn't easy, you don't just sit down, punch a few keys on your laptop, throw in a picture and you're done. Your posts should be thought out and planned. An organiser or a notebook  should be kept so that you can keep track of your posts. I have a notebook in which I've sectioned off different pages with dividers so that I can organise all things blog related! For example, I have a section specifically for jotting down any quick ideas that I have. This is so important because ideas can come at random and at unexpected times so you need a place where you can write them down safely and not forget them! I also have sections for inspiration, PR, e-mails/correspondents and a To-Do list which is probably the most popular section of my notebook! 

A clear working space - Obviously everyone works differently but I need to be in a quiet sectioned off area to write my blog posts. I am awful when it comes to distractions so I make sure that all my focus goes to blogging when I'm writing up a new post! I'm free from distractions so therefore blog on a clear, uncluttered desk so that I'm in the blogging 'zone'. 

♥  An interest - If you don't have an interest in either fashion/beauty or whatever you want to create your blog on my advice would be to resist any temptations to start a blog. Chances are if you have no interest on the topic you wish to blog about you'll have no inspiration to start new posts or to continue blogging. Blogging takes a lot of effort so you should blog about what you're interested in. I started my blog on fashion but I've now branched out to blog about beauty as well. This enables me to blog reviews and also include a bit of lifestyle. It's your blog so you make the rules! 

I hope I've helped those of you who e-mailled me with your questions about blogging. I am not an expert in any way and have only been blogging for 6 months but so far it has been a fantastic and rewarding experience. If you have any questions you would like to ask me concerning blogging please get in touch via e-mail at
twitter at @iblogthefashion

I will add your question to this post and reply with the post link directing you to your question answer! Good luck with blogging and I'm sure you'll have the most amazing time of your life!


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