Back to Basics: How to Be a Fashion Blogger

Here are some practical tips and tricks from the 2016 Bloglovin' Awards finalists for H&M's Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of the Year.
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Here are some practical tips and tricks from the 2016 Bloglovin' Awards finalists for H&M's Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of the Year.
Taye Hansberry of Stuff She Likes. Photo: Courtesy of Stuff She Likes

Taye Hansberry of Stuff She Likes. Photo: Courtesy of Stuff She Likes

"Basic" may have adapted a negative connotation in recent years, but there's no shame in seeking advice on theoretically simple sartorial conundrums. In our latest column, "Back to Basics," we're here to guide you through life's most common (and important) fashion and beauty concerns.

Since its genesis in the early aughts, fashion blogging has turned from a hobby to an incredibly lucrative business. Some of today's most influential personal style bloggers have garnered millions of followers, snagged six-figure campaign deals, landed on the cover of fashion magazines and launched their own clothing lines. Of course, it takes time, dedication and a lot of hard work to reach that level, but getting into the game is now easier than ever.

In order to help us break down what it really takes to get your site off the ground, we turned to this year's finalists for the Bloglovin' "H&M's Breakthrough Fashion Blogger" award for their best advice. The lucky group recently had the chance to meet with Leandra Medine of The Man Repeller for a mentorship session at the H&M showroom in New York City, and they were happy to share what they learned from the OG blogging guru. Read on to find out their biggest takeaways.

Just Start A Fashion Blog Already

With any creative project, sometimes the hardest thing is to simply sit down and start. We're often stuck in our heads, dreaming up ideas instead of making them happen. "I literally said 'I want to start a blog' out loud at a brunch, and I went home and started it that night," says Taye Hansberry of Stuff She Likes. Wordpress and Squarespace are easy platforms to use to launch a blog; eventually, when you want to take it to the next level, you can seek consultation from online strategists like Chloé Digital. The company advised Maristella Gonzalez of A Constellation to hone in on her blog's mission and aesthetic, which continues to help her come up with and create on-brand content.

Ashley Roiland of A Fashion Nerd. Photo: Courtesy of A Fashion Nerd

Ashley Roiland of A Fashion Nerd. Photo: Courtesy of A Fashion Nerd

Visuals Are Important

What's the saying? Behind every great fashion blogger is a great photographer? As style blogging continues to transform into a profitable business, so does fashion blog photography. Hansberry suggests finding a pro through social media and picking the one who you gel with the most. Taria-ann Verburgt of Survivor On Stilettos works on a schedule with her photographer, picking a day that works best for both of them and then spending a few hours shooting different outfits, which creates about three or four new posts for her blog. You could also go the DIY route: When Amy Roiland of A Fashion Nerd was just starting out, she took all of the photos herself. "I would take a tripod, go out in the woods and do a whole photo shoot," she says.

And So Is Sticking to a Schedule

Consistency with posts is of upmost importance when you're starting out. Stick to posting something new on your blog two or three times a week. Or if you're feeling ambitious, aim to post every day, which will lead to more traffic. And don't second-guess yourself once you've hit the "publish" button. "Something that I would tell myself two years ago that I know now is to trust in my own work," says Jannel Therese of Street Style Teller. "I always was so skeptical to keep going, and now I know what I'm capable of doing."

Maristella Gonzalez of A Constellation. Photo: Raphael Salazar for A Constellation

Maristella Gonzalez of A Constellation. Photo: Raphael Salazar for A Constellation

Build Relationships With Other Bloggers

It might seem intimidating to join the vastly growing space of personal fashion blogs, but building relationships with your fellow bloggers will only help you thrive. To start, Verburgt likes to read and leave comments on other bloggers' posts. "It's nice to connect with other bloggers; you're in the same boat," says Jannel Therese, who often turns to her peers for input and advice. And don't forget to interact with those bloggers' fans, too: If you like the style of a particular fashion blog (or find the aesthetic similar to yours), chances are its readers will be drawn to your blog as well. Hansberry also suggests building your network beyond bloggers. "I don't think anybody should be counted out," she says. "Build relationships with a person who owns a boutique, an editor, your nail technician. You never know where it's going to go."

Jannel Therese of Street Style Teller. Photo: Courtesy of Street Style Teller

Jannel Therese of Street Style Teller. Photo: Courtesy of Street Style Teller

Choose Brand Partnerships Wisely

In order to monetize your blog, you'll have to eventually team up with brands for advertising, partnerships, collaborations, etc. (Verburgt suggests creating a media kit for your blog.) Another way to bring in profit is with affiliate links through programs like RewardStyle, though commissions can vary. Roiland founded the app FashionTap, a social network that allows users to upload shoppable, affiliate-based images from your Instagram. "Claiming" your blog on Bloglovin' can also bring in paying opportunities in addition to more followers.

However, be sure to choose your sponsored content and brand-backed vacations wisely and know your own worth. Jannel Therese plans to take a tip from Medine when partnering with brands: "When a company wants to send you product, be firm with what you want," she says. "Ask them if they are looking for empty eyeballs or emotional resonance. Empty eyeballs are just views on a page. If the answer is emotional resonance, then maybe they're more willing to help you out."

Hansberry notes that selling yourself short could lead to promoting a product that you don't believe in, or even worse, wearing something that your readers know you wouldn't wear if you weren't getting paid. "Of course I want to monetize everything, but I don't want it to compromise the content that I'm creating," says Gonzalez. She learned from her mentorship with Medine to integrate clients into content that's already being produced. "If you let the client or money be the source, then you might not end up with a great product," she says.

Taria-ann Verburgt of Survivor on Stilettos. Photo: Courtesy of Survivor on Stilettos

Taria-ann Verburgt of Survivor on Stilettos. Photo: Courtesy of Survivor on Stilettos

Balance Your Blogging With Social Media

With fashion blogs having such a strong focus on visuals, it can be easy to make the switch to posting solely on Instagram. However, Gonzalez learned from Medine to see these platforms as opportunities for exclusive content and to take advantage of what each one has to offer. "You should never quit your blog because it's the one thing you have 100% control over," adds Gonzalez. For Hansberry, Snapchat is a way for her to connect with her readers about her day-to-day happenings and to show more of her personality. Jannel Therese cross-promotes new blog posts on her Twitter and Instagram. Verburgt shares her posts on a slew of Facebook groups. The finalists suggest that you stay open to jumping on new platforms, too. Roiland joined Vine when it launched and gained a lot of readers because she was one of the few bloggers posting style-focused content.

Know That Your Blog Won't Be Perfect

Each blogger up for the Bloglovin' award claims that their blog isn't perfect. "Fail and fail fast," is a strong take-away from their meeting with Medine. "In order to start a blog, you have to have your own voice, but also to know that it's a journey," says Jannel Therese. "It's always trial and error. It won't be perfect and I don't think it ever will be." In sum, learn from your mistakes — no matter how big or small — and always be open to change. "Everything is dynamic and that's very important for the longevity of [your blog]," says Gonzalez. 

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