Style and beauty are some of the most searched for how-to guides according to a study from Google. There are big opportunities in blogging about fashion. Girls down to the age of 12 are blogging, and in some cases even becoming front row material sitting next to giants like Anna Wintour at the biggest fashion shows.
So what’s so great about being a fashion blogger? Other than the fact that you often get sent clothes and makeup for review and get invited to fun fashion events, blogging is a great way to get your foot into an industry that is so hard to get in that most give up half way through. So if you’re dreaming of making it in this industry, this is an excellent way to start!
So how is it exactly that you launch a fashion blog? Not only start but how do you differentiate yourself in the sea of fashion sites? How do you make your own stand out? This article will take you through the step-by-step process of creating a successful fashion blog and becoming an Instagram star.
Fashion Blogging 101
The world of fashion sites is competitive, the quality is high so an effective way to gain attention and make your voice heard is to diversify your content and establish your originality. Like with everything else in life, in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to bring something special to the table. For many fashion bloggers, it’s their personality and style. These are some of the things you should be aware of and follow to achieve success with your blogging:
- Write about celebrity style – a lot of girls and women look up to the celebrities and dream of dressing like them and are looking to bloggers for advice.
- Use approachable clothing – Inspire people with your outfits (whether you’re wearing them or displaying them in sets like I am), but make sure that the clothes you use are fairly affordable, so your readers can identify with you.
- Write frequently and write well. Set aside a certain day of the week or time of day that you will dedicate to blogging and upload posts on a regular basis. I shoot for three a day but most bloggers shoot for four a week. Give people tips and tell them stories, while you do it.
- DIY projects are always a hit – women love being creative, so teach them how!
- Find the subject of your site and perhaps some complimentary subjects, stick to those and do not stray too far off topic. I personally chose fashion and all things artsy. Write posts about stuff that interests you and in a language that will keep your readers entertained!
- Don’t let your fashion site become one big advertisement – be picky when it comes to samples you’re sent for review. People get easily bored of looking at sponsored ads and articles.
- 100% original content – one huge mistake some fashion bloggers make is to copy other bloggers’ work. That’s easy to spot and the readers will head on to the next fashion blogger in line!
- Just as with your personal appearance, presentation with your site is everything. Shanon from Kiss My Fashion says: “I have met bloggers that carry themselves well, then I go to their website and it is a jumbled mess. If you have to keep your site unpublished for a few extra days until you can figure out how to get your website to look the way you’d like, then do it! It’s better to maintain a classy website than to appear unorganized to some potential business partnerships or collaborations.”
- Be yourself. Of course, everyone has their own unique style, so don’t try to copy anyone and don’t feel the need to go crazy. Do what feels right for you and play around with things, you will eventually find your own unique voice and can make statements with your photos. I’d like to think my readers continue coming back to the site because of my own personal perspective.
- Share your unique view on fashion with the world. Shanon says: “At first it can be challenging when trying to find your own signature ‘thing’ to capture at events or just surfing the web for interesting fashion news can take hours. There are hundreds and hundreds of fashion bloggers out right now. So the same subject is being discussed over and over, right? But I try to change the theme and elaborate on things that other people may not. For example, when covering New York Fashion Week, many bloggers will have images of every piece that hits the runway. I hunt for what the audience is wearing, capture some great photos, and then title it, “What to wear to New York Fashion Week” or “Trendy Handbags to Rock to a Fashion Show”.”
- Do videos. Video is a very popular content format in the fashion field. People love watching the “get ready with me” type of videos. Could you create some of these videos yourself? Such as walking your audience through your preparation for a night out or your preparation for a day at work? Two million hours of this type of videos was watched on YouTube in the first four months of 2015.
- Promote your content as otherwise nobody will see it. Instagram and Pinterest are perfect social networks for fashion bloggers as they are based on visual content. More about this later in this article.
- Have fun! Shanon also says: “I use the information I find for my site as a tool to stay well informed in the fashion industry. I love getting dressed up for events and snapping pictures of fashionistas with my oversized camera. And never having to pay for fashion shows is definitely a perk! My number one advice though is to have fun!”
Starting your own fashion blog
The simplest part of the whole process of creating a successful fashion website is actually starting. WordPress, the most popular platform, is very intuitive, easy to use and start working with. It takes you about 5 minutes with no prior experience needed to start a website.
WordPress needs a domain name and a web server space to work. A domain name is the address people will type to access your site and a server space is where your content and files are hosted online. I recommend Bluehost for the easiest setup process. It is simple to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting account with unlimited space and WordPress officially recommends it.
You just have to figure out what you want to name your domain name first and then you are ready for the starting process. Go for something catchy, but something that lets the reader know what your site is about. This will let your readers know that you’re serious about blogging, and not ’just another fashion blog’. These are the characteristics of a good domain name:
- Brief, simple, easy to spell, unique, catchy, easy to pronounce and memorable
- See this post for more advice on finding a domain name.
Got an idea for a great domain name? Click on the image below to get the process started:
For full step-by-step instruction on starting a site, take a look here.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to purchase through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!
Upload colorful and attractive photos
Make sure that the photos you post are bright and clear. I use some photos of my personal outfits, some of food, shoes, bags, scenery etc. These are Instagram’s creative principles for photos:
Pictures are one of the most essential parts of fashion blogging. Ordinary girls are looking like photo models today thanks to great cameras and editing software.
The key to creating amazing content and keeping your readers interested lies almost entirely in the photos. Much like you would see in the glossy pages of magazines, fashion sites are all about the creativity in the outfits and the strength of the photos.
Visually appealing and stimulating photos are important. A lot of readers don’t generally read the text, they only look at the photos first and that in itself tells me a lot. You need the photos to initially draw people in.
When I browse other people’s fashion sites myself, if I am interested in the photos, it entices me to read the actual post, so the key definitely lies within the photos. How do you get visually appealing photos that can keep your readers entertained or create new loyal fans? Lorna Burford from Raindrops of Sapphire says:
When I say clarity, I’m talking about really crisp photos that are of a great quality. There is nothing worse than looking at really blurry photos where you can’t really see the outfit or the person behind the fuzz. The best way to achieve great photos, if you are serious about your fashion blogging, is investing in a great camera.
If you are thinking about getting a new camera, I would definitely suggest getting a DLSR. Instead of buying a super expensive digital point and shoot camera, I would invest in an entry level DLSR. The quality of your photos will be so much better than anything a compact camera can produce. I also recommend using Photoshop to enhance the sharpness of the photos and shooting in raw format so you have the ability to change things more.
Who doesn’t love color? Color is so lively and it really catches your eye. I’m not saying you need to have an outfit filled with a rainbow of hues, but I’m saying pay attention to your shades. Using deep burgundies, yellows and purples for Autumn really works, especially if you enhance them in Photoshop to make them pop.
For the Summer, neon pinks, yellows, greens and blues are always great options and are very eye catching. If you prefer to be a little more subtle with your outfits, then opt for a colorful and inventive background, perhaps one with gravity or colored walls, or use nature to your advantage, the backdrop of Autumn leaves creates a gorgeous scene or Summer flowers in full bloom.
Being creative is key to keeping things interesting. Using different locations, different backgrounds, different pieces in your looks, using props etc, keeping things varied and intriguing always makes the readers fascinated. I know when I see other people’s photos and they are creative with Photoshop or their locations, I’m always going back to see what they do next.
Have fun and enjoy what you are doing because it will definitely come across in the photos and it’s a chance to really let go and do things you might not necessarily do in real everyday life. Go out in the rain and twirl around with an umbrella, sit on walls or staircases, strike some interesting poses… but always be creative with your outfits as well.
Some of the top fashion bloggers wear some wacky and inventive clothing, but it always comes out well in photos. Visually stimulating photos is exactly what you are looking for.
Instagram is perfect for fashion and other visual content
I wanted to talk about getting your fashion blog known in the social media circuit. Once you have started a fashion blog and have published some interesting content, you need to get readers. This is where social media networks can help.
You might sit there and get upset that nobody is coming to your site to read it, but it’s a lot like having a shop. If it’s new and down a side street somewhere, the chances are that not very many people know it exists.
Search engines won’t help drive traffic to you in the early days. Google is flooded with content, and it takes a long time to build up any credibility and success in the search results. Heading down the social media route for acquiring visitors is one of the best and quickest things you can do early on.
I want to target Instagram specifically in this post. Fashion blogging is very visual, and readers generally come to your site to look at the photos. Photos draw them in much more than text does. Using this knowledge over the years, I came to realize that one of the most powerful forms of social media promotion is Instagram. It’s very visual as it’s purely about sharing photos, not text.
It’s made for fashion too, and industry has adopted the platform. According to this report from Instagram, “fashionistas” are:
- Viewing 5 times as many photos as the average user
- Posting 3 times as much
- Following 2.5 times more accounts (353 on average)
- Have 350% more followers
- Have 6 times as many impressions
- Are logging in every day of the week
- Are checking the app 15 times per day
- 45% of all users follow a fashion brand or personality
Very impressive and full of opportunities! Let’s see how you too can take advantage of them.
14 steps to building your Instagram community
Instagram is a very popular, mobile-first and visual platform. It’s actually more used than Twitter. More than 600 million monthly active users, 4.2 billion likes daily, and more than 95 million photos are posted there on average every day (date from March 2017).
Despite the growth, Instagram is still much smaller and less noisy than Facebook. According to Mike Krieger, the co-founder, people are seeing some 100 photos in their feeds per day.
On Facebook, people could see more than 1,500 posts per day and the news feed algorithm determines the top 300 to display. Instagram has introduced a feed algorithm in June 2016, but still, the percentage of people who see and engage with your content on Instagram is higher compared to Facebook. A perfect place for you too to get a piece of the action.
Some of the top fashion bloggers like The Blonde Salad, Song of Style, Style Scrapbook, Atlantic Pacific etc. all have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers on Instagram. That in comparison to their amount of followers on Facebook or Twitter is huge. I would say they have about 80% more followers on Instagram.
You generally upload photos via your phone and not through the internet, which makes Instagram more personal and more of an on-the-go type of app. You can really build up a community there with your own profile and spread the word about your content by doing a few simple things.
Convert your personal profile into a business profile
A business profile gives you several benefits. One is that you can add a “contact” button to your profile. You can also pay Instagram in order to get your content to a larger audience.
The main benefit is getting access to Instagram Insights. It’s similar to insights you get on your Facebook page. You can see the total number of times your content has been seen (impressions), the unique number of people who have viewed your content (reach), and the number of clicks to the link in your profile.
You can also learn more about who your followers are (gender, age, location). And when your followers are active on Instagram.
All this helps you figure out how well you’re doing. These insights can help guide you towards creating better and more engaging content. They can also help you figure out the best time to post.
To convert, simply go to your profile and tap “Switch to Business profile“. You need to also have a Facebook page in order to convert your personal profile into a business profile.
Think of your profile as a portfolio of who you are
If the photos are attractive, it’s likely that people who come to your profile will follow you. If they are dull, blurry and uninteresting, it’s more than likely they won’t.
Here’s advice from Instagram on what a good fashion feed looks like:
Make your profile description short and to the point
Pick a niche topic and describe what you are doing in order so people know what your profile is about and what they can expect from you. Be creative. Be unique. Be yourself. Be funny. Use emojis.
Include your URL
Since you can’t include clickable links in your photos, it does make it harder for followers to go to your site, but in general, they usually click the link in your profile if they are interested in checking you out. It’s why it’s important to have an attractive profile as people love the photos, so they will go on to click your link.
Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in the descriptions or comments section of the photos. You are only allowed one link on your profile.
You can see when people come to your site via Instagram when you check your referral sources. Usually, it’s not a huge amount as there aren’t a large amount of links on Instagram.
In general, the point of Instagram is more about building up your profile, your status, and your community.
Post screenshots of your articles
One interesting way of bypassing the no links situation is to actually take screenshots of your content and post them directly on Instagram.
This will still not be clickable but will raise the awareness of the new post on your site and should get more people to take a look.
Include also the different hashtags relevant to promoting a new blog post: #ontheblog #linkinprofile.
Add relevant hashtags to your posts
Including popular hashtags in your photos is a great thing as when people search for photos they want to look at, yours will come up in that search system. Hashtags are very important in getting you discovered by a wider audience.
There is an unlimited number of hashtags that you can use. Here are some of the most used fashion-related hashtags throughout Europe:
Post content about the popular trends
Do some research on what’s going on Instagram that’s relevant to what you’re doing. What topics are people posting about? What hashtags are they using? Then post content about the popular trends and tag it with some of the popular hashtags.
There are many popular hashtag trends to consider. #photooftheday, #picoftheday, #bestoftheday, #instagood, #quote, #quoteoftheday, #tbt, #instamood are just some of them.
Here are some recent fashion-relevant trends to get you inspired:
Be creative with your use of emojis
Instagram is huge for emojis. Almost every post includes at least one emoji. Use them freely and be as creative as you can. Here are some of the most popular fashion emojis:
Start following people you are inspired by
Follow also those who are in the same line of work as you. The best way to get known is by heading over to someone else in the same area of work as you, for example, one of the popular fashion bloggers. Click their followers, like their photos and follow some of them who you think might be interested in your photos.
By clicking their followers and following some of them who you think might also be interested in your account, you put yourself on the ladder. It’s a great way getting people to know about you.
There are a lot of fashion sites out there. Get to know your competition. Befriend the enemy, some would say. The thing is, the more blogger friends you have, the more you will learn from them.
Some of the best friends I have today, I met through blogging! By socializing with them, leaving comments on their sites, writing guest posts and having guest posters on your site, you’ll gain more friends and readers. Fashion industry is a tough one to get into and be in.
Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada? But that’s not the case with the fashion blogging world I know. People are actually friendly, helpful and nice! So get out there and start mingling! Whatever you do stay focused on the goal. The readers may not start coming in masses right away, but persistence pays off.
Browse hashtags and interact with people using them
Do the same for hashtags. Find relevant but popular hashtags. Then follow and like photos of people who are posting content with those hashtags.
Doing this you can gain a lot of people who are interested in your photos and they will follow you back and like your photos. The more promotion you give yourself, the better.
Continue following and interacting every day
Keep doing this consistently each day over a period of time and you will build up a good follower amount daily. Like everything, it takes time to build a significant following.
Not everyone will be interactive or follow you back. It’s up to you if you want to unfollow them in order to make your profile look tidier.
Post when people are most active
Look at your Instagram analytics. See when your followers are most active and aim to post those days of the week and times of the day.
Here’s some data on days of the week when the “fashionistas” are posting the most.
Videos are getting increasingly more relevant
Video views on Instagram have increased by 150% in the first half of the year 2016. This means that you should try to create videos. Here’s some advice on creating great video content.
Experiment by posting a few videos on Instagram and see what results you’re getting compared to your photo content. Use also the Instagram stories for that. Are you getting more impressions, reach and engagement on a video than on a photo? Consider the data in order to create the best content strategy.
How can I monetize my fashion blog and Instagram feed?
Brands and bloggers are actually getting very creative in order to avoid the no-links rule on Instagram and figure out a way to monetize their profiles. Especially those in the fashion and food industries.
Several “advertising” platforms such as Like2Buy and LiketoKnow have been launched with the focus on figuring out how to get people from Instagram to partner sites to shop and buy a product they see in their feeds.
LiketoKnow solution is for people to sign up to their platform. Then anytime they like a picture that is tagged with a specific tag they will get an email with details on the outfit that they liked and links to where they can buy it. Maybe not so convenient as a direct click like for example on Facebook or Twitter, but still a creative way of getting around the restrictions of the platform.
The more traditional and most common way of monetizing your Instagram activity is by getting sponsored. The concept of sponsorship is that a brand pays an Instagram influential to post an image or a video using the product of the brand. For example, there are model agencies that now represent bloggers and get them in touch with big brands.
Single sponsored post such as an Instagram image could cost anywhere from $500 from bloggers with thousands of followers to $20,000 or even more for bloggers with millions of followers. It all depends on the size of the audience and the brand that is looking to promote their products.
I know social media can seem daunting at first, but when you get into it, it’s one of the best things you can ever do for your site. It’s best to use what works well for your field. I have definitely found that Instagram, along with Pinterest, is the best for visual-based sites. Twitter and Facebook are amazing too, but in terms of finding people who really love your site and fashion as a niche, Instagram is a gold mine.
Thanks to Milana Saric for contributing to this post.