Do you spend your days dreaming up clever #OOTD posts, and perfecting your casual “laid back profile” shot? Do you scan Instagram and Pinterest for the most coveted fashion and style bloggers several times a day? If so the idea probably crossed your mind that fashion and style blogging could be the career for you. Unfortunately, how to start a fashion blog isn’t covered in any college class that we know of (although it seems to be more profitable than most standard careers these days, so maybe it should be). So you’re left fending for yourself in a sea of internet content that may or may not answer the question — how to start a fashion blog and get paid for it? The steps below are designed to help you on your journey to become the next big thing in fashion blogging, and make money doing what you love.
1. Find a niche for your fashion blog
Finding a niche for your fashion blog isn’t just the first step, it’s also the most important one. How many fashion blogs are out there? Thousands. How many fashion blogs are there that focus on plus size style? Not nearly as many. In this example a plus sized fashion blog is a small section (or niche) of the bigger fashion blog market. Maybe you’re a athletic fashion blogger, or a fashionable mommy blogger. Maybe your fashion blog focuses on ethically sourced or green fashion, all of these examples would be considered a fashion blog niche.
Why is a niche important?
You want to establish how you are different from everyone else in the fashion blogosphere. By setting yourself apart you’ll actually be able to find an audience for your unique niche faster. Once you’ve determined who you are as a blogger you’ll begin to know who your audience is, and how they’ll interact with you. When you know your audience you’ll be able to start drilling down where they are most likely to be, which social media accounts they follow, what types of content they like to read about, and what they share with their friends. Finding who your audience is and how they interact will also help when it comes to content creation.
Establish your unique voice
The most successful fashion bloggers have message, a writing style, tone, and a feeling that comes across when you read or see their work. By having a consistent voice to your photos and written content you’ll be able to attract a community of people who resonate with that voice.
2. Pick a name
Choosing a name for your fashion blog sounds easy right? Wrong. Fashion blog names can be tough to come up with for a few reasons. First, you need to make sure that your name relates to you, and the niche market we’ve established in the step above.
Now you might be thinking you’ll used your name, or a version of your name plus an identifier from your niche market, which is great. But while that might not be so hard, the second step is where it gets a little tricky. You need to check that the name you want to use has an available domain and social media handles. You want your website URL (domain name) to be the same as your blog name, and you want your social media handles to use the same name as well. This is important because you want your branding to be consistent across all platforms. You also want your users to be able to find you when they search your name.
One tool to quickly check the availability of your name is Namechk. Enter your desired name and it will show you the availability of your domain as well as what social networks it’s available on. It’s not 100% accurate, so if you have your heart set on a certain name you should double check it manually.
3. Pick a Platform
Blogging is all about content, so you need to choose a content management system (CMS) that will work for you. The platform you select in the early stages of your blog should grow with you. If you choose the right one, you won’t run into any issues later like migrating to another platform. Here are the best content management systems for fashion bloggers:
WordPress is built for bloggers. It’s super easy to update and customize, so you shouldn’t have any issues growing into a mega blogger. And when you’re ready to turn your blog into a fashion business, WordPress is the perfect solution. It’s important to note here that you should be using a self hosted WordPress account NOT WordPress.com. WordPress.com is free, but very limited in what you can do with it (like you can’t use ads). The self-hosted account will mean you need to get a host (WP Engine or Media Temple), but in the long run this will save you a lot of time and effort. It’s not as confusing as it sounds, we’ll write more on that in another article.
SquareSpace tends to be more limited when it comes to customizations. But, if you aren’t looking to customize your blog too much, it can be a nice alternative to WordPress.
Now that you know which content management system you should select, let’s quickly take a look at a few content management systems fashion bloggers should avoid:
Ghost is a relatively new CMS, and while it might grow into the biggest and best in a few years, it’s a bit to simplistic right now.
Blogger might be great for blogs where written content is king, but every fashion blogger knows photos are the main focus on a fashion blog. That’s why I never suggest Blogger for a fashion blog, it doesn’t showcase photos as well as WordPress or SquareSpace.
A Tumblr blog is awesome as a supplement to your main blog because it has a built in community and encourages sharing. I don’t like Tumblr as a primary CMS because it can be cumbersome for non-coders to make a Tumblr look good, and function the way they want. In other words, the set up takes too long to make pretty.
Drupal is the second most used CMS in the world, but it’s mostly used in government and businesses in non-English speaking countries – not exactly a market you’ll have synergy with. It’s tough to customize, the documentation is a nightmare, and there aren’t that many cutting edge designers working on themes. As a fashion blogger, it’s probably just best to skip this one.
4. Choose a theme
If you take our advice and set up a WordPress blog, you will be able to switch the look of your theme quite easily. Which theme should you choose? Should you purchase a premium theme and set it up yourself? Here are a few things you should think about when choosing your fashion blog theme:
Free Fashion Themes
Sure there are plenty of free themes to choose from, but since you’re a fashion blogger you’re all about aesthetics right? So it’s not likely you’re going to love the free basic themes, plus they’re not optimized to monetize. When you’re ready to ramp up your fashion blog, you’ll want to purchase a premium theme, that’s beautiful, versatile, and has all the bells and whistles you need to make money with your fashion blog.
Premium Fashion Themes:
The word ‘premium’ sounds expensive but you can get a killer theme with everything you need to build an amazing website for $60 on Themeforest.net. These themes are built for fashion bloggers like you, and most have great support so you can ask questions and get set up quickly.
Here are a few features you’ll want to ensure are included in any premium fashion theme you purchase:
In 2016 it’s estimated that mobile traffic is will surpass desktop traffic, so you need a responsive website. A responsive fashion blog will automatically resize based on the size of screen the viewer is using. That means you’re website should look great on a phone, tablet, laptop and a 27″ iMac. Most premium themes are now built responsive, but there’s still a few on the market that aren’t. So double check.
Built to showcase your images
As a fashion blogger you want to highlight your images, so choose a theme that displays them beautifully. If you plan on showcasing large photos you need to make sure that your page speed isn’t slow. Pick a theme that ensures your images will be the correct size. Also choose a theme that handles images properly, so pick one that says it is ‘Retina Ready’. Retina ready is a fancy way of saying the theme will regenerate your images so that they’re crystal clear on all devices.
Built to share content
As I’ve touched on previously, creating shareable content for your fashion blog is key to building an audience. So selecting a theme that is optimized for sharing content is important. Make sure you are getting built in share buttons, styled widgets or areas to showcase your popular social feeds, and an area to display you social counts. Making it easy for users to share your content will encourage them to do just that.
Think about Expansion
You might be in your early stages of starting your fashion blog, but it’s extremely smart to plan ahead when you’re purchasing a theme. Do you want to showcase your work in a portfolio? Do you want to add a shop feature in the future? If those are things you want to do it’s a good idea to purchase a theme that has those options built in. Most themes that offer these extras allow you to keep them turned off until you need them, that way, when you are ready to expand you won’t need to shell out more cash to purchase another theme.
5. Start Blogging
Whoa, that seems like a lot of work before you even start blogging! Well, yes and no. The four previous steps are your plan, and the best way start a successful fashion blog is to have a solid plan in place before you start writing.
This might feel like the hardest step, after all you’re about to put yourself out there and see what people think. Here are a few things to consider when you start writing for your fashion blog:
what do fashion bloggers write about anyway?
Fashion of course! But more so, what you should write about will be determined by the fashion niche you picked in step one. You probably wouldn’t cover maternity clothes if you aren’t a mommy blogger, because your audience isn’t in the market for that. When you’re thinking about article topics always ask yourself “would my niche want to read this and share it with their friends?”
It’s SO important to start producing content, and keep producing it on a regular bases. Will your first few posts be super high quality content? Probably not, but most of the fashion bloggers you know and love will tell you that their first post wasn’t anything to write home about either. The best thing to do is to get out there and start posting. Make blogging a habit so it becomes second nature to post on a regular bases. Once you start writing, you work on making your posts better.
The key is to get out there and start posting, and make it a habit so it becomes second nature to post on a regular bases.
Ask yourself, ‘is this content sharable?’
You can grow your audience quickly if each of your viewers is willing to share your content with their friends. Shareable content is content that’s written with sharing in mind. Think about what people in your niche are talking about, interested in, love, hate, want to be, and want to support. If you write about those things your niche is more likely to share that content with their friends who are interested in the same niche.
Create a content calendar
Once you’ve got a few posts under your belt consider creating a content, or ‘editorial’ calendar. A content calendar will map out which days of the week you’ll write, and post on. You can schedule the in-between days for research, photoshoots, and most importantly, promotion.
Don’t get discouraged
I know those style and fashion bloggers make everything look easy. It looks like they’ve never done a day of work in their life right? The key word here is looks. Starting a fashion blog is hard work. You have to be consistent, you have to brave enough to put yourself out there, and you need to be willing to sell yourself and build your brand. Those well known fashion bloggers are well known because they push past self doubt and keep writing!
Starting a fashion blog is hard work. You have to be consistent, you have to brave enough to put yourself out there, and you need to be willing to sell yourself and build your brand.
Promotion is at least as important as the content you produce. If you have the best photos and articles in the world, and no one ever sees them, they don’t amount to much. A good rule of thumb is to spend an equal amount of time promoting your content as you do creating it. That means if you’ve spend 5 hours taking photos, researching and crafting your blog post, you should spend at least 5 hours promoting it.
How do you promote a fashion blog? Social media is a great way to promote your blog and building an audience. Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter are all places you’ll find a community of people who want to share your unique content. Here’s a look at a few of the biggest social networks and how you can use them to promote your fashion blog.
Instagram is a fashion bloggers best fiend. It’s easy to find your niche using hashtags, it allows you to see what type of content is liked and commented on the most. It’s also great to start learning about what your audience is looking at daily. Since Instagram is all about photos, fashion bloggers can create a feed of well curated images that represent their brand perfectly. Some fashion bloggers are able to build their whole fashion business on Instagram alone, scoring partnerships and sponsorships for each post. But most fashion bloggers use Instagram as a promotion tool, not their primary platform.
Sharing your content on Pinterest is easy and pays off. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest users can like and re-pin your content, but they can also click through to your actual blog to read your articles and see your products. Curating a Pinterest feed of both your content and other people’s content, that would interest your niche is the quickest way to grow your Pinterest following.
Which social networks should you use?
It’s smart to use the social networks you’re comfortable with. If you absolutely hate Twitter, you probably aren’t going to dominate at it. If you don’t like public speaking perhaps YouTube isn’t for you. Even if you decide early on that certain social networks aren’t for you, it’s still a good idea to sign up for them anyway, so no one else takes your user name. When you make it big time as a fashion blogger it would be a shame for your audience to think someone else on Twitter with your handle is you.
Network with your social media following by commenting, liking and sharing their content. The fastest way to build an audience is to have other people help you do it, but they won’t, if you don’t help them too. The best networkers understand this and are willing to trade.
If you want other bloggers or companies to feature you or promote your blog consider how you’ll return the favour. Good networking helps both sides build their audience so make sure you promote their brand as well. When deciding who to network with, think about what’s relevant to your audience. Is there a new brand, product or skill you can help them discover?
The idea with networking is to build authority on your niche not spam. You don’t want to come across like you’ll share anything you want it to be curated for your audience.
8. Get Paid
You didn’t read this far without wanting to know that answer to the biggest question of all. How do you start a fashion blog and get paid from it? Well the answer is, you won’t at first. If you try and sell your expertise before you’ve established it, you won’t get very far. Also, your audience will be turned off if you try to sell them something right away. The smartest thing a fashion blogger can do is build their base audience of loyal followers first. Establish their expertise in the niche they write about, and then start working towards relevant sponsorships, partnerships, and targeted ads that will be useful to their audience. Again, if you’re advertising something your niche doesn’t care about, they aren’t likely to keep reading your blog or click on your ads.
Types of ads that fashion bloggers use:
Sign up for a Google Ad Account and place a ads in that handy sidebar on your blog. The more you write about a specific type of subject the more relevant that ads that show on your website will be.
Partnerships and Sponsored content
This is probably the best way for fashion bloggers to subtly get paid for their work. Businesses, companies and brands will pay fashion bloggers to showcase their products or services. But again, the way to do this subtly is to ensure that the product you’re sponsoring is relevant to your audience. If you help your audience discover something they love they won’t consider it spam. Mega fashion blogger Gary Pepper doesn’t have any obvious ads on her site, instead choosing to use sponsored posts that seamlessly integrate with her style to get paid for her work.
As a fashion blogger you’ll naturally be promoting other people’s products and there’s no reason you shouldn’t get paid to do so. As long as the products you are promoting makes sense with your brand and resonates with your niche of course. There’s a lot of ways to leverage affiliate sales as a fashion blogger but most require signing up to an affiliate program such as ShopStyle, Linkshare, and Shareasale. There’s lots to learn about when it comes to affiliate marketing so we’ll cover that in a separate article.
Hopefully these 8 steps on how to start a fashion blog will help you get started, and answer some of your initial questions. Let us know if you have other questions below in the comments.