I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to start a fashion blog, and I helped a friend get her fashion blog up and running, so I figured it was time to write this post.
Since switching my focus solely to fashion, I’ve had significant growth both in blog traffic and revenue, which tells me that there is clearly a market for more fashion bloggers — especially for those focusing on wearable, affordable fashion for women over 35. If this is something you’ve considered, or even if you have thought about starting a blog on another topic, this post will teach you how to set up a blog on the WordPress platform, and at the end I will briefly cover some of the basic tools you need and the primary ways to monetize your fashion blog. If there is interest, I can certainly write a few more in-depth posts over the next few weeks.
It might seem like a new fashion blog is born every minute, but only a select few will last more than a year. That isn’t to say there isn’t a market for another one, but it does take a considerable amount of time, dedication, and consistency – as well as the willingness to be authentic and vulnerable – to be successful.
In a saturated market, it is challenging to stand out above the rest, but it can be done, and it can be incredibly rewarding. It might seem like all I do all day is shop and play dress-up, then call it a job, but there is a LOT going on behind the scenes. I’m happy to share some of that with you today.
In this post, we will cover the following:
- How to Set Up Domain Hosting with Bluehost
- How to Install WordPress
- How to Customize Your Blog
- Tools You Need for Fashion Blogging
- Tips for Successful Fashion Blogging
The links above will take you to each section so you can find them easily if you decide to come back and consult this post, so let’s get started!!
What’s In A Name?
Pretty much everything. The first two things to decide when starting a fashion blog, or any blog, is what you’re going to write about, and what you’re going to call it.
My fashion blog is focused on wearable fashion for women in the 35-55 age range.
Perhaps you have a passion for eco-friendly fashion or luxury fashion, or maybe you are petite or plus-sized or a woman over 50. Women are looking for fashion bloggers they can relate to, so consider focusing on a specific niche. These types of blogs do particularly well.
When you know what you’re going to focus on, it’s time to think about a blog name.
Sometimes choosing a name is the hardest part of launching a new business! After being Musings of a Housewife for many years, I finally ditched it and went with my own name. It helped that my name is unique, but using your own name, or maybe your nickname, is always a good option for a fashion blog since you will likely be the face of your blog. (Of course, you may not plan to be the face of your fashion blog. If you think you will hire contributors, you probably do not want to use your name in your blog title.)
Make sure to do your homework and be sure no one else is already using the name you want. I have known people that have had to change their blog or business name because someone else claimed to be using it first, so do a Google search. You also may want to check the various social media platforms you will want to use — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and be sure you can get the matching name on those platforms.
If you’re serious about monetizing your blog and making it a business, I highly recommend starting out on a self-hosted WordPress blog. That is not to say that you can’t be successful on free platforms such as Blogger, but hosting a blog on Blogger is like renting a house on the internet, whereas a blog on WordPress is your property and you have complete control over it.
It might seem intimidating to set up a blog on WordPress, but I’m going to hold your hand and walk you through it using Bluehost. I promise it’s easy. By the way, I am using my Bluehost referral link in this post, which helps me offer all of this information for free. Bluehost is a great hosting company to start out on because they have excellent customer support, and they’re very affordable.
Hosting your own site on Bluehost will only cost you $42-$60 per year when you’re starting out. If you are planning on making money from your blog, your hosting costs will be tax deductible, so it is really a very small investment.
#1. Go to Bluehost and click that big green Get Started Now button.
#2. Select a plan and follow the instructions.
The Basic plan is fine for starting out. As your blog grows, you will need to increase your website space, but you will have the option to do that down the road.
#3. Select a domain name.
It is best to match the domain address to your blog name, so if you haven’t already decided on a name for your blog, do it now. (Your domain name is the address for your blog. Mine is jolynneshane.com.) To check if your domain is available, type it in the left-hand box, and Bluehost will let you know.
#4. Fill out your account information.
Under that, you will see Package Information. I highly recommend choosing the 36-month account plan. This signals to Google that you are in this for the long haul. Longevity helps your site appear more legit, and it may help it rank higher in search queries as you start creating content. You will also see that Bluehost rewards you for your commitment with a lower monthly rate. But if you prefer, the 12-month plan is just fine.
I also highly recommend paying the extra for Domain Privacy Protection. This protects your personal information so no one can google your domain and see your private address.
Paying for automatic online backups is also a good idea. This way, if your blog is ever hacked, or you mess it up, Bluehost can recover your files. If you don’t pay for the Bluehost site backup, you will want to arrange for your own site backup protection.
I can’t speak to the necessity of the Search Engine Jumpstart or the SiteLock Security. You’re on your own there!
Next, select any add-ons you may want and complete the transaction! (I do have a few variations on my domain name to protect it, but that’s probably not necessary when you’re starting out.)
Congratulations! You have a domain!
#5. Set up your Bluehost account with a secure password and log in.
If you prefer, you can choose to have the Bluehost team take it from here. Just click “Do It For Me” and follow the prompts.
If you want to continue with my tutorial, click the “I Can Do It” button, and let’s party!
Now it’s time to install WordPress. Don’t worry! Bluehost makes it super easy!!
#1. Select WordPress from Website Builders.
#2. Click the green Start button.
#3. Select the domain you’d like to install to and click “Check Domain.”
You will see that it is installing.
#4. For the final step, select the drop down for “Show advanced options.”
Here you fill in your blog title (you can always update this later) and choose your WordPress login and password. Check the box to create a new database and then hit “Install Now.”
#5. When the install is complete, click on View Credentials.
Be sure to save this information in a safe place. I recommend using LastPass for all your passwords. (If you use my referral link, we both get a free month of LastPass Premium.) My husband is a security expert by trade (when he’s not moonlighting as my Instagram Husband, haha!) and LastPass is what he recommends for everyone.
Just like that, YOU HAVE A BLOG!
At this point, you have a blog, and you can start creating blog posts. I recommend doing that right away, before you worry about design or monetization or any of that. Start writing, taking pictures, and generally getting comfortable with putting yourself out there. You don’t even have to tell anyone about it yet. This way you also build up some archives so when you do go public with your fashion blog, there is some content already there, and people can see what you’re about right away.
If you haven’t been blogging or writing, it may take some time to find your writer’s voice, but the best way to do that is to write regularly. If you’re not used to taking pictures of yourself, it will take some time to get used to that too. I’ll discuss tools of the trade a bit more below, but for now, just play around with your blog and get comfortable with it. Here’s how to start.
To get into your new site, go to yourdomain.com/wp-login.php (or follow the link from your credentials.) You’ll see this page where you can log in to the backend of your site.
This is your Dashboard. Click on the “1 Post” link and edit that post to make it your own first post. In the future, you can start new posts by clicking the +New button at the very top. Select Post to start a post and Page to create a page for your site — like an About Page or a Contact Page. Or you can go into the Posts link on the left sidebar. That is where you will see all of your posts listed — drafts, published, and scheduled posts. Poke around and get to know the interface.
There are a few blog settings you will want to customize.
#1. Update your blog name and tagline.
You can do this under Settings –> General on your WordPress Dashboard. Here is what mine looks like.
In this section, you can also update your time zone and your date and time settings.
#2. Customize comment settings.
Under Settings –> Discussion, you can customize your comment settings. Blog comments are the MOST fun part of blogging!! I recommend making it as easy on your readers as possible to comment, so I have NOT checked “
By the way, the email addresses you fill out in a blog comment are NEVER public, nor are they ever shared with a third party or added to an email list.
You can also customize your avatars on this page.
#3. Change your permalink structure.
You should change your permalinks (that is the URL to each post) to the Post Name structure. It’s better for SEO purposes and looks much cleaner than the Plain. (Do not choose Day and name or Month and name — you don’t want dates in your permalinks. Just trust me on this one.)
Design Your Site
You’re probably eager to put your own stamp on your website and make it pretty. You basically have two choices. You can DIY it or hire someone.
If you are sure you’re sticking with this for the long haul, you may want to invest in a professional design. Nicole at Techmomogy Designs is affordable, and she does great work. You can also look at fashion blogs that you think are pretty and see who designed their sites. Usually there is a link in the footer.
If you want to design your site yourself, here are the steps.
#1. Choose and install a theme.
I highly recommend using the Genesis framework along with one of their child themes. My child theme is Foodie Pro (but it has a lot of modifications.) I’m actually considering a change. Glam Pro is a nice choice for fashion blogging, and I also like Pretty Chic.
Take some time to peruse the StudioPress website and see some of their themes and the customization capabilities. Truly, the sky is the limit.
Two other great places to look for feminine Genesis Child Themes are Restored 316 and Pretty Darn Cute Designs. StudioPress, Restored 316, and Pretty Darn Cute Designs all give good instructions on installing and customizing their themes.
#2. Customize your theme.
The themes I’ve recommended all have a wide variety of customizations you can make on your own, and they come with great tutorials. Of course, you can hire someone to make more advanced customizations, but there’s a lot you can do on your own. One of the quickest and easiest ways to make it your own is to create your own logo that you can upload into your blog’s header area. Which brings me to #3.
#3. Create a masthead or logo.
Whether or not you upgrade your WordPress theme, I definitely recommend creating a custom masthead (or logo) to upload into the header area of your blog. You can hire a designer to do this, or it is SUPER easy to design a text-based header graphic with PicMonkey, a free online design program.
Then you can upload it into whatever theme you are using. (The size of your masthead will depend on your theme. You should be able to find those dimensions in your theme settings.)
This is a fluid process, and you will likely want to go back in and make some tweaks along the way, but once you get up and running, you’ll know better what you want to add or change.
WHEW!!! Are you still with me???
Feel free to bookmark this post for future reference. It is a lot of info, I know. Let’s move on to some topics specific to fashion blogging. I am going to try to keep these brief. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
There really aren’t a ton of tools you need, but a computer and a smartphone are a must. I also recommend investing in some decent camera equipment. The quality of your photos will make a huge difference in how your blog is perceived by both potential readers as well as brands who may want to work with you down the road. Whether you prefer Nikon, Canon, or Sony is entirely up to you.
We shoot most of our pictures with a Nikon D750 and an 85mm lens, but we used a much less expensive Nikon camera before this. The lens is far more important than the camera body. A kit lens is almost worthless, so we always buy the camera body and then purchase the lenses separately.
It is helpful to have Photoshop, but PicMonkey is a free online photo editing software that works great. They even have a wrinkle remover tool, just sayin’. (I highly recommend the Pro version. I use it every day, and it’s only $33 a year.)
There is a lot I could say about fashion blogging photography, but that’s a post for another time. In fact, I’ve got a post on photography tips in the works!!
#1. Know your WHO and your WHY.
Why are you starting a fashion blog? Who is your audience going to be? If you want to stand out, it’s best to have a unique angle or a niche within the fashion blogging space. Is that eco-friendly fashion, luxury fashion, budget fashion, plus size fashion, fashion for professional working women, over 50 fashion, teen fashion?
Be sure you know why you are blogging and who you are writing to. Imagine that person and write like you are talking to her over a cup of coffee.
#2. Be true to yourself.
If you’re following a lot of fashion bloggers, it’s easy to get caught up in what they’re doing. Be sure to do a gut check and stay true to yourself — your personal style, your budget, your lifestyle.
#3. Content is King.
This is true for any blog, but it bears repeating. Don’t post just because it’s been a few days and you feel like you need to put something up. Focus on creating amazing content 100% of the time, and you will notice your audience and opportunities starting to grow.
#4. Post consistently.
This may seem to contradict #3, but you have to find a balance that works for you. I post daily, but that may not be practical for you. Spend the first few months finding your rhythm, and then create a posting schedule and stick to it. Whether you are starting your blog as a money-making endeavor, or you just want a fun, creative outlet, if you want to see it grow, I am a HUGE believer in creating a schedule that works for you and your audience and sticking to it. I’ve given this advice to bloggers time and time again over the years, and they always come back and thank me and tell me it worked.
#5. Engage with the blogging community.
While fashion blogging is a new endeavor for me, I’ve been blogging professionally for 5-7 years. (I’ve been blogging for 10 years total.) Blogging may seem like a solitary activity, but there is a huge community out there. Find other fashion bloggers and engage with them. As you build your blog, reach out to bloggers who are at about the same place in their journey and invite them to collaborate with you. Comment on their Instagram posts, subscribe to their blogs, leave thoughtful comments, and I promise, what goes around comes around.
#6 Respond to your comments.
This goes hand-in-hand with #5, but it deserves its own number in this list. For me, this is the easy part. I thrive on comments, and I love the conversations that develop in the comment sections of my blog and Instagram account. Over time, the comments may start to get overwhelming, but don’t forget to respond and engage. When your audience senses that you value them, they will keep coming back.
#7 Treat your blog like a job.
This goes back to #4. If you want your blog to be a job, then you must treat it like a job. It may sound obvious, but I think there is a misconception that this blogging gig is all fun and games. It is fun, but it is a lot of work to make it successful. I am tougher on myself than any boss I ever had. Be professional, be kind, and be committed, and you will be a pro-blogger in no time! Okay, well, maybe 6-12 months. Let’s not get carried away here.
#8. Know when to unplug.
Social media never sleeps, and when you have a blog, there is ALWAYS something you could be doing. It’s easy to get caught up on the hamster wheel, but just like any job, you need time away from your blog and from social media. It is imperative that you set aside some time each week (maybe each day . . . I’m not there yet, ha!) to unplug, especially if you have a family. Be present with them for a while, or take some time to yourself and read a book. The blog will be there when you get back.
#9. Don’t play the comparison game.
As women especially, it is sooooo easy to get caught up in the comparison game. There will always be someone prettier, thinner, and richer with more Instagram followers. Remember that the reality is rarely what it appears to be, even when we are being authentic. And so what if it is? Be the best YOU you can be, but don’t try to be anyone else, and don’t let anyone else make you feel inferior. Run your own race, and you’ll be sure to win.
I know this post is ridiculously long. I considered doing it in parts, but I don’t know how many of you are interested in starting a blog, so I decided to compile it all into one gigantic post, and you can bookmark it and come back to it at your leisure. Use the “jump links” in the outline at the top of this post to find each section easily.
You may be wondering why I didn’t discuss making money on your fashion blog. Since this post is about how to get started blogging, I decided to leave the monetizing to a separate post.
I highly recommend devoting the first six months to developing your brand and finding your voice and your blogging rhythm. The earning potential is there, but first you have to establish yourself. Once you have built an audience and a brand, you can start thinking about monetization. I’m working on a followup post, where I will discuss ads, affiliate programs, and brand partnerships.
I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
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