I've been getting several emails about tips on starting a fashion blog and building your readership. I wish someone had given me tips on what to do and what not to do a year and a half ago when I started blogging. Keep in mind I'm no expert - these are just some tips that I've learned through trial-and-error.
First, if you're in it for the money, quit now...because you're going to be sorely disappointed.
Have a clean layout. There are times when I come across a blog with a hot pink background and bright yellow and green font...and then I immediately close the window. Keep a simple neutral-colored background. That means no colorful backgrounds with big prints. If you want to use a patterned background, make sure it's a small print and, again, a neutral color. There is a reason newspapers are a light gray with black font - it is easier on the eyes. Also, use a legible font. Cutesy isn't legible, sorry. Keep the font size mature. I've been to a few blogs that have the font blown up it resembles a poster. Please...keep your blog professional!!!
Keep your sidebars clean. It's very annoying to go to blogs and they have award after award after award on their sidebars. It just crowds the sidebars with unnecessary pictures and buttons and adds to the page loading time. Only post elements that are direly necessary to your blog. Remember, you want to keep readers on your blog, you don't want to confuse them with 100+ other websites you linked to that they can go to and get lost in because at this point, they're already lost in your blog. If you are having trouble keeping your sidebars clean, start using pages. It'll open up the blog a lot more. You can create pages by going to your Blogger dashboard, then to Edit Posts. Click on Edit Pages. Click on New Page.
Keep your blog width fixed and not at a percentage. I made that mistake for a while. Not everyone has the same screen size as you. What they see on their screen could be completely different from what you're seeing. A fixed width will make sure nothing is cut off and there will be that extra space on the left and right side of the blog width. You can get a fixed width for your blog by using the newest Blogger templates or you can use the classic Blogger templates and edit the HTML by going to this website. I use the Minima Lefty Stretch Classic template and customized it to fit my needs.
Check your blog in different browsers and screen sizes. It could look good in Firefox but look horrible in Internet Explorer. Check out ViewLike.Us to see your blog in different resolutions (Sidewalk Chalk).
Get rid of Posted by and timestamps. Unless you work on a team blog, there is no reason to have Posted by because everyone will know who is writing the blog. It's unnecessary and crowds each blog post. Timestamps are also unnecessary because your blog will be read by somebody from country X and somebody from country Y and timestamps are irrelevant to them. Again, it just crowds the post. You can do this by going to your Blogger dashboard, then Design. Go to Page Elements. Click on the Edit button in the Blog Posts link. Uncheck the Posted by and Posted at boxes.
Keep the comments link at the BOTTOM of the post (Ms. Ten). It's a chore to have to click on a comment link only to find that it's for the previous post and go back and try to find the comment link for your most recent post.
Be yourself!!! Don't try to copy some other blogger. There's only one you so why waste that by trying to be somebody else? People can sniff out posers a mile away.
Have an About Me page. When checking out a new blog, it is usually the first page I go to because I want to get to know you, not just give you a few page hits. When writing it, tell us what your blog goal is, why you started blogging, snippets of your personality, and a way for us to contact you.
Have a blog roll of all your favorites. If you don't, you look like a jerk. It's always fun to see who inspires you.
NO MUSIC!!!! ...unless you're writing a music blog.
Make it easy for new readers to follow you. You want them to keep coming back. Place the follower buttons at a visible location, not at the bottom and not at the very top because it's annoying. But don't ask people to follow you in all your social networks in every post because then you look desperate.
If you're starting a fashion blog, good pictures are important! It doesn't mean you need a fancy camera. It means taking into account your background, the lighting, and your poses. It's hard to take a fashion blogger seriously when they take outfit pictures with their iPhone. Lighting can do wondrous things for your pictures. Stay away from harsh lighting like at noon during the day. Shade is best. Sunset lighting is best. Cloudy is best. If you take indoor pictures, make sure you have even lighting. Try shooting with the light source behind you. Keep in mind to have interesting backgrounds, preferably outside. When taking pictures, be yourself. Don't over think poses. Be natural and don't get discouraged! If you're still having trouble, try to get candid shots of you walking, talking, jumping, twirling, dancing, etc. Think happy thoughts. Smiling also helps :). Don't be afraid to edit your pictures, but don't go crazy because you can tell when someone is overly Photoshopped because you'll look like Barbie and not in a good way. If you do edit your pictures, keep the resolution low - it'll subtract from the loading time.
Keep your pictures the same width. It easily focuses the eyes on the main column as you scroll down the blog. Plus, it creates a distinguished separated space from the blog post column from your sidebar columns. You can do this by going to the Edit HTML tab when you're about to publish your post. Find this code <*img src="linky link"> without the asterik. Type in your desired width like so: <*img width="a number" src="linky link">. I like to keep my picture widths at 550px.
Whatever blog you're starting, good content is important. Keep your blog to a few topics. If you keep on adding more topics, it's going to look more like a personal diary than a blog for everyone to enjoy. Have text. If you don't have any text, search engines can't direct people to your blog. Write enough that it doesn't feel like some homework assignment for your readers. Don't know what to write about? Respond to comments from your last post. Talk about your outfit - why you wore what you did, the color combo, the accessories, why you paired this with this. Don't forget to include outfit details! Post often! ...but don't post like ten times a day. You're hogging my Google reader. If you're too busy with work or school or family, you're going to lose your readership and any future readers. Nobody said blogging was easy. It is like a full-time job for me.
If you have any DIY projects or tutorials, share them! All the (three) tutorials I did, I hesitated because I didn't think people would actually want to know how to do them since it was so easy for me. What is easy for you because you did it so many times is not easy for someone who's only seen the same view of it on your blog!
Don't copy or steal other bloggers' ideas! With the internet, it's easy to save anything onto your computer and not remember where you got it. If you use that content, it's stealing. If you want to use another bloggers' content or pictures, ASK and it's nice to link to their site.
COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT!!!! Some bloggers are lucky enough to gain readers overnight. Some have to work for it. Commenting is the best way to attract new readers. It's a way to meet new people and build future relationships, not just a few extra page hits. Comment in your blog niche. If you're a fashion blogger, comment on other fashion blogs, not craft blogs or cooking blogs. When commenting, don't forget to CARE. Like I said, people can sniff a poser a mile away. Write a genuine, relevant comment. None of this copy-and-paste Great post! Follow my blog!!! nonsense. When commenting, use a comment signature. Nothing fancy and nothing more than a line or two. It should just be your blog and maybe your name - nothing more is required. Comment signatures are great when someone has a ton of blogs listed on their profile and you don't know which one to go to. It's also easier for people to click on the link instead of going to your profile and then to your blog. You can do a comment signature by using the HTML link code: <*a href="your link here">your text here<*/a> ...and take out the asterisks.
Be active in your social networks...like Twitter and Facebook. Some people have one and not the other so it's good to use both to update your readers on new posts or just to say hi and create small talk. Place social network buttons at the bottom of each post to make it easier for your readers to save it for another time or share it with their friends online.
Join fashion communities like Chictopia, weardrobe, and LOOKBOOK.nu. But be careful to read their terms of agreement. There have been accounts of fashion communities using bloggers' pictures without letting them know.
Be open for giveaways. Everyone loves a chance to win something! Make sure it's something everyone, including your international readers, would actually want and not something you pulled out of the junk drawer. The great part about giveaways is you can include entries like following your blog or spreading the word on Facebook or Twitter.
If you're up for it, get business cards with your blog URL and perhaps your email and hand them out. Everybody is a potential reader.
Keep track of your stats and numbers...but don't obsess over them. They're useful for advertising in the future but that's it.
I get a lot of questions about advertising and sponsors. I'm still pretty new to it but I think I've got a handle on it. It's all trial-and-error because everyone has a different way of doing it. If you don't know what price to ask, start with something reasonable. If you're getting a lot of requests, you're obviously charging too little. If you're not getting a lot of emails, you're charging too much. Find that medium. It takes a while, but don't rush it. What advertisers look for is the best cost per mille (CPM) - mille means 1,000 in Latin. You calculate your CPM by dividing the advertising cost by your monthly traffic in the thousands. For example, if you have 100,000 monthly page views and you are charging $100 for an ad you would do this: $100 / 100 views = $1 CPM. It's good to stay around the $1 CPM range. For more information on making money from your blog, check out this post.
Be nice. Make friends. Have fun.
If you aren't a techie and don't have the time to mess around with HTML and your layout, I will fix up your blog for you for a small fee! If interested please email me.