Happy Monday, gals! Monday evening is always a great feeling, knowing I made it through the first day back. Do you ever feel that way?
Tonight I wanted to get back to the blogging series I started in August. You seemed to enjoy those posts and I’m sorry it’s taken a little while to get back into it!
Lately I’ve been working to identify mistakes I may be making as a blogger and just came across this article which got me thinking even more. I’ve also started noting behaviors I see in the most successful bloggers, to figure out what they all have in common. In the course of this, I’ve had a few “epiphanies” about the things I need to do differently (or continue to avoid) to take my brand as a blogger to the next level.
Here are the blogging mistakes I’ve noticed are fairly common among newer bloggers and some alternatives I really like. Many of these I’ve made myself in the past or am in the process of correcting. (Y’all, is this blogging thing hard or what?!)
1. Looking at other bloggers for inspiration. It’s important to see how successful bloggers are providing value to their readers through their unique content, but it’s important not to look to them as your primary source for style or content inspiration. If you do this, you may be tempted to imitate their looks or style and lose what makes you unique. It’s important to keep in mind that your readers are following you for YOU and if you lose what makes you unique, you lose the reason your audience is there. Your audience looks to you to be inspired; give them something they haven’t seen before.
2. Not developing a strong brand. I think this ties closely to #1. If you’re focused on creating something unique, your brand will automatically be that much stronger. In addition though, one thing all “big” bloggers have in common is doing an exceptional job of defining and communicating their “brand” to their audience. I was watching “A Drink with James” and something he said stuck with me; when someone is scrolling through their Instagram feed, you want them to instantaneously recognize a photo of yours as belonging to you- before they read the caption, see your face, or pause to think about it. I’ve noticed this exact phenomenon with every single highly successful blogger I follow. Communicating your brand is crucial and there’s so much that goes into it! In addition to your fashion aesthetic and writing style, your brand is everything from your photo backgrounds, your image style, how you edit your photos, to the look and “feel” of your website and feed. All these elements should work together to present to your readers something that’s authentically, unequivocally “you”. I’m finding this is a lot easier said than done, but something that really helped me was creating a “Brand Style Guide“.
Sweater // Jeans // Necklace // Boots (similar for less here) // Belt // Bag // Bracelet
3. Not defining your audience. Successful bloggers have a keen understanding of their audience: what they like, what they don’t, what price points they’re comfortable with, what styles and products fit their lifestyle, etc. It’s important to think about who you are trying to talk to. Lizzie in Lace told me she sat down and “wrote out” who her reader was: her name, where she worked, where she shopped, what characteristics described her, etc. She said once she figured out who her audience was, everything started to change. If you know who you’re talking to, it’s a lot easier to make a meaningful connection.
4. Not learning the industry. Another thing I’ve noticed about highly successful style bloggers is their amazing 360 on the fashion/beauty industry. They know every brand, what each brand stands for, and can effortlessly move between them to create looks that are both entirely new and compelling. They also seem to feature the big trends before anyone else. This can be attributed partially to their surroundings, but it’s also a reflection of keeping up and educating themselves on the industry’s dynamics and trends as they happen. We may not be able to attend the Givenchy runway show in Paris, but we can totally watch it on YouTube the next day to see what’s going on as soon as it happens.
5. Spending too much time on Instagram. Instagram is a crucial platform to maintain and grow your presence. It’s where a lot of brands discover bloggers and often the basis they use when deciding to reach out. Instagram is also a wonderful tool for getting to know and supporting other bloggers. While it is crucial to have high quality, cohesive Instagram photos and support other bloggers by engaging with their photos (this is my favorite part about Instagram), it’s important to be aware how much time you’re spending on Instagram promoting your content versus offline creating and improving your content. In a marketing class I took in college, the teacher talked about “push” and “pull” marketing strategies. If you want to achieve organic growth, you have to seek a “pull” strategy- focusing more time creating the content that “pulls” people in (= they want to read/will benefit from) and less time trying to “push” your content out there. It’s easy to spend hours and hours a day on Instagram, but if you pull back some of that time to create mind-blowing content, your audience- and brands- will want to share your stuff without you even asking.
6.Not providing value with each post. Each output, whether it’s a blog post or an Instagram photo, should give your audience some sort of value. Maybe it’s showing a new way to wear something, or maybe it’s a photo so compelling it stirs a good feeling in your viewers the moment they see it. The types of photos that require extra thought to deliver “value” are the more generic ones- “flatlay photos” and photos of your shoes, coffee, etc. In these photos you aren’t sharing a full “outfit” (the bread and butter of fashion blogging- your unique looks are a big reason your readers are following you). If you do share your coffee or your shoes, ask yourself how you can make the image unique, creative, or different in some way so it inspires your audience. Here’s an example of how Caitlin Covington turned a basic “coffee and bag” shot” into something totally fresh:
7. Not analyzing previous posts to see what your readers like most. I’m getting better, but this is something I struggle with. It’s hard to find the time! Google Analytics and the WordPress dashboard though are great tools for looking at prior posts to see what had the most views. The more you do this, the more you’ll start to notice trends and gain a deeper understanding of what your readers are looking for. With all the time we spend creating content, it’s so important to make sure we are creating the content our audiences want to read.
Is there anything you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to meeting and supporting each of you in your blogging journey!