FAQs – How to Start A Blog

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After having my inbox pile up a little too high over the holidays, I took some time last week to sort through past emails. I realized *how many* emails I receive from all you gals asking great questions about instagram, advice on starting blogs, and personal questions about what I do – and thus decided I would dive into putting together an FAQ page for you. And since I can’t publish it right away, I thought I would dedicate today’s post to answering your most-asked questions. This took me about 2-3 hours to write, so I really hope that this resonates with you all and helps answer any blurred lines with blogging and with what I do on a daily basis. Enjoy! XO

Q: How did you take your blog to the next level? How do you promote your blog? How do you grow your following?

A: Great questions. And most definitely the question I get asked most. I have experienced so much favor, blessings, and peace when it came to taking my blog full time that I can truly say what I did / am doing is a miracle. However, it’s not a miracle without the patience, perseverance and passion behind it. When it comes to blogging, there is no blogging guideline, hidden codes, or secret keys. Because when it comes to blogging, it boils down to you and what you can bring to the table. This market is an incredibly saturated one – so ask yourself: what can you offer that no one else can offer? Yourself! No one else is like you, but you! Use that to your advantage. Instead of trying to do what everyone else is doing, find a way to fill a void in the market that isn’t overly-saturated and overdone.

When it comes to promoting your blog: social media is everything. These are your tools; use them wisely. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest. These are the connectors between the billions of online users and yourself. So market yourself wisely and strategically. Brand your social media feeds, and spend time pushing your content outside the confined limits of your URL. This is where patience comes into play – it will not happen overnight and it will not be easy. Be patient, good things take time.

Taking my blog to the next level was the scariest step I’ve ever had to take. The fear of it “failing” was always near and the stress nearly tore me apart. However, I had perserverance and passion pushing me past those fears (and God by my side) to take a side hobby and turn it into a full-time thriving business. To do this, you must know and understand that it “feels right.”  You should never push something just because it’s what everyone else is doing. I blogged for a very long time before understanding that taking it full time was the next and only step for my career.

The two main assets that helped me grow my following were: time and instagram. 1. Time – it just simply takes time to establish yourself as a blogger. There’s no getting around it – some of those most successful bloggers now have been blogging for up to 7 years, most of them blogging for around 5-6 years total. It takes a very long time to nail down your “voice,” your “style,” and your “direction.” And it simply takes practice! Practice is key in everything, and especially blogging. You have to publish your content to understand what people like and don’t like – and then learn from your mistakes and move forward. 2. Instagram. My audience target market consists of a lot of on-the-go 20-something-year-olds who scroll through instagram on an hourly basis (yup, that’s me!) – so finding the right platform to push my content was everything. Instagram is so “in” right now – that gaining a presence on instagram is incredibly important to blogging in this day in age. Could that change in the future? Most definitely. Always be on the lookout for a platform that helps you reach new followers on a daily basis.

Q: How do you grow on instagram?

A: Oh instagram… such a fascinating world, isn’t it? I wish I could unlock all of the secrets to instagrowth but unfortunately I don’t have the precious key. What I can say is: 1. Instagram, a lot! Engagement is key when it comes to growing and you want those followers coming back for more. Create expectations and stick to them when it comes to a posting schedule. In other words, don’t post 5 times one week and then 0 times the next. 2. Hashtag. Whatever the hashtag is – just do it. It can never hurt. 3. Comment on other blogger’s instagrams. This is a great way to get exposure on other people’s instagrams, while also increasing your engagement in hopes they will return the favor. 4. Brand your feed. You know what they say… you judge a book by it’s cover. Well the same goes for instagram! Are you capturing someone’s attention within the first 3 seconds they lay their eyes on your feed? If not – fix it. You can brand your feed using filters, colors, specific angles and layouts, etc. 5. Be you! The blogger instagram market is so incredibly over-satured. Ask yourself: what can you bring to the table that no one else can offer?

Q: How do you join rewardStyle/@liketoknow.it?

A: rewardStyle is an invitation-only affiliate marketing platform based in Dallas, TX. But let’s talk details:: there is a very exclusive number of bloggers that get accepted to the monetization platform. With that being said – don’t get discouraged if you apply and don’t hear back. I was denied at first and wasn’t accepted for an entire year after applying (womp..). But like I said, don’t get discouraged! At the time, it wasn’t a great fit for my blog, so make sure you’re ready to take the next step to monetize your business – and I can admit that I wasn’t at the time! rewardStyle accepts bloggers who they believe would be a great fit for their program – so before applying, make sure that your blog is up to par with other rewardStyle bloggers. Make sure you can check all of these items off your list: professional imagery, a clean and functional website design, and shopping links that link back to large retailers (i.e., people want to shop what you’re wearing!). As far as @liketoknow.it goes – this is a service that comes along with rewardStyle. You can apply to rewardStyle here, and you can also have a blogger friend who is already part of the platform recommend you as well. Good luck!

Q: What’s your typical daily routine as a full-time blogger? Besides shooting photos and editing, what else do bloggers do during the day?

A: Great question! There is no daily routine when it comes to being a full-time blogger. To give you a little bit more insight, bloggers work almost 80-100 hour work weeks – and turning it “off” is nearly impossible when a social media presence is required throughout the entire day. It is such a blessing and I absolutely love what I do, and wouldn’t trade it for the world! I don’t live the average 20-something-life since I do work on weekends (Sunday is my busiest work day of the entire week,) and sleeping in on a Saturday has never been an option since I took my blog full-time last March! I’m so lucky to do what I do at age 23, but I can’t say it’s allllll glitz and glam (in fact most of it is not). When it comes to the weekdays, making sure that the content for that current week is ready to push live is top of mind each day. Instagram is a job in and of itself, since posting multiple times each day has become an expectation in the virtual world. Other tasks include: answering emails (this in itself could take up an entire day), planning content for the week ahead, phone meetings, coffee/lunch meetings, inspiration searching, writing, photo editing, uploading content, styling content, styling outfits, strategic brainstorming, planning collaborations, steaming and preparing clothes, and browsing for new clothes and trends. Each day is different depending on the season or the collaborations that are to be pushed live that day. It’s all about finding what works best for you. Shooting takes up about 3 days each week, and each shoot requires lots of preparation the day/night/week before. Sound exciting? It most definitely is!

Q: What planner do you use?

A: Working for yourself can be tough since you don’t have anyone telling you what to do. So the best thing you can do is… stay organized. I’ve tried lots of different methods and the best that work for me are actually programs/apps that Macbookpro computers come with. The “Reminders” app allows you to create reminder lists that you can check off. I have a list for each day of the week (i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc…), and each time I finish a task I check off that task and it simply disappears (did you know that checking off a “to-do” releases a rewarding chemical in your brain?). You should try it! The other program I use is “Sticky Notes” on my Macbook. I color coordinate each sticky note to organize each one, and this is where I write down random thoughts that I can revisit later in the day.

Q: How do you organize your day?

A: I begin each day with taking Chloe out for a walk. Then I have a quiet “me” time and read some devotionals before tackling my Instagrams for the day. Next – I always make sure that all blog content and instagram content for that day are ready to push live. Emails are top of mind – but I usually can’t tend to answering all of them that morning since I receive so many each day. I try to get out to a coffee shop at least once a day since being at home can drive you quite stir-crazy. I also love people watching (because working alone can be quite… lonely), so I definitely make sure to fit this into my daily regime. The rest of the day is then filled with any of the blogging tasks I mentioned above depending on the season and day of week, and always finished with a spin class/Bible study/French lesson/or wine night with the girls. I make sure to always fill my nights up since feeling cooped up in my office all day can feel monotonous. I’m very single (not complaining either), so no – there is no man involved in this day – just my little Chloe darling!

Q: What hosting site do you use? How do you make your blog look cute?

A: As far as hosting goes, I use Dreamhost. It was a good host for when I got started, but I will probably be switching sometime in 2016. I’ve heard lots of great things about Bluehost – and I know that you can also reach out to a smaller (less corporate) company that can provide you with quality service (this may be more expensive but probably worth it!). As far as the blogging platform goes, I use wordpress.org.  This is the platform that allows you to custom create a website through your host. With wordpress.org – you can then take the next step to design your blog and create content. As far as designs go, I hired Gadabout to redesign my blog after about 2 ½ years of blogging. Hiring a designer is expensive and quite the investment. I would recommend really understanding your audience, your preferences, your niche, your style, and your passions before taking the next step of hiring a designer. In the meantime, you can search “wordpress designs” on Etsy or Google and find simple layouts that you can purchase (for a great price) – that will act as a great starting point for your new blog. This process is not an easy one, so if you’re completely new to hosting, wordpress, and wordpress layouts – I suggest finding a step-by-step procedure online. The blogging world has grown immensely over the last two years so you will definitely be able to find a detailed guide online.

Q: What are the best ways to monetize instagram?

A: There are multiple ways that bloggers monetize instagram – but the two ways I am personally familiar with are: 1. @liketoknow.it (see the above bracket about rewardStyle for more info) 2. Paid collaborations (based on how many followers and what kind of engagement you can offer, you can charge brands per instagram for exposure).

Q: Can you monetize instagram without a blog attached?

A: Absolutely! You do not need a blog to gain an instagram presence. Some instagram bloggers first started on instagram and then established a blog after.

Q: What do your shoots entail? Do you do multiple shoots in one day?

A: I shoot 3 times a week and each shoot consists of photographing multiple outfits each day. If this means changing in a car in some crazy alleyway – yep, I’ve done it all! These days are physically exhausting and require a lot of energy and you have to look good while you’re doing it! However, I have the best brotagropher ever and we make it as fun as we possibly can! There are a lot of obstacles to jump around like weather, lighting, clothes selling before you shoot them, scheduling, items not arriving on time, people staring at you with confused looks on their faces (ha!) and more.

Q: It almost seems like all the bloggers I follow never buy anything, or style anything that’s on sale (at first). Is that necessary or do you think I can style things that aren’t always full price?

A: Great questions! First, it definitely depends on the blogger. A lot of bloggers are gifted items, and a lot aren’t! I personally choose to purchase the majority of the items seen on my blog because I want my followers to understand the authenticity behind my outfits. I love these pieces enough to purchase them myself, so I hope that anyone else would too! However, a lot of bloggers are gifted items – which might work well for them too! When it comes to sale items – if an item is discounted that usually means its about to go out of stock. If an item is out of stock – sometimes followers get frustrated since they can’t purchase it! You can definitely style items that aren’t full price and I definitely styled vintage/on-sale items for my first year of blogging. Remember, you have to start somewhere!

Q: How do you find a photographer?

A: I am very blessed with having a sibling photographer (I know… #blessed) and I can understand that finding a photographer can be a daunting task. However, as far as you girls go — there are so many freelance photographers out there who are absolutely dying to: 1. Practice, practice, practice (and need free models to do so) 2. Grow their instagram following 3. Build their portfolio. And you are the perfect person to help them accomplish all of those things. Word of mouth, instagram, or even google are all great ways to find a local photographer in your area. Just ask them if they would be up for photographing a few looks for you in exchange for you mentioning them on your instagram account and blog. It’s a win-win – you both are receiving exposure and content via each other.

Q: I’ve always wanted to start a blog but I always feel scared, since there is a lot of competition out there and I feel like I still haven’t found my niche. What recommendations would you give?

A: It is scary, but don’t be scared! Everyone had to start somewhere. It took me an entire year to start my blog. What I mean is – I spent an entire year thinking about starting it, but putting it off due to the fear of what everyone else would think (oh my little naïve 19-year-old self). I can’t even imagine where I would be right now if I started 4 years ago instead of 3 years. The best advice I can offer is: start. now. Remember the three P’s: passion, patience, perseverance. And in this case, patience is key. The earlier you start, the sooner you’ll get to your destination because simply waiting with “patience” is part of the blogging process. Who cares if no one reads for the first few months? You’re doing it for yourself because you are passionate about it… right? People will pick up on the passion, if you keep up the patience and perseverance. It does take time to gain an audience and following, but with all of those P’s (I know, it’s cheesy), you will eventually get there. Time is everything, so the sooner you start – the less time it will take to reach your end goal. I believe in you, darlings!

Q: How do you curl your hair and what curling iron do you use?

A: I am not a beauty pro – so bear with me on this question. I just learned how to curl my hair like… two years ago. NO JOKE. 1. Blow dry. 2. Spray heat protector spray 3. I completely straighten my hair before curling 4. Curl the ends with a 1 ½ inch Hot Tools Curling Iron.

Q: What editing apps do you use?

A: I use a combination of VSCO cam, Snapseed by Google, and instagram editing tools (the updated features are amazing – especially brightness and contrast).

Q: Where did you get your bedframe?

A: Horchow. The bedframe is sold out, but you can find the full bed set here.

Q: Where did you get the faux fur blanket/throw on your bed?

A: One Kings Lane! However, it’s sold out. They do have an excellent faux fur selection here. I would also suggest checking Amazon (yes, Amazon!) and West Elm for faux fur blankets.

Q: What size are you?

A: Size XS in almost all shirts, size 25 in almost all jeans, and size 2 in dresses.

Q: How tall are you?

A: I’m 5’ 3¾ – petite!

Q: Give me the low down on Chloe – can I have her breeder’s information?

A: Chloe is a pure bred King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. She is currently 4.2 pounds at 6 1/2 months. Chloe was the runt of her litter and was 1/2 the size of her brothers and sisters – so she was not bred to be miniature and her size was not necessarily due to her bloodline. If you’re looking for a “smaller” cavalier, I suggest asking the breeder if they have any runts (and honestly – the little ones have the best personalities!). As of right now – Chloe’s parents won’t be bred together again. However, if they are, I will be sure to post about it on Chloe’s IG account!

Jordan Afshin Photography

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  1. Jen Frick

    Thank you SO much for writing this post! It was so informative and SO motivating for a new blogger like myself. You are amazing at what you do and I’m excited to see what The Darling Detail has in store for years to come! 🙂

    Jen | mrsjenfrick.com

  2. Thank you so much for posting this! I found it so helpful as someone who just started blogging last April! It’s so inspirational to see how your blog has grown and to hear about your success!

    http://www.rosyoutlookblog.com

  3. This is such a fabulous post, and thank you for taking the time to answer all of these questions. A lot of bloggers (including myself), will find this so helpful. I started blogging two years ago and decided to do it full-time over the summer. I’ve definitely run into some snags, so I appreciate all of your candid advice. Congrats again on all of your success!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  4. Joyce - Teawithmd.com

    Thank you so much for putting this all together! I could tell this took a lot of time and work and your readers really appreciate it 🙂

    I started my blog a few years ago as a hobby in medical school and now that I’m in dermatology residency I find there are SO many things I can share about skincare with the public! I love that I can help others with health / beauty / skincare issues and make it into a friendly and accessible online community.

    Thanks again for all of your advice!

    XO
    Joyce
    http://www.teawithmd.com
    A dermatologist’s guide to health & beauty!

  5. Lisa

    You are the absolute sweetest, Jessi!! I can’t wait to read this post later tonight. Thank you so much for all of the hard work that you do! Such a daily inspiration!

    Lisa
    everydayelevated.blogspot.com

  6. Laura

    Thank you for all the great/useful info I have been preparing to start a fashion blog since last summer and I am feeling very inspired by your post I know my style and what I like but I have been doing a lot of soul searching these past 6 months finding my stand out niche ????

  7. Ellese

    Thank you for this wonderful lowdown on blogging. I am constantly learning and growing as a blogger. It has been a real fun experience. The fact I get to keep learning and gaining is a dream come true. Love your tips. I admire you! XO, Ellese
    Rock.Paper.Glam.

  8. Maggie

    I seriously love this post! I started my blog a few months ago and seriously love it! I only see it as a hobby for now but I’m so happy about the blogging community and what I’m learning 🙂 I just turned 24 and can’t imagine being where you are at our age!! So amazing! Congrats on everything 🙂

    http://www.maggiealamode.com

  9. Morgan

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post! Encouraging since I Just started blogging. Inspiring to hear such a great story. Thanks again 🙂

  10. Annie

    This post was amazing! It was very informative and helpful. Thank you for taking your time to write about this. I love your style, keep it up!

    http://www.theannieissue.com

  11. Nina Lacher

    Loved your post! Everything you said is so true! While I blog part time, it feels like a full time job and we work so hard at it!

    xo, Nina
    Law of Fashion Blog

  12. Stephanie Dahl

    Thanks for this post, it was so helpful and informative. I’m an Austin resident myself in the process of starting a blog and it is so overwhelming in the beginning. Your success is inspirational and your style is amazing!

    Stephanie Dahl / alldahldup.com

  13. Jordan: The Teacup of Style

    Thank you for taking the time to give your readers who are bloggers some very helpful insight and inspiration! I love everything about this post! Thank you so much!!

    Jordan
    The Teacup of Style
    IG: teacupofstyle
    http://theteacupofstyle.blogspot.com

  14. Maci

    This is seriously the most helpful post I’ve ever read. Thank you for being honest and for all the good advice! I agree with all of your points, and I think the hardest part about growing your blog is having patience. That’s my biggest struggle at least but I’m working on it 🙂

    XOXO, Maci

    http://www.xomaci.com

  15. Krystya

    This is a super helpful FAQ’s page! I have one more question, though. When a blogger thanks a brand for partnering with them on a post, what exactly does that mean? Are they wearing clothes that, as you mentioned above, have been gifted to them or have they simply charged the brand for modeling their clothing and sharing with their subscribers. How does such a partnership come about? Is it too forthcoming or inappropriate to approach a brand or do they approach you?

  16. Www.MickeYlicious.com

    Wow!! So detailed :).. loved reading every big of it.. I’ve just started my blog and all of these info will be of so much help.
    Good Luck with your endeavor ????
    Xoxo
    Deb

  17. Kritsida

    You are such an INSPIRATION! Thank you for writing this post and being so honest about it. I truly enjoyed reading this post!
    x. kritsida
    http://aperfectcanvas.net/

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