What Makes A Blog Worth Reading? (Who’s Unique?)

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The question “What makes your blog unique?” was presented in an awesome post that I read on IFB recently, and it touched on a topic that I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Just as in everything in life, I have discussed that there is an hierarchy among bloggers.  You have your probloggers that rule the scene, such as Gary Pepper or Fashion Toast, but at one point there truly was a place for people who had “ordinary” blogs to connect with others in a way that is more relatable to their lifestyle and experiences.  While the top bloggers create amazing photos and experiences for their readers in very creative ways, it makes you wonder what has to be done to maintain an interesting and unique blog.  My blog started out very small (with no readers) and continues to grow, but what I want it to grow into is still unclear.  Lately, I’ve had to make some serious decisions about the future of my blog.  What makes a blog unique and worth reading?  Is there anything out there that has truly never been done before?

Well, no, but I do believe that bloggers can bring something unique to their niche and the audience that they serve.  A lot of bloggers probably don’t feel this way, but I sort of view myself as a servant who seeks to help and provide knowledge.  I don’t mind this role because without a loyal group of supporters who inspire me there would be no reason to blog.  It’s definitely not the money.  There are very few bloggers who are making the kind of money that can truly sustain a lifestyle through this form of work (looks can be deceiving), so do your research.  If you add in being a minority, who is plus size with kinky hair, you have another set of factors to contend with while trying to run a blog.  It takes thick skin and a lot of self-confidence to try and permeate a domain that is still dominated by traditional forms of beauty even in the plus size community (light skin, wavy hair, certain body type, etc).

I would like to feel that I bring something to my blog that people aren’t getting in a lot of other places, but the truth is I’m not sure.  The article on IFB made the claim that it may be impossible to be successful with a personal blog.  I don’t know if this is true or not, but it is definitely something to think about as I move forward with my blog.  I have been able to inspire women, make some money regularly, have the honor of being featured in major publications, and do guest appearances from time to time all from having a personal blog.  Right now, I have no plans to step away from my blog because I love it so much, but my feelings vary from day to day.  What am I hoping for…more appearances, monetary gain, or even blogger fame?  What is the ultimate goal?  This is a question that every neophyte blogger should be thinking about.  You have to know where you’re headed.

So, as I ponder over the question of what truly makes a blog worthwhile,  I challenge you to do the same.  There really is no point of continuing to work endless hours on a blog that has no ultimate goal or purpose.  So let’s talk…what makes a blog worth reading these days?  It’s hard to tell.

Bored With Blogging? (How To Stay Inspired)

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When you first start blogging everything is really exciting and new, but after you have done it for a couple of months or a couple of years (like me) the process can become very monotonous and boring.  Let’s be real, most bloggers are doing the same things (with the exception of a few).  Most fashion blogs are showcasing outfits, shoes, shopping habits, traveling experiences, or bragging about the good life.  It is the norm (and we love it), but what do you do when just don’t have it in you anymore.  I feel like I am experiencing some sort of blogging funk on a regular basis, so when this happens I use my inspirations to pull me through.  Here are a few ways to stimulate your love for blogging all over again:

 

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1. Use Other Mediums

My YouTube channel is my biggest source of inspiration when I just can’t think of anything to do (or I don’t want to do the same repetitive blog post that every other fashion blogger is doing).  I can still take my pictures, but I can create an online visual representation of my blog online for my viewers.  This experience allows me to be creative in my editing and with the topics that I choose to discuss.  I really love youtube for everything, including watching videos for fresh ideas.

2. Print Media

Magazines always offer great ideas for any type of niche blogging.  You may come across an article that is really interesting that you may want to share with your audience or create a post on a topic that you have never covered on your blog before.  Readers always want useful and fresh content, and print media never fails in the department of inspiration.

3. Blog Inspiration

I don’t have the time to read many blogs these days, but there are some that I always have to check every now and then because they bring a lively spirit that is filled with great messages, twists on current trends, or a really amazing wardrobe.  Whatever it is, these blogs inspire me to want to be a better blogger.  At the moment I am obsessed with the Brooklyn Blonde blog… ahhhh just amazing style!  Good blogs keep me on my toes because they are so creative, free-spirited, and awesome.  These are the types of blogs that instantly make you want to get up and do something…read those!

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4. Old Movies

Due to the fact that there is nothing new under the sun, I like to watch old movies as of late, and I am stuck on Audrey Hepburn at the moment.  This source of inspiration has been helping me visit other eras when fashion was really lovely and out of this world.  Movies are always a great source of inspiration, especially when I can watch “Sex In The City” a million times.  That movie never gets old to me!

5. Talk About The Things You Love

The great thing about having a blog is that people actually care about what you have to say, and that is a very humbling experience!  Your followers want to know about the next purse that you plan to purchase or your favorite lipstick-nothing is too trivial.  They may be able to get information like this from many sources, but those other sources are not you.  They trust and value your word, which is why integrity is so important in blogging.  So share all of those items that you are loving with your readers.

6. Be Helpful

If all else fails and you cannot find anything to discuss on your blog, answer questions.  I get so many questions that it is hard to choose which ones to tackle first.  The main purpose of  your blog should be to provide resourceful information or to share a personal journey.  My personal blog is a little bit of both, so I try to incorporate posts that I know will answer the questions that my readers have.  This has helped me so much with getting out of my blogging ruts.

Sometimes the blogging grind gets old, but my blog and the people that read it are very dear to me heart. So at this point in my life giving up my blog is not an option, but I do take the necessary breaks that I need to recharge.  You have to love blogging and if you don’t love it, this may not be the right path for you because it is not easy work.  There are so many factors that come along with trying to build a successful blog, but it has been worth it to me thus far.  You have to make sure that it is worth it for you.

If have any questions, please leave them below or TWEET ME!

My Fashion Blogging Essentials (Part I-The Basics)

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1. JOURNAL

A journal is a good way to jot down all of my thoughts, ideas, and blog inspirations. It helps me focus and plan my future posts. Sometimes coming up with interesting ideas can be difficult and keeping a journal helps me generate a list of things that I may want to discuss or feature on my blog.  I believe that writing cultivates creativity, so I make sure to keep a separate journal dedicated to my blog.

 2. MACBOOK

Any computer will do!  You do not need a Macbook to blog, but I am hooked for life.  No other laptop exists, as far as I am concerned.  I do everything on my macbook, including editing my photos in iphoto.  PicMoneky has a free photo editor that I love to use as well to edit the coloring of my photos (although the paid version offers more features…tutorial coming).  I also use imovie on my computer to create and edit my YouTube videos.  The learning curve is so simple with Apple, and the programs are very easy to navigate.  I have been able to learn so much in a short period of time with these programs.

3. CANON REBEL TSI DSLR CAMERA

You don’t need a fancy and expensive camera to start a blog, and there are many affordable cameras that produce good quality pictures. I started out with a Canon Powershot and it worked just fine for my outfit pictures (some of those pictures are still up on my blog), so use what you have when you are first starting out.  I would not advise anyone to invest in a DSLR camera until you are sure that you have a passion for blogging and that you will be consistent, but it is one of the best purchases that I have ever made. This camera really took my blogging to another level and the pictures look, clear, crisp, and professional. Using this camera has given my blog a quality that did not exist previously. There are so many blogs on the Internet, so if you want to stand out quality does matter.   If you are interested in this camera, but don’t have the $800.00 to spend, try QVC!  They have a payment installment plan.

4. Google Calendar

I was all over the place until I started scheduling time to work on my blog.  Now, I schedule time for photo shoots, writing, emails, and anything that will require a significant amount of time.  I like to use paper calendars and an electronic calendar, it just depends on my mood.  Google Calendar is great for scheduling all of your blogging activities and you can add fun colors too.  Calendars make life easier.

5. REMOTE

If you are a blogger that does not have a personal photographer (A.K.A. a boyfriend or husband that can take your pictures) try using a remote to take your pictures. It is better than using a timer because you can give yourself time to pose and hit the button whenever you are ready. Sometimes you have to make things happen for yourself when you don’t have the support of others. I love to use my Canon remote when I am taking beauty shots or recording my YouTube videos. It is a life-saver and makes everything a lot more simple.

6. TRIPOD

You need a tripod.  Even if you have someone taking your pictures (like I do) sometimes they have a shakey hand.  If there is movement while taking pictures they will come out blurry and will not give you the quality or look that you may be hoping for.  Whenever I want my pictures to look amazing without worrying, I make sure that I carry my tripod with me.  It is a great item to have, especially if you are taking outfit of the day pictures.  Invest in a quality tripod because a cheap one will only give you more problems.  Try out ebay if you are on a budget because they sell high quality tripods at lower prices.  Plain a simple, a tripod will make your blogging experience way more enjoyable.

I hope you find my tips helpful, if so tweet me with your feedback for future posts, or leave a comment below.  I will be posted Part 2 of my fashion blogging essentials soon.

Diary of A Fashion Blogger #1

Welcome to my new Docuseries that is all about fashion blogging.  In my “Diary of A Fashion Blogger” docuseries I will be sharing my process of blogging and the ups and downs of being a blogger.  This series is my public diary all about blogging and it gives me a space to share my knowledge in the hopes of helping some of you that are fairly new or aspire to start blogging.  The blogging game is not all peaches and cream; there are good and bad aspects to everything in life.  So come with me on this journey!

Episode 1: Everything Does Not Always Go As Expected  

How To Start A Blog

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There are many ways to start a blog and the process can be frustrating and tedious, but I am here to break down a few ways that you can easily start your first blog.

1. Hire Someone  – I hired a friend to handle the whole process of moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress, and I have to say it was a good decision for me.  You can hire a freelancer that specializes in web design on Elance or Odesk (the cost of hiring a freelancer will vary based on experience).  You search for qualified applicants to set up your blog and hire them to complete the entire process.

2. Do It Yourself – If you have time to learn the process and are slightly tech savvy, do it yourself.  Overall, the process is relatively simple.  Two of the most popular blogging platforms are Blogger and WordPress.

WordPress – There are major differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org, but the main reason that I would suggest the self-hosted wordpress.org over the free wordpress.com is the advertising differences.  WordPress.com will allow you to use affiliate links, but do not allow banner image ads or third-party advertising like Google Adsense.

Check out this great infographic that gives a detailed explanation of the differences between the two sites.

Steps To Starting A Blog On WordPress

There are five steps to starting a blog on WordPress.org:

  • Find a host site. This is the server that your blog will operate on.  A lot of the blogging experts recommend Blue Host because their customer service and technical support is available 24 hours a day.  You will need a credit card to sign up for this service.
  • Sign up for an account on Blue Host
  • Select a domain name for your website (your web address)
  • Install your WordPress blog
  • Select a theme design for your blog (the WordPress theme directory offers a variety of free themes that you can use for your blog)

Here is a great video that uses screenshots to explain the entire process of starting a blog on WordPress.

Blogger – I started out with blogger four years ago, and I really enjoyed it for the following reasons:

  • It is very easy to set up a blog and start posting
  • It is free unless you want to remove the blogspot at the end of your web address (for example, when I first started my blog the web address was thenaturalfashionista.blogspot.com but I wanted a more professional web address, so I purchased the domain name thenaturalfashionista.com)
  • Very simple design templates that you can automatically install on your website
  • You can use banner image ads and third-party advertising networks like Google Adsense

Here is a video tutorial on how to start a blog with Blogger.  You may also find this screenshot tutorial useful.

The reasons that I decided to leave blogger and go to WordPress.org is because I wanted more flexibility with my site design, the option to use great plugins, and I wanted ownership of my site.  Blogger is an amazing platform if you are just starting out and want to start blogging immediately.  Ultimately you are going to have to decide which blogging platform will work for you based on the goals that you have set for your blog.  I hope you find this post helpful in starting your first blog.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

10 Blogging Fears That Will Keep You Stuck

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As a new blogger or someone who is trying to grow your blog it can be very difficult to get past your fears and get going.  You may not even understand why you are procrastinating, but sometimes it is the fear of blogging.  When I first started my blog I was very unsure of myself and the direction that I wanted to take it.  I was on a road that was leading nowhere.  I don’t want this to happen to you!  I want you to overcome your fears and develop a clear plan for your blog.  In this post I am discussing 10 fears that will stop you from reaching your blogging goals and some tips to overcome them.

1. I don’t know what my niche is.  Neither did I and some days I still brainstorm about the direction of my blog.  It takes time and practice to develop the direction of your blog, so stop worrying about that and just do it!

2.  I am a bad writer.  If writing is not your forte there are ways to improve that.  Pick up a book on the topic (I will talk about some free & paid resources that you can use in a future post).  Get a journal and write everyday.  This will help you get better.

3. You are Comparing Yourself To Others.  The worst thing that you can do as a new blogger or someone who is trying to grow your blog is play the comparison game.  It will not help.  As a matter fact, it will only make you feel worse.  You have a unique voice and story that only you can tell.  There are no two people exactly the same in the whole world, so play up what makes you different.

4. What if no one reads my blog.  The truth is that when you are first starting out you may not build traffic to your blog for many years.  Some people go viral within the first few months of blogging, but that will not happen for everyone.  You will have to build an audience that values your content, and that may take some time.

5. I don’t have a big social media presence.  Social media is important, but that should not stop you for carrying on with your blog.  The key to getting people to read your blog is to start making some real connections.  First, it starts with other bloggers in your community, then you will learn to build your own community.  Introduce yourself and leave genuine comments on other blogs and social media profiles and you will see your blog start to grow.

6. I don’t have a lot of money.  A lot of people don’t.  The costs of starting a blog varies depending on your goals.  You have to take the time to decide which route to take when you are just starting out.  I would start slow to practice consistency and go from there.  As your blog grows you will do what it takes to invest in it and watch it flourish.

7. I don’t know what to write about.  This is something that all good bloggers struggle with because we want to give our readers useful information.  Don’t put so much pressure on yourself because that can actually cause writers block.  Jot down a list of ideas that you can pull from to create blog posts.  This will help you in the process of creating content for your blog.

8. I don’t understand the process of blogging.  This is going to take some work on your part. Blogging is not for lazy people (I learned that really quickly).  In the old days, I thought I could just post something and readers would follow, but I have learned that a lot more goes into it.  You must educate yourself.  Take courses, read books, and do your research.  I love to read articles that give you the ropes on the blogging game.

9. What if people don’t like what I have to say.  This is apart of the blogging experience.  You should never deliberately try to offend anyone, but there will be some people who do not like your point of view and that is okay, as long as they remain respectful.  If you are going to develop an authentic voice you cannot be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions.

10. I don’t know how to edit my pictures.  I use Pic Monkey to edit my pictures and I love it.  The learning curve is easy, and you can upgrade to more advanced features once you get the hang of it.  Leave a comment below if you would like me to do a quick tutorial.

Thanks so much for reading my very first post on Blogging 101!  Leave any topics that you would like me to discuss in future blog posts.
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