What I Wore: A Fashion and Personal Style Blog

A Complete Guide to Fashion and LIfestyle Blogging, Jessica Quirk, @whatiwore, whatiwore.tumblr.com, #fashionblogger

WhatIWore: I frequently receive e-mails asking for tips on how to get started with a blog. Here are all of my best pro tips in one place!

1. Stay True to Yourself

Its really obvious to me when someone is writing with his or her own voice versus using a tone he or she thinks they should use.  Write on topics that inspire you and make you passionate and write the way you’d talk or explain it to a friend. When people meet me IRL they always tell me “You’re just like your blog!!” I love hearing that.

2. Its Not About the Numbers

Your first motivation for blogging should be self publishing your perspective. If you’re doing it just to get sponsored or get attention, it will probably come across that way. The numbers will come if you have something interesting to talk about.  But, if you are looking to share your site with others, I HIGHLY suggest joining an online community with people who are into the same thing. I like taking photos of myself so I read blogs where other people do the same thing. Upload, comment, e-mail other bloggers. Network like you would IRL, but please be genuine. Mass e-mails for “PLEASE BLOG ROLL ME” are likely to be left unanswered, while sweet and honest e-mails will almost always get a response.

3. If your blog is visual - USE GOOD PHOTOS! (preferably your own!)Jamie’s blog, From Me to You, is an excellent example.

4. Do your homework. Look at the blogs you love and analyze them - aside from ultra deep pockets or model shots - what else is going on? There are some REALLY great blogs out there and they have commonalities: quality and focus.

5. Layout and Content

Its best to use a blog for your own content, although you might want to borrow inspiration or other people’s images occasionally.  However, once a photo has become a meme, there’s really no point in putting it up on your site. If I wanted to see an entire runway show I would go to style.com or nymag.com.  Anyone can grab those photos and tack on his or her opinion. And you know what they say about opinions… right? 

Take the trends a step further and create your own content. Maybe that’s daily outfit photos or a collage or a comparison. Do something original. Otherwise, the public will likely find that same information from the original source (which is gonna be style.com, not you).

If you’re doing photos, only publish the very best of the batch. Blurry, dark and unfocused shots look rushed. If you have to skip a day because the lighting didn’t work, that’s better in my opinion.

Keep your layout organized. White, black or gray backgrounds let your images or words take center stage.  I have someone help me with my coding, but I also try to learn a little myself so I can make adjustments. Bare Bones CSS and HTML knowledge will help you shine. Also keep in mind:

  • Pick a photo width and stick with it. For the most part all of my photos are the same width, so there is a nice column down your page. This makes reading and scrolling through your blog prettier! Its pretty easy too! I use flickr for all of my image hosting and there’s an easy “all sizes” tool above your photos. Medium photos are 500 pixels wide, which I think is a great size!
  • Keep it to one or two fonts. Plain and simple. Also make sure the color you use for your fonts is easy to read. No one is going to stick around or come back if they can’t see your writing!
  • Grab ‘em above the fold! Make sure there’s a little bit of content that pops up when your readers first see your screen— this usually has to do with the header size… I say half of your initial screen at the most, a third is probably better!

6. Be realistic with your goals. Are you trying to monetize your blog or just be a creative outlet? Is it a working resume to get the job you’ve always wanted?  Lets go into a little more depth with each of those.

MONEY - If you are starting a blog to make money, you are going to fail. The winners in this field are the people that loved what they were photographing or writing about so much that they just wanted to spend all of their time doing it. If you’re lucky it will turn into a career. Its really not the other way around. Do what you love. Do what you love. Do what you love. When people see that passion, they want to be a part of it!

CREATIVE OUTLET - If this is the case, let your blog be your scrapbook and carry on! With millions of people on the web each day, it won’t be long before someone else calls you an inspiration.

WORKING RESUME - There are bloggers out there with a strong sense of their personality and work and its very well represented on their blogs. Two gals that come to mind are Gala Darling and Nubby (who also happen to be IRL friends).

7. Its not a competition.

When I first started reading fashion blogs and seeing other bloggers in magazines I got jealous!! Then I got real. Its not a competition. I do something really well and other bloggers do things well too. Its likely we will cover the same topics from time to time and that’s ok. Just do it your way, with your voice.  Being kind to other writers/photographers/stylists/bloggers will never hurt you and often help you in the future. Help someone out that’s new to the game, even if you feel like you’re new too.

8. Get Better. I love the feeling of typing in my URL and thinking “dang! That looks pretty good!” but if I was still working with what I thought looked good a year ago, I wouldn’t be growing or getting any better. When you think you’ve done the best possible you’re just stretching your creative muscles. You’ll get better - if you push yourself.

9. Be Patient. Once you’ve done your homework, narrowed down your focus and then polished it off a little more, take a breather and be patient!! Whether you’re searching for fame, fortune or just a new job, remember that it will take time. Every star has an E! True Hollywood Story! They didn’t just become Oscar winners over night! First they did soap operas or made for TV movies! It all takes time!

10. My Motto

Do what you love and do your best. No excuses! Be awesome!!

Good, better, best
Never Let it Rest
Until the good is the better
and the better is the BEST!!

5 Jan 2010

WhatIWore: A huge percent of my daily reader e-mails have turned to the question “how can I make my blog more successful?" which is something I think about on a near daily basis concerning What I Wore. I can at least pat myself on the back for knowing I don’t know everything and that’s why I checked out a recent Love & Sequins podcast (No. 7) from Gala Darling. She’s another sassy soul who’s doing the blog thing on the professional level and I think her advice is really on point.

I  have a few tips of my own, but she’s really gone through the pros and cons of being a full time blogger.  I have e-mailed with her on occasion, but we’ve never met and this post is because I really think those of you who want to go to the next level could benefit (and honestly I wish I had put together something as brilliant as she has!), not because she’s asked me to post!

There’s definitely a certain je ne sais quoi about bloggers who become successful - something no amount of advice or direction can do for you unless you have it within yourself to make your blog successful!

Do you have tips or tricks that have worked for your blog? Please share in the comments!

WhatIWore: In the past month the number of e-mails I’ve received related to starting a blog and promoting it are way up. I’m by no means an expert on the topic, but I do love working on What I Wore, so here’s some of my top tips:

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