Heart To Heart: Blogging

The Beginning

After numerous questions about blogging, I decided to put this extensive post together hoping to answer all of your questions. Before I begin, I would like to bring you back to how I first started.

Three years ago I launched Scout The City with the intentions of blogging about my daughter and children’s fashion. I had no interest in stepping in front of the camera as this was something that was nothing more than a hobby. As our following grew on Instagram, people began to ask about Scout’s mom and I decided to reveal who I am. Because we look so much alike we had a great response! So I decided to take the plunge and get in front of the camera. I was so nervous at first and had no idea what I was doing but this is all part of the learning curve. Nine months after I started blogging, I began to make an income and I never looked back. So let me break this down for you…

How Do I Start

You just do! Stop making excuses that you want to be perfect or you want a new camera, or you need to take lessons, or you need more money and new clothes and blah blah blah. If these are your excuses then you’re self-sabotaging yourself and are doomed from the start. Take one step at a time and believe in yourself. You learn as you go and you grow. Don’t compare yourself, to anyone and strive to be different. I actually use my phone to record video and the “Portrait” effect to take photos. It’s all about natural lighting. Try editing video on iMovie on your Mac before you start making big purchases on software. I sometimes edit video from iMovie on my trusty iPhone 7 plus.

If you’re reading this then I’m assuming you know the basics such as: pick a blog name and purchase a domain. If you wondering what site you should use, then I would say WordPress. It has a user-friendly interface and tons of customizable templates that can make your blog look beautiful.

Next up, create a content calendar. What do you want to blog about? Are you a DIY’er, mommy blogger, extreme couponist? Whatever it is you need to start developing content around it. Pick 2-3 days and post every week on those exact days. Try and write your content at least one or two months in advance so you’re not stuck cramming it all in the night before (been there, done that). Be consistent so while you’re building your blog, your followers will know what to expect and on what days. Now when you start getting busy, this gets hard but we will save that discussion for later.

Finding things to talk about is easy! You need to do a little reading yourself and you can also type in a few ideas into google search and look at the drop down menu. It will give you an idea of what people are searching for. The Same rule applies for YouTube. I generally like to see trends in magazines and put my own spin on it. For example, Denim skirts are huge right now but have we ever seen them on a 5-year-old or a mother daughter? How about spinning this trend in a kid-friendly or stylish family way and showcasing that. It grabs attention instead of seeing just another blogger in another denim skirt. Fashion is one of the most oversaturated blogging topics out there but yet we all love it and want to talk about it. So put your personal spin on it. I share my passion with my family and it grew into more than just one topic. Now I’m a full blown lifestyle site.

Fake It Until You Make it

If you think every blogger you see has tons of money and a picture perfect life then your sadly mistaken. Content creators make things look good, we’re art directors it’s why brands want to work with us. It’s just like seeing an ad in a magazine, they have a team of people to make that model look that way. We just happen to do it own our own which makes it a lot more relatable.

You don’t have to buy millions of clothes to start this digital journey. Try getting a good connection with a showroom so you can borrow clothing and jewelry if fashion is your niche. If you’re super new to this then guess what? Buy it and return it, this is basically the same thing as borrowing from a showroom. Just make sure you’re only wearing it for the shoot and not going to a party in it because that’s just gross girl. Know one talks about this but it’s honestly the truth. I have moved past this stage but this is definitely how I started.

I’m sure you need someone to take your photos but if you’re just starting out you might have to take it yourself. I literally would whip out a tripod in the middle of the block and not care. You have to put your ego to the side and create that content! If you have a little budget then you can get a photographer. I would try and find an intern from the local schools such as the Fashion Institute, etc. If you can afford a photographer then you pay them by the look or hourly. People think we have a photographer following us around every day but if that were the case you would see that I’m a hot mess half the time. In that hour session, you shoot as many looks as you can squeeze in and you plan your content around the looks you shot. If all else fails, find an Instagram husband.

Editing photos can be such a pain but luckily my photographer edits most of them. The photos that I take on my camera I actually edit directly from my phone! It’s amazing what editing apps such as VSCO could do.

How Do I Work With Brands

I get this question very often and the truth is that you have to crawl before you can walk.  Be patient as nothing happens overnight. Most of these bigger bloggers have been around for 7-8 years! Some have blogged for 3 years before they saw a penny. Some of these girls are my friends so I know firsthand. You need to build a readership and a following before you present yourself to a brand. Once you have your stats up then you need to put together a media kit and a good pitch. Something that will grab a brands attention. Tell them about your readers, who they are, where they live and what they’re interested in, this is all analytics. Your analytics for your blog should be linked with google analytics and Instagram will give you free analytics on your profile page if you have a certain number of followers. If a brand is going to invest in you then they need to track they’re ROI to make sure it was a good marketing investment.

Working with brands is a job and so is blogging so it should be treated that way, be professional. You will have proof dates and live dates when content should go up. You will always have full creative control but you need to agree to a schedule and abide by that. Only work with brands that you would normally use. For example, some one asked me If I use Pantene products in real life, Of course, I do! I used it all through college and I find their new Gold Series collection to be amazing on curly hair. It’s also an easy drugstore pick-up product when I’m traveling.  I promote things that I use or am willing to try. You would never see me promoting McDonald’s because I don’t eat there and neither do my children. If you love McDonald’s then go for it but everyone knows that I live for local foods, I even purchase my donuts locally made from the farmers market (BTW, I’m trying to quit donuts).  You don’t have to take every campaign that comes your way, that’s the beauty of blogging and working for yourself. You want to be authentic at all times or else people will see right through you and they will definitely call you out.

How Do I gain a following

I wish I could tell you that there was some special mathematical formula that we could apply to this but there’s not. The truth is that it’s not easy and takes a lot of work. You need to post things that are engaging, inspirational or just screams #GOALS. If you post a cute picture of your child and expect it to go viral, chances are it probably won’t (sad, I know). Think about why people would want to see this photo. If they didn’t know you, would they care? I take the time to curate each image in my feed. I edit it and place it strategically in my feed so it flows well including those filler photos of just my coffee. Every now and then my feed is a mess but hey it happens. Give someone who doesn’t know you a reason to want to follow and to stay tuned for more.

Some tips that I have learned along the way are teaming up with like-minded people to do giveaways or shoutouts. If you reach out to someone who has a similar following as you, chances are they would love to work together. Help support one another through your digital journey. Social media is called social for a reason. Comment of one another’s pages or join an engagement group. You can even start your own engagement group with fellow bloggers. You can also join blogging Facebook pages where you can post your latest articles, get to know other bloggers and engage in one another’s content.

Pinterest is still king! Try pinning and also join groups on Pinterest. Make sure to put proper captions and have links that link back to your site. Don’t forget to repin other pins so you don’t seem like you’re spamming people with your own content.

The Workload

Blogging takes a lot of work, patience, and consistency. Nothing great comes easy and I work my ass off. I sometimes work for 10-12 hours a day. One blog post can take hours if you are shooting that morning, editing, writing, linking products and putting the post together. You see a pretty post but we see a backend full of coding or columns that don’t make sense. Photos have to be placed properly so you have equal height columns and products that you see us wearing needs to be linked so you can find it. The life looks glamorous but it can leave you with sleepless nights.

Making time is hard, especially when you have children. I wake up extremely early to write and be alone before the kids wake up. I take a break after school to spend one-on-one time with my daughter and go back to work when she sleeps. You have to find the time where ever you can and if this is something you love to do then you will make it work.

I hope I gave you some good insight into the blogging world and I know you had a lot more questions but I think I will have to make a Part 2 to this heart-to-heart to answer them all. Leave me a comment and I will try my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading!!

Sai

9 Comments

  1. Margarita
    July 11, 2017 / 2:09 PM

    This article is very informative. Thank you for providing insight into blogging I have been meaning to start my own blog but have made up excuses as to why I’m not ready. Seeing how you manage while taking care of your family is very inspiring!!

  2. July 11, 2017 / 3:14 PM

    This is such great content for someone like me who just started blogging. I recently started a blog approximately 2 months ago. I always loved to write and just recently started a clothing line so I saw a blog as an outlet and a vehicle to promote both passions. I was apprehensive at first because I had no idea how to proceed but I did as you said in your post just jumped right into it. Your post gave me such affirmation! I thank you tremendously for sharing and your guidance. Looking forward to part 2.

  3. July 11, 2017 / 5:08 PM

    Great post! I loved seeing your perspective on this business of blogging. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. July 11, 2017 / 6:47 PM

    Love this article! I think you definitely covered the basic blogging questions. I love what you said about Pinterest too. I discovered Scout the City while I was pregnant with my daughter. I was searching mommy and me style and fashion for little girls. I will definitely start using that part of the Social Media world more consistently. Thank you again for sharing!

  5. July 11, 2017 / 9:32 PM

    Thank you Sai for writing this post and looking forward to Pary 2!!! It’s always informative to hear from
    someone like about the world of blogging. I started blogging recently and learning everyday. It definitely helps when people who are close to you are being supportive in your passion but when even one is being a total ass and brings you down than it can crush you.
    Thanks for always being real!! 😉

  6. savvy luxe
    July 12, 2017 / 8:14 PM

    Wow!!! Thank you so much. This was a great read. I took so many notes 📝 and added my own details sorta like a cheat sheet to keep near by! I am looking forward to part 2!
    Currently I am working on building my social presence with my instagram gallery. I have found a used MacBook Pro 💻 and canon camera 📸 at a pawn shop and it’s on lay away. Lol😊!!!
    I am using this time to work on getting the hang of understanding the business of blogging and trying to build my following and engagement. I am excited for the journey. I’ve been trying to figure out how to grow for a long time. I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere.
    Again, thank you 😊
    savvy luxe

  7. July 16, 2017 / 10:20 PM

    This is what I needed! Thanks your post was inspiring, i started my blog but was surprised at how much time it takes but reading this let’s me know it’s possible.

  8. July 18, 2017 / 3:32 PM

    Great post! I stopped by your site after seeing your Olay ad in the August issue of InStyle. I’m just breaking out into the world of blogging and this post is so refreshing! Most of those big bloggers don’t talk about the behind the scenes or how HARD it is to get growth! Thank you for being so honest and real. Particularly, the buy, shoot and return 🙂 I’ve only done this once, and the whole time I thought “surely fashion bloggers do this sometimes right??”

    • July 19, 2017 / 7:29 AM

      HAHA! Yes, the struggle is real with the buy and return. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Thanks for stopping by Jen and good luck:)

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