I've been getting a lot of questions lately on blogging and branding advice of sorts (like I really know what I am doing here). So I thought I make a post addressing this topic. As the title reads, I'm not an expert and don't claim to be one. I am an amateur, at best. Blogging is my hobby and while I've gotten a few paid sponsor posts, some sale commissions,  and lots of goodies, it's not supporting my bills in any way.

I think we all strive to be the next Sincerely Jules or Song Of Style - who wouldn’t love a closet full of dream-worthy designer clothing and getting paid to travel the world? But let's not sugar coat it- the competition is tough. The blogging world is so crowded and cramped you will struggle to even find room to breathe.  It can take years for a website to catch on, if at all, and only after the blogger has dedicated some serious time to social media and outreach—in other words, branding.

Ironically anyone can make a few clicks and call themselves a 'blogger' but honestly most of them are mediocre and some even straight up suck. In no way am I saying mine is great.. I mean I take my photos with my iPhone 6 and my 'photographer'  (although very smart, handsome, and loving) is my not-so creative boyfriend. He says his hands start sweating every time he takes my pictures in fear of taking bad photos. Eventually I will buy a fancy-smancy camera or find a photographer for a boyfriend like Rumi (Fashiontoast). Hehe, I kid. Love you Leif. 

There are only a few blogs that are 'bookmark-worthy' to me. But most of those blogs that I revisit are usually the ones that are already successful...You see the struggle here?

So how do we amateurs become one of those BOOKMARKED bloggers? Honestly...

I have no effing clue.

Or I'd probably be famous already. It's still a learning process but I can tell you what I've learned so far....

1. Find a Niche & Be True to Yourself

Think about where your passion lies, blog about it.  Finding a voice has been the most challenging part for me.  I am a free spirit inspired by everything so I feel like writing about everything! I initially started my blog focusing both on healthy recipes and my style but recently converted to solely personal outfit posts as it got a better response. It has shifted but my perspective has always been the same: to combine beautiful photographs with my perspective on fashion, food, and beauty.

Through repetition, in developing a daily practice of posting, I am beginning to see the thread of what my creative voice looks and sounds like. I have ceased making my blog a competitive sport and relaxed into using it as a means for my passion for styling. It is my space to be creative with and do as I want. This has freed me to start sharing myself a bit more through my writing/photos with my readers. Stepping back and putting myself in the place of the viewer, has led me in the direction of creating content that I would like to read/see. 

2. Choosing the Right Platform

I am not a complete tech novice but I still needed a platform that was easy to use and didn’t require a lot of knowledge to get started.  I am using Blogger which I tinkered with by Googling any questions I had.  I struggled between using Blogger or Wordpress, but if you haven't started, I actually suggest using Wordpress- it has way better plug-ins. I think I might actually switch over eventually.

If you're using blogger like I am, below are resources I often refer to for  coding/design tutorials  to personalized my blog:
Techsperia
XOMISSE
Loving Life Designs
EdyTricks
CSS Tutorial

3. Get Your Own Domain Name 

I bought my own domain name through GoDaddy. There are other hosts, you're welcome to research for yourself. If you're thinking of using Squarespace, I know you can purchase it through its site.

For some of you that don't know what that means.. Your domain name is what people will type to find your site.  i.e. - although I am using blogger platform instead of seeing "gypsytan.blogspot.com", my domain name is just plain ol' "gypsytan.co" (.com was taken). You don't want another business attached to your brand.  It's only a small investment ($10/year) - skip a latte or two, it's worth it. 

4.  Create a Clear “About” Page

When I find a blog with great contents and pictures, my curiosity is piqued. I am hungry for more. I want to dive deeper, to know more about the gorgeous creature behind the words. So what's the next thing I do? 

Yep. I head over to your About Me page (make sure it is easy for your readers to find it)

Then I read.. "Hi I am Jane Doe, I'm started this blog because I love to travel and I love fashion."

Borrrrrrring. 

Now you've lost me. We all love to travel and if you're blogging about fashion, you obviously love fashion. It's rhetorical.

Start with a short paragraph describing what your blog is about. But don't be afraid to get a little deeper. I can't tell you how many emails I have gotten from labels wanting to collaborate partly because of my philosophy on life - stated in my About page. Keep it real. Keep it relatable. Keep it conversational.

5. Write How You Talk

I'll be the first to admit my grammar could use some improvement. I didn't learn English until I was 10, so I was a little self-conscious throwing out my writing for everyone to see. Then a few friends told me they love my blog because they sense my personality shine through my written words.  I feel the same way when I read other blogs where they write how they talk- I feel like they are right in front of me, sharing their thoughts instead of sounding like a robot. I just learned to loosen up my writing. Threw in some slangs. Got rid of the jargon. That's how I really talked-- and that's what real people like to read.  


write your thoughts

6. Don't Talk About Yourself 

Not to sound harsh but unless you're writing your blog for your friends and fam, most of your readers don't give a damn about your life. I actually encourage you to let your personality shine through your writing but don't make a whole blog post about your interests or your life-story.  Readers care more about what we can teach them.  

7. Photography

For fashion/personal/food bloggers, taking good photos is key to developing a following. I still have a long way to go but like I said, I am using my iPhone 6.

The best hours for outfit photos are later in the afternoon with natural light—"the magic hours!"—when the sun is near the horizon and gives a soft hazy front light. When you photograph, say, at noon, you will often have harsh shadows in your face.

I use VSCOcam, Afterlight, Picfx, Diptic, Squareready to edit my photos on my iPhone.

8. Don't Post Too Many or Too little Photos

Some bloggers will post 20 photos from the same shoot. Its unnecessary and really annoying to have to scroll through.

But do break up your contents with photos. No matter how awesome your content is- the presence of photography makes it more fun to read- we don't want people to feel like they are reading an essay.

9. Blog Layout / Font / Formatting

Blog layout is really important to making your blog compelling to visit. I am indecisive and a perfectionist. The two combination has led me to spend many wasted hours on on formatting/coding. Don't do what I did. But do stick with the clean fonts, theme, alignment throughout your blog.

If you don't know what you're doing, hire someone to help you get started. Can't afford it? I bet you have a friend who is willing to help. I have seen messy formats and 20 color schemes that make me want to gouge my eyes out.

I use three different fonts throughout my blog and black, dark grey, and blue to highlight links. Choosing fonts might not be important to you, but it makes a big difference in my eyes.

Personally, I love a post to be aligned to the left and pictures, all with the same width, centered. Post aligned left or justify, are easier to read. Don't center it (unless its a one liner), because it looks like you're writing a poetry.

Make sure the heading stands out, and the footer with the share links are easy to find.

Example of a nice layout | Dear Miss Modern - Stella Blog Web Kit

10. Don't Do It For the Money $$$ 


Because there isn't any. Sadly most blogs are not profitable - definitely not enough to live on. If you're good- you can make an income with affiliated marketing.  Please don't rush into putting a bunch of annoying advertisement on your blog. It will turn readers away. I received a lot of goodies, but I didn't make my first commission until 6 months into blogging.. and it was a very SMALL commission. Just be patient and keep it real as I have stated before. If you blog with the sole purpose of wanting to make money then you're doing it for the wrong reasons and you probably won't be successful. 

I composed a list of affiliated networks you can look into. 
Rakuten 
Google Adsense
Amazong Associates

11. Outreach / Socialize 


Use your social media as your tool. I actually gained a huge following on my Instagram first then decided to start a blog because of friends and followers encouragement. Don't be too cool to respond to your readers' questions and comments. I personally love hearing back from my favorite blogger babes and always impressed when they addressed me specifically, so I try to do the same. Be humble and complimentary- but be real.

COMMENTS: I recently download Disqus for my blog. It is so user-friendly. Totally recommend everyone to use it!

Other sites to check as a tool to brand your blog (for fashion bloggers): Blogloving, Lookbook, Chictopia...

PET PEEVE is when people ask me to follow each other or leave comments requesting to check out their blog- that just makes me NOT want to follow or look at their blog. Not to say you can't comment on a blog post and end it with your name and your domain name. Just don't spam. Save that for the musubi.

Best of luck to you all babes.  I hope this is helpful.  Just be patient. I've only been blogging for 9 months and I'm just a tiny star in the galaxy. Sit down. Relax. And keep typing...

Please, please, please leave some inputs and tips as I am always learning and want to share this knowledge. I want to update this list (and I will credit you).

Sabrina
xx

I've been getting a lot of questions lately on blogging and branding advice of sorts (like I really know what I am doing here). So I thought I make a post addressing this topic. As the title reads, I'm not an expert and don't claim to be one. I am an amateur, at best. Blogging is my hobby and while I've gotten a few paid sponsor posts, some sale commissions,  and lots of goodies, it's not supporting my bills in any way.

I think we all strive to be the next Sincerely Jules or Song Of Style - who wouldn’t love a closet full of dream-worthy designer clothing and getting paid to travel the world? But let's not sugar coat it- the competition is tough. The blogging world is so crowded and cramped you will struggle to even find room to breathe.  It can take years for a website to catch on, if at all, and only after the blogger has dedicated some serious time to social media and outreach—in other words, branding.

Ironically anyone can make a few clicks and call themselves a 'blogger' but honestly most of them are mediocre and some even straight up suck. In no way am I saying mine is great.. I mean I take my photos with my iPhone 6 and my 'photographer'  (although very smart, handsome, and loving) is my not-so creative boyfriend. He says his hands start sweating every time he takes my pictures in fear of taking bad photos. Eventually I will buy a fancy-smancy camera or find a photographer for a boyfriend like Rumi (Fashiontoast). Hehe, I kid. Love you Leif. 

There are only a few blogs that are 'bookmark-worthy' to me. But most of those blogs that I revisit are usually the ones that are already successful...You see the struggle here?

So how do we amateurs become one of those BOOKMARKED bloggers? Honestly...

I have no effing clue.

Or I'd probably be famous already. It's still a learning process but I can tell you what I've learned so far....

1. Find a Niche & Be True to Yourself

Think about where your passion lies, blog about it.  Finding a voice has been the most challenging part for me.  I am a free spirit inspired by everything so I feel like writing about everything! I initially started my blog focusing both on healthy recipes and my style but recently converted to solely personal outfit posts as it got a better response. It has shifted but my perspective has always been the same: to combine beautiful photographs with my perspective on fashion, food, and beauty.

Through repetition, in developing a daily practice of posting, I am beginning to see the thread of what my creative voice looks and sounds like. I have ceased making my blog a competitive sport and relaxed into using it as a means for my passion for styling. It is my space to be creative with and do as I want. This has freed me to start sharing myself a bit more through my writing/photos with my readers. Stepping back and putting myself in the place of the viewer, has led me in the direction of creating content that I would like to read/see. 

2. Choosing the Right Platform

I am not a complete tech novice but I still needed a platform that was easy to use and didn’t require a lot of knowledge to get started.  I am using Blogger which I tinkered with by Googling any questions I had.  I struggled between using Blogger or Wordpress, but if you haven't started, I actually suggest using Wordpress- it has way better plug-ins. I think I might actually switch over eventually.

If you're using blogger like I am, below are resources I often refer to for  coding/design tutorials  to personalized my blog:
Techsperia
XOMISSE
Loving Life Designs
EdyTricks
CSS Tutorial

3. Get Your Own Domain Name 

I bought my own domain name through GoDaddy. There are other hosts, you're welcome to research for yourself. If you're thinking of using Squarespace, I know you can purchase it through its site.

For some of you that don't know what that means.. Your domain name is what people will type to find your site.  i.e. - although I am using blogger platform instead of seeing "gypsytan.blogspot.com", my domain name is just plain ol' "gypsytan.co" (.com was taken). You don't want another business attached to your brand.  It's only a small investment ($10/year) - skip a latte or two, it's worth it. 

4.  Create a Clear “About” Page

When I find a blog with great contents and pictures, my curiosity is piqued. I am hungry for more. I want to dive deeper, to know more about the gorgeous creature behind the words. So what's the next thing I do? 

Yep. I head over to your About Me page (make sure it is easy for your readers to find it)

Then I read.. "Hi I am Jane Doe, I'm started this blog because I love to travel and I love fashion."

Borrrrrrring. 

Now you've lost me. We all love to travel and if you're blogging about fashion, you obviously love fashion. It's rhetorical.

Start with a short paragraph describing what your blog is about. But don't be afraid to get a little deeper. I can't tell you how many emails I have gotten from labels wanting to collaborate partly because of my philosophy on life - stated in my About page. Keep it real. Keep it relatable. Keep it conversational.

5. Write How You Talk

I'll be the first to admit my grammar could use some improvement. I didn't learn English until I was 10, so I was a little self-conscious throwing out my writing for everyone to see. Then a few friends told me they love my blog because they sense my personality shine through my written words.  I feel the same way when I read other blogs where they write how they talk- I feel like they are right in front of me, sharing their thoughts instead of sounding like a robot. I just learned to loosen up my writing. Threw in some slangs. Got rid of the jargon. That's how I really talked-- and that's what real people like to read.  


write your thoughts

6. Don't Talk About Yourself 

Not to sound harsh but unless you're writing your blog for your friends and fam, most of your readers don't give a damn about your life. I actually encourage you to let your personality shine through your writing but don't make a whole blog post about your interests or your life-story.  Readers care more about what we can teach them.  

7. Photography

For fashion/personal/food bloggers, taking good photos is key to developing a following. I still have a long way to go but like I said, I am using my iPhone 6.

The best hours for outfit photos are later in the afternoon with natural light—"the magic hours!"—when the sun is near the horizon and gives a soft hazy front light. When you photograph, say, at noon, you will often have harsh shadows in your face.

I use VSCOcam, Afterlight, Picfx, Diptic, Squareready to edit my photos on my iPhone.

8. Don't Post Too Many or Too little Photos

Some bloggers will post 20 photos from the same shoot. Its unnecessary and really annoying to have to scroll through.

But do break up your contents with photos. No matter how awesome your content is- the presence of photography makes it more fun to read- we don't want people to feel like they are reading an essay.

9. Blog Layout / Font / Formatting

Blog layout is really important to making your blog compelling to visit. I am indecisive and a perfectionist. The two combination has led me to spend many wasted hours on on formatting/coding. Don't do what I did. But do stick with the clean fonts, theme, alignment throughout your blog.

If you don't know what you're doing, hire someone to help you get started. Can't afford it? I bet you have a friend who is willing to help. I have seen messy formats and 20 color schemes that make me want to gouge my eyes out.

I use three different fonts throughout my blog and black, dark grey, and blue to highlight links. Choosing fonts might not be important to you, but it makes a big difference in my eyes.

Personally, I love a post to be aligned to the left and pictures, all with the same width, centered. Post aligned left or justify, are easier to read. Don't center it (unless its a one liner), because it looks like you're writing a poetry.

Make sure the heading stands out, and the footer with the share links are easy to find.

Example of a nice layout | Dear Miss Modern - Stella Blog Web Kit

10. Don't Do It For the Money $$$ 


Because there isn't any. Sadly most blogs are not profitable - definitely not enough to live on. If you're good- you can make an income with affiliated marketing.  Please don't rush into putting a bunch of annoying advertisement on your blog. It will turn readers away. I received a lot of goodies, but I didn't make my first commission until 6 months into blogging.. and it was a very SMALL commission. Just be patient and keep it real as I have stated before. If you blog with the sole purpose of wanting to make money then you're doing it for the wrong reasons and you probably won't be successful. 

I composed a list of affiliated networks you can look into. 
Rakuten 
Google Adsense
Amazong Associates

11. Outreach / Socialize 


Use your social media as your tool. I actually gained a huge following on my Instagram first then decided to start a blog because of friends and followers encouragement. Don't be too cool to respond to your readers' questions and comments. I personally love hearing back from my favorite blogger babes and always impressed when they addressed me specifically, so I try to do the same. Be humble and complimentary- but be real.

COMMENTS: I recently download Disqus for my blog. It is so user-friendly. Totally recommend everyone to use it!

Other sites to check as a tool to brand your blog (for fashion bloggers): Blogloving, Lookbook, Chictopia...

PET PEEVE is when people ask me to follow each other or leave comments requesting to check out their blog- that just makes me NOT want to follow or look at their blog. Not to say you can't comment on a blog post and end it with your name and your domain name. Just don't spam. Save that for the musubi.

Best of luck to you all babes.  I hope this is helpful.  Just be patient. I've only been blogging for 9 months and I'm just a tiny star in the galaxy. Sit down. Relax. And keep typing...

Please, please, please leave some inputs and tips as I am always learning and want to share this knowledge. I want to update this list (and I will credit you).

Sabrina
xx

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