My boyfriend and I were laughing a while ago about what a ‘basic blogger stater kit’ would entail, and it came stocked up with your Instagram boyfriend (to take photos of you when you’re looking fly), a plethora of advice posts (we all do it – I’m doing it now!), and someone behind a DSLR camera that can take photos of you on a sparkly street somewhere in West London that you do not live on, live nowhere close to, but still treck to just for the asthetics anyway. Aside from the jokes, I decided to actually sit down and write up my own little starter kit for anyone looking to get into blogging or anyone brand new to the blogging world. Which includes everything from choosing your platform, to the importance of social media, and more…
1. Choosing your platform
So there are a number of platforms you can use to get started with blogging. From what I know the easiest platform to get started on is Blogger (free – also the most popular blogging platform), followed by WordPress ($2.99/mo). I use WordPress on my website which has been installed via code from their .org website, before I was blogging I was actually a web-designer so I am able to design and code my website from scratch, although you can just get started on their .com website without any coding needed. Squarespace ($12-18/mo) is another choice with some amazing options when it comes to a free blogging layouts, although they are less popular probably due to the hefty price tag.
Once you’ve picked your blogging platform, the next step is to pick the name of your blog. Personally I would suggest having something quite general (as in, don’t call it ‘Kemi’s Makeup Blog‘, because you never know when the direction of your website could change), and probably have it related to your name/identity, as that makes it less likely that you will get bored of it in the future (pretty hard to get bored of your own name or alias). I actually coined Skylish before I even started this beauty/fashion/lifestyle blog (when I was a lot younger), and that was just because I had heard it in a song. If I could go back, I’m not too sure if I would stick with the same name, although it’s completely part of my identity online now – so I can’t say I mind too much!
Last but not least, you need to get yourself a layout. Pipdig and The Wonderforest come to mind immedietly – they offer both free and customised layouts that you can pay for. Otherwise, if you search ‘free Blogger/Wordpress layouts’ on Google, something is bound to pop. Free layouts are a great alternative as you can always customise yourself (through a bit of learning), and you don’t have to break the bank, but with specific designers you can work together on something 1-on-1 to get it to match your style more precisely.
Top tip! Even if you’re using a platform such as Blogger (e.g. Yourname.blogspot.co.uk), it’s a good idea to still buy a domain name to go on top of that (e.g. Yourname.co.uk), you can get this to redirect directly to your Blogger/Wordpress address. This is better when it comes to collaborating with brands as it allows for them to know what your DA score is and determine if you’re of value (in their opinion) to work with. You can find out a bit more about your DA score on this useful post written by Maria here. One source for buying a domain name is GoDaddy (they’re cheap as chips!)
2. Getting the right equipment
The right equipment is what I was lacking when I first started blogging – and that’s because I was a broke ass teenager who thought there was only so much importance good equipment could bring. Now – older, and hopefully wiser, I definitely see the value the right equipment can bring to your blog. The blogging industry is hugely saturated with tons and tons of banging blogs, so if you want to stand out and excel, you definitely need to have the equipment that will allow you to produce high quality content.
Some things you should think about investing into include:
- A high quality camera – I use a Nikon D3100 DSLR with a 18-55mm lens, which is nothing too amazing but is a great starter high-def camera and gets the job done. I mainly tend to use it for the few beauty posts I have here and there and also a few Instagram photos now and again. Although most of my fashion photos are actually taken by my amazing photographer Marianna – which makes life a lot easier as I’m not the most skilled photographer out there.
- Blog props – These are essentially for sprucing up your blog photos, especially your flat lays. You’ll find that a lot of props you’ll already have lying around in your house (you can literally find anything to use as a prop) – the odd piece of jewellery, plastic flower, marble backdrop and feather boa can go a long way.
- A photographer (for fashion bloggers) – One of the best decisions I ever made! A lot of photographers over charge (especially for something as simple as blog photos), so definitely keep searching until you find something reasonable. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a photographer friend (or other half), utilise that!
- Editing software – Good options include Photoshop (the most popular), and also Paint Shop Pro (this is what I use, I downloaded it years and years and years ago and have just stuck with it ever since!) You can actually get access to some Photoshop tools by singing up to Adobe Creative Cloud for just £17 or so a month.
The above may make you think of the sound of your pocket emptying – but of course you don’t have to invest in all of the things as not all will bring the same amount of value to everyone. For me, what has brought the most value has been a high quality camera and also a photographer. I can’t say that blog props have changed my life as I generally just do a few posts that require flat-lay type images, and I’ve had my editing software on my computer since forever, so have never had to invest in something new.
Top tip! Rremember, sometimes you gotta spend money to make emoney. Invest in yourself – it’s worth it in the long run.
3. Setting up your social media
I was active on Twitter for quite a while before I even got serious with blogging, but one party I was definitely late to was Instagram. I didn’t get Instagram until the summer of 2015 and even then, I didn’t start posting regularly until that winter. I’d sometimes got to events before then and find a number of people – blogger and brands alike, actually shocked that I did not have an Instagram account to share with them. I can’t belive it took me that long to see the value in social media, especially Instagram.
Essentially, these days, your social media is just an extension of your blog. It’s quite expected that bloggers are active on their social media, and actually, social media is regarded by many as necessary for gathering in followers and traffic onto your blog. I can definitely attest to this – for example sometimes I can promote one of my blogs on social media and within five minutes have a new comment pop up from a reader that was almost certainly directed from the platform. Also, if I ever check up on who the main referrerals are to my website, Instagram is always #1.
Keep an eye out for my soon-to-be released blogger toolkit will provide some in-depth tips and analysis regarding social media a long with a bunch of other tools that will help you get your blog organised.
4. Choosing a direction (and finding your motivation)
One thing I failed to do on my blog for so long is to actually choose a direction. I had no real goals as to what I was trying to trying to achieve with my blog and my posts, I just wanted to churn out content I thought was cool. I think that’s fine, but as I got slightly older I realised my real passion was to motivate, empower and encourage women and young women – just because I feel like that’s what I really would’ve appreciated more of growing up! I’ve experienced a few things here and there now at almost 22, and am litereally still learning and growing every day – I love sharing my lessons learned and experiences with people that may be going through the same thing. Along with sharing some of my general interests, which definitely includes style and also of course some beauty. I think when you define a direction and your purpose it allows you to come up with better quality, more targetted content that will help your blog grow in the long run.
Now – reach out! Most bloggers are friendly – if you interact with them on twitter they’ll amost always respond, and everyone’s always looking to connect and to grow. So… message your favourite bloggers on Twitter, get involved in conversations, follow others, just get your name out there. You’ll find a lot of bloggers will follow you back, and a lot will interact with you if you reach out to them. I’m always up for connecting so be sure to catch up with me on my Twitter and Instagram.
More blogging tips…