If you’ve stumbled across this post, chances are good that you are interested in starting a fashion blog (or a lifestyle blog). Well, you have come to the right place. I started blogging full-time in 2014 and now make a six figure income with my business!
My First Logo!
Website & Logo Creation
About a year after my husband and I got married, we moved to Texas. I no longer wanted to work in TV news (you can read more about my background here) so I decided to start a wardrobe consulting business. I created my very first website with iWeb and reached out to old TV news colleagues to help find a graphic designer to create my logo, which you can see above. This logo now makes me giggle. Your business will evolve as you do. Don’t expect perfection in the begining (or ever).
Now…it is so simple and affordable to create a logo. I would start by looking at Etsy. If you want to create a website, I would select a WordPress theme from a site like this, and pay extra to have them set it up for you. It shouldn’t be a huge investment.
If you are a long-time reader, you know that after about five years and two babies, I decided I need to change the direction of my business. The client styling session business model had no room for growth. A friend told me about Reward Style in 2014. I applied right away relieved that I had finally found the next chapter in my business! Well, I got nothing back. Zip. Nada. Reward Style rejected me and I was devastated, but it was easy to fall back on my client sessions. I also signed up for Rakuten Linkshare and monetized my content a little that way, but the commission rates were so low, it didn’t move the needle.
Reward Style Conference 2018
Six months after I first applied I met another blogger who had just signed up with Reward Style. She generously offered to refer me to her ‘rep’ or representative with the company. (Referrals are common since the person who refers you makes 10% of your revenue. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to refer you.) I was once again rejected, but this time I didn’t give up. I emailed the rep, sharing more about my background, and explaining why I would make them a lot of money. As you might imagine this was a pretty humbling process. I was a bonafide grown-up with kids and a ton of work experience! My plea worked. I FINALLY got accepted. Every time I see Alex (the rep who accepted me) I thank her and joke about how I begged her to let me in.
TIP: I didn’t have a lot of options when I started, but you have choices. Sign up with ShopStyle Collective right away! You might want to start with ShopStyle Collective, and build up some content and imagery BEFORE applying to Reward Style. You are more likely to get accepted.
I had NO clue what the heck I was doing. Like none. But, I did realize relatively quickly that I needed good pictures. I asked a local photographer, Jon Tiffin, to do a shoot with me and I used my styling connections to borrow a bunch of clothes from Neiman Marcus. Nothing sold well and it dawned on me that featuring expensive clothes was probably not the best strategy. I wasn’t buying them so it’s quite likely that none of my clients or readers were either. But, there are plenty of bloggers making it in the luxe market. Just stay true to you. Don’t feature a ton of luxury products if you don’t shop that way.
Taking My Own Pictures
Even though I would have loved to continue working with a professional photographer, it wasn’t practical, especially because we traveled a LOT. I needed to find another, more practical solution. That’s when I bought my first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel T5i (They are up to 7 now). I also bought a remote (buy several and backup batteries)… and a tripod. I ended up buying a new lens too, the 50mm, f/1.4. You can see a couple of my first pictures with my new Canon camera above. I was SO excited to shoot on our trip to Telluride. If you look closely, you’ll often see the black remote in my hand.
TIP: When picking out your camera, make sure you choose one with an articulating LCD screen so you can see yourself in the frame. You also need amazing auto focus.
If you have access to photographers in your city, I would HIGHLY recommend shooting with a pro. I have learned a ton about photography, and I have an inherent interest and passion for photography, but frankly, it would be much easier if I simply hired someone. When I travel to Dallas or NYC, I hire someone EVERY TIME. Having those crisp, professional quality photos is invaluable. The shots above are by one of my favorites, Lydia Hudgens.
I was fortunate to make money right out of the gate since I already had a client base that was willing to support my online venture. You may not, and you shouldn’t expect that outcome. Reward Style doesn’t send you a check until you clear at least $100 in commissions. And commissions do not clear until 3 months after purchase. I make between 8% and 20% on purchases through my site, depending on the retailer and the negotiated rate. It is mostly around 10%. If someone clicks on one of your links and doesn’t buy the exact product recommended, but still buys something… you DO make a commission. If they click on your link and don’t buy anything for several weeks, and go back later and buy the products, you DO make a commission. The ‘cookie‘ was planted and cookies last for about 30 days.
LikeToKnow.It is a Reward Style program that makes Instagram shoppable. You can learn more about how it works here.
After a couple of years of blogging full-time, I started getting sponsored deals. Sponsored means a brand or PR company reaches out to you and asks you to do a post based on their products or service. One of my first sponsored posts was with La Prairie. To figure out what to charge for these, I highly recommend signing up for FOHR or Social Bluebook. Both websites recommend rates based on your numbers. I now get most of my sponsorship deals through Reward Style, which is great because they have all of my sales data. Sometimes the larger follower numbers do not translate to larger sales. I’m an example of someone with more modest numbers, but high sales. Sponsored posts account for about 40% of my business. Commissions are 50%. Instagram or”Liketoknow.it” sales are 10%
How Much Money Can You Make?
Within my first year I surpassed the income I made styling clients . Within two years I more than doubled it. Now, I make a LOT more money than I ever made in television, and it’s more than I ever would have imagined. Some bloggers make over a million a year. I’m not in that category. Maybe some day!!
The Truth About Clothes
I know people often assume bloggers get tons of free clothing. The truth is… I rarely do and I like it that way. Free stuff comes with the expectation that I will promote it. I would rather not have that pressure. Your integrity is all you have as a blogger. If you start promoting things you don’t love, your readers know. I only partner with brands and businesses that I truly love.
Clothing is my #1 expense. I don’t have a ton of overhead, but clothing definitely adds up. It’s important to understand this will be one of your major expenses without the ability of writing it all off on your taxes. Technically you are only allowed to write off ‘uniforms’ and these purchases do not qualify as a ‘uniform’.
Search Engine Optimization
One of the primary ways to garner new eyeballs on your blog is through Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Before you do anything else, make sure you install the plugin called, “Yoast,” and learn how to use it. It is amazing! Yoast will help people find you on Google so if someone is searching for palm print trend they have a better chance of finding my post above.
RSS and Email Marketing
In addition to SEO, you need to set up a RSS campaign and some email marketing. These tools will also help build up your website traffic numbers. If you are not sure how many visitors you are getting on your website, be sure to install Google analytics. Once you’ve installed analytics, sign up for an email marketing service like Mailchimp. Mailchimp will allow you to start a RSS campaign. A RSS feed will automatically send your new blog posts to your email subscribers. You should already have an email subscriber form on your website. If you do not, go back to the company that set up your site and ask them to add one. Building an email list is VERY important as it is a huge traffic driver and it will also increase revenue. I’m up to 13,000 email subs, which I’m proud of, but I could definitely use more.
This is my least favorite thing to do, but if you are starting a business, you need to treat it as a business. I would recommend using ONE credit card for all business expenses. That way you know your expenses quickly and easily. I also have a separate bank account that I use for business only. Again, it makes figuring out business versus personal expenses much faster. You should also look into Freshbooks or Quick Books to keep track of income and expenses, as well as create invoices.
Formatting Blog Posts
I would watch a lot of YouTube videos to help you figure this out. Every theme will be a little different, though, and will likely require quite a bit of trial and error. Try not to get too frustrated. Once you amass some content, you can install a plugin called “duplicate post.” I use this and it saves me time because the formatting is already in place.
With blogging, there is a HUGE learning curve and the technology is constantly evolving. I think this is part of the fun. You really have to embrace learning.
Other Advice & Questions
- Figure out a niche and start there, don’t just copy other bloggers, find your own voice and look. My niche is: Fashion ideas for busy women juggling life over 40. I want to make style simple.
- Set a publishing goal. Maybe one post per week to start? Pick a day and time and tell your readers about your schedule. Consistency is important.
- Learn on someone else’s dime. This is a flexible business and you can blog in your free time. Don’t quit your day job until you are sure that this is what you want to do.
- Be patient. It takes time to build a following.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. I see some bloggers growing a LOT faster than I am even though we started at the same time. Save your sanity and don’t play that game.
You can read more about my career journey here. You may also be interested in this post, explaining more about the LiketoKnow.It app. Or this one that goes into more detail about taking your own blog photos.
If you want more detailed information on how to get your blogging business started, I created a step-by-step guide for beginners called “The NO BS Guide to Starting a Blog.” You can download that here.
What other business or blogging related questions do you have? Please comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my exclusive newsletter. Thank you SO much for stopping by!