So you want to be a blogger?

 

I get a lot of emails from lovely ladies asking me how I started my blog, how I get ‘free stuff’ and how I get invited to events.

A few in particular have come across quite bitchy, if I’m honest. Asking me why or how I am getting invited to events, or why I am getting sent items to promote isn’t really the way to go about it.

I think some people need to ask themselves why they’re not getting invited? Why they’re not getting sent products to review? An ugly attitude in this industry won’t get you far, unfortunately.

I have always been a fan of blogs and I wanted to start my own. I had a go at fashion blogging, but to be honest, I wear leggings and a black top every day in the office! Defo not worth a #OOTD upload at all.

I went from fashion styling to fashion blogger, but cut a long story short – the concept just wasn’t working for me. I was comparing myself to Sydney Fashion Blogger, and I quickly learned that measuring success against other people’s achievements won’t get you far in the industry either.

I was obsessed with her for so long. After I paid a fortune to meet her at an event, she followed me on Instagram. It was a huge highlight at the time, but like most novelties, it wore off. 

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From the everyday girl taking lift selfies in her workplace, she grew into a massive influencer who was no longer relatable to me.

Parts of me wished I stuck it out as there are so many admirable ‘everyday looking kinda women’ rocking it out that have the confidence I wish I’d had at the time. I did try, though. I gave it a go, and that’s what makes a difference. Little did I know better things were around the corner.

I fell into lifestyle blogging because it covers such a broad range. You can literally blog about anything. When I started Insincerely Her, I didn’t even have Instagram. (Of course I had a personal account for stalking, haha) but one tied into my blog scared the shit out of me! I was so scared of people knowing who I was and judging me.

What if I am a flop? Am I not pretty enough to upload pics of myself? I don’t look like ‘other bloggers’. What if no one reads my blog? What if no one likes my pics? So many negative thoughts were racing through my head.

This post is dedicated to help you get started and give you a few contacts to get your name out there. As the quote goes, ‘’ girls compete with one another; women empower one another’’. So, I’m here to empower you.

First thing’s first, find your niche. Do you wanna blog about food? Are you a mummy blogger? Are you into arts and crafts, or a little unsure? That’s okay to start with, but try and find some structure, some sort of path you want to take – and try and stick to it. You can always add to it down the track.

Name:

Find a blog name you love, or use your own name. Your blog name is your brand  – your company name, so to speak. Trust me, you’ll probably never be completely happy with it. I would love to change mine, but ‘Insincerely Her’ is what I’m known for now. In the beginning, I wanted to be anonymous, and I didn’t want anyone to know my name, so I chose Insincerely Her. (Lily Allen has a song called Insincerely Yours, and it was big at the time!) As time went on, I realised I had to show my face and get my name out there. It’s tough enough to get noticed, without hiding away!

Platform:

Use a free template when starting out. I used WordPress and converted my platform to a domain later on (thanks, Sasha!). I had a friend who set up my template for me, so I just had to add my content. When I was still learning, somehow I managed to delete all my content twice and make a million mistakes along the way, but that’s the only way you will learn how to use your template! I highly recommend WordPress, but lots of others use Blogger, too.

It’s also worth making all your social channel handles, like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to match your blog. If the names are taken, it’s worth rethinking it all together. Consistency is key to building a following.

Content:

I emailed all the big guns in the bloggers world; the women that inspired me. I wanted to find out more about them and share their stories on my blog. The majority of them got back to me, which was an amazing start. I have interviewed (massive ‘pinch me’ moments coming right up) Rozalia Russian, Jess from What Would Karl Do, and Roxy Jacenko – just to name a few! Roxy even shared the interview on her platform, which really got me a lot of traffic.

Now, I am fortunate to get sent items to review as my following has grown, but in the beginning I was putting in the hard yards, contacting brands I wanted to work with myself. Look, I won’t lie. Many said no, because, well, I had no following! But, a lot also said yes! You’ve got nothing to lose! I put myself out there with an email  introducing myself, explaining what I want to and why I want to work with the brands. I didn’t have access to PR companies then, so I would search the brand’s contact page to see if there was a PR company email address listed and go from there.

Rejection:

Be prepared for rejection. It’s okay, don’t beat yourself up. Move on. It’s a tough industry, but there is room for you if you work hard.

Networking:

I remember my first event – I nearly had a heart attack! Events used to scare the shit out of me. What do I wear? Will anyone talk to me? Am I pretty enough to be here? Omg, that person is on TV! I used to get so intimidated, but now, I couldn’t care less. I try and network as much as I can and put myself out there as much as I can. I’ve become more selective on events I attend as my blog has grown. If it’s not something that aligns with my brand, I don’t go.

Tips:

  • Plan your content. I like to schedule around two posts a week, and around three Instagram pics a day. It keeps my audience engaged.
  • My writing is okay, I think! Well, 44k thousand of you wonderful people read it, so I hope so! But, my grammar and spelling is shocking, so I pay editors to look over each piece. It allows me to maintain my own voice, but smooth over the spelling and grammar problems.
  • Stay on top of your workload. It can get overwhelming, ladies. Trust me. I have had to cut back on lots of collaborations, as I also work full time and have launched a small jewellery store. I still need a life! At one stage, my blog was taking up all my time, but you need to find a balance to maintain the passion you need to keep going.
  •  It’s okay to say no to content, and name your price on a blog post. Blogging isn’t easy. One simple blog post can take me up to 4 hours. When I first started out, I’d say yes to every collaboration, but eventually you have to become more selective. Don’t expect sponsored posts right away. You’ll be able to start working on reviewing gifted items much earlier than paid content.
  •  Affiliate programs are great, too. You advertise products on your blog and get paid a commission on clicks and purchases.
  •  Beauty Directory is a great platform, with events around Australia and brands with PR details. I just reached out to brands I wanted to work with, and have been lucky enough to be offered paid posts. It’s free to sign up, so it’s well worth a go!
  • Social Diary was introduced to me by a fellow blogger. It has a pricey membership, but it has been beneficial to my growth so I’d definitely recommend.
  • Stalk other bloggers to see what ‘blogger mail’ they’re getting. You’ll get a feel for the brands that are working with influencers, and know who to reach out to.
  •  Google Analytics is a must as most clients will ask for your sessions and bounce rates via your blog.
  • Media kits are a must, too. I would create a media kit within 6 months of starting your blog. It’s essentially a branded document that explains a little about you and your blog, testimonials and website traffic. If you Google ‘media kits for bloggers’ a lot of free templates are available to get your started.
  • Download InsTrack for Instagram. I follow everyone back who follows me, and if they unfollow me, I unfollow them. This app keeps track of blocking, comments, gained and lost followers, and keeps you on top of spam accounts.
  • Pay for sponsored ads (you will need a Facebook business page for this).You can set a budget, and track reach and engagement. As little as $20 can get your posts 11k views.
  • Collaborate with others, be a guest contributor get your name out there as much as you can.
  • Remember that it’s okay to say no to products that don’t fit with your values, or events you don’t want to go to. I was afraid of this at first, but you’ve really got to grow a thick skin.

Beware:

I started to see people getting a little funny with me when I was putting myself out there with my blog. Some people only wanted to be friends with me for my contacts. Some of the blogging community can also be really bitchy. If people are mean or not helpful, it’s a reflection on them – not you!

Overall, blogging has been great for me. I have received a lot of positive feedback on my content. Although I don’t think my writing is amazing, it’s true to my personality and I really enjoy what I do. I’m real: what you see is what you get, and I think that’s why people relate to me. I’m not the prettiest of bloggers, I’m not Sydney Fashion Blogger, but I am me, and I’m lucky that people feel they can talk to me and listen to what I have to say.

I am so proud of how far my blog has come. With more contributing works on the way along with an inbox full of offers of collaborations, I am very excited about what 2017 has in store for Insincerely Her.

What do I need to work on, is my blog photography! Geez, that’s so hard! I need to work on the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’, but thank goodness for my editors! I’ve got things to fix on my template, and a some other niggly things, too. But, for now I am just thankful for all the support and am more than happy to help new bloggers in any way that I can. Feel free to email me anytime.

Most importantly, ladies – don’t live your life based on how many likes your pic is getting or how many followers you have. It takes time, and remember, you don’t need a qualification to be a blogger, you just need a computer and a great idea.

Hope that helps, girls! Stay tuned for what’s to come in 2017, and thank you for a great year.

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