Over the past few years, blogging has taken off and has become its own industry. I know so many women who are now the bread winners in their homes because they’re doing what they love. Whether it be fashion, food, beauty, travel, lifestyle, women AND men are able to inspire others while working with different companies and products to earn a living. When I started out in the TV industry I used to look up to bloggers like Monika Hibbs, Gal Meets Glam, Sincerely Jules, and I would say to myself “if only I could just be a blogger one day.” I love the process, styling photo shoots, capturing moments in travel, and inspiring my followers. So, slowly and naturally, my blog and my life as a blogger became a reality. I still struggle with juggling between being a TV host, a blogger, and a public personality with my personal life. BUT, blogging truly is my favorite creative outlet because it doesn’t limit me to just interior design. I can share everything that I’m passionate about.
Over the past few years, I’ve gotten tons of inquiries about how I do it and if I have any tips to share. I’d like to start off by comparing blogging to any job. If you love it and love what you do you can be successful at it. But, like any career, it’s not easy. As much as critics out there say “all we do is dress up in pretty outfits and take pictures,” it’s much more than that. Like any business, it’s a challenge to run.
It is critical that business documents and translation be well-written and equally important that they are well-translated and clearly communicate the intended message.
There’s financials, deadlines, quality control, good months, bad months, overhead, and it’s TIME-CONSUMING!!! The one thing about blogging that everyone seems to have an issue with is how frivolous it is. Everything aside, if it is what you are passionate about it is FUN. Without further ado, if I had to share my top 10 steps to becoming a blogger and launching your brand … this is where I would start ….
1. Photography | You need at least 30 FANTASTIC, edited, ready to go photos that will get you going. Register in some photography courses or read great blogs about capturing great photography. My blog and Monika Hibbs has some great tips. If you are lacking your own original photography, it’s totally ok to borrow, as long as you always link back to the original source and give them credit
2. Social Media | Clean up your social media … ALL of it … Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat … whatever social channels you will be using make sure it all reflects ‘your brand.’ Make sure snaps of doing tequila shots and pictures of you partying are kept to a minimum, unless that is your brand!!!
3. Branding | Start by determining your brand. Are you fashion focused? Beauty? Food? Travel? Family? Interior design? Or like me… all of it, Lifestyle!!! Keep it consistent. Think about whether your brand is light and airy, dark and stormy, bright and colourful …. and ensure all content and photography is consistent within that. People should be able to identify you through an image (like a picture of your shoes).
4. Content | Start by establishing and creating content … and lots of it!!! Start stock piling blogs and writing down ideas for blogs. Don’t launch your site with less than 5 blogs already ready to go!!! You want readers to come back to your site consistently. I will go into posting and consistency next, they all go hand in hand.
5. Posting | Try to post at least one blog a week to keep your readers interested … start a content calendar and plan ahead! Will you have specific blogs on specific days? For example: Makeup Monday, Food Friday, What I’m Loving Wednesday, Tuesday Ten. Think of holidays and travel, and special moments you want to capture and try to plan that content and photography ahead of time! I shoot Christmas in October and Valentines day in January! PLAN PLAN PLAN!!!!
6. Consistency | Stay consistent with everything that you do. If you post 1 Instagram a day or 1 outfit a day stick with that. If you are a fashion blogger it is OK to venture into food or design but make sure you have your solid following first before venturing into something else. When posting your blogs, if you post 3 times a week, make sure you post at the same time every day. Your following and viewers come to your site knowing that there will be new and fresh content. STAY consistent with your content, timing, posting, social media, make it EASY for your following to come back to you and to follow you!!!
7. Linking | Try to link to brands and influencers as much as possible. Although you want to be authentic, I’m going to assume you eventually want to make a career out of this. If you are blogging about brands, hotels, influencers, companies, products you love… link to them, then tweet your blog at them and mention them in all social media links … hopefully, this will start to raise awareness in your blog and the day you get retweeted, regrammed or your links shared you will scream and jump around like a little girl!!! Keep it up!!! If you want to be featured on specific blogs, sites, publications, reach out and send them some of your blogs!!! This is a great way to get your name and blog out there and you will definitely gain new followers.
8. Media Kit | Create a Media Kit or and Electronic Press Kit. By now you are getting calls from PR companies and brands wanting to know more about your blog and how they can be featured. An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a document (PDF) that you can send people to learn more about your blog and brand. It should include: your bio, social media following on all channels, previous partnerships, site statistics, and all the different ways a company can partner with you. It is also good for sending to potential collaborators, content creators or brands that YOU want to partner with. It is a quick, easy, pretty and eye catching package that gives them all the stats they need to partner with you! Make sure to update it monthly or bi-monthly or as the stats and following change.
9. Money | ONE of the reasons people get into blogging is to … make money. For JH.com there have been 3 ways to generate revenue, over the years. I haven’t always made money, in fact, I started my blog just for fun.
1. Sponsored Blog Posts: Partner with brands that you would already wear or use their products. You want to be promoting brands that you believe in so that you are genuine and real with your following. This will make the posts easier for you as it will be natural and organic making it a win-win for everyone.
2. Affiliate Links: These are trackable links that allow for you to collect revenue when an item is purchased through your link. There are many different companies and affiliate sites out there … we typically use Reward Style. But, do your research and find what works best for YOU and your following
3. Advertisements: You can sell ad space on your site in a few ways, top banner and side bar ad space is a great place to start. If you don’t have a high enough following yet to do this, I recommend using affiliate linked ads or google ads. Every time someone clicks through you will be making SOME money, not much but it’s a start!
10. Networking | When you are just starting out it is important to NETWORK …. with brands, retailers, other bloggers. Get yourself out there and get your name and blog out there!!! This will make it easier if you are wanting to “borrow” from retailers for shoots, get help from other bloggers for shoots …. AND cross promote your content with others. I know that there are so many bloggers out there that work together and take one another’s pictures… this is a great way to get the shots that you want as they are wanting the exact same ones!!!
Once you get all of that under your belt, we can start talking about your actual blog and how to make it the best that it can be!!! Until then, let me know if you have any other questions or need more advice in the comments below …
Good luck my loves and happy BLOGGING!!
You’re amazing and the reason I started blogging! Thanks for the great tips 🙂
Thanks Jillian! These tips are amazing! I don’t have a blog yet but am starting to take over my social media this month with my love for design!
Thanks for the tips! I started blogging a couple years back, but I was feeling it hard to know what to do, so I would go months before posting again. I’m going to try to use these tips to better my blog and hopefully get some more readers. ☺️
I love your blog and all your posts, Jillian! Great tips! What type of camera do you or your photographers usually use to take such great blog photos?
Check out my blog all about taking the perfect picture!!! Just search photography tips …
Thank you for the tips! Is there a website you recommend using when starting a blog??
I use wordpress and LOVE it!!
I use wordpress and LOVE it!!!
Perfect! Thats what I signed up with!
Thank you so much for these great tips. Blogging is something I would love to jump into in the VERY NEAR future. For some reason it always seems so intimidating to start… I need to just go for it!:)
Awesome blog post! So many “beads of wisdom” lol
Great tips!! I am in the process of starting my blog so I appreciate the info! 🙂
What are your thoughts of just having a Instagram lifestyle feed? This wouldn’t bring in any money at all?
I am starting to work more towards my instagram account “limitlessdaniela” as I just moved to London UK from Calgary and want to share my life, from food, art, my dog haha, all of it. Well the beautiful moments of it, I am more taking this approach so I slow down and appreciate the moment.
Jilly do you think just doing a lifestyle on Instagram wouldn’t get me anywhere?
Absolutely!!! Once you’re following gets to know you they will come back to you to see what you’re doing and what you’re up to!
SUCH great tips Jillian!
Valuable content Jillian! Wondering what is your position to responding to followers questions? The hard word you’ve done to become a successful blogger results in way more questions than you can easily respond to. How do you cope? Is there a downside to not responding?
I always try my best to respond but it’s hard to get to EVERY one!!! I think it is important to interact with your viewers 🙂
I always try my BEST to respond!!! And I think it is very important to interact with your following and answer their questions because if one person is asking I’m sure others are thinking the same thing!
Wow Jillian…I feel like the Universe just sent me a gift with these tips!! I am meeting someone tomorrow who helping me launch my new blog page (she’s a professional and local radio personality who also does this successfully). These tips are GOLD! Thank you…your blog is one of my very favorites…and I am also an interior designer but will be doing more lifestyle and positive living features with random acts of kindness as a focus. Thank you for this timely post! xo
Does anyone have a good blogging site that they use and would highly recommend? I’m trying to get started (very slowly). This was very helpful!
Yes WordPress is the best! I have tried other blog sites but find WordPress the easiest to use (being a total beginner) and the cheapest (aka FREE if you use a .wordpress.com domain).
Hey Jillian. First of all, I love your site! I am wondering how everyone feels about your first tip regarding photography. I am all about borrowing and giving credit where credit is due but when it comes to photography I am so nervous to use this tip because I don’t want to infringe any copyright laws. Any extra tips around this? Thanks!
It’s not cool. It’s illegal (at least in Canada). Check copyright laws.
Thanks Leanne. That is totally what I thought as well!
You can do it if you check with the photographer/owner first and they give you permission. Some will/some won’t but it’s fine to ask.
Any tips for a small business (we are tiny fern, makers of DIY beauty and bath kits) getting featured or reviewed on an awesome blog like yours?
Oh dear – Number 1. This is TERRIBLE advice. It’s totally NOT ok to “borrow” photography even if you link back or credit. It’s copyright infringement and could get you in a whole lot of trouble. Some people/photographers won’t mind but others will and that’s needs to be clarified before posting. It’s appropriate to ask permission to use someone else’s photos and then to link back and credit if/when they agree. Under Canadian copyright law (I’ll only talk Canada here but other nationalities should check their own laws) photographers own the copyright of their images in exactly the same way as illustrators, musicians, painters, and writers own their work. You can’t use a song on a website without permission/licensing in the same was as you can’t use a photograph.
Yeah, I agree that you need to ask first. As a photographer, I’ve spent years (time + a lot of money) perfecting my craft, and if you “borrow” my photographs without asking first, then it’s stealing, but overall just disrespectful. I’ve actually personally seen a photograph I’ve taken that was published in a book, without any credit or permission! I usually LOVE it when people ask, and all I want is a link back. Also, a great idea is to find a local photographer to work with! I love working with other bloggers and photogs! It’s great to network and feature each others work on your site. There are A LOT of websites that offer free images now Other than that, these tips are great! I love your site and your style!
If I was you, I would reach out to the book Author and let them you that you stumbled upon your photo. They should at least compensate you for the image as they themselves make royalties of the sale of the book which contains said image. If it’s an e-book format, there is no reason why they couldn’t include a link to your site so you at least get credit for the image. Unfortunately, with sites like Pinterest, it has become all too common for people to use other’s photos. I’m not a Professional Photographer by any means, however since I shoot all of my own photos as well as edit them for my blog, I know just how time intensive it can be. I would be flattered for a second but annoyed if someone stole my work for their book. This happens with writing too, I’ve seen many pieces I’ve written plagiarized word for word and published elsewhere on the web OR they change out a few words here or there. I have reached out to these people and asked them to remove the content (as mine is shown as published first). Just a thought for you! 🙂
Thanks ♥ I have never post but I have been following you for a long long time .. You were definitely, by far, my favorite Bachelorette ; ) Natalie xO
Thank you for posting about this! I had emailed you a few weeks back asking for just this..so thank you!!! The concrete numbers (like have 30 photos, or 5 blog topics, etc) were especially helpful. Looking forward to starting my blog and getting great tips along the way! Thanks again!
This is AMAZING. This is why I love this site and you ???? One question, I have a lifestyle blog through WordPress and I did some research about hosting your own website. In order to make revenue do you have to be the host of your own site? If so how do I go about that and do you have any recommendations of who to host through? Thanks again! XOXO
We use WP Engine … is that what you mean??? Send shay an email!!! email@example.com
I started to create my own blog a couple years ago but lost the confidence to create the content. After reading this it has definitely given me the inspiration. I’m not planning on making it a career or to make money but to share my passions with fashion, beauty, food and diys (even though most are a fail). Thanks for posting this!
What do you think about Wix for a blog host site?
Hmmm I’ve never tried it!?!?!?
@Jillian, I am ALWAYS reverting back to this post because it has literally become my bible as I establish my brand etc. That aside. Where did you get the pink dress you’re wearing in this post? More specifically, where can I get it? Thanks for always being awesome, Ashleigh
You’ve advised good idea for newbie bloggers that starting a blog on blogger platform for learning blogging things for a month or so and migrating it to WordPress is a wonderful idea to do things smoothly. Because people start blogging for whatever reason but later most of them lack hopes and NOT updating the blog for long time.
This seems people impressed with some others earning and start blogging and doing nothing in real world. So understanding the basic things with self experience is better for go longer in blogging journey.
Thanks to the wonderful post.
I’m new to blogging. From my knowledge a good quality content will drive good traffic. How do you create such wonderful articles? Could you give me an idea from where should I begin?
#1 is very poor form. If you are doing a round-up style post, it is ok to use 1 image and a link back (provided you’ve sought permission), but it is NOT acceptable to “borrow” images with which to pad your posts.
Thank you for this awesome article! What blogging platform do you use?
As a realtor I find it a bit more difficult to create blogs with such consistency, however these are some great tips thanks!
Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in
detail,the article is very interesting and effective.Thank you and good
luck for the upcoming articles
Can you recommend a good blog template to create a blog!
Wow great tips thanks. Is there a template you used to create your blog any suggestion on which ones to use?
I saved this page a long time ago before I started blogging and it’s still relevant info!! Super helpful!