September 17th marked the one year anniversary of History in High Heels. And I forgot about it!
I realized this last weekend as I was playing around with the blog's design and layout (do you like the new look?). Once I realized it had been an entire year, I started reflecting on blogging and what I have learned over the past year. Ultimately I asked myself, "Does blogging offer a healthy, constructive outlet for my narcissism, or does it just make it worse?" Haha I'm kidding... well mostly.
I started History in High Heels for a couple reasons - I was sad that my closest girlfriend was leaving me for 10 months, I was feeling artistically (and fashionably) stifled by the world of academia, and I was looking for a fun and creative outlet. What I didn't realize was that starting a blog was the easy part, maintaining a blog takes a lot of work!
Turns out blogging was just the hobby I needed. It allowed me to express myself, forced me to write almost every day, and served as a platform to promote my Etsy store. I also hope that this blog has inspired other young women to challenge society's notions of what it means to be intelligent and feminine/fashionable... and to travel more (even if you have to do so alone).
So what I have I learned over the past year? A ton! Too much to talk about in one post, and some deeper personal things that I don't think I can articulate just yet (I will try later, I promise). But I must receive emails and Tumblr asks every week inquiring about tips for starting a blog. So here are my tips and general rules I try to follow as I blog:
Blog for yourself
Unless you are hired to write a blog (for a company or news outlet), you shouldn't start a blog unless you are doing it for your own personal growth and/or satisfaction - not to get free clothes or gain followers (although these things are nice). The perks of blogging take a long time to come, and if you aren't blogging because you love it, you will be very frustrated after six months of hard work when no one is commenting, sending you free clothes, and you haven't gained much of a following. Plus readers can tell if you are simply seeking sponsorship.
Blogging is a world unto its own - a.k.a the Blogosphere
Like any hobby or interest, blogging has its own cliches, niches, and communities. At some point entering, networking, and interacting with this world will be unavoidable. And while like with other communities it comes with its own critics and negativities, it also allows you to connect and interact with other great bloggers and readers. If you become really serious about it, there are all sorts of blogging conferences and workshops, as well as blog associations and online forums. My advice, enter carefully and try not to get too caught up in it.
Blogs are easy to start, but very hard to maintain.
A blog is a great idea. Turning that great idea into a reality, however, is extremely time consuming. So if you want to blog, make sure you can commit the time. Successful blogs post well-written and meaningful content regularly.
Have something of value to say
I try to always post something of value. What do I mean by "something of value?" I mean that I only want to create and post original content that gives something meaningful to my readers. I don't know about you, but I get so frustrated with blogs that throw up some pictures from Pinterest and discuss them, or fashion blogs that feature a simple t-shirt and jeans. I always think that I could easily search Pinterest and I can certainly pair a T-shirt with jeans (of course if you aren't a fashion blogger, there is nothing wring with a t-shirt and jeans!).
Try to offer insights, ideas, or outfit ensembles that are unique and reflect you. What personal experiences or knowledge do you have that can benefit others by sharing? While I will admit not every post of mine is a winner, I really make an effort to create meaningful and original content that provides some sort of value to those who read it. Case in point, my most popular posts are my packing, DIY decorating, and travel/study abroad posts.
The details matter
The layout of your blog, the header, your images, and the usability of your blog... these all matter. Invest some time into learning how to use your blogging platform, how to properly size and name images, or add useful widgets to your blog. All of these are easy Google searches! A couple of quick tips - avoid cluttered layouts, pop-up ads, auto-play music, and dark backgrounds.
Promote yourself on social media
How will people find your blog once you start? Social media! You must connect with lots of social media platforms if you want to get your blog out there. The biggest traffic driving source for HinHH is Pinterest. So I make a point to have several good pictures in every post so that I and others can pin it. Instagram is my favorite social media platform, but drives less traffic.
Don't ask for followers
Ok, confession time. It drives me nuts when I see comments on blog posts, Instragram pics, and Tumblr posts asking for followers. I'm sorry, but it seems so desperate. And I really hate when people delete my caption on my Tumblr posts and add a link to their Tumblr or blog. I think if you are producing quality content, you won't have to solicit followers, they will want to follow you! And at the end of the day aren't those the kind of followers you want? Finally don't just follow a blog, Insta, or Tumblr with the expectation of getting the follow back. If you build it, they will come (cheesy, but true)!
Have you ever thought about starting a blog?
If you have a blog, what tips would you give about blogging?