Are you seriously into fashion?
If so, then you’ve probably thought about starting a fashion blog.
Most people don’t go any further than merely thinking about starting a fashion blog, but let me tell you why you should start a fashion blog today!
Why you should start a fashion blog
1. It’s a great way to make at least a little bit of money while also having fun!
Fashion is one of those niches that works really well for affiliate marketing. Whereas for some topics the niche gets dominated by a few major players, such as technology (CNET, PC Mag) or video games (IGN, GameSpot, GameInformer), that isn’t really true with fashion.
Instead, fashion readers and shoppers all want unique styles and clothing. They don’t all want to buy the top reviewed dress, instead, they want something stylish yet one-of-a-kind or unique.
2. There are tons of different niches within fashion in which you can specialize.
Much like home decor or taste in music or art, there are a lot of different styles inside of fashion in which you could specialize. This could be anything such as elegant dress, business attire, vintage, country, modern, minimalist, and a whole lot more.
You also could differentiate yourself by targeting various audiences by gender, age, region, activities, professions, etc. Maybe your fashion blog is about business attire for men, or it could be about workout clothing for women, or maybe it is about fashion for newborn babies. There are a ton of different subjects within fashion that you could blog about.
3. If you operate your blog as a business, you can write off clothing purchases as business expenses on your taxes.
If you want to buy a lot of clothes, being able to write those purchases off as business expenses could be a great deal! Of course, to write the purchases off you need to follow the IRS guidelines and actually use the clothing purchases for your blog. This works with other things too. I’ve actually heard of people starting food blogs just so they can write off their food purchases.
4. Free stuff.
Once you get a respectable amount of traffic and a decent blog following, you can start leveraging that to get free stuff. If there is a designer or clothing company that you like and you want to promote their stuff, maybe just shoot them an email and see if they want to send you something to review. Why wouldn’t they want that exposure for just a free piece of clothing? Once you get real big, you might even be approached by people to get free stuff to review.
5. You could hit it big!
The last reason to start a fashion blog today is that you could it it big. This is a niche where if people like your content and style, you might go viral and suddenly find yourself with millions of readers each month, which translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars for you, and probably fame too. Of course, you also might believe you are producing great content and you struggle to get 10,000 readers each month. This is a niche that has huge potential though.
Now that you know why I think you should start a fashion blog, let’s look at the steps to actually making that a reality.
1. Choose your niche
If you are thinking that you want to start a fashion blog, hopefully you already have a sense of your fashion style, or you at least know what type of fashion topic you are interested in pursuing. Just doing “women’s fashion” might work, but you’re likely better off niching down and selecting something very specific, like “women’s fitness attire.”
Be sure to pick something you actually can write a lot about, and preferably that you love to write about. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time working on this, and it will be hard work, but it is a bit easier if you are truly passionate about your subject.
Some people think it is a deal breaker to not know a ton about a subject before you start blogging about it, but I would say that if you are not currently an expert but want to be one, just work that into the angle of your blog. You could invite users to join you as you begin a journey into the world of fashion and develop your style or try to follow the latest trends.
If a specific niche doesn’t jump out at you right away, do some research. Go find some fashion blogs that you like and that you want to follow. You’ll likely find some ideas that you can use in your own project (please don’t just copy them).
You might want to go to Google Adwords and try their keyword tool to help you figure out what keywords you should target. Ideally, you want something that has more than 2,000 searches per month and under 30,000 searches per month. It also should be low or medium competition, and there should be more keywords in that category which you can target. So if you’re doing “women’s fitness attire” like I mentioned as an example above, some more keywords for that might be “sports bras” or “yoga pants.”
If you think you found a good niche and some good keywords to begin targetting, go try searching for it on search engines and social media sites. Figure out who your competition is. Are there a lot? Can you do better than them? There are a ton of fashion blogs out there, but I think a lot of them suffer from a few issues which I’ll address in the design stage. Even though this is a crowded market, I think there is plenty of room for more quality sites.
2. Develop your brand
After you know your niche, you need to figure out what your brand is. Perhaps you already know what name you want to give your blog, but if not, some things to consider might be:
- Does the name tell what your blog is about?
- Does the name include your keywords?
- Is the name catchy?
- Is the name clever?
Once you have a topic and name, you’ll want to figure out some other stuff to make your brand stand out. In the design section I’ll cover getting a logo, colors, fonts, and some brand assets like images or graphics.
For now, you should start thinking about your writing style or tone. You might choose to write like you are talking to a friend. Or maybe you want to write like a formal narrator or as an expert. It is okay to express yourself a bit and maybe have some jokes or wit in your writing. Sure, it might turn some people off, but others will love it.
Also, stand for something. It is okay to have opinions, and in fact it is opinions and standing for something which perhaps makes people fall in love with brands. For instance, if you are a fashonista that also loves politics and animals, I think it is okay to mix that in. Some people will hate it, but others will love it, identify with it, and follow you and like you even more because of it.
A lot of people give the advice that you should do something to stand out. I actually think that this should just happen naturally for the fashion niche, as your style is your own. Fancy graphics and unique marketing campaigns or especially unique content all can help, but I think you should just do what comes naturally. Personally, I would prefer a clever brand name, simple colors, and a simple design for the site, and then have amazing images and great style, all done with some good writing that has a bit of personality to it. Don’t just try to shock people or be outrageous (unless that actually is your real style).
While were on the subject of developing a brand, check out Neil Patel’s awesome guide on the subject.
3. Figure out what your first content will be about
Hopefully you know have an idea of what your brand will be and perhaps of your writing style. Now you need to plan what you will actually be writing.
I really think the best posts for a fashion blog to have are big image posts that have high quality images showing a person or model wearing an outfit. You might want a good, professional camera and some photo editing software for that part, although really your phone camera is probably good enough for starters. The text then should have the name of each piece of clothing that is an affiliate link out so that readers can easily go buy the piece of clothing and the blogger can get a commission for it.
Besides the images and affiliate links, you also should write a bit about the outfit including stuff like what you think of it, when you would wear it, maybe how it makes you feel, and anything else. You could tell a story about what you did when you wore it, as those types of personal connections might just be what keeps people coming back.
I would also recommend diversifying your content and creating other post types. Some other posts you might write could be guides and how to’s, reviews (like maybe of those monthly subscription services or even just of a pair of boots or something), summaries of styles, previews of upcoming styles, seasons, or even individual fashion pieces, reviews of what other people wear (like celebrities), maybe history pieces about fashion or company and brands. Viral style posts work well, stuff like “top 10 ways to dress for any occasion,” “top 5 swimsuits for 2015,” “8 styles you never heard of. Number 4 is a shocker.” Head over to StumbleUpon, set your category to fashion, and look through the recommendations page to see what other people are writing about in fashion that is popular.
You could also just write about random stuff related to fashion, like maybe the fashion style in movies, or you could review movies about fashion (Yves Saint-Laurent, Mademoiselle C., etc.). Art and music are really connected to fashion, so touching on those related topics also could be good. There are fashion events you could cover, let the Met Gala and Fashion Week, or any of the big shows like Victoria’s Secret. You also should probably do posts for the major shopping days and any days with big deals. Definitely do posts for each season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) and cover Black Friday and Christmas (Pro tip: November-December is by far the time when the most money is spent shopping online, so you really want to focus on those two months a bit).
I also recommend that you create more than one type of media. So if your plan is to just do images and blog posts, maybe mix in some videos, a podcast, infographics, vines and gifs, etc. While blog posts are great for getting search traffic, Youtube is basically its own corner of the internet that has tons of users looking for videos on tons of stuff. You should at least be making some fashion Youtube videos if you have a fashion blog. They’ll get you views (which you can run ads on) and you can add a link to the description leading back to your site. Youtube leads spend 3x more time on your site than typical leads.
4. Figure out how you’ll bring in traffic initially
It may take awhile before you get any real traffic from search engines. As such, you really need an alternative way to get traffic when you first launch your website. I really think getting the best way to get that first stream of web traffic is through social media.
Create your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and any other site that you want to use. The more social sites you use, the more links you can get and the more traffic you could bring in.
For fashion, I really think Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr would be the best ways to get regular traffic. Those sites are all image based, they let you post links (you could do both a link to your site and your affiliate links), and they all kind of have an anonymous feel to them where complete strangers are perfectly happy to follow other strangers and even interact with them, which makes it easier to build up a following related to a topic.
They also all seem to have a higher sharing frequency then say Facebook or Google +. People on Pinterest will repin your content and then their friends will see it. I’m not sure why Tumblr has higher share rates, but they definitely do!
Some other good sources of traffic include feedly, stumbleupon, reddit. There you basically just post your links, but you should also try to take part and interact with people. You also can use feedly to subscribe to related blogs and then just hang out on Feedly and wait for them to post new stuff. When new posts happen, go there fast and write a comment. Those comments should be well thought out and add to the discussion. You then can add a link back to your site. Those will help get traffic and they do help a bit for SEO (although most comments are no follow).
5. Pick revenue streams
I’ve mentioned several times now that affiliate links are a great source of revenue for fashion blogs. Buy a piece of clothing, display it nicely in images (probably with someone wearing it), then post that image with the product name linked through the affiliate program back to a page where users can buy the item. Posting the price also would be nice, although some affiliates don’t let you do this unless you use their API as the price changes then can be reflected on your page. You can even post your images and affiliate links on other sites, like all your social media sites (some of them will remove the affiliate links).
So you definitely want to be an affiliate, but which affiliate programs should you join?
You really should look into the various brands and sites where you buy clothing to see if they have programs. Honestly, a ton of them do. I’ve compiled a small list below of various fashion affiliate programs.
A few fashion affiliate programs on LinkShare/Rakuten include:
- Frank & Oak
- Alexander Wang
Some fashion affiliate programs on Commission Junction include:
- Brooks Brothers
- Banana Republic
- Ann Taylor
- Old Navy
Some fashion affiliate programs on ShareASale include:
- Trunk Club
- Johnston & Murphy
Other notable fashion affiliate programs I found doing a quick search include Under Armor, Zappos, Express.com, Allen Edmonds, American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, and Zazzle. You’ll also probably want to do Amazon Associates, where you can get a ton of clothing from Levi’s to Ray Ban’s. Amazon seems to not pay out that great, but they are a trusted brand with high conversion rates, they sell everything under the sun, and are certainly worth doing.
There are a ton of affiliate programs out there. Just go for the ones that work for you. I would recommend joining multiple affiliate programs and mixing them. For instance, don’t just wear an outfit completely from the Gap. Instead, do an outfit that has a shirt from Urban Outfitters, jeans and shoes from Amazon, accessories from Macy’s and Nordstrom’s, etc. Mix and match, create your own outfits and unique photos.
Don’t just try to straight up sell clothing using images provided to you by the affiliate program. Your unique value proposition is that you are compiling a website devoted to a certain style that has unique images and lots of one of a kind writing, all of which is promoted through your own social profiles.
Other revenue streams could include display ads, sponsored content ads, in text ads, and pop under ads.
At this point, you should know a few things about your future fashion blog, including what your niche will be, the start to your branding plans, what type of content you will create, how you’ll get traffic to start, and what revenue streams you’ll use on your new site.
1. Buy your web hosting and domain name
If you want to be a serious blogger that has control and ownership over your site, can rank in search, and can do as you please, you have to get your own domain name and hosting. You can’t just be on blogger or WordPress.com, where you don’t have complete control and can’t have revenue streams. Having your own hosting and domain does come at a cost (starting prices are usually under $5 per month) but it is well worth it and you’ll make that money back fairly quickly, as it isn’t that difficult to start earning $5 per month.
My preferred hosting solutions for beginner’s are BlueHost, DreamHost, and HostGator (ads). I would just go with the one of those that has the best deal going right now (subscribe to my email list to get deals!).
2. One click install WordPress
After getting a host and domain name, you can use the one click install to setup WordPress. All the hosts mentioned above have that.
3. Select a WordPress theme or hire a designer to build one
The WordPress theme is basically the design of your site. For a fashion site, you want a site that is responsive (as in it adjusts to various screen sizes), has a lot of white space, readable text, room for big images, and sharing buttons. Other stuff you might want includes space for widgets and ads, multiple post types, ability to change colors and fonts, and maybe image sliders. Here are some of the top premium fashion WordPress themes (ad).
That image above the “design” section is of a fashion theme that I really like called Falive, which is available here (ad).
4. Get some logos and graphics made
So you have hosting, a domain, WordPress is installed, and you picked out a theme, now you need to get some graphics and logos to make your site your own. Hopefully you have a color scheme picked out and installed in your theme. You’ve also thought about your brand and have a domain name and a tone for your brand. Use all of that to come up with some ideas for graphics and a logo.
You’ll be using the logos and graphics all over the place. The logo will go on your site, on your social profiles, and probably over images to watermark them. For the image watermarks, I recommend including your web address so people that only find the image can find your site. You can figure out what other graphics you want. This could be large images to use for a series of posts, images for a slider on your homepage or blog page, maybe small images that work as ads either in your sidebar, widgets, or in ad networks on other sites.
5. Start publishing content
Once you have your site up and setup, it’s time to start publishing content. WordPress makes this really easy, just go to the dashboard > posts > add new and write. There is even distraction free writing mode (it’s one of the buttons on the bar above the text editor). Be sure to save your post as a draft as you go, or you could even write in a different editor like Microsoft Word and then just copy and paste into WordPress. To add images in WordPress, hit the add media button at the top of the page above the area that your type. To add videos, put them on YouTube or Vimeo (with a link back to your post) and then embed them in the post by just posting the link from YouTube or Vimeo (WordPress automatically will embed it). Once your ready to publish, hit the publish button on the top right sidebar.
It really is that easy and you are now a publishing fashion blogger!
1. Get your initial traffic
So you now have a site and are publishing content. Now you need to get traffic. We planned out how you would get your initial traffic in step four of the planning stage. It is now time to actually follow through on that plan and post to your targeted sites.
You should have various social media profiles setup and integrated into your website. Post any content you write on those social sites. These links count as no follow backlinks (as opposed to do follow), which actually do help a little bit in SEO (in my opinion) and they can lead to other people finding your content and reading it.
Some sites to get traffic from are detailed in the following posts:
Setting Up Feedly (Feedly is like Google Reader and can bring in a lot of traffic. I’ll write a guide about this soon so stay tuned and join my email list!)
2. Build up your social profiles
Just because you’re posting your content to social media doesn’t mean that people will find it there. You also need to take steps to promote your content and to grow your social profiles.
The easiest way to grow your social profiles is simply by following or friending other users that are interested in your topic. So on Pinterest, just “follow” all the people that already are following fashion boards related to yours. Same thing on Tumblr, Instagram, Tapiture, Twitter, DudePins, WeHeartIt, and any other social media site. This strategy works best on sites where users and completely willing to follow and friend strangers, but not so well on sites like Facebook, Google +, or LinkedIn.
Here are a few other posts about growing social media profiles:
3. Network with other bloggers
This is actually probably the most important step to the long term success of your site, assuming your content is decent. Networking with other bloggers is what will get your name out there and it will be a huge factor in getting your relevant backlinks.
Maybe you start by getting in with two or three other bloggers and perhaps pick up some backlinks and get some referral page views. Email them, follow them on social media, link to them in your posts. Maybe you can even get them to guest post on your site or you could guest post on theirs. Doing this will bring you to the attention of their readers, some of which probably have their own blogs and maybe they will mention you or even try to contact you. Maybe they even have a major blogger reading their stuff that sees your site and likes it. Just try interacting with people and grow your list of contacts.
By the way, regularly reading other blogs should also be a part of your routine as a blogger. You should be staying on top of trends, commenting, sharing, and interacting across the fashion blogging community. Reading other blogs will give you ideas about what to blog about, and you can see what works for other bloggers in terms of advertising and post types.
4. Work on getting natural backlinks
Just because your site is amazing doesn’t mean people will find it or that Google will give you high rankings. I would recommend at least doing work to get backlinks naturally, you can read more about that in my guide to natural backlinks.
5. Play the long game
Earlier in this post I mentioned that you could find success overnight. That could happen and I’ve seen it happen. It really only takes one amazing piece of content (remember that thing about the dress and whether it was black and blue or gold and white?), or for the right person to see your stuff and start promoting it. However, for most people that just won’t happen or you’ll only have moderate success from that sort of thing. Of course, you can still build up your site and be successful in the fashion blogging niche.
If you are regularly producing high quality content (perhaps diversifying your content too), overtime your site will get larger and your audience will grow. You might never be able to quit your job and live off the blog, but it should at least eventually bring in a few hundred dollars each month, which at least will justify the work you put into it.
Heck, even if you’re content isn’t that great but you are creating a ton of it, you’ll get traffic. This is especially true if you are following my tips about social media and getting traffic from sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon that are linked to above. If you have a thousand unique images on Pinterest that all are full of affiliate links for each item of clothing, that will probably bring in a decent amount of money alone each month. It could be anywhere from $50/mo to thousands.
You should remember that blogging is hard work and you need to keep at it. Write regularly. Pick something you love to write about because that does make it easier. Even if you love your subject, there will be some days where you just don’t feel like writing or can’t think of anything to write or any new type of content to come up with (Pro tip: start drafts of posts when you think of them so that you can use those later when suffering from writers block).
Hopefully some of you out there find this post of use. I think it pretty much covers the basics regarding how to start a fashion blog or website and actually you could figure out some ideas for running any type of blog or website from this post. For more information about running a website or promoting your content, stay tuned to the Simply Compelling blog and maybe join our newsletter. If you need any help with your site, please feel free to contact us. We’d also love to hear from you if you have any questions or if you have stories about running your own fashion blog that you would like to share.