It has been just over a year since I decided to start my instagram account and blog and this past year really has been a bit of a dream come true for me. I had been following so many inspiring bloggers on Instagram for a few years, and after resigning from my job after 17 years, I decided that I would give it a go. So, with the grand total of 3 followers, and a very silly account name, I began posting photos of my daily outfits. I look back on those first few photos now and CRINGE. I had so much to learn. So, I thought I would share the things that I have learnt along the way, in case anyone that’s reading is thinking of starting their own blog.
Probably one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t give my name much thought and still cringe every time I introduce myself as ‘Chloelovestoshop!’ I suppose it does what it says on the tin, and it is easy to remember, but I always think it makes me sound like an airhead who just shops all day long. (Okay, I DO shop an awful lot but I’d like to think I do other things too!)
So have a think about how you would feel if your name became your ‘brand’ a year on. Is it catchy? Does it have longevity? Would you be happy being introduced by your instagram handle, because if it takes off, you will be and it is not easy to change your name once you have a bit of a following.
2. Research your blog building sites and domain host well before you buy.
I thought I had done enough research before I parted with my pennies, but I hadn’t, and I ended up choosing a blog building provider that I wasn’t happy with, which resulted in a laborious switchover and a loss of content. I now use WordPress and I am SO much happier. It’s worth paying for a nice template with WordPress, it makes a real difference to the look and feel of your blog. Don’t forget to research the best templates for your particular blog. There are so many to choose from, and it can be a little overwhelming, but there is a lot of advice out there if you look for it. There are different templates for travel blogs, interiors blogs, fashion blogs, food blogs etc… Register your domain name early on and try and get .com or .co.uk if you can.
3. Invest in a good camera.
Good photos make a real difference. Your instagram account will drive the traffic to your blog, so you will need to give your feed a lot of thought and time. I recently did a blog post about my wonderful camera, which you can read here. Sheerluxe have just done a piece on how to take the Perfect Instagram Shots which you can read here. Lots of tips from some of my favourite bloggers and yours truly, would you believe?! (I still pinch myself every time I am asked to do anything like this… what? Little old me?!)
4. Get social…
In the beginning it’s quite important to have a presence on instagram. Ingratiate yourself with the Instacommunity (which by the way is full of amazing, supportive and wonderful people) by ‘Liking’ photos, leaving comments and most important of all, being kind.
5. Be Yourself and Have Fun!
Stay true to yourself. This is so important, and I think you can really get a sense of someone’s personality through instagram. The captions you write are just as important as the photos that you post and you can have a lot of fun with these. The accounts I love following are those with inspiring images but they also have a sense of humour. I look at instagram for outfit inspiration, positivity and light relief, and I also like to feel I ‘know’ the person whose account I’m engaged with, so getting your personality across is important. With your blog (which, by the way, can come much later, if you want to build up an instagram following first) don’t focus too much on who is reading it and daily stats, just write from the heart and the readers will grow.
6. Prepare yourself for an adventure…
All sorts of things can crop up and I have learnt to just go with the flow. Expect the unexpected… Tomorrow I am doing my first photo shoot and I am absolutely terrified. It has completely pushed me out of my comfort zone and I suspect I will be sipping sloe gin on the tube on the way there for dutch courage, but I think it’s good to do things that make you feel nervous. I am always telling my children just to ‘go for it’ so it wouldn’t be right to wimp out! And I suppose when you are lacking confidence, sometimes you just have to fake it!
7. Keep Going and Keep focussed
It takes time before anything ‘takes off’ and if it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere, don’t give up. Just keep doing your thing and having fun and try to forget about numbers. It took me a long time to stop focussing on numbers, but when I did, I was much happier. The thing you DO need to focus on is what it is your account is about. If it’s about family life or parenting, it’s fine to post pictures of your children, but if it’s about Fashion or Home interiors, then your followers won’t want to see your holiday snaps. Lisa Dawson, one of my favourite interiors bloggers, recently wrote a brilliant piece with her tips which you can read here.
I should also say that a blog doesn’t HAVE to ‘go’ anywhere at all. If that happens then that’s great, but it’s really about having a creative space where you can write and share your passion for something with others. This could be anything from a weekly diary recording moments of your family life to recipes that you love! It doesn’t have to ‘lead’to anything. Just blog because it makes you happy…
I still have a lot to learn, but I thought it might be helpful to share the little nuggets that I have learnt along the way.
As always, thank you for reading and apologies to anyone that isn’t interested in starting a blog. The usual fashion posts will resume shortly…