DIY

10 Tips for Keeping your Blog Readers Hooked

Welcome back! We’ve picked a theme and started our blog, so now it’s time to keep our new readers hooked and coming back to visit. Here are the top ten things to keep in mind…

1. Loading Time: This is the biggie! If you’re blog takes a long time to load, it doesn’t matter how good the content is, your potential readers are peacing out. Website speed is the first thing a visitor notices, then website design. But if it takes a while for your site to load, readers will never get to see your design. So first, identify if there is an issue. Test your website speed with Pingdom.  You want your site to score an 80 or higher to stay out of the red zone! If you’re slow, identify the problem.

  • Image Resolution: Your photos don’t need to be huge to look nice! 18x12in and 72dpi is ideal. Yahoo’s SmushIt plugin will help strip some resolution and speed up your site without you noticing a difference.
  • Amount of Images: Blogs that feature full posts on the homepage take longer to load. Consider featuring an image and a Read More button per each post.
  • Amount of Posts: WordPress lets you choose how many posts you want to display on your homepage. By default, there is 10. Reducing the number of posts on the homepage will speed up the site.
  • Fancy jQuery: If your site has quality, you don’t need fancy bells and whistles to clutter it. Use straightforward widgets and sliders to avoid a jQuery slowdown.
  • Delete Plugins: If you aren’t using a plugin, delete that ish! You can’t see them, but they are secretly adding precious seconds to your load speed.

2. Image Quality & Alignment: Arguably the most important part of a blog are the images. They will make or break your posts. Most high-traffic fashion blogs feature six to nine images including full body and detailed shots. As I mentioned, a good rule of thumb for fast-loading, perfectly-aligned images is to set them to 18in x 12in 72dpi for landscape and 12in x 18in 72dpi for portrait. Additionally, make sure your images align with your text and each other. All content within a post should be the same width to be pleasing to the eye. The same goes for your sidebar. Check the settings of all of your widgets to make sure they are the same pixel width.

3. Engagement: There are thousands of websites about fashion on the interwebs. Readers visit blogs because it’s like having a personal friend out there in cyber-space. But if you aren’t responding to your readers, you’re a sh!tty friend and they’ll find a shiny new one. It is beyond flattering that a stranger would be compelled to take time out of their life to comment on your little corner of the web, so you’d better make darn sure to thank them or answer any question they might have. Nurture the relationships with your readers and go the extra mile to keep the conversation going and readers returning.

4. About Me: This is a follow-up to engagement. Your readers want to get to know you, so be sure to include a detailed About Me page on your blog. Letting them know where you’re from, what your career is, what got you into blogging, and how to get in touch with you adds a personal touch. Consider including your height, weight, and clothing size so readers can easily shop the clothes from your site. Your About Me page is also the perfect place for frequently asked questions. This will save you time and further develop the relationship with your readers.

5. Useful Information: Think long and hard about your brand. For me, I gravitate towards southern style at an affordable price, so that’s what I blog about. Figure out what you excel in and share that, in your own voice. Most importantly: create, don’t curate. Show how to style a trend, start your own, or give readers an affordable option to the trend!

6. Uncluttered Sidebar: We all want to make a buck, but don’t clutter your site with ads. You’ll lose visitors and the potential income their click-throughs will provide. Approach your site as a reader would… what do you want to see in the sidebar? For me, it’s social sites, a clear navigation, RewardStyle, and additional posts. A good rule of thumb is to wait until your blog is generating 500+ visitors a day before including advertisements. Until then, try this twitter plugin and this Instagram plugin.

7. Posting Schedule: Consistency is key! If a reader comes back to your blog a couple times and sees nothing new, they’ll move on to the next one. Quality over quantity is important, but one high quality post a year ain’t gonna cut it. Blogs take dedication. If you expect to keep readers coming back, give them something to come back for! I started slow with one post every Wednesday. Now I post outfit photos Tuesday, a collection Wednesday, and blogging tips Friday and have seen my stats increase. Try this free blogging schedule to keep you organized 🙂

8. Comparison can be Good: Check out some of your favorite, high-traffic blogs. What makes them different than your site? Don’t ever copy another blog (heck, why would readers need to see two of the same thing?) but learn from them. Is it their images, their consistency, their voice, or maybe their style? Let them inspire you to step up your game! Every blog began with one post and a big goose egg for readers. There’s nothing stopping you from being the next big thing!

9. Give them Something: I don’t mean spam your Instagram with loop giveaways… I mean provide your readers with something they can really use. Reach out to your sponsors and see if they would collaborate for a giveaway or coupon code. Provide them with tips you’ve learned along the way. Your blog isn’t a store, so don’t be selly! It’s an escape or a place for your visitors to learn. Keep this in mind when constructing your posts.

10. Go the Extra Mile: In this age of blogs, it takes a lot to stand out. And though it will take some extra time, readers always appreciate additional info on the products your promoting. How clothes fit, the quality, price, coupon codes, and affordable alternatives make your blog a one-stop shop.

Each one of us has a certain je ne sais quoi. Invest in that and nurture it to grow your readership and keep them hooked.

Signature3

 

Top 10 WordPress Themes for Fashion Bloggers

Now that we learned how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog, let’s make it visually pleasing.

Disclaimer: The aesthetic I gravitate towards is clean and white. This way, your fashion images are the focal point of the site. I picked these because they are ready-made themes and take little to no knowledge of coding or HTML. Just load it onto your site and begin blogging. I also picked all of my themes from Themeforest. I have no affiliation with them and earn no commission from referrals. I simply feel that a lot of theme providers can rip you off, but Themeforest is affordable (under $50 a theme) and reliable. Simply click on the name of the theme to purchase or on the image to see a live preview of it.

1. inFashion

This is the theme I use. I love it because the post images at the top made it easy for visitors to navigate through your posts. Plus, Instagram is built into the bottom of each page!

Blog In Fashion

2. Redwood

If I had come across this theme before inFashion, I would have purchased it. I love that it incorporates a slider to feature your latest posts, as well as three featured images you can use as categories (fashion, DIY, lifestyle, etc.) Chiara Farragni of The Blonde Salad uses a similar theme, as well as Zanita.

Blog Redwood

3. Rosemary

A more feminine version of Redwood. I cannot decide which one I love more! Kristina Bazan of Kayture uses a similar theme for her gorgeous blog, as well as Sincerely Jules.

Blog Rosemary

4. Shiroi Hana

Another slider-centric theme. This one though, gives you the opportunity to display multiple images from your blog post into a mini grid per post.

Blog Shiori Hana

5. Hemlock

Similar to Redwood, but with a different look to the slider.

Blog Hemlock

6. Zarja

This theme is super feminine, but what I love is the featured About Me section right below the slider. This way, followers get a clear view of who you are before they begin reading your blog.

Blog Zarja

7. Simplissimo

This theme is bright and fun and although you can change the main color, I like that it is pink by default!

Blog Simplissmo

8. Airashi

If you’re looking to be a little different, Airashi’s featured post grid is far from cookie cutter. Susanna Lau of Style Bubble uses a similar grid theme for her blog.

Blog Airashi

9. Quarter

The first blogging theme that I had and one a number of bloggers use (check out my girl Jaime’s blog). It’s super straight-forward and easy to customize.

Blog Quarter

10. Scribbo

This theme is almost identical to the one used by Emily Gemma on The Sweetest Thing.

Blog Scribo

Loading the theme onto your WordPress.org site is easy. Each theme purchased from Themeforest comes with detailed instructions within the folder; it will be labeled Documentation. As always, if you run into a snag, my email address is CortneyDryden@gmail.com. I don’t mind a bit helping out! I think of it as arts and crafts of the 21st century 😉

Happy blogging!

Signature3

 

How to Start a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog

There are a million ways to start a blog. In my experience, this is the easiest (and cheapest) option to begin a self-hosted blog. There are countless articles debating WordPress and Blogger. Trust me… you want WordPress.

What is a self-hosted blog?

A self-hosted blog means you own your own domain name (URL) and pay to have the site hosted by a provider. The alternative is to begin a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger. This is fine in the short-run, but eventually you will want the /wordpress or /blogger off your URL and to be able to customize your site down to every tiny detail. Beginning with a self-hosted WordPress blog will save you time and stress in the future or having to swap your content over to make it look more professional. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Pick a Name

I am no expert on this one. Heck, everyone initially thinks my blog is about law! But a name says a lot about your blog, so make it count. Brainstorm a few keywords that best describe what your blog is about. Use Name Mesh to combine those keywords into a domain name if you get stumped. Visit this site to test each of your choices and make sure they aren’t already in use. Just type your URL into the search bar and GoDaddy will tell you whether the domain name is available or not. (Prepare yourself for disappointment and then an existential brainstorming session on why you weren’t foward-thinking enough to have bought Shoes.com, Fashion.com, etc. when the web began. We’d be billionaires!!)

Step 2: Purchase WordPress Hosting through GoDaddy

Now you need a place for your website to live. A hosting company provides the computer that stores all the files of your website. It’s the only expense you will have to pay to start your blog. Luckily, GoDaddy is the easiest, best-priced, and offers the best support of any providers out there. Just visit the WordPress hosting page of GoDaddy here. Scroll down to the plans and add the Basic Plan to your cart.

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 10.52.29 AM
GoDaddy will then prompt you to add your free domain. Here you will add the name you picked earlier.

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 10.52.57 AM

Then check out. It is only $47 for everything you need for the first whole year of your blog!

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 10.53.32 AM

If you get lost, pick up the phone and call their customer service (480-505-8877) and follow the prompts to Hosting and then WordPress Support. They will walk you through the whole process in under five minutes.

Once you have finished checking out, click Manage to launch into the back end of your new blog!

Step 3: Add Content

It’s time to add your first blog post. In the back end of your WordPress site, hover over Posts in the left-hand navigation and click Add New.

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 11.17.52 AM

Add a title and then your content in the large box below. Check out the video below to see how to add text and images.

Click Publish in the right navigation to send your first blog post live! Then check out how it looks by clicking on the name of your site in the top left corner. Voila! You have a self-hosted WordPress blog just like this one.

I will walk you through picking out a theme and customizing your site to perfection in my next installments! For now, just get comfortable with adding blog posts in the back end of your new WordPress site. Baby steps 😉 And as always, shoot me an email at cortneydryden@gmail.com if you run into any issues.

Signature3