fashion blog

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.

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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.

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GoDaddy will then prompt you to add your free domain. Here you will add the name you picked earlier.

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

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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.

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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.

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What I Wish I’d Known Before Blogging

Hey y’all! I’m excited to begin my Summer Blogging Series. Each week, I’ll share some tips and tricks to blogging. I’m no expert, but I have learned a thing or two in the past year and a half of blogging the hard way and would love to spare y’all the stress! So without further ado…

  1. It Takes Time & Dedication: If you don’t have at least an hour a day to kill, don’t waste your time with this. I changed jobs recently and had to cut back on my blogging. Because of this, I noticed a decline in readership. Visitors will come back for new content, so give the people what they want!
  2. There’s No Shortcut: With every ounce of my being, I wish there was. There are thousands of articles on how to gain followers fast, but the trick is to post quality content consistently. I saw my sharpest spike in followers once I cut out filters, thought out my photo composition, and posted about one-two photos a day. No one owes you anything; they will follow you because they have something to gain from your posts. People use Instagram and blogs for three main things: to escape, to learn, and to be inspired. Keep these things in mind when creating content and be the blogger you would want to follow. Here is a great article on branding your Instagram to increase your followers.
  3. SEO is Everything: Learn it. Live it. Get Google Analytics right off the bat to see which posts are generating the most traffic and investigate why. Use Alt Text and Tags to bump up page views. Use clear titles and Google Keywords to give your posts the best chance of being found through search engines. I’ll elaborate more on this in the coming weeks.
  4. Comparison is the Thief of Joy: I know you scroll through the perfect latte photo, perfect sunset photo, perfect caught off guard with wind blowing in her hair photo and think how perfectly perfect these girls’ lives must be. I’ve hung around with enough bloggers in my day to know how bat-sh!t crazy we can look trying to get the perfect shot. Or how far out of our way we went to get macarons and peonies. Don’t ever ever ever compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
  5. Your Friends Will Think You’re Crazy: And you are. But the best people are! You will stick a white posterboard under a coffee mug to give the illusion of white counter tops. You will stand on a chair in a public restaurant to get the best shot of your avocado toast. And by God, you will strut down the crowded street in a sequined dress and stilettos in the dead of winter for your New Year’s Eve post. That’s dedication, my friend!
  6. You Don’t Need to Accept Every c/o Item You’re Offered: I struggled with this one in the beginning. Because, hey! It’s free! What’s not to like? Well, if you don’t love it and you tell the world you do, you’re a liar. Point blank. Brands that align with your tastes and interests will find you eventually. Be true to yourself and honest with your readers in the meantime.
  7. Go to as Many Blogger Events as You Can: It’s all about networking! And the best part of blogging (and one I never saw coming) is the friendships you make from it. Bloggers tend to be motivated self-starters (heck, we’re all one-woman businesses!) and those are awesome people to surround yourself with. Plus, collaborating exposes you to their readers and vice versa.
  8. Invest in the Right Things: No no, I’m not talking about Valentino Rockstuds. I’m talking about a DSLR and PhotoShop. You know what I think when I see a pair of Rockstuds? Great! A blog full of things I can’t afford… on to the next! But when I see high quality photos, perfectly aligned and a blurry bokeh background, I’m hooked!
  9. Be Different: Ok ok, sometimes you’re going to like what other bloggers are wearing. I get it. I love my Karen Walker sunnies even though when I wear them I look freakishly like Blair Eadie. But don’t copy people. There are going to be people who want to follow you for the unique snowflake that you are. Own it!

And if you need any help getting started, please don’t hesitate to reach out! My email address is cortneydryden@gmail.com. I look forward to following everyone’s blog 🙂

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