I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I launched my blog, Fabulously Overdressed! I really did not know a thing about blogging before I started. All I knew was that I loved fashion, styling outfits, and beauty products, and wanted to share that passion. Prior to even thinking about creating a blog, I was following some bigger fashion bloggers, and started posting outfit pics here and there on Instagram amongst my day-to-day pics of nights out and of my nieces and nephew (which were not frequent at all- I maybe posted a couple of times per month!). I began looking through other fashion blogs and was fascinated by them. They were all so pretty and really made me want to buy the clothes they were wearing (and I did buy a lot of clothes through their links- it was so easy!). I mentioned the possibility of starting a fashion blog one day to my sister but then dropped it. But she didn’t! She kept encouraging me to start my own blog, and would forward me posts on how to start and how to make money off of blogging. So one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2017 was to start my blog, and after researching exactly how to start a blog, I finally went live on March 9, 2017 with Fabulously Overdressed!
My very first post was a little bit about me and why I started the blog. You can read it here. It’s been a year of ups and downs in this crazy little world of blogging, and I want to share some of the things I’ve learned, tips for you if you are thinking about starting a blog or just started one, and some things I should have done differently over the past year.
1. Time management: I was posting pics on Instagram up to three times per day when I started blogging in order to help grow my audience, and therefore, my blog. This became hard for me- I work a regular full-time job that keeps me busy, but I would also be stressing in the back of my mind about what I can post that day or if I had content to post. I would go out during a lunch break (still do sometimes!) and set up my tripod with my cell phone to take an outfit pic so I could post right after work. It took me a couple of months to realize that this kind of schedule was making me way too stressed for something that was only a hobby at that point. I pushed back to posting on Instagram only once per day, and then eventually starting posting once per day 4 or 5 days per week (instead of every single day). This is a much more manageable schedule, and I can plan out almost all of my IG posts at the start of the week, with one or two real-time posts fit in.
I also published weekly blog posts every Monday and would spend my weekends writing content, taking pictures, and linking items on the posts. Coming up with ideas for the posts was pretty easy in the beginning. But then one week, I realized I didn’t have anything really interesting to talk about on the blog, and no new outfits to share- so I tentatively skipped that week. And it turned out ok! I was worried that if I didn’t keep a schedule, I would lose followers, but that didn’t happen. Now I don’t stress if I don’t have a blog post every week. It’s better to have good, interesting content less frequently than mediocre posts every week, or multiple times per week. With that being said, if I didn’t have a full time job and had the resouces to secure a photographer weekly, I would love to post multiple times per week. It’s just not in my budget right now!
2. Cost: Prior to starting my blog, I spent a good deal of money on clothes. After starting my blog, I spent an exorbitant amount of money on clothes, shoes, and accessories! As a blogger, you want to show items that are currently in stores so people can purchase them, and if the items are new, they are rarely on sale. I admit that I went a little crazy trying to stay up on trends and to have a whole new outfit to post on IG daily. It took me a while to figure out this was not going to work long-term for my budget!
One way bloggers make money is through affiliate links. So when they post a link to an item they are wearing, and then people buy that item through their link, they can receive a small percentage of that sale as profit. Some bigger bloggers can make a decent amount through this, but it’s generally those who have a huge following. I don’t have a huge following yet, and therefore make very little through affiliate links. Another way bloggers can make money is through sponspored posts. The retailer or designer will either exchange product or money for an Instagram post or full blog post featuring their products. This type of advertising is big right now, and getting bigger. I have received multiple free items throughout the past year, but have made less than $200 cash for sponsored posts. This is obviously not enough to keep up with my spending habits! So I’ve cut back substantially in my purchases over the past few months, and have tried to keep all my items that I do purchase and put on my blog under $50. This is also good for my followers, because I’ve been focusing on relatable, affordable fashion. I no longer have a problem posting the same top in a couple of different posts, styled diffferently. Because that’s real life! We all wear our clothes multiple times, so I try to give ideas for styling different ways. So until I start making more money through sponsored posts and trying to keep up with bloggers who make a living salary through blogging, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing so I don’t go broke!
3. Comparison: This one has been the hardest emotionally for me. As a blogger, I follow a lot of other bloggers. I like to find inspiration and motivation through these ladies, and oftentimes, they are very inspiring. I spend a lot of time scrolling Instagram, watching Instastories, and reading blog posts. It’s hard not to compare myself or my blog to everyone else. I’ll see an adorable outfit on another blogger, and then they’ll say in their caption, “This is the best dress ever, it’s so great for us curvy ladies! Btw, I’m wearing a size 0.” Um, what?? Curvy? But you’re a size 0 and are 5’8″! I can get pretty down on myself while scrolling through a million pics of size 0 and 2 women. I am 5’9″, and am actually a smaller size than the “average” American women (average is 14-16, and I am a size 12), but I don’t see as many of the average sized women in this blogging world. Sure, there are many body-positive bloggers out there, but it seems the focus is still always on the size of their body, as opposed to just the clothes. I want to change that!
It’s not easy to stop comparing myself to other bloggers, or who has more followers than me, or who has the ability to publish 3 blog posts per week while I can barely squeak out one. So I have a new tactic while scrolling through IG- if I start feeling bad about myself after seeing someone else’s post, I unfollow them. Sounds simple, right? I highly recommend it!
4. Weather: I live in Orlando, Florida. We don’t experience regular seasons here- it’s basically pre-summer, summer, or fall-ish (temps in the 40s-60s). Our humidity for 10 months of the year is no joke- you walk outside and have to take your sunglasses off because they are so fogged up.
I was worried about this because so many other people in the country live in a 4 season place, and want to see seasonal outfits. Makes sense! So I’ve had to fake it a few times- for example, I took some pictures of over-the-knee boots and sweaters in early December, when it was still 80 degrees out. You wouldn’t know it from the pics, but I was definitely sweating under all those clothes! I take almost all my pics outside, so my car’s air conditioning is my best friend during shoots- just jump inside, blast that a/c, then I’m good to go for a little while longer!
5. Photos: When I started my blog, all of my pictures were taken on my Android cell phone. After a couple of months, I booked a professional photo shoot, and shot two outfits. The pics came out beautifully, and I had a lot of positive feedback. Since then, I’ve had two other professional shoots, and again, was so pleased with both. But once again, the cost gets in the way! Some bigger bloggers who get paid through sponsored posts are able to hire a professional photographer multiple times per month. But the majority of bloggers out there have invested in a good camera and use their significant others or a family member, or sometimes other bloggers, as their photographers.
I decided to invest in a starter camera, and my sister agreed to take my blog pictures for me. My camera isn’t the best, but it’s better than my cell phone. I’ve also had my boyfriend take a lot of my pictures, since my sister has three children and isn’t always available every weekend. Getting my boyfriend to take my pics is always fun (not!), but we make it work after I buy him lunch or dinner. They always say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?
But what I’ve learned through posting pictures from both my phone or my camera, selfie or professionally posed, people respond positively almost equally to all types of pics. So instead of having all camera pics, I’m starting to mix in some mirror selfies and phone pics on Instagram and the blog, as a way to free up more time for myself and my family on the weekends. It’s so much easier to take a quick phone pic a couple of times per week than arranging someone to take all my pictures.
Final thoughts: Blogging has definitely become an almost full-time hobby for me, but I wouldn’t trade it. I’ve met so many amazing, inspiring women through Instagram and blogging over the past year, and I adore the interactions with them and all my supporters. My biggest piece of advice for new bloggers is to always stay true to yourself. Show off your original style, share a little bit about yourself with your supporters, and support other women out there who are also trying to make it in this already-saturated market. And don’t forget to have fun with it!
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me and this blog over the past year- I wouldn’t keep doing this without your love and support!
Here’s to Year Two!