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Starting A Blog: What I’ve Learnt

8 May

When I started my blog almost two years ago, I had no idea what to expect. Cheryl from Invest In Your Chest gave me some helpful tips and encouragement, and her help and advice over the past few years has earned her the title of ‘Fairy blogmother’, and a place in my heart. But aside from that, I pretty much went it alone.

As I have said on here and in countless interviews, the reason for starting my blog was simple: I wanted to show women how clothing and underwear looked on a larger frame and bust, and give my opinion and views at the same time. No photoshopping, no professional hair and make up and photographer, just me, in my living room, running back and forth with my camera on timer! Over the past few years my blog has evolved somewhat, and as well as writing my reviews I also host guest posts from Mums, smaller busted women, corset experts and so much more. I write opinion pieces on things like the word ‘fat’, cup size and back size misconceptions, celebrity bra sizes and everything inbetween. But above all, I try to stay true to my blog – true to why I wrote it and who I write it for.
And so I thought I would write this post to share with you what I have learnt along the way. My blog is not perfect, my methods may not be recommended, but it’s worked for me, and I hope it can help work for those of you out there who are thinking of starting a blog. My advice comes from writing a fashion and lingerie blog, and so a lot of my commentary will be applicable to those areas of blogging.

When I first had the idea of starting my blog I was aware of only a few other blogs. Pocket Rocket Fashion, Sophia Jenner, Undercover Lingerista, Thin&Curvy, Diamonds’n’Pearls and Invest In Your Chest. I must say that Thin&Curvy’s blog was pretty much the inspiration for my own, as I knew then that my blog would consist of clothing and underwear reviews like hers, and a description of my figure would be the best way to let people know what the blog was about. My fuller figure and bust…wait, what a great name for a blog!
So far I’ve had no regrets with regards to my name. Yes it’s a bit of a mouthful to say, but I wouldn’t have named my blog anything else. My only issue is with those who come across my Facebook page of the same name and assume it’s a page dedicated to women with a larger body and bust, and they become quite irate when I post other things…

Before committing to a name for your blog, make sure you are happy with it. Make sure that it still looks good when it becomes one word, as that will be how your URL will make it look (Pen Island anyone?) and google it to check that you are not unwittingly copying anyone else. If you are stuck, why not just use your name, or an alliteration of your name? Do not make a hasty decision!

When I first started blogging I had no ‘About Me’ and no way for people to contact me. I just assumed that I would write my blog and that would be that. Cheryl forced me to get Twitter a few months after starting the blog, and she set up an email address for me at the same time. I started the Facebook page a few months later, and recently added a descriptive ‘About Me’, along with contact details. I know how important it is to have all of the above now, not least because my day job requires me to read many many blogs and contact the bloggers, whilst assessing their social media fan amounts. So make sure you do have an email address clearly displayed on your blog, and use and abuse social media to your advantage!

You will need to decide early on whether or not you want to be anonymous, or show your face or body in your blog. These days there are entire press events created for bloggers, specifically fashion bloggers, and being anonymous could mean missing out on that.
As for showing parts of your body that you are not happy with – think very very carefully. The internet never forgets ANYTHING, and so if you post one bra clad photo and change your mind a minute later, it will be too late! I don’t mean to scare you, I just want to make you aware of how things could affect your future.

My number one rule of blogging is – stay true to why you started. It can be easy to get swept up with offers of sponsored posts and random reviews, but your audience and reasons for writing should be at the forefront of your mind when you set about writing a new post. Your readers come to you because they know what they are getting – don’t make them go elsewhere.

You should also be honest. If you are reviewing freebies and you really don’t like them then say so. People may make purchases based on your recommendations, and if you aren’t being truthful about a product then it may ruin things for them. There are ways of saying that something isn’t to your taste without being rude or upsetting the brand, and everyone appreciates honesty.

Speaking of freebies – don’t expect it to happen over night, or maybe at all! I get tens of comments from women who see that I review gifted items and say ‘cor, I had better start a blog so I can get freebies!’ – that’s not quite how it works. Yes, some bloggers get sent items to reviews – companies aren’t stupid, and they know that a bloggers with x amount of readers being sent a dress that costs them £20 to make may make them £200 back. However, it takes a while for those companies to notice and want to interact with bloggers, and that often doesn’t happen when bloggers go ahead and ask for products! So if you are writing a blog to get freebies, good luck! A lot of hard work and dedication has to go into making a blog work, and for that you really need a true passion. Stick at it, and it will pay off, but your reason for writing should not be because of ‘freebies’.

You should also bear in mind that bloggers who do get sent items often choose those items. And so they will often be positive about the item, as they will have picked it for a reason. I have been sent one item that I did not want or like in my whole history of blogging, and that was the dreaded Ahh Bra. And as you can see I was less than kind about it…

People blog about all sorts of things. Tents, restaurants, clothes, dogs… Personally I believe that reviews should mostly be picture rich to help break up the text, and as descriptive as possible. The photos do not have to be of you, but it’s nice to have a reference for your readers if the post allows for it. Reviews should be honest, engaging and true to the subject matter.

I always try to share my reviews on my various social forums – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc. I try to make the companies mentioned in the review aware of it, and I sporadically share old review every so often so that new readers and followers can be informed of older posts. I use my posts to refer to things, to answer questions about how certain brands fit me, or how colours look on me. I always categorise my posts, so that people looking for bikini or shapewear reviews can do so easily.

My fellow bloggers are the reason for my success. Blogging is not a rivalry, it’s a sisterhood. I am always happy to retweet and share and mention posts that others have written, and the same is done for me. I want to provide my readers with a service, show them other options and other great resources. I learn a lot from reading other blogs, and I want to share those findings with others. I regularly share my thoughts and ideas and woes with some bloggers who have become close friends of mine, and I am so thrilled to be part of this community.

I personally receive a huge amount of emails and messages every week. They are from women asking for advice, help, a shoulder to cry on – and I always take the time to reply in the best way I can. I do the same with my Twitter and Facebook followers, and I do it because I want to help women feel beautiful or wear the correct size bra or find that perfect dress. Loyalty to my readers is what helps make my blog successful, and you should always look after those who look up to you and come to you for help.

I try to put out a new post weekly to keep my readers engaged. Some blogs update daily, some just a few times a month. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging frequency, and you should never feel forced to post. If you can’t complete a post – come back to it, do something else. This very post has taken me MONTHS to write! I felt like I had so much information to get down, and it seemed incredibly daunting. However, I wrote a few extra lines every week or so, and although it will never be perfect, it’s finally taken shape and hopefully gives budding bloggers some good advice!

I hope my post has made sense and you have enjoyed reading it! As I said, these are tips and tricks that I have picked up and made up along the way and used to make my blog successful.