Heeeeey! Sorry this has taken a little while to do. Thanks so much if you sent me a question for this post! I’d been getting a lot of DM’s and emails regarding instagramming/blogging/youtube etc and thought that rather than answering the same questions over and over and only reaching one person at a time, the best thing for me to do would be to answer your questions in a blog post for all those who want to read it.
These answers are all my own opinion and based purely on my own experience. Some people may think the answers are ‘wrong’ and that’s fine, because everyone has different opinions and has developed their profiles in different ways. This is just how I’ve done it so far and my advice based on that. Please don’t take these answers as the definitive way of doing things and if it’s not for you, then there are other ways, I just don’t know them! In fact if you know any other ways, please let me know! 🙂
Also, if you sent me a question and are wondering why it’s not on here, I had about 50 in half an hour and a few were either the same or very similar, so I’ll have probably merged it in with another question and just worded it differently to combine a few into one. Some questions I feel I can’t answer because I actually don’t know the answer. Where that is the case, I have still included the question in here and said that I don’t have the answer. I thought it best to do that in case you were wondering why I haven’t answered your question.
- Do you have any recommendations of other fashion bloggers on Instagram who inspire your style?
@weworewhat @jourdansloane @shotfromthestreet @lornaluxe @rossio_style @jamiefraiche @vanessardaniels @wethepeoplestyle and so many more but off the top of my head they are some of my faves.
2. How did you grow your following/over what time frame?
I actually have no idea exactly how it grew, as I don’t know specifically how people found me. But I’ve answered a question somewhere below about what I think is a beneficial way to grow your following and I have kind of stuck to those points. Perhaps through regrams from brands or from seeing someone on their news feed like my photo and click through. I can only assume that’s how I’ve grown, as that’s how I find new people to follow! It’s been roughly 3 years from when I started taking posting a little more seriously to where I am now with it.
3. Did YouTube help build your following?
I started YouTube way after my Instagram account, so I think my Instagram definitely helped build my following on YouTube, as I think a lot of you lovely people came over from there. I’m unsure about the other way round as my following on YouTube is smaller than on Instagram. I do think that some people have found me on YouTube first though and then realised I have an Instagram profile also. At the end of the day, cross platform promotion by mentioning your other sites is always a good thing.
4. What do you shoot content/ images on?
I mainly use my Canon eos M10. But I use my iPhone 8 for mirror pictures or when I’ve forgot my camera!
5. Is this your full time job? How did you start your blog whilst working?
Yes this is my full time job, I started my Instagram before I started my blog and made it fashion based in February 2014, although I didn’t post very often or take it more seriously until early 2015. I worked in retail and also studied Business management, I just did my blog and my instagram in my free time.
While I was working and studying it was was just a hobby. I then left retail to focus more on studying, as I get very easily distracted and I was the kind of person to choose doing a shift over going to my next seminar, which I knew I shouldn’t do. I thought if there was ever a time I wasn’t going to work, it was whilst I was studying. I lived at home whilst studying and had saved whilst working + student loan.
So this made doing my blog and instagram a little easier, although by no means did I leave my job to do it, nor would I recommend doing that without thought and planning on what your going to do whilst getting to where you want to be. In between lectures/seminars I would sometimes nip home and take a picture of my outfit, if I hadn’t taken one before I left. I also went back to working in retail for a few weeks and I think I took some of my outfit photos in the changing rooms when I’d finished my shift or on a break too!
6. How do you compose or structure your blog posts? What blog forum did you use? Are there good free ones?
I’m probably not the best person to ask on blog structure and which are the best to use to be honest, as there are some amazing bloggers who have a lot better blogs and use that style of platform a lot more who would be better to ask! Right now, I use wordpress which is free (unless you want to upgrade) and I’m happy with using it for now.
7. I’m trying to start a blog/fashion account but it’s empty? I’d love to know how you started your account and what I could/should do.
I thought this when I first started thinking seriously about mine! Thinking where do I actually start? I was so lost I actually googled ‘how to start a blog’ and the obvious answer came back which was ‘make a blog’. So that’s what I did.
I used to have a different blog so I can’t see what my first ever post was, but my first on my blog now was a post explaining what I was hoping to post on there. A few of my earlier posts were based on one item of clothing or one specific outfit and then writing about it and linking it. So my advice would probably be – set out what you want to achieve with your blog, what are you interested in and what do you want to blog about and then maybe it will be easier to form posts with a specific goal in mind.
8. How did you get noticed on Instagram, as in did you tag a bunch of pages? hash tagging? submitting photos?
To be honest, there’s no real way of me knowing how exactly people or brands noticed my Instagram without me asking them and I think people will have found me in different ways. How did you find me?
I don’t think I ever tagged loads of unrelated pages in my pictures, only the brands that were featured in the image. I used to hashtag at the very start and I know a lot of people may find that super helpful but I personally didn’t, so I stopped and generally I will only use a couple or none at all. However, most of the tips you can read out there recommend using relevant hashtags – but not too many or supposedly Instagram don’t like it, I’m not 100% sure. By no means do I think it’s the wrong thing to do, it’s just not a route I have used.
I didn’t submit my photos to be featured on pages, but accounts will take your images anyway with/without permission and tag you sometimes, so that definitely helps! But I think it especially helps when brands regram you.
9. How do you grow your brand/page? / How can I get more publicity on my page?
I think this is probably one of my most asked questions, and my main answer (which probably sounds super boring and generic, but that’s because there is no step by step guide or one single route to growth) is just stay consistent with your posting. If someone had said that to me though when I firsted started this I would have probably been like ‘yeah whatever – tell me the real way’, but if I could have taken that on board sooner I definitely would have, because I think if you’re putting the effort in to create quality content, something will always come of that.
I make sure I post every single day, I always have clothes I want to share! It’s good to have some photos banked too, for days when you are busy or are working, so that you can still post. However I didn’t post every day when I first started, so if you’re thinking ‘that sounds impossible for me while working/studying etc’, then my advice would be just work with a consistency that works for you and your followers!
My Dad is forever sending me emails on articles about everything Instagram/blog/YouTube related, maybe I should have got him to write this post. He is always coming up with something I “need to know” or read. To be fair though, some of the things he has sent have been super helpful. For example one article I found useful basically said – have a look at who’s following you, what for and keep your content interesting to them. So, if you’ve based your page on something like say, ‘what I eat’.. they are going to want to be seeing pictures of what you’re eating and that’s why they have probably followed. In my case, my page is prodominently fashion and therefore if I post a picture of a sunset view, I doubt that it will do well on my feed compared to fashion based pictures.
I’m not saying pictures like that won’t do well on other peoples feed or, don’t post those kind of pictures, because post whatever you want always – it’s your page! I’m sure people have pages with millions of followers that a sunset image would appeal to and do really well on their feed. I’m just saying, that getting to know your audience better can be really beneficial in terms of determining your type and style of content.
So I know that me posting shots that won’t be of interest to the majority of people following me probably won’t help grow my page and people may lose interest and just unfollow. Having said that, striving for growth all the time might make you lose sight of what you’re doing it for. I’ve posted images of outfits I’ve worn, knowing full well they won’t do well on my feed and won’t help with growth, but that’s fine because that I like the outfit and want to share it! I don’t feel restricted in only posting fashion (with some hair/beauty) because that is my passion and I don’t want to post about anything else unless I like it. Stick with what you are passionate about – your passion comes across on your feed.
Whilst saying above that of course you can post what you like, because who am I to tell you what can and can’t post – it’s just my advice from my own personal experience, I am responding to the question as to how I have grown my brand/page. So, I have tried to make my posts consistent as that’s what I enjoy seeing on other peoples feeds. I’ve heard a lot of people say that there are some things they can’t upload on their feed because ‘it’s not on brand’. I personally find that being consistent is really important, because as a blogger/instagrammer etc, if you are attracting a following to your “brand” it’s because they like what you’re posting. Keeping your content quality consistent is super important I think.
Look at which of your posts have done best and work out why that might be and keep it in mind for future posts. It might be the type of content, the shot itself or the time of day that you posted it. Also look at when are most of the people who follow you actually on line, so that you time your posts to match – if you have a business profile, instagram insights will tell you all of that!
Also, this is something I don’t do but I’ve heard is effective. Comment on other bloggers pages that are similar, people click through. The only thing I would say is be genuine about it otherwise it’s just spamming someone’s profile.
If you have friends who are bloggers, or you make friends with other bloggers, shout each other out or tag them on your story when you’re with them, I know I’ve had an increase in followers before from being on someone else’s story. I see people sharing their fave pages on their stories too so I’m sure that works well also!
10. How do you make your Instagram grow so you get approached by brands?
I’ve answered the first part above but from my experience, as you grow brands generally approach you if you are what they are looking for to work or collab with. However, there’s no specific number of followers that as soon as you hit it, brands will automatically start contacting you.
Some brands may look for bloggers with a smaller amount of following than others and some may go for bloggers with millions of followers. It can depend on a lot of things and also on what they want and what content they’re looking for, for example – they may go for someone with a smaller amount of followers because that persons content fits better with their brand image than someone else they had in mind that happens to have a larger following. They may also go for someone with a larger following for maximum reach on a campaign, it can work in opposite ways too. If you want to approach a brand, go for it, the worst they can say is no (or not reply at all)!
11. My biggest frustration is trying to grow my following naturally while competing with others who grow theirs by buying followers/likes. Have you ever experienced this and how did you deal with it? How did you grow yours?
I’ve seen people who have, in my eyes, clearly bought their followers/likes but I don’t see them as competition. In fact I don’t compare my growth to anyone else’s growth in terms of it being a competition, as everyone profile is different and if someone is growing super-fast naturally, even if it is quicker than you then good for them!
I personally find seeing someone else doing well naturally makes me want to work harder – not to compete with them, but just because they are proving that growth can be achieved. However I completely get where your coming from in terms of feeling like you are up against people with fake followers/likes as it is annoying seeing people who have a large fake following getting to work with brands you would love to work with. But you’ve got to just keep in mind that at least you are true to yourself and have followers who actually care what you post and have to say, and also engage with your content rather than a following of fake profiles that aren’t even real people. Over time I’m sure it will become apparent as analytics become more and more detailed and specific.
12. How long did it take to get where you are now?
From when I started taking it a little more serious than a random photo here and there.. just over 3 years I think, I can’t properly work out but that’s a rough guess!
13. Do you sit and plan outfits before putting them on or is it just pics from random outfits you wear that day?
A mix of both, some outfits can be randomly picked that morning but some I plan the night before. I usually lie in bed thinking of my outfit for the next day (which sounds super weird now) but it actually works! Or if it’s for collabs and/or sponsored content then I can plan way in advance sometimes.
14. Have you ever been scammed by a business that asks you to promote? How do you avoid that?
I think so maybe just the once a long time ago, but I can’t actually remember what it was now. I think I’m a lot more aware now than used to be though. If it’s a business I’ve not heard of, I’ll check out their website and make sure it’s legit. Also look on their Instagram, what are the comments like, are people complaining. All brands will get a certain level of complaints but if it’s unusually high, then it could be worth checking out. Check their tagged photos, who have they got to promote in the past, are these credible people e.g. not fake profiles, all that kinda thing. And if it’s through an agency then I’d do pretty much the same.
15. I’m currently a beauty/fashion/lifestyle blogger. Do you recommend I make a new instagram for my blog posts and keep my main one personal or just put them both on the Insta?
That’s a tricky one, because if you’re doing lifestyle then you may be wanting to be putting up personal posts. I guess it depends on whether you think it will be beneficial to split them or whether you want your feed to be a mix.
Personally, I would split them and have a separate personal page but that’s because I’m sticking to one kind of theme (fashion), whereas if you’re doing lifestyle your audience may want to see your personal posts. For me, I wouldn’t put up e.g a picture of me on holiday with my family as I don’t think anyone follows me to see that and I quite like keeping stuff like that private anyway, but it really does depend on what kind of vibe you’re going for. I think mainly you’ve got to work out what content you want to put out and who you want to see it, it’s completely up to you and what personal posts you’d want to share and whether you want to share them with friends only or be public.
16. How do you afford so many brand new clothes all the time? I mean especially when you were just starting out? I’ve read that some bloggers keep the tags on, took pics and then returned them because they couldn’t afford to. Do you recommend doing this?
When I first started out, I used to spend the majority of my money on clothes, I worked at H&M for just over two years at one point and I swear I put a fair amount of my wage back into the company! But I think I bought well in terms of buying key pieces that could be worn over and over, back when I was in my ‘minimal is life’ kind of stage.
I don’t know if I would recommend doing the keep tags on, photograph and return thing but I can completely understand why anyone would. I probably did that once or twice when starting out, but I would have had every intention to keep the item until I realised I actually couldn’t afford to keep it! The only thing I think would maybe be a bit of an issue with that is that from my point of view, people may see it as portraying a false image of yourself. I personally wanna see what people are loving wearing at the moment but also new and exciting clothes so I can completely understand where your coming from.
17. Do you have somebody who represents you? Like a manager? If so, how did you find one or was it the other way around?
I don’t, I’ve been interested in having management before but then decided against it, I guess it’s each to their own. If I found the right one/way of doing it then I would love to have management but I’ve never actively looked for management, I’ve only ever been approached by them.
18. Who was the first company that asked you to promote on your instagram?
I have no idea, I remember who some of my first gifting was from though, I got a Triangl bikini and an amazing leather tote too!
19. What apps do you use to edit your pics?
I wanna do a video on this hopefully because then I can also show you how I edit etc! And I use a few depending on the effect I’m going for, but the one I use the most for everyday editing is afterlight and I don’t use VSCO cam. I’ve been asked a few times which VSCO filter I use but I don’t actually have the app. I might now download it now though…
20. How to grow your account organically now with the new algorithm?
If only I knew in this new algorithm, but we’re all in the same boat! Though I can see why it’s super annoying if you’re just starting out to start in this algorithm but unfortunately I have no idea how exactly how this algorithm works, you just gotta keep pushing through it and not let it get you down. One of the questions above I’ve answered on how to grow generally though!
There is information online about how people think that the algorithm works, which seems to relate to how quickly a post gets likes and/or people bring it to the attention of others. The theory I read is that if it starts off quick, then it gets pushed further to more people who might like it, but how can you make sure it starts off quick? Other than reading what’s out there, I can’t suggest ways of working that have been proven to help with it, as far as I know no-one knows the secret to the algorithm yet!
21. I’m currently studying fashion marketing & communications at university. Do you think being a fashion blogger is something I should start doing to further my studies / career?
I’ve heard a lot of people start fashion blogs when studying and find it helpful but I’m really not the best person to ask on whether this would further your studies or career as I’ve not been in your exact position and wouldn’t want to give you any wrong information. Would definitely advise you to speak to the person in charge of your course or someone at university who would be able to give you the correct answer, so sorry I couldn’t help with that!
22. How do you get brands to sponsor you?
Brands that want to sponsor you and work with you will contact you, so I’m not sure how exactly you can get brands to sponsor you. If you want to approach a brand you love and want to work with them, then absolutely go for it. In terms of getting paid, personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable emailing a brand asking them to work with me and.. ‘by the way this is what you’re going to pay me’, as I kind of feel like that’s asking them to pay you because you want to work with them, regardless of whether they actually want to work with you too. You could definitely email asking if they would be interested in working with you though, of course. I just maybe wouldn’t go straight in with the ‘sponsor me?’ kind of feel to it. When I started off, working with brands was unpaid, like everyone does I guess when you’re just starting out… at least I hope that was the case or was I just not paid for work?! haha.
If brands approach you, then that’s probably a good time to talk about payment. Until then and if that isn’t working but you would still absolutely love to work with the brand regardless of pay, maybe just try to build relationships with brands first, sometimes this can be in terms of gifting etc. If you’ve bought from them in the past, tag them in your posts!
23. What do you do with all the extra clothes that you don’t plan on wearing after shoots?
After shoots I’m going to guess means after I’ve shot them and used the image rather than big shoots as I don’t really do those. Most of them become my general clothes so they go straight into my wardrobe and I’ll wear them again. Anything that doesn’t I sort them into sections for depop and charity.
25. How did you making blogging a business? What is the background stuff we don’t see to build your brand e.g. special apps, special network you joined, hashtags.
It turned into one, I never went into it with the plan of it being my job. I just loved sharing my outfits. I actually didn’t realise people did it as a job, I thought people just did it for fun amongst everything else they did and the ones with million of followers were just super rich and could travel the world anyway.
Once my followers started to grow, I started to be approached by brands, not instantly, but slowly I would get more approaches, then once I was offered payment and it went from there.
The background to it is a lot of emails and admin. Everything is done by you (unless you have management) which turns out to be a whole lot once you realise you rely solely on yourself and everything is down to you. And I’m aware it can look super easy from the outside but believe me it’s not, as much as this is all I could ever dream of as a job and I’m super appreciative to be able to do it, like any job it has its challenges and can be hard. Having said that..
I know that lots of people have much harder jobs and this is not a ‘oh my job is so hard’ and some people may think it to be the easiest most fun thing in the world. Which, yes it is super fun! But it does bring its own pressures like other jobs e.g. tight deadlines and legal contracts which can be 20 pages long, then planning and project management. I didn’t realise this until I was 15 pages deep into a legal contract one night at 1am thinking what does this even say?! How am I ever going to understand this?! So there is a lot of background work behind the content creation. It’s not just taking a photo here and there but if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard ‘so you just take photos of yourself then?’
I don’t use any specific special apps to build or grow or have joined any special networks that help this. I use Like to know it/Reward Style as I think that platform is amazing and I love finding out where everyones outfits are from but there are no secret things I use app wise to build or grow.
26. I’d love to to know the ways to get your Instagram/YouTube channel out there for relevant people to see & how to keep your feed looking nice and consistent?
Instagram wise, mostly answered above but on YouTube I think the title of the video is very important, which I guess is why a lot of people use clickbait titles. I generally just keep the title to the point of what the video is and put brand names of the items featured in the video also in the title, because I really think that is helpful. You can also use tags on YouTube videos, I’m not sure how well they work but I use them and hope they do!
27. When did you get to the point of charging for collabs/posts? Was there a specific number of followers you had to make to start mentioning to companies that you charge? I’m scared it’ll scare companies off by mentioning payment.
When I was first offered payment for a post, no specific number of followers, that’s when I realised was probably the right time to approach the payment subject with brands, but don’t get me wrong, if I absolutely love a brand and want to work with them but they have no budget I still will if I can. I don’t think you should ever be scared to mention payment to companies, if they want to work with you then they cannot expect you to work for free. Your time and work is worth something, and that’s why they want to work with you in the first place!
28. What’s the best website to start a fashion/lifestyle blog with?
Sorry, I’m probably not the best to ask about this, I only use WordPress and haven’t looked into using anything else as I’m happy with wordpress for now.
29. When did you notice your following start to grow?
When I focused my posts on fashion, stopped posting personal pictures, unrelated content, pictures of my dog etc…although she was cute so maybe don’t leave your dogs out, everyone loves a cute dog pic, right? But yeah, when I focused my images on something specific and posted more often and consistently that’s when I noticed it begin to grow.
30. At what point did you feel it was right contacting brands you wanted to work with? How did you make contact with them?
When I’d been approached for a collab, I thought then that was probably the right time to approach other brands. Not all at once, in fact I haven’t really contacted THAT many. Probably because I feel that if they want to work with you, then they will approach you. But don’t let that stop you approaching brands! I completely understand that in this algorithm, you don’t know who’s going to see you or if you’re being completely missed out on feeds, so definitely message the brands if that’s what you want to do of course. The worst they can do is say no or just not reply at all… definitely had that more than once. Contact their press departments, you can usually find the right email if you dig on google for a bit or even DM them. Ask their customer service for the correct email address to contact their PR department.
31. I’m a blogger but when I receive emails and messages from certain people to do collabs, I never know how to respond or which to respond to. Are they fake or real? etc. How do you know what brands are good to work for and which ones aren’t? Do you ask many questions before giving out your personal details?
I think in this case, researching into the brand, I think I mentioned in one of the questions above (seeing who they’ve worked with in the past etc) and deciding whether you want to work with them. If the way they want to work with you, is one that you’re happy with and you want to work with them, then go for it. I don’t really give out my personal details to anyone/agency/brand unless they are legit and/or I need too (I have had a bad experience with some weirdo on WhatsApp once from it). So do be careful who you give your details out to, but trust your instincts on it.
32. Do you think a proper camera is essential for fashion photography/blogging? What would you recommend if someone was just using their phone?
I don’t think a proper camera is essential for instagramming/blogging (photography wise, may be best to ask a fashion photographer) however I have found it so much more beneficial since having one. I used my iPhone up until late last year, and checking my Social Blade. I had around 180k followers then so don’t think you can’t start and grow without a camera because you definitely can and iPhone cameras are pretty good these days! If you are just using your phone, I’d say just make sure the lighting is right, because that’s something you can adjust on cameras and I know I struggled with it when using just my iPhone.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this a little bit helpful, if it all!