A Fashion Blog By Gemma Talbot

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Getting Into Blogging: My Tips & Advice For Starting Out


92% of you voted on a recent Instagram poll I put up about whether you wanted to see this post from me, so here it is. I really wish there was an exact formula to blogging that I could share with you all. Like a + b = c but unfortunately, I think it comes down to a case of trial and error and bit of perseverance. Some have had what seems like instant success in the blogging world, whereas I’ve definitely had to work very hard to get where I am now. Does it come down to an element of luck? Perhaps, but I really am a firm believer of hard work gratifying you in some shape or form be that a year from now or ten years from now. After years of plugging away albeit not consistently, I feel like its only within the past six months I really have seen a huge difference overall.

For the purpose of today’s post I have answered some of the FAQ’s I receive below but if there is anything you want to know specifically that you feel I haven’t covered then do just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as best I can.


How did you get to where you are now?

Hard work and consistency automatically spring to mind. I’ve known for a while that blogging is something I wished to persue as a full time job and as such I kept grafting until I was able to go full time and rely on it as my sole income. I’d like to reiterate though that it didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide I want to be a fashion blogger. I’ve had pretty shitty (excuse my French) part time jobs to support myself whilst I made the transition into going full time as a blogger. Ultimately though it’s about being consistent with posting on your blog and social media platforms so that people have a reason to follow you but also know when to expect content from you. One thing I have noticed is the shift from reading blogs so paying more attention to what is being posted on Instagram. I wish to continue both writing as well as establishing a bigger following on Instagram. For me the two go hand in hand. Ultimately, if Instagram disappeared tomorrow at least I would still have my blog as a platform which is why I still take pride in what I post on there.  

How long did it take you to grow such an engaged following?

I’ll be completely honest, I feel that compared to some other bloggers my growth has been relatively slow. Equally, I can hand on heart say I’ve never bought followers, used bots or follow for follow techniques. Ultimately, I make a conscious effort to get back to people who take the time to DM me and comment on my posts and as such I think this has helped create a loyal and engaged following. Words cannot explain how much it means to me to all the people who take the time to message and post such lovely comments on my Instagram feed.

When I left my full time job working at Topshop about two years ago I had just over 18,000 followers on Instagram and I now currently have approximately 48,000. It has taken a while but I am so pleased with how far I have come and it is definitely important to me that people choose to follow me because they like both my style and personality. With that said, I feel it can often be quite hard to portray your personality online and as such I am only really just starting to show mine fully.


Obviously, it goes without saying that there are techniques you can employ to increase engagement. You can ask questions in the caption of your posts to encourage people to engage with your content and comment rather than just like the photo. I feel personally for me, brighter images and those that are more colourful perform better for me on my feed. Instagram stories are great for engaging your audience, especially with the poll function which encourages your followers to respond to a question. Use your insights to your advantage! They are there for a reason. Obviously Instagram has changed slightly as of late what with the algorithm affecting many which is why it’s more important than ever to engage with your followers. I read somewhere that you should do most of your responding to comments within the first hour of the post going live. I don’t know how true this is but apparently Instagram will push your photo higher up on peoples feeds meaning they are more likely to see it than if you hadn’t replied to peoples comments. If you thought Instagram was just about posting a spontaneous photo you were wrong. Or so the algorithm would suggest.
  
How long have you been blogging for?

It literally feels like forever. My best friend Poppy actually encouraged me to start after brain storming blog names in her bedroom after a night out at Doggy Dog Star in Brixton. After a boozy weekend and feeling a little worse for wear (standard early 20’s behaviour) we’d go out to take street style photos which looking back actually make me cringe so much. You know those stand against a brick wall and pose with your hand on your hip or in your back garden kind of shots? Toe curling worthy. But we’ve all got to start somewhere. I’d then get my ex to take photos for me and we’d get into such arguments because he’d tell me to stand a certain way or to not look so unhappy 😂 I used to do this all on the weekends in between working but it was more of a hobby than something I ever considered as a profession. I’d follow big bloggers such as Lily Melrose and Kavita from She Wears Fashion but never in a million years think that I could do it myself full time. It was an intangible dream.

I’d say I’ve been blogging properly for about two years. Admittedly, it hasn’t been a consistent two years of blogging. Sometimes I will be really good at posting frequently and then I won’t post for a month, sometimes more. I absolutely love writing and would like to invest more time into doing so but as of late Instagram campaigns have taken priority because these are what are paying the bills. I have had my blog for a lot longer than that and think my first post dates back to the 10th October 2012! How scary is that. What’s In Her Wardrobe was officially established almost 6 years ago! If you want to see something really funny then feast your eyes on the post here - http://www.whatsinherwardrobe.co.uk/2012/10/swings-roundabouts.html I’d like to think I really have come a long way since then. I mean what was going on with my hair?


Do you blog full time?

I do blog full time and whilst I absolutely love writing about every day, relatable topics aside from fashion my main income as of late has come from Instagram campaigns and affiliate links. As the majority of my following is predominately on Instagram from a brands perspective they want to see trackable (instant) results and engagement which makes perfect sense for their campaign goals. Sadly this means that brands have become less interested in blog posts and more in Instagram posts which is why there has been a rise in influencer campaigns predominately on Instagram. I do need to make a conscious effort to devote more time to writing and being more consistent with the posts I do write. It just sometimes feels there’s just not enough hours in the day to do everything.

I’ll be completely honest though. I’m in a bit of a predicament what with the name of my blog being ‘What’s In Her Wardrobe’ but my more everyday relatable posts such as ‘The Game That Is Dating And Why You Have To Play It Smart’ and ‘When You UnIntentionally Fall For A Fuck Boy’ always tend to be my most well received. They are also the posts that receive the most traffic according to Google Analytics. Do I rebrand and change my blog name? Or just stick with What’s In Her Wardrobe? Rebranding is always a massive risk but equally as I get older the things I want to write about are likely to change to encompass my wider interests and as such I don’t want to feel restricted to writing just about fashion. Or shall I say what’s in my wardrobe. So a tip for any of you starting your blog is perhaps think of a name that you’ll be happy with should you not want to write purely about fashion. Your name is always a good one!


Best tip for new bloggers?

There is no denying that blogging has become very saturated but don’t let this put you off chasing your dreams if you do in fact want to be able to blog full time some day. Every industry is competitive so don’t let this put you off. What I will say is try to bring something different to the table so to speak. I don’t mean dye your hair lilac (the pink trend is over dontcha know) but give people a reason to want to hit the follow button. Don’t be disheartened if people don’t follow you straight away either. Less and less people are actually following blogs but that doesn’t mean they don’t read them. Most of the traffic to my blog comes from doing a swipe up from Instagram or leaving the link in my bio. Just remember that things take time. Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Most of the time bloggers work with the same brands and I completely get that it is hard to stand out but it is possible. At the end of the day we’re all unique with our own personalities and you just need to try and portray this in your work as much as possible.

Ultimately, stick to what you know and love and people will buy into you as a brand. For example, I always used to be afraid to put too much colour on my Instagram in fear that it wouldn’t be relatable. Some people live by the ‘all black everything’ rule but for me colour works and I think people now have grown to expect lots of colour from me. I even receive comments and DM’s calling me the ‘queen of colour’ and that they love the vibrance I bring to their feed. A lot of people read blogs and scroll on Instagram as a form of escape. Treat your work as a form of art and as such make everything a masterpiece. I’ll always stress the importance of quality over quantity and this really can be applied to every piece of content I produce from a blog post to Instagram post. Don’t just churn out the content. You want to treat everything as a piece to add to your ongoing portfolio.


One thing I will say though is don’t copy! I personally have had my own work plagiarised by another blogger (you can read the full post here if you are interested) and whilst you can take inspiration from other bloggers let it be just that. Inspiration. Always try and put your own spin on something and let your creativity shine through.

I think bloggers get a bad rep. The cliché blogger shots taken in the same cafes with the same pink walls, marble tables and Instagrammable spiralised avocado. I get it from an outsiders point of view. To be frank, I’ve become sick of it and would much rather head to Brixton village for some jerk chicken that is still Instagrammable but it’s also real life. I think people find this content refreshing because it’s real, relatable and attainable. Don’t feel compelled to do something just because a handful of bloggers are doing it. Be you and people will love you for you.

Be patient, work hard and I am sure you will begin to see the results you are striving for. A lot of girls get into blogging because they want free clothes and perks but believe me there is so much more to blogging than this. I’ve also learnt through experience that more often than not there is no such thing as a no strings attached collaboration. At the end of the day if you are blogging just as a hobby, freebies are a bonus but at the end of the day they don’t pay the bills. Blogging is hard work, can be both physically and mentally draining but also extremely rewarding at the same time.


How did you first start out freelance blogging?

It started out as a gradual transition from being employed full time at Topshop to getting a part time job and then finally being able to make the jump into being able to do what I do now full time. I can assure you it wasn’t an easy ride though. It took time and there were a few times when I felt like giving up but I am so glad I didn’t.

I guess I have always had a deep rooted interest in fashion and as touched in this post above, I never in a million years thought I would be able to do this full time. I completed various internships after graduating from University. From interning as a fashion assistant at a magazine to working for various PR agencies I feel like I’ve definitely paid my dues. Many of which I funded myself, leaving me completely out of pocket. The main issue I had with interning is that I wasn’t really learning anything and granted I know we all have to start somewhere but I was literally being passed on jobs that quite frankly nobody wanted to do. Unfortunately, this is the nature of most internships to be honest. If interning taught me anything though, it was that I knew what I did and didn’t want to do. Eventually, I started to find what I really enjoyed and this was assisting a stylist but unfortunately as magazines have started to die out so has freelance styling. I ended up working as a personal shopping assistant and whilst I loved the creative side of pulling for appointments and seeing a client walk away with a genuine smile on their face, it started to feel more like a sales role than styling.

At this time, I was starting to make a conscious effort to publish a blog post once a week in between working full time. I’d stay up late to make sure I could finish the post even if it meant feeling tired the next day. I also started to dedicate more time to my Instagram and trying to post 1-2 times a day where possible. I guess I started to become noticed by smaller brands and the regrams and mentions in magazines drove more traffic to my blog. I remember when I was featured in the style section of Grazia that I couldn’t quite believe my luck. I’d also have frequent mentions in Look magazine which I think definitely helped to get me noticed. I remember my first paid collaboration that came through was with New Look. A huge high street retailer, and I was actually prepared to do it for free mainly because I still had a full time job. When they asked how much I would charge for the deliverables outlined in their email, I almost had a light bulb moment that perhaps I could start charging when brands approached me.

I don’t want to be that person who said they fell into blogging because as such I always knew it was something that I’d love to do. I think boils down to a combination of factors really. I started giving brands a fee when they would ask to collaborate which at the time probably wasn’t a lot but I was still starting out. This with the fact that I was still living at home (rent free) at the time meant that I was able to take the risk and leap of faith to try and persue blogging full time. I know these circumstances put me in a fortunate position to begin with but I had to take the opportunity because I knew I probably wouldn’t be in this position again.


I did get a part time job working about 18 hours a week, sometimes more in a local coffee shop. I chose one that was close to my house because I wanted to save money on commuting and also wanted to be able to earn enough money to cover my general living expenses but still devote the time I felt I needed to blogging. Creating content, responding to emails with regards to collaborations and generally giving it my all. I’d made a decision to try and make a real go of it and as such that is exactly what I wanted to do.

Since then, I have now moved out from home and rent a room in a three bedroom flat in South London with two friends. Let’s face it, we all know how expensive renting in London can be but there’s no way I can get on the property ladder just yet. I have been blogging completely full time since January of this year and I’ve definitely learnt a lot about being self employed. Ultimately time is money and you really do need to start having a business brain. Aside from making money, I’ve learnt to be more firm when it comes to being paid on time by brands and it really is so important to have everything in writing, especially a written contract between yourself and a brand when working on any collaboration.

What are your favourite editing apps for your Instagram pictures?

Personally, I don’t like to over edit my photos other than a filter preset here and there because ultimately I don’t want to be a real life Instagram catfish. I switch between using VSCO and Lightroom (which you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription for but which is also tax deductible) and generally just up the exposure, sharpness and sometimes the contrast. Some of my favourite presents on the VSCO app include HB1, HB2 and xx. I tend to switch between these three depending on the raw image. Some work really well and others not so much.

Do you worry about what the future may hold for blogging and where you’ll be ten years from now?

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t worry about the longevity of what I do. In just a few years I have experienced first hand the advancements and changes to the blogging industry as a whole. With a general shift in preference of reading blog posts to wanting to see everything in a couple of scrolls on Instagram of course it worries me a little. However, I’m trying not to get too caught up in this and focus on enjoying the journey that I am currently on and as such I am absolutely loving every minute of it so far. It’s inevitable that at some point I will become bored of what I do and this is why I would hope that I have acquired enough skills to be able to go on and successfully pursue something else within the fashion industry or as my grandma would say a more “secure” job. Sometimes, we’ll fall flat on our face but life is a constant learning curve and I’ve learnt so much within the past year which has taught me how to approach certain aspects of what I do with more certainty. 



shop this post:

Jacket - Reserved
Bag - Topshop
Trainers - Vans 


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5 comments

  1. Great post! I love this look - the tshirt gives me Legally Blonde vibes! Also this gives me hope, I really want to go full time with my blog - guess I just have to persevere like you said

    www.theemeralddove.co.uk

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  2. Also I just checked out your old post and I had to let you know that one of my first ever posts was also an outfit post in those same trousers styled with a black marl tshirt! How bizarre!! 2012 really was a time to be alive, haha

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  3. goodness! what a delightful dress . It is extremely wonderful dear. dinner do you require any written work help?click here Such a rich look! You look so gorgeous!wow! simply magnificent . You are looking so truly .All of these photographs are so cool I simply love each outfit so fab.

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  5. very helpful....thank you! and i'm loving your tee

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Gemma x

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