How to start a blog - The ugly truth!

By Hand On The Hip - 3/13/2018

Hi there!

This April my precious blog is going to turn two. While that's exciting, it's also intimidating. It makes me wanna question myself about what the future for HOTH is. When I started writing, my goals were different. After I got a taste of the blogging world, I have a whole new perspective about what I want from my blog. I have come to realize that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you end up selling your soul. For those of you who are constantly DMing me asking me how to start a blog, I want you guys to read my post. While I sip on my cold coffee and ponder over what the end game for HOTH is, let me walk you through all the tips and tricks you need you need to know to start a blog and call out all the lies that I've noticed other bloggers tell you.

Lemme begin with the golden question - How do you start? Pretty much everyone I know who blogs is going to say, "you need to have a niche", "what's your passion" etc. Well, they're lying. While most of them start a blog for free goodies, some others are hungry for fame. For me it was a combination of both when I started and they were my drivers. But after two years of this super competitive blogger life, I've realized that most of the free stuff is absolutely not worth writing about. And as far as fame is concerned, I've received it in other areas.  I may have had materialistic reasons to start a blog but when I receive praises from my readers, DMs from followers asking me fashion related queries or pointing out typos in my posts, I feel proud of myself. That's what keeps me going. I like that I'm being heard. The fact that I have the power to influence others is what should have motivated me to start a blog in the first place.

Another question that almost every newbie blogger is constantly asking is about Instagram followers. How does a blogger gain followers? Most bloggers would say, "post good content, don't worry about followers". Bullshit! They are fooling you. They don't get to decide whether you are posting 'good' content or not. I have noticed super popular bloggers upload airbrushed photos in skimpy clothes and flawless skin but write absolute crap with ridiculously shitty grammar whereas there are those with less flashy images and less number of followers who write things that real girls can relate to. Who do you think is posting better content? Another very common answer they'd give you is to use appropriate hashtags. That might work in some cases and might help you in a lot of other ways, but going from a triple digit follower count to 10K overnight through hashtags is probably possible only if you're Kim Kardashian. While growing organically is considered ethical, brands don't seem to understand that followers can be bought and can be bots. It's the sad truth, but everyone's doing it. It's practically impossible for a newbie blogger who started two months ago and has around two hundred posts to have 20K Instagram followers without generating them using guerilla tactics. So if you want instant followers, just buy 'em!

Don't know what to write about? That brings us to the first point - answer the "why" first and the "what" will get answered automatically. A lot of bloggers tend to write fascinating things about a product they've been asked to review. I have done that too. But what's the point of it when you don't actually believe it? Be true to yourself and always write about the pros and cons of a product. You should always try to write posts that a common man or your target audience can relate to. Do try to add a personal touch to it. No one cares about jargon like "AW 2017" or how Sonam Kapoor spent 3 lakhs on a kurti as much as they'd care about how you picked up a floral dress from a nearby thrift shop and wore it with jhumkas because that's all you could afford. When I started blogging, I could barely write two paragraphs and that's because all my focus was on the product instead of my experience with it. Your readers care about your story and not what the market wants you to sell.

Who is going to take my photos? Some good quality photography is an important part of being a blogger. While most bloggers may claim that you don't need a fancy camera to take your pictures, I think it definitely does fetch you additional brownie points. You could have some photos on your social media accounts taken on your phone, but do try finding some good photographers you can collaborate with. I've been very lucky to find lots of newbie photographers in Bangalore who have asked me to collaborate with them and even if it means paying a small fee, don't hesitate to invest in good photography. You're also indirectly helping another talented individual grow. A lot of photographers are concerned about the "theme" and the outfits you're going to wear. While this has always gotten on my last nerve, I finally gave in and always made sure I informed my photographer exactly what I'm trying to achieve. There have been times when they have tried to put forth their opinion, but that's entirely up to you how you deal with it ;-)

Now that you have your purpose in mind and your photography sorted, what next? Do I need to purchase hi-fi marketing tools? They say SEO and SEM is going to help you attract more brands. Well, to be honest I'm not the right person to address the marketing side of things since I haven't put in much effort in this department. But I'm hoping that spamming all of my friends and family on Facebook and Instagram is going to help me get famous some day :D Just kidding! I strongly believe that if a product is good enough it does not need any kind of advertisement.

Moving on to the most important part - How do you get brands to collaborate with you? Every so-called top blogger out there with over 45K followers will tell you that you should "wait" for the brands to contact you. Well, if you do that, you'll just keep waiting. You need to reach out to brands. You need to make yourself known. But first you need to have decent content on your blog that speaks to the brands. No brand will invest in you if you haven't done relevant work already. Raid your own closet every once in a while and put together a look, take some great pics and write about it. Only after you're confident enough about how you'd style an outfit, what kind of outfits define your personality and what kind of looks you'd like to promote, shoot out an email to brands that are in sync with your style. If they are unhappy with the number of followers you have, then it's their loss - too bad that they don't invest in talent and are only concerned about fake numbers.

Keeping all these pointers in mind, I hope you have all the tools you need to start a blog. A pen is mightier than a sword. Do ensure that you write things that you are always going to believe is right because you never know how many people might be getting influenced by your blog. Free stuff and money may come and go, but your readers are always going to be with you. You need to see to it that there's a certain bond between you and your readers and that you never, ever break it. Most importantly, blog for yourself! With that, I'm going to sign off and hope that this post of mine has inspired you to start a blog for all the right reasons.

Hand On The Hip

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