Blogging is one of those things where you can either take off from scratch using almost nothing but your computer and phone, or you spend an arm and a leg and get nowhere. So how do you avoid wasting your time, energy, effort and money? You avoid wasting it by investing these sensitive currencies into the correct things and in the correct ways.
Thought, there are no rules to "blogging" per se, but there are methods that work and those that don't. And in the blogging realm, your time is money. And the materials needed aren't cheap. So why wouldn't you want to do things a better way? Exactly. So lets go over a few basic things you need to have to better your life and make it over all easier. Now, this is a list of things that I have narrowed down to bare minimum. We'll go over some extra's towards the end that you can splurge on (and that are totally cool) if theres room in your budget. I am going to put the main subject, and give you a couple of different alternatives as well so I can try to tend to all walks of life, and still set you up for success. Here we go!
Obviously as a blogger, you want to put visuals with your writings. It helps draw in potential readers and it also sets a bar for your overall aesthetic. And the quality of your photos is really important. It sets the standard for who's attention you're grasping. Now, that doesn't mean you can use your phone, but if you want that "blogger" look to your photos, I really suggest investing into your main tool and getting a DSLR camera ( aka the big bulky professional grade cameras). I personally recommend a Canon Rebel T6i. I found this Canon Rebel T6i bundle with a 18-55mm Lens on Amazon for a little less than I bought it for in store (Best Buy). I also recommend a 52mm Lens for detail shots and that "blurred background" look most people want to achieve. It's a fixed lens so you can't zoom in or out, but you'll get used to it and it will be your favorite lens, 100%. These camera last forever, they are well built, and they get you extremely high resolution photos that you can even print on a large scale if you so wish. This specific camera has wifi capabilities so you can edit your photos on your phone on the go and never have to wait till you get access to a computer to upload and edit. Also, if you're a vlogger or a person who is thinking of getting into youtube like I did, this camera is so perfect due to the swing out LCD screen where you can see yourself on camera. I tried so many different cameras and I just couldn't take the screens not flipping out so I an view what was going on. Autofocus can be a real pain especially if you can't see if you're in or out of focus. And when you've filmed for an hour not knowing you were blurry the entire time, you want to destroy everything in your house because the video is now, useless. Save yourself the animosity and get something of quality. If this is a little too expensive for you, you can alway go one step below which is the Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR Camera with 18-55mm IS STM Lens + 58mm HD Wide Angle Lens + 2.2x Telephoto Lens + (2) 32GB Memory Cards + Battery Grip + Extra Battery & a Backpack Case ( I also had this one when I first started, and it is amazing, just a little older ). Its a couple hundred dollars cheaper and this bundle comes with SOOOO much more. I would go with this one if I were just starting out and if you weren't sure of your blogging career just as of yet. Even if you are sure, and just want something more cost effective, get this! I also recommend YouTubing the HELL out of some DSLR camera tutorials. To someone that hasn't ever handled a camera of this caliber before, it could be complete garble of a language if you aren't familiar. SO, be prepared to get real familiar. Or you're going to drive yourself nuts. I actually might do a full blog post on how to work your camera for people who are completely lost when it comes to them. Ok, moving on!
I used my Canon T6i with a 50mm lens, exported to my iPhone 6s Plus and edited with VSCO App, using filter E2 (as well as additional color corrections & adjustments).
If you simply can't afford a DSLR camera up front, I suggest applying for a Best Buy credit card and making payments, or check out Leasville. Leasville is a website FULL of the latest technology, toys & more that you can lease / finance for 12 months for a super cheap weekly payment. It's actually GENIUS and so convenient for people who simply can't dump hundreds if not thousands into anything up front. This option is MONEY. Here are their Benefits and Approval Requirements I snagged off of their website so you know exactly how they work!
So obviously if a big pro DSLR is 100% out of the question, I also suggest a higher end "point & shoot". The go to P.A.S. I've used personally and still love to this day is a Sony A5000. It's small & compact, has AMAZING quality, is able to interchange lenses (important), has wifi capabilities as well, and has a reversible LCD screen for videos, selfies & vlogging. It's about $500+ and you can totally get this with your Best Buy credit card if you get approved! If this is out of the question as well, get an iPhone. If you already have one (which is a high likelihood that you do), PERFFFFFFF. I say iPhone because it is hands down the best camera a phone can be equipped with on the market right now. Plus, the apps that are available to edit your photos with are extremely high tech and amazing quality. The iPhone 7 has an ability to focus clearly on the subject at hand and completely blur out the background making it look like a "professional" camera took the picture (portrait mode). It's pretty amazing, and iPhone are the easiest thing to finance out of all three of these options. And the video capabilities are off the hook as well! Get a stabilizer and your videos can look as pro as they come.
Your website is obviously your everything. It's what people are resorting to, to see YOU & your content, your products, your videos, your photos, your documents, your downloads, everything. It's your social resume. And it's your work. So like anything work related in life, you have to take it seriously and can't half ass it, especially if it's a passion. Yeah, you can make a free website. Sure. Yeah, you can get a Tumblr account and take that as your blog. But, you won't make money, and if you do it won't be much. And your website is going to get lost in the sauce due to it not standing out from the crowd. So where should you start? I say Squarespace, if you want to test your waters, start off with a clean web design, and something that will get you "from point A to point B". It has a friendly interface, it's intuitive, it's SEO friendly, and has some pretty clean ass templates that look crisp and professional. Now, I don't suggest using Squarespace forever because yes it is SEO "friendly", but it's not the best. What's SEO? SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is pretty much a popularity contest on Google and to get to the top you have to have a badass SEO setup and a lot of money put into it. Or some pretty popular friends to throw you on the map (I'm just keeping it real, y'all). I'm a lot of things, but a liar is not one. SEO is an entirely different ball game, and this is another module for investment of your blog that we'll get into very soon. But the point I'm getting to is that Squarespace isn't that customizable and able to be heavily managed as far as Google and SEO goes, and is a but watered down in the SEO world. So what platform is best for SEO? Wordpress. And I suggest a Wordpress.(org) not a .(com). On Wordpress.com, you aren't able to monetize your website (make money through ads). But on .org you can, but theres a catch (obvi). Wordpress.org is a code only to build your website, opposed to .com where you can build your own with a click of a button and a template plug in. And this is where Squarespace comes in for a temporary amount of time. Use Squarespace for the time being to do sponsored posts, monetize your website through affiliate links and ad space, make money selling your products or services, and when you make a cool $300-$500, save it, & hire a really awesome coding student (yes, student) to help you build your Wordpress.org website. $300 to a student to do that is a LOT of money and is well appreciated. But in the web design world, it's pocket change. If you have a friend that will do it for trade or free, AMAZING. And love that person tenderly. You can then start building a huge community on Wordpress, and having a bit more traffic flow to your website organically because of how much more SEO "friendly" Wordpress website are.
So, here's the thing. You can have the most banging website EVER. But if you don't have traffic, what's the point? This is a bit of a far reach, but hey. Some people have the leg room to do this. But hire a digital marketing team to help monetize your website, push traffic, display ads, get featured articles about you in other peoples blogs and journalism entries, curate your content and so much more. This goes from anywhere around $2000-$10,000 a month. But if you have a product or a service you feel is ready for the next level, I STRONGLY suggest this option. It's your very own army of people doing what they all do best on your brand, and making it look BAD. FUCKING. ASS. If you're into real investment and you take your blogging / brand / career seriously, this is a huge decision to make but the right one. Trust me. I'm in the middle of the process, and I can't believe I have not done this sooner. But, I am a believer that timing is everything.
Squarespace is about $15 a month to run just a blog. Have a product? $15-$45 a month depending on the option suits you best.
Wordpress.com is free but doesn't look all that great, and you can't monetize it. But spend a couple bills on a Wordpress.org coder, and you got yourself a top of the line, well built, money making blogging machine. Erm, blog & website.
On top of all that, spend a couple racks on a full blown digital marketing team to handle shit on the back end while you just create endlessly and be the creation fairy you are, you got yourself a thorough, well built, well invested, and a true career that could seriously pay off in the millions (if done right of course).
Soaking this all in? Okay. Good. Continuing on...
You have the website, you've got your phone, you've got your camera. But what about the mother of all tools when it comes to blogging? Your COMPUTER. This was something I learned the hard way about. So, if you're blogging words, your phone or a small laptop will do. Yes. But but you're trying to edit movies, make amazing tutorials on YouTube, editing RAW photos that can be blown up to the size of the side of your house, and exporting large files all the time like I am, you need a bad ass little machine to help make your life a LOT easier. I recently had to take a hiatus from high quality anything (because that means big files) because my computer was just not having it. It would freeze, erase, glitch, and shut down spontaneously. And if anyone should know anything about me, is I don't do well with spontaneous stress. I have high anxiety already and that won't help me. So I'll eliminate it completely do I don't have to worry about it. And thats exactly what I did. No YouTube until I had a new computer. Period. My laptop had SO much storage space, it was clean, no viruses, nothing crazy on there like porn because I have a very vivid imagination so it just isn't necessary or worth the risk of my computer in my mind, nor do I keep the majority of my files on the computer because I have an external hard drive I save them on so I don't clutter my computer with ginormous files. So, I took the plunge and bought a brand new MacBook Pro with the touch bar. Best. Thing. Ever. I couldn't be happier with how much money I spent on this fucking thing, because it is so worth it. It's fast AF, can handle big files, small and compact (I literally almost broke my toe dropping HALF the weight of my other computer on it. Not lying. True story.), fits right in my purse so I can travel with it, and it's literally my soul mate. If you have a Mac desktop, even BETTER. It definitely helps to have a huge screen to work on when you work with images and video. But my 13 inch (like any other 13 inch anything) works JUST fine for me.
You need to get something that can carry the weight for you. Because when you get busy, you start taking lots of photos. And when you start doing YouTube, there are a lot of videos and editing and softwares and apps and blah blah blah involved. So don't set yourself up for failure by working with something that is just going to frustrate you. Remember Leaseville? They carry computers too. Remember Best Buy? You can trade in your old computer for a credit and then use your credit card to pay it off! Thats what I did. I got $430 for my old MacBook Pro which was a 2011. Like, it blew me AWAY when they said how much it was worth. Are you fucking serious?! It's super easy to get a new computer when there is a will to do so. That goes for anything. If there's a will, there's a way. Your computer is probably the most important thing here on this list. So make it your greatest investment.
THE BLOGGER LIFESTYLE
A lot of people, when they hear "blogging" or "blogger", they think beautifully curated pictures of a whole bunch of shit you got for free. Well, I wish that were the case. But that is entirely FALSE and the biggest stereotype I've ever heard. Personally, I've met some of the worlds top bloggers and they still will buy the most expensive pairs of shoes and bags just to complete their outfit ensembles. They still buy their Coachella tickets at $800 a piece just to go and get that picture for their new blog post of "festival fun wardrobe hauls featuring blah blah blah". They still buy $1000 roundtrip tickets to New York and back, along with their hotel, taxi expenses, food, and whatever clothes they've decided to display at NYFW, just to be apart of NYFW and do what fashion bloggers do. Which is be at and apart of fucking Fashion Week. OBVIOUSLY. But being a blogger is so much more than looking good and being fab, I mean it's great and all... And yeah, we got a LOT of free shit. I mean, a lot. More than what we know what to do with. But first of all, if you're trying to be a blogger for the free shit, you're going to fail. Telling you ahead of time. Right now. I've said this before many times. Blogging has to be something you're passionate about and love to do regardless if a brand is sending you blogger mail. Regardless if you get flown to a campaign in Paris inclusively. Regardless if you get free clothes. That all comes in time after your passion has made it's way to the masses & your passion has been demanded to be seen more. You have to want to do this to document your life, your lifestyle, your interests, and your experiences. To educate the public and all in all, just want to help people be as awesome as you are by showing them how you do it! Because think of it this way. If the influencer advertising a product isn't actually willing to buy the product themselves, why would the potentially influenced want to buy it? It must not be that worth it if their idols aren't even buying it. And if you aren't willing to buy it and you make it obvious that everything you pitch out to your audience is a paid advertisement, then you dilute your authenticity and no one will believe you anymore. Then in the same token, your "influencer" card has then been revoked. Because you're not influencing anymore. You're flaunting. And thats annoying.
Annoying = no sales.
Annoying + No influence + No sales = wtf are you doing trying to be a blogger? You're an asshole. That's what you are.
The lifestyle is expensive, but there are ways around it in the beginning when you aren't making the most money. Lets go down a list of useful information from someone who's been there done that (me). Shall we?
- Use what you already got. Get creative girlfriend.
- Borrow clothes. Because if you're stylish, your friend must be too. Right? Right.
- Pull clothes from someone you know who's a stylist/boutique owner. (And make sure to give them back sooner than later. Don't burn that bridge bitch. You might need to cross it again! Stay prompt with this one.)
- Let someone else style you (GIVE THEM CREDIT or you're a Grade A Asshole)
- Buy clothes (a lot at once.. Or maybe like... 4 pieces. IDK whatever you can afford clearly), make it plan for a days worth of shooting, and return them back to the stores you got them from when you're done. KEEP TAGS ON THE CLOTHES. & DON'T GET THEM DIRTY. Or you found yourself a new wardrobe you couldn't afford. Congrats.
- Contact brands and convince them sponsor you. Refer to my Brand Pitch Email Template for this if you have no idea where to start. You're welcome. <3
It's not as difficult as it seems. But in this industry you can make friends (like me because lets face it you all are my BFF's). And when you have great content, start to build a loyal and hefty following, and take dope photos, people all of a sudden want to start helping you. So don't be afraid to ask. But one rule I've made: Don't wear anything twice except for jeans, accessories, or handbags. So this is a time for you to get creative and start cookin up some of that good good girlfriend!
As a lifestyle blogger though, (leaning more away from fashion) you obviously have to be adventurous, creative, spontaneous, and willing to share your life a little bit. So, to be a good lifestyle blogger, I'd say travel, cook, and exercise are the top three keys to success in this genre. These are three main components to filling any void in someone who loves to follow lifestyle bloggers. They wanna live through you vicariously. They want to experience where you've been and where you're going. They want to see what you eat and follow the recipe you used to make it. They want to know how you stay in great shape at home or on the go and they wanna see how you do it. Whether it be through vlogging, photos, or written instruction, these three things are the keys to being a great lifestyle blogger. But what exactly are you investing in? Traveling (obviously is an investment if it's for your blog), your diet and kitchen skills (put them to the test!) as well as materials to make it happen, and last but not least, your comfort. Because we all know you hate working out and you die inside just a little every time but that's not the point alright? Just do your best, show you're struggling (be relatable) and push people to do their best because you did your best. You'd be surprised as to how many people would rather struggle with you and know they can do it too because you did it than watch someone who makes that shit look easy when they're dying inside slowly and becoming push up by push up more discouraged as time goes by. Keep it real for real results. My motto.
PEACE OF MIND
I know, this may not sound like an "investment" or a "tool". But coming from experience, I must say that investing in myself and giving myself down time has made all the difference. Not just in my energy levels, but has also led me into some of the most important life events my life has offered me. I have met more of my career opportunities on my "days off" than I have on my days working. Weird, right? At the spa, at the gym, at the nail salon, shopping, yoga, the grocery store, on the street while strolling the farmers market. Why is this so? Because bad ass people know they need a break every so often. And it is ESSENTIAL. So like minded people will be attracted to you as you are out and about, doing what bad ass people do on their days off. Not just the career benefits, but also, make sure you give yourself a day where you don't open your computer for SHIT, and only go on the gram to post a photo of yourself kickin it old school. Because if you spread yourself too thin, do too much, and don't have a change of view every so often, you will burn yourself out. Give yourself time to create, time to vent, and create space for yourself so you don't lose your mind in the process. Make sure to recharge, center and ground yourself throughout your week. Not just one day of the week. Make it a morning and nightly routine to meditate or simply plan and organize your day. Take time to read, do some yoga, have tea time, and eat a healthy meal. Read up on your favorite gossip... Simply, make time for you.
In conclusion, I hope this article helped you in some way figure out where you need to start to begin or continue on your wonderful journey of being a life and style blogger! Im glad to have been apart of your growth and the process life is taking you to get you to the next level. Love you guys <3