Why Fashion Bloggers Should Invest in Problogger

This post is by Ashe Mischief

When a fellow fashion blogger emails me for advice on blogging, I almost always recommend they pick up a copy of Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.  Oftentimes, I get reluctance and arguments back– about how his blog isn’t relevant to the fashion blogger (and therefore, his work book isn’t relevant either).

While the Problogger website can feel confusing, it can feel irrelevant (especially if your blog is small or you’re new to making your site more professional) or it can just feel overwhelming to a new blogger (or hell, even us more experienced ones).  The 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook is not.  The fact is, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is probably $20 of the best bucks you can spend on improving your blog–fashion blogger or not.  While his workbook isn’t designed for creating a blog, it’s designed for bloggers at all levels and in all phases of their
blog’s lifecycle.

When Darren initially began the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog on his website, a handful of bloggers and myself took part, and used the IFB forums to discuss the daily challenges, help each other throughout the tasks, offer feedback and support on them.

After the challenge originally ended, I picked up a copy of the workbook– so I could continually go back and revisit his ideas, prompts, and exercises.  Right now, once again, I find myself going page by page through the workbook, realizing that while many of these tasks may be simple, it’s easy to overlook them in our daily blogging lives.

 

Examples of what you’ll find in the workbook:

  • Promote a Blog Post
  • Analyze a top blog in your niche
  • Interlink your old blog posts
  • Join a forum & start participating (My advice? Participate in IFB and join a SECOND forum)
  • Update a key page on your blog
  • Watch a first time reader use your blog

Having a B.A. in Writing, I have an unnatural fondness for workbooks and writing prompts– they’re a great way to stretch you outside of your comfort zones when working, grow your skills, and continually challenge yourself.  They’re great for redirecting your focus and inspiring you in ways that you may not have realized.

A recent post of mine, 10 Things Carrie Bradshaw Taught Me About Fashion, was written as a result of one of his tasks (write a list post; since I rarely work in “numbers lists,” I thought it was worth giving it a shot!).  It’s been a well-received post, with many retweeting it and being featured in a recent Links a la Mode.

 

How is this relevant to fashion bloggers?

I’m inclined to ask you– how is it not?  Part of being a great blogger–fashion or not– is reading and finding inspiration around you.  This workbook is designed to bring out the best in you and stretch you past your comfort zones as a writer.  It helps you explore alternative writing styles, focuses you on analyzing and understanding your niche, and building the community you’re a part of.

As you and your site begin to grow, as your post numbers begin to grow, you’ll find yourself facing blogger burnout; you may feel uninspired– in your own content and with others.  Like in any writing form, the workbook helps you navigate around your blocks to explore old and new techniques, while trying out new methods to push out of blogging plateaus.

A recent blogging plateau I’ve been facing is the direction of my site–where is it going? What do I write about now?  As your blog grows, you may experience this yourself.  One challenge–updating a page on your blog– has helped me a bit as I worked through it.  I focused first on updating my ‘About’ page; 3 years later, the information shouldn’t be the same (is fashion the same 3 years later?).  By streamlining my about page, I realized a bit more about what I felt my site had grown in to and who it’s grown to serve.

Another challenge, find a forum to participate in– happened serendipitously.  A post of mine had been linked to for discussion on a fashion forum, and I used that as an opportunity to sign up.  It’s reaching out to a new group of fashion fans, and expands my style community on a whole.  I found several familiar blogger faces on the site, along with meeting new ones.

While you may not feel that blogs about blogging have much to offer the fashion community, think you need to wade through a lot of material to find the articles that are useful and relevant to you.  The Problogger workbook is a handy, 90 page workbook about blogging in a way that is genuinely useful and relevant to our community and your growth as a fashion blogger.

 

Tasks for IFB Bloggers:

1. Buy the workbook; if it’s too expensive, split the cost with 4 of your blogging buddies. Alternately, go through the Problogger archives to find the old 31 Days to Build a Better Blog posts.  It’s free.

(And here’s the first post. Note: this post is for when he first ran it in 2007– the 2009 workbook edition has different tasks. It may be beneficial to run through BOTH versions.)

2. Use the IFB forums (and/or the Problogger forums) to work through the tasks at your own pace– offer feedback and assistance to other bloggers using it as well.

3. Continually use the exercises throughout the book– I’m setting up days per week to make sure I work on these, such as interlinking & updating old blog posts, emailing readers & commenting on other blogs.  Don’t use the exercises once and forget about them.

Disclosure: the above “buy” links are affiliate links; 50% of any income earned goes to IFB, helping improve the site and provide upkeep costs.  If you wish to purchase the workbook without an affiliate link, please click here.

Image via weheart.it

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51 Responses

  1. Hannah Rose

    You’re totally right here – there are so many fantastic resources out there for bloggers in general, you just need to pick the bits that are relevant to you.

    I love fashion blogs, but I’m sure there are *so* many amazing sites out there I’d never find because the blogger behind it focuses on creating content alone, and not all the cool things they can do to get traffic, reader interaction, and maybe even start to earn real money from their passion!

    If you’re a blogger, you can be a problogger – it doesn’t matter what you’re writing about!

    Nice post Ashe!

    H x

    Reply
    • Ashe Mischief

      “you just need to pick the bits that are relevant to you.” — DEFINITELY! It can get really overwhelming and easy to overlook valuable information too, to dismiss it in the piles that aren’t so applicable. I love that is all that info you CAN use, and in one spot that’s easy to digest.
      .-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..Coveting- Eliza Parker “Bordeaux” Dress =-.

      Reply
  2. Debbie

    I’m pretty sure I’ve heard about this book before, and after the article I’m pretty convinced I need it. It’s hard to admit, but I do get burnt out with ideas on my blog. I used to absolutely 100% love blogging and commenting but I’ve been wanting to add more than just outfit pictures and this seems like a good source of inspiration. Anyway, excellent article! It was a really good read.
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..A refuge from almost all the miseries of life =-.

    Reply
    • Ashe Mischief

      Thank you, Debbie. I was nervous about the post, so the positive feedback is useful.

      I find it REALLY hard to generate new content after 3 years…. I’ve been using one, of developing ideas off of the last 10 or so posts I’ve done REALLY useful for brainstorming…. now if I can just not be lazy and write them!
      .-= Ashe Mischief´s last blog ..Coveting- Eliza Parker “Bordeaux” Dress =-.

      Reply
  3. Michelle Christina

    This is advice couldn’t have come at a better time. I hit a dry spell and haven’t consistently been updated for about two months, which brings me down big-time (vicious cycle).

    I’m going to check out some content on ProBlogger before I buy the e-book, but I am mostly sold!
    .-= Michelle Christina´s last blog ..Fashion School Nostalgia – Croquis =-.

    Reply
  4. megan

    Great review!! Based on your feedback, I’m totally going to check it out. There are so many things you can focus on as a blogger, it sounds like it would really help me to narrow it down. And call me crazy, but I love homework and a list of tasks I can check off 🙂 BTW, I LOVE the picture you put on this post. Well done!!
    .-= megan´s last blog ..Perfection is one slip away =-.

    Reply
    • AsheMischief

      There definitely are. It’s so easy to get lost in SEO, social networking, etc, that this really just gets you focusing on YOUR SITE. When you get wrapped up in all the little things, its even more easy to forget to do the basics…so he has basics and works his way through to the more advanced…

      (And you’re not crazy. I LOVE homework and tasks, etc.)
      .-= AsheMischief´s last blog ..Coveting- Eliza Parker “Bordeaux” Dress =-.

      Reply
  5. Sandra @ DebutanteClothing

    Ashe,
    I’m glad to see the convo we were having on Grechen’s blog developed into this post. I did some of the Problogger workbook along with you, but soon pooped out. It was free then right? Regardless, i couldn’t find a copy of it on my hard drive so I bought it as well.

    I think we should revive that thread on IFB and support each other. We can make it a study group of sorts.

    Another “blogger” source I am participating in is Third Tribe Marketing. It was $25/month, but now that I have been a member for about 5 months, it is free. THAT is a wealth of knowledge as well because there is a forum and a very helpful, active group. There is even a Fashion and Beauty section.

    For those of you willing to invest a bit more money, I recommend it highly.

    Reply
    • AsheMischief

      Ironically, I was working on this as Grechen posted her article– very serendipitous and timely to continue the convo!

      It was free then, because we were all going based off the blog posts he was posting daily, not the actual workbook.

      I created a forum group (and fixed the link above), with a thread for each discussion…. well, I’ve got the first 5 up. I definitely want to keep it active, a study group, support each other, offer feedback– because that old thread was SO invaluable to me.

      I’ve heard great things about Third Tribe, but haven’t ever really KNOWN what it is….thanks for the recommendation!
      .-= AsheMischief´s last blog ..Coveting- Eliza Parker “Bordeaux” Dress =-.

      Reply
  6. Christina

    I also participated in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge, and loved it! I saw results almost instantly!

    I’m not sure how similar the book is to the challenge (where you receive e-mails with tasks everyday for 31 days) but I simply printed out the e-mails and links to the blog posts and created my own little workbook. I’m sure it works the same way. Great post!

    I am thinking of starting a group session with my readers or other fashion bloggers who are interested in working through it as well. Although I have already gone through it, it’s definitely important to continue doing them to really see your blog grow. If you are interested, e-mail me at thetrendfinder@gmail.com
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Trend Alert Has Moved- =-.

    Reply
  7. Rani Pink

    super excited to get this book – thanks for the post! i’ve been blogging for a couple months now and while i really enjoy it, i want to become a more integrated part of the broader community as well as grow my blog.

    thanks!

    Reply
  8. 5am je t♥aime

    {hi from california} thanks for sharing such a great info, i’ve just started my own humble blog about asian related fashion & i did scratch my head a lot as to how i can work out my blog better.
    .-= 5am je t♥aime´s last blog ..soft color symphony =-.

    Reply
  9. holierthannow

    just an addition to say – in my zeal about this program i put my blog up on the Problogger forums for some critique and asked for some “feedback”- wow… or maybe I mean oww. Harsh world over there. No one said ONE nice thing .. oh, someone said it was “artsy.” I mean, it’s arguable if that’s nice or not!

    Although it was VERY kind of people to spend the time telling me their thoughts and they did try to be constructive it was … surprising, let’s put it that way.

    It’s not a place to post your blog if you want a few hints and some nice feedback. It’s hardcore. If you boldly go where I went, just know you can email me and I will tell you your blog is great the way it is, and give you a hug if you need one.

    xo holier
    .-= holierthannow´s last blog ..Fan Girl =-.

    Reply
    • AsheMischief

      I don’t know whether to say “oh no!” or “Yikes!” To be honest, I haven’t used the Problogger forums, mostly because I haven’t felt that there would be enough of an understanding of the niche there/enough fashion bloggers to make it worth it. I’m not sure how to interpret “artsy” except as it’s obviously a field/niche they know little about….

      I’m so sorry to hear that your experience there was negative.
      .-= AsheMischief´s last blog ..Indie Designers- TsuruBride =-.

      Reply
      • holierthannow

        thanks ashe, I don’t know if I would say the experience was negative in the sense that I did learn a lot, and I got a lot of food for thought. I think the community is obviously full of smart, savvy and very engaged people, and I appreciate people taking the time to look at the site and write about it. So yeah, it was more that the comments were negative and I think geared towards a different type of blog.

        and you are totally right – it is not the really the right audience for nuanced commentary.

        xo
        .-= holierthannow´s last blog ..Fan Girl =-.

  10. Tamia

    Problogger is one of my daily RSS reads, but I didn’t (still don’t) have the discipline to actively participate in the entire “31 Days…” series. However, I do think the information covered is useful to fashion bloggers, though it must be applied a bit differently–which is likely the crux of the issue holierthannow (hi, dear!) experienced.

    Perhaps it would be helpful to discuss how to apply the daily tips in the series to the world of fashion blogging, since the ebook seems to be more generally focused.
    .-= Tamia´s last blog ..What- no fireworks =-.

    Reply
  11. Sandra @ DebutanteClothing

    HolierThanNow – I hate to say it, but I’m not surprised by their reaction. I got the same reaction a few times in the Third Tribe Marketing forums. I find that many don’t get fashion blogging, or can’t see huge dollar signs in it, so they are often dismissive. It wasn’t until the Fashion/Beauty niche sub forum came along that I was able to find some like minded people in 3T. I’m glad we are here to support each other.

    Reply
  12. Maria

    Thank you so much for this!! I had no idea about the workbook.

    After a year of intense blogging, I’ve hit a roadblock. In one way it’s positive since I’ve made all my goals. The negative is that I don’t know where to go next. I seem to have lost direction.

    Lulu Letty

    Reply
  13. Stel

    Thanks for mentioning this book, I’m tempted to buy it as I think it would be good to do some of the challenges as a way to build my blog up.

    I love that we have IFB as a resource specifically for fashion blogs though. You guys really are totally invaluable!

    Reply
  14. Beautifully Invisible

    I had no idea this book even existed – I read your post, clicked on the link and bought a copy. Can’t wait to check it out! Thank you for your insight into the workbook and for sharing your own experiences with it. Sidenote: that SATC post is great,m I can see why it’s getting the attention it is!

    Reply
  15. M

    great advice, I never pay much attention when I see this type of help books around, will check it out and if its good maybe buy it soon as you made some good arguments on its behalf.
    tnx on the info!

    Reply
  16. Emily

    I’m currently working through the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I admit I’ve not kept to it religiously as I have felt like some of the tasks have been things I’ve done recently. When it comes down to it though, it’s been really good. Would highly recommend it.

    Reply
  17. Kim

    Wow i didn’t know there were so many ways to improve a blog. To me it’s just been.. be interesting and people will read your blogs. Haha, thank you this was v. helpful! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Cheapanista

    I am on day seven after signing up for the challenge on problogger. I get emailed the tasks every night and I tackle them the next morning. It’s free, filled with advice and seriously, I have nothing to lose by trying it.

    Reply
  19. Jade Rose

    I got it & love it. Everyone should have this book. Totally agree with your post.

    Reply
  20. Kate

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Doing research on the business of blogging (if that’s what you intend to do) is essential no matter what your niche is. His site is great as well as podcasts. I’m constantly trying to stay up to date with seo, new software and social media. It’s a lot of work, but it’s essential…and I like to learn how I can be a better blogger.

    Reply
  21. Ever & Then

    This was a great piece.

    I actually visit ProBlogger and Mashable regularly – find them both to be super helpful, and like with anything in life, you just have to figure out what works for you.

    I just bought the workbook- super excited to start!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights!

    – Ever & Then

    Reply
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