The art and the science of engaging your readers and building your blog’s brand.
New style blogs are launched every day, so it’s getting harder and harder for bloggers to stand out. Instagram is an important platform to reach your followers and meet new ones, but your blog is where you can express yourself more personally and connect more meaningfully. The key to converting IG followers into blog readers is creating interesting and differentiated content. To do so, you will need to channel your inner storyteller (the art of blogging), as well as master the pragmatic side of meeting your readers’ needs (the science).
1. Establish your unique viewpoint
One of the appeals of personal style blogs over fashion magazines is the authentic and relatable nature of the curator. As a blogger, you can be more accessible to your readers than the models and celebrities in Glamour, Elle, and Vogue who can appear exclusive and out of reach. However, to get your readers to engage, you need them to understand your story and your take on the world. If they can’t, then you will blend in with all your peers.
Share who you are and what makes you, well… you. Make your unique identity shine through in every aspect of your site, from the homepage layout and design, to the description of each post. A place to start is your ‘about me’ section.
Instead of writing some variation of “Hi! my name is ——, and I like fashion and blogging, so I decided to start a fashion blog.” think of something personal and specific. Show your readers how you view the world. Samantha from What Would Kiki Wear keeps the description concise but tells us why she's not just another LA fashionista. Alexandra from The Frugality alludes to her unique angle even just in the name of her blog and in just a few lines on the ‘About Me' page explains how she doesn't deny herself luxury, but is frugal where she can be.
Whichever way you decide to introduce yourself, make it so someone leaving your page could remember what is unique about you. They may then even tell their friends at brunch next weekend:
“I started following this great new blogger. She’s a southern girl who moved to LA a few years ago and puts together some fantastic boho chic looks” …or… “she's a London fashion stylist that shares classic luxury style without breaking the bank.”
It’s worth taking the time to figure out what your distinctive brand is, because once you have it, you can carry that thread through all your posts to reinforce it.
2. Relate to your followers with a human story in every post
Do you have high engagement on Instagram but declining views on your actual blog? If so, then clearly you look great in your pictures (good job!), but you might be giving your followers no real reason to do more than just ‘heart’ your IG posts. If you want your audience to spend time on your site, your blog posts need to do more than just re-hash what you put up on Instagram. Take the opportunity to tell a story with each post.
Paint a picture for your readers, and tell them about the journey surrounding the photos you post. Share how you spent that day or even what mood you were channeling, whether it be a change in seasons, or the nostalgic feeling of going back to your childhood neighborhood. One paragraph or two are enough to give more depth to your content. Denisia, from Polishing Colors consistently shapes her posts into narratives often sharing more than just the outfits she curates.
Telling a story doesn’t have to mean writing a bunch of words to go with the pictures: you could also use thoughtful composition. One picture captures one moment in time, but by arranging many pictures so that the setting and time of day clearly change, you can indicate the passage of time and effectively tell a story. Erica Choi has mastered this skill on Egg Canvas in posts like this one, where she curates a journey through the end of the fall season with people and places that share a theme and mood.
3. Show authenticity with a peek behind-the-scenes
Give your readers a peek behind the curtain by sharing “making-of” content. Show them the behind-the-scenes of the photoshoots or share with them what goes on between shoots. Jean from Extra Petite has a great example of sharing her experience at a photoshoot. The ‘unfinished’ pictures and the story she writes to accompany them add to Jean’s authenticity, helping draw her followers in.
Kat Tanita welcomes readers into her NYC apartment with details and stories of how she collected the gorgeous décor and furniture she showcases. Kat also keeps the storytelling going and creates suspense by asking readers to stay tuned to a ‘part 2’ of her post.
4. Nail the design and layout
Don’t shy away from white space
It might be tempting to squeeze an extra picture, feature, or widget in the empty nooks on your page, but white space can allow your reader to breathe and can help guide their eyes to the most relevant content. Clear page design is as much about the layout as it is about having great titles, labels, and headers. Jeannie Ly has mastered white space on her page. She lays out links to each of her post through just one photo and a two-line preview to entice the reader to click and read the full post, without any distractions on the page. Simply Tandya takes a similar approach with great success.
Avoid tiny fonts and weak contrast
Instead of filling your newfound white space with lots of tiny text, make sure what your write is readable and contrasts clearly with the background color. Keep in mind that while serif fonts give your page a more editorial look, sans-serifs are generally more legible on screen. Semi-serifs are a good compromise.
Add subtle videos or scrolling slideshows
Some modern blogs have a full-screen image above the fold to awe the reader. Emily June’s blog takes this one step further with a mesmerizing street-level video of SoHo. It’s worth highlighting that the site also does a great job with white space and with beautiful transitions from black-and-white to color when you hover over images. Alternatively, a scrolling slideshow can also peak interest, like Initials LA’s.
5. Make your blog mobile friendly
If you are using any of the most popular content management systems (CMS), like WordPress or Blogger, you probably already have access to responsive themes. Responsive themes automatically resize and adjust content so that it looks great whether your readers are on desktop, mobile or tablet. WordPress also has some useful plugins to make your site mobile-friendly, such as WPtouch.
Another benefit to making sure your blog is mobile-friendly is increased SEO. Google ranks sites higher simply for having a mobile-friendly option. You can check your site’s mobile responsiveness with Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool. For more great tips on improving your blog’s responsiveness check out this great post.
6. Release your posts on time
Establish a schedule and stick to it
Whether you post twice a month or twice a day, your readers will take notice if you have a regular and predictable schedule, and they will also notice if you miss a post. Lay out your plan in advance and deliver on it consistently. If you post weekly or twice a week, pick the same one or two days of the week to post on. If you post more often, then get it down to the hour. Most CMSs allow you to schedule your posts so you don’t need to be hovering over your computer to get your content out on time, but you will have to prepare them ahead of time.
Use all your channels to promote new posts
Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are great places to tease an upcoming post a day or a few hours ahead of time. You can also sprinkle out numerous picture posts to refresh your followers’ interest between posts – Just make sure the link in the bio is up to date.
7. Start a conversation with your readers
On your site
Allow for comments on your blog posts and respond whenever you can. Engagement brings readers back. Carmen Hamilton takes the conversation with her readers a step further with her Talk-it-out where she posts questions for her readers like ‘What’s your favourite designer handbag ever?’ and responds consistently to reader input.
On IG and Twitter
It almost goes without saying, but social media are meant to be, uh… social, so engage with your readers when they comment on your posts. Like, comment, and retweet their posts when appropriate and spread the love around. You may want to become a ‘social listener’ too with services like KeyHole that help you track hashtags on twitter, to see who else is using the hashtags you use regularly.
While staying on top of all the reader growth and engagement side of your blog may be less fun than the creative side, taking these steps will help you stand out from the sea of bloggers out there.