One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to connect with you, my readers! I absolutely love receiving emails from y’all and having the opportunity to chat in a more one-on-one way. The two most common topics I am emailed about are Charleston and blogging so I decided to do a dedicated blog post on the topic of blogging and about how to write a blog! I get a lot of questions about what it’s like to run a blog, to make a business blogging, to make money blogging, what it takes to run a blog, and how I run my blog.
I find that I often get asked the same or similar questions from aspiring bloggers looking to share their creative genius with the world so, I’m spilling on my most frequently asked questions about blogging today! Some of the questions are specific about me and others are more general about blogging. I hope some of you find this helpful and that it provides you with a little inspiration! If you are starting a blog and used this post as guidance, then please send me your site… I love seeing what each of you do and create as well! xx
Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging
Who takes your photos?
I have worked with a couple amazing photographers over time including Valorie Darling and Jessi Burrone in Los Angeles as well as Carrie Patterson in Jackson Hole and Abby Murphy in Charleston. However, I’m so lucky to have my husband, Edwin, taking all my photos now.
What kind of camera do you use?
When Edwin shoots my blog photos, he uses a Cannon 5D or 6D. He then alternates between a few different lens but mainly uses a 35mm prime lens. To capture close-up shots, he uses a 70-200 lens.
What editing apps do you use for your photos/posts?
My husband takes my photos but I edit them all. I edit them in Adobe Lightroom. I use VSCO filters that you can buy online and upload to Lightroom. I’m currently using a package called VSCO Film 01 Cannon (you can google this package and it should come up!). I select my filter of choice and then I tweak the photos from there to my liking.
On my iPhone, I use both the VSCO app and the Afterlight app to edit photos.
Will you start doing video content?
Yes! This is something I really want to do! Edwin, is a cinematographer, producer, and co-founder of Hunt House Pictures so I have aspirations of creating video content for Rhyme & Reason someday.
How do you create collages on your blog and graphics for your Instagram Stories?
I use Adobe Photoshop, which I know is not the answer most people want to hear (because it required learning Photoshop). It can be daunting to learn but so worth it once you do. I watched YouTube videos when I decided to learn and I was fortunate enough to have two pros in my life who I asked a million questions, my husband, Edwin, and my best friend, Allison.
What inspired you to start your blog?
I started my blog in college simply for fun! Blogging was so different then as was my site and blog content! I posted things like the playlist I created for finals week and my favorite editorials. I then went on to grad school and stopped blogging because I didn’t have enough time in the day. After grad school, I got a job as an elementary school teacher and that’s when I started blogging again. I did it because, at work, I was giving all my energy to little kids and really wanted to do something for myself too. So, I went back to my blog and picked it up again. I then started doing outfit posts and getting more and more into it!
I want to start a blog but I don’t know where to start? Do you have any advice?
Absolutely! My first piece of advice is to decide what you want to write about and determine why you have a fresh and interesting perspective that the world needs to hear.
Especially when starting out, it can be tricky to find your footing if you try to do too many things and be a “lifestyle” blogger that covers recipes, family, beauty, fashion, travel, décor etc.
You might want to naturally expand your content over time as you grow your brand and you evolve in your own life but many of the most successful bloggers are so popular because people associate them with something they are amazing at. So, decide your topic and then stand tall and proud as you prepare to let everyone know why your site is a must-read and why you are a must-follow. Maybe you are a baker who makes beloved desserts for all the parties your friends and family host or maybe your favorite part of the day is getting up and putting together outfits that then get complimented all day… whatever makes you stand out is where you should start! You might ultimately have a product or service in mind but a blog can be a great place to start to build your audience and fan base.
My second piece of advice is to start a blog!
It seems simple, but it can be hard to take the jump and put yourself out there. There is room for everyone so start gathering post ideas, writing them down, and taking photos/getting photos taken. Professional looking, high quality photography is beyond important so invest in a camera and learn it or invest in a photographer you love. However, at the same time, don’t underestimate the power of in-the-moment, real iPhone photos too as people love feeling like they can authentically connect with your day-to-day life through photos. If you think you want to create graphics, then I recommend taking a Photoshop class. Research web designers or purchase a blog design (many web designers have beautiful already created templates you can purchase and have them install for you that are cost efficient), purchase a URL for your web hosting, consider if you want to work with a branding company or not (they help with blog design etc.), and get going. Other things to consider are blogging platforms (I use WordPress and love WordPress blogging but people are very loyal to Squarespace too), search engine optimization (SEO), and your bandwidth for blogging (do you plan to do it on the side while working another job or dive in full time? I definitely recommend starting on the side to see if you enjoy it and can make it financially make sense).
My third piece of advice is to get your social channels ready to go.
I think Instagram and Pinterest are the two most important social platforms to grow. Think of Instagram as a mini window into your blog. Think of Pinterest as a big traffic driver to your site. I recommend setting up Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. For Instagram, if you already have a personal account, then consider starting to transition that one over to be more of a representation of your website or consider creating a second account that is dedicated just to your blog. It is all about branding so keep you social accounts as consistent as possible with all of them being either your name or your blog name. Of course, if you plan to create video content, then set up a YouTube channel too.
Furthermore, creating a newsletter is extremely important! You will never own your social channels but you do own your website and your newsletter so newsletters are key. They are a very valuable content marketing tool.
My fourth piece of advice for starting a blog is to surround yourself with and reach out to people who will support you.
Many people have preconceived notions about blogging and they write it off as “stupid,” “silly,” or “easy.” Don’t let anyone tell you that something you love doing and growing is stupid or easy (it’s a business after all!)! I highly recommend reaching out to other bloggers where you live as it’s great to make friends in the industry who can and will support you. Like so many industries, networking is important so be prepared to put yourself out there a little bit. I’ve met more people through blogging than I could count who I absolutely love and now consider friends! Networking and surrounding yourself with people who support you will product great organic traffic for you too.
Finally and most importantly, blogging should be fun and if it one day becomes a source of income, then fabulous, you’ve found a way to make work fun.
The old saying is true, “choose a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life!” Don’t go into blogging though with the pressure of quickly becoming the next “big” blogger. It will kill you and take all the fun out of the work you put in. Stick to this formula: start your blog, pour your heart into it, work hard, create original content you are proud of, have fun and you will find success within yourself and with your readers.
When shooting looks, do you do one big photoshoot day/afternoon, or do you shoot one look at a time? I have outfits I would like to try to take pictures in but it’s difficult to find the right place, light, time, and people to take the pictures for me.
I do both! It kind of depends on the day and the project. In general, I definitely like to batch shoot a bunch of outfits at once. I have to shower, blow dry my hair, do my makeup, plan out my outfits, and block out time with my husband to shoot so I like to accomplish a lot of shoots at once. However, sometimes, we will be heading to dinner and will leave a little early and shoot one outfit beforehand. Before I began shooting my outfits with my husband, I shot with photographers so I always shot 3-4 outfits in one outing because I was paying them for their time.
I always spend time planning out outfits and shoot locations. I also pay attention to light and time of day for shooting before actually shooting. The mornings and the evenings are generally the best times of day to shoot because the sun is out but the light is soft and not directly overhead. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes!
How often do you post on your blog? Do you have a set schedule or plan each week/day as you go? Also, do you like to post at a certain time of day? And, do you like to post a certain amount of times a week/month?
I’d 100% recommend creating a blog calendar. I use Google Calendar but any calendar system you like will work. I plan my posts out in advance (usually 2-4 weeks out) and do my best to post between 3-5 times per week. Some bloggers are very on it with their calendars/schedules and always post on set days like Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m not that rigid with my posting but when I post, I post on Monday – Friday and then I have a “Weekend Reads” posts I share every Sunday. I never post on Saturday. Being consistent is key! If you are starting out and trying to figure out your schedule, then shoot for a realistic goal of posting twice a week sometime between Monday – Friday. See how that goes and then consider trying to go for 3 posts a week and so on.
What do you recommend as the best way to contact brands? Is it as easy as sending an email?
I blindly reach out to brands via email; however, you should be prepared to not hear back a bunch of the time (sometimes you do though, which is great!). Brand outreach is time consuming but necessary! I think one of the best ways to get in contact with/get on the radar of brands is to wear brands you love, post photos of yourself wearing the brands, tag the brands, and see if they reach out. If you tag them on Instagram Story and the brand responds in a message, then ask if they have a PR email address you can reach out to to send along links to content you’ve posted featuring the brand in the past. Things like this can help and produce results!
How do you get followers on Instagram? Do you follow others and then they follow you back? Do you reach out to other bloggers and do giveaways?
The best way to get followers on Instagram is to post consistently. I try to post almost every single day on Instagram. Occasionally, if I’m on a trip and have lots of photos, I will post twice a day. I always use hashtags on Instagram to help with discoverability (although hashtags aren’t as helpful as they once were). I comment on other bloggers photos too in a genuine and natural way, which is helpful! Being featured on other big Instagram accounts is a great way to gain followers too (although this also isn’t as helpful as it once was). I have never done a loop giveaway with bloggers but I’ve considered it. I’ve heard it can be really beneficial but that there is also a lot of follower drop-off after the giveaway.
You should expect to gain and loose followers every single day and every single time you post. The hope is that you gain more followers than you loose although the climb is very slow. I think the most important thing is really making a commitment to posting regularly and being active and engaging on Instagram. It takes a long time to grow so just do your best to stick with it and not get discouraged. Never ever ever buy followers… it is cheating and lying to get ahead, brands can tell, and there are algorithms that can tell that will hinder your growth!
What inspires you as a blogger? Is it the clothes, the trends, the people, the community?
Like all bloggers, I can definitely get stuck in creative ruts from time to time. For me, using a blog calendar and planning posts ahead of time really helps prevent ruts. One of the things I’m most inspired by is the time of year/season and the environment that comes along with that. For instance, I get incredibly excited and inspired by spring and spring colors. So, I gravitated toward the spring flowers blooming around me and those colors. I then find myself wearing springtime pastels. It kind of all connects! I definitely get inspired by other bloggers and travel a lot too! Celebrities have never really been a source of inspiration for me but I do love reading magazines and different online editorials. Inspiration can really come from anywhere!
Who designed your blog?
I worked with and continue to work with the amazing team at Chloé Digital. I literally couldn’t run a blog without them! Not only did they help me bring my blog design to life but they also help me with trouble shooting, staying up to date on all the backend of my blog, and so much more. They are the dream team!
How do you make money through Rhyme & Reason?
I am incredibly grateful to be able to make money from Rhyme & Reason as I dedicate an immense amount of time, energy, and love to the site and my social media channels. I would not be able to make the small income that I do from Rhyme & Reason if it wasn’t for my amazing, interesting, and thoughtful readers and followers. I’m so grateful y’all have put some time and trust in me!
Any who, the two main ways I make money are through affiliate links and through sponsored content on my blog/social media. I work with RewardStyle to create my affiliate links, which are special links that I receive a small commission from if readers click through them and make a purchase. Not everything I link is through an affiliate link and I absolutely do not decide what to share based solely on affiliate links. I’m so fortunate to work with brands that I love, admire, and shop but if a post is sponsored, it will always say “sponsored” at the bottom. Don’t worry, all the words and opinions will be my own! I also never work with brands that I don’t believe in or don’t think are a good fit for R&R regardless if they are willing to pay me or not.
What do you love most about blogging and Rhyme & Reason?
Yikes a bee, so many things! Two main things stick out the most though…
One: I love the feeling of owning something myself that I can work hard on and watch grow due to my dedication, effort, and ideas. I honestly never imagined myself as a business owner but I truly love the feelings of pride I get every time I create new content and share a new post on R&R.
Two: my readers. I’d be nowhere in the blogging world without y’all! I love connecting with you in my blog comments, over email, and on social media. I get so many emails from readers planning trips to Charleston and it brings a smile to my face to respond to every single one (should I become a travel advisor like my sister!?). You are such a kind, generous, supportive, smart, positive, and thoughtful group of people. From the bottom of my heart, I so appreciate you taking time to read my blog and to follow me on social media. I’ve also become friends with many of my readers, bloggers and non-bloggers included, and I adore these relationships! Thank you, thank you.
Photograph by Abby Murphy
All the attention, thought and creativity you put into your blog comes right on through to your lucky readers! It’s a joy to be on the receiving end!
Thank you so much for the sweet comment!!! Made my day and so happy you love reading my blog every day!! XOXO
Love this post, Jillian! Great point about posting consistently to Instagram — I need to be better about it!
Thanks so much Diana!! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post!! Thanks for reading! xx
Love this! Thank-you for answering so many questions this was so informative!
I hope you’ve had a wonderful Wednesday!
Thanks so much Michael!! I’m so glad you found the post helpful and informative!! xx
Loved this post Jillian! Such good insight!
Thank you so much Lauren! I’m so happy you found my post helpful! xx
First off, this photo is just STUNNING. And second, you pour your heart into R&R and it shows through all your channels. It’s been so fun seeing you grow and you inspire me, as a mom to young babes, to get dressed and look stylish when athleisure sounds better!
Thank you so much Nora!! Favorite blog comment ever!! You’re the cutest mom I know!! xx