Every day I get an email from someone who’s New Year’s Resolution is to finally start a blog or a YouTube channel. I’m frequently asked about how I got my start and what tools to use for both, so thought this would make an excellent blog post topic. Times have changed. When I first started this blog in 2010 there weren’t many platforms to choose from. What worked for me 10 years ago, will not necessarily work now. So how I got my start doesn’t really matter but if you wanna know, check out this very in depth blog post. I think when people ask that, what they’re really asking, is how to be successful at blogging or YouTubing. I wrote a whole eBook about that very topic that you can check out here. I’ve also written several eBooks about How to Monetize Your Blog/YouTube with Affiliate Marketing Platform RewardStyle, as well as How To Pitch to Brands, Hotels, and to Attend Fashion Weeks (which is next month in February by the way). I also wrote a blog post last month on how much money I made in 1 year from blogging and YouTubing in 2019.
All the tools to be successful and make money blogging and YouTubing can be found in those eBooks and Pitch Templates in my Etsy Shop so that won’t be covered here in this post. But I am running a 30% Off Everything Sale for the next week so it’s a great time to get yours! This post is all about everything you need to do to start a blog/website and a YouTube channel today! Make sure to bookmark this post and if you haven’t already started yet, make a promise to yourself to start within the next 7 days! The quicker you start, the quicker you learn, the quicker you grow. Don’t let it be December 2020 and you say: Oh, I wish I’d started. Just start. No one is ever 100% ready to start anything and none of your favorite bloggers and YouTubers were either. The magic is in the time spent learning, crafting, honing skills and making mistakes.
BEFORE YOU START
Here’s just a little piece of advice. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a slow tedious process to gain a following, gain regular readers or gain regular subscribers for your channel. I remember when I first started my blog and after a month I finally had 25 subscribers! Let that sink in. If you think you’re going to sky rocket in a matter of a month and be invited to fashion week or be flown out to a destination to vlog for your YouTube Channel, you may be in for a very rude awakening. When it comes to this blogger and YouTuber thing, consistency is key. You have to out last and out work everyone who starts and quits. That’s really the key to making a name for yourself. Just keep creating content.
A lot of people start a blog and then when it’s not as successful as they’d like it to be after a few months they quit. It’s the same with YouTubers. The difference is that those who are successful didn’t quit even when they wanted to. They weren’t doing it for the likes or for the notoriety. Passion is a helluva drug. Passion and consistency will get you further than the most talented person ever who quits. It took 10 years of blogging before I got a sponsored trip. It took me 2 years of blogging before I was invited to a fashion show. It took 5 years of blogging before I made a steady income from it. It took 6 months of posting consistent YouTube videos before I made enough to pay my rent with ad revenue. It takes time. So be prepared to do the work and not to quit.
WORDS TO KNOW
Blog — A Blog is the same thing as a website. It’s simply a more personal website whose content mostly pertains to the blogger or person who writes and creates content for that site.
Vlog — A Vlog is a Video. This is usually featured on a YouTube Channel and is a certain kind of video where the vlogger documents something. Usually vlogs are travel or daily, weekly happenings in nature versus a sit down video.
Affiliate Marketing — One of the ways to monetize your platforms + social media. RewardStyle is a membership only marketing tool that bloggers, influencers and YouTubers use to get commissionable links from for products. Those links are then inserted into blog posts, youtube video description boxes and on social media. When those links are clicked or swiped up on and purchases are made, they receive a commission. ShopStyle Collective is another big affiliate link tool as well. If you are looking for different affiliate marketing tools, a quick google search will bring up many.
STARTING A BLOG
It’s pretty imperative to have a blog or a website if you are a blogger, influencer or business owner. It’s the second place people will visit to see your work, learn more about you and find information on contacting you. Instagram is the first place anyone looking for you or your business will visit if they are a millennial. Facebook is the first place if they are over 50. I encourage everyone to have a website because it’s the only thing you will own. Even though you may post your content on social media like Instagram, you don’t own that space. If it disappears, where will people be able to find you and your work? Thus, a website ensures that you have something you own and that you control. I also find that having a blog in addition to having Instagram is another source of income for bloggers, influencers and business owners. Writing up a blog post and publishing it puts it on the internet forever. That’s more valuable to a brand than the week time span that 1 Instagram photo will hold before it’s buried under new Instagram posts. Creating a blog post takes more work (writing, editing and adding photos) thus most influencers and bloggers can charge a premium for sponsored blog posts. I’ve seen a huge uptick in brands requesting Instagram Posts and Stories AND Blog Posts. I’ve been able to make triple what I’d make from just an Instagram Post by adding in Blog Posts as well.
START A BLOG CHECKLIST
PICK A NAME: The first thing you have to do is pick a name for your website or blog. It should be easy, short and to the point. Don’t make it difficult to spell. Think about the long run and how you want to brand yourself or your business. Choosing your name is always a good idea. I wish I would have started with my name. I could always change it but after 10 years that’s a little scary. You will lose followers with a name change. It’s inevitable. So choose something good. Don’t limit it too much. My Blog name is a play on fashion and my last name and where I reside. But what if I move?!? Keep those things in mind. Do a quick google search and see if the name is available. I’d always go with a .COM over any other alternative. It’s just easier for people to remember.
BUY THE DOMAIN: (my domain is www.fashionsteelenyc.com): So you have a name and it’s available…HOORAY! Go ahead and buy it. I’d recommend buying your name as well, even if you don’t use it as your primary website. Who knows you could blow up and someone may buy it before you! Then they will try to sell it to you for God knows how much money! You can buy domains from lots of places like Google Domains, GoDaddy or Squarespace. I love Google Domains because you can search the domain and google will give you all the tea on that domain from common spelling mistakes people will make when searching that domain to whether it’s too long or too difficult. Usually you have to pay for your domain once yearly. I pay $12 for my domain and have it on autopay so I never forget to pay it and lose my website. I bought my domain from Google.
CREATE A TAGLINE: My tagline is: Where Luxury, Thrift and High Street Meet for my website Fashion Steele NYC. It’s basically a quick synopsis of what your website is about. You don’t need this right off the bat but it’s a good place to start when deciding what you will be covering and or focusing on for your website content. Are you doing fashion, lifestyle, decor, cooking, beauty, fitness? I find it’s easier to start off as a lifestyle blogger and then hone in on what you do best. That’s because all of these subjects fall under Lifestyle. There is more money in lifestyle blogging than fashion blogging. It’s hard to transition from Hair to Fashion. Just take those things into consideration when choosing your nitch.
CHOOSE A WEBSITE
Where are you going to build your website? Blogger.com is great place to start. That’s where I started my blog. It’s easy to use and has built in templates. It walks you through creating your entire website. You can start a website within an hour on blogger.com. It also already has a built in community of bloggers looking for your content.
If you want more freedom (to be able to use affiliate marketing) then you may have to look into a more evolved website like Squarespace. Squarespace is great for beginners because you can do everything within the interface. You can create a website and buy the domain name from Squarespace. Squarespace also provides your hosting so you won’t have to go outside the interface to find hosting (someone who works the backend of your website and stores it’s information on internet servers). You can be up and running in a day on Squarespace. My magazine www.steelemag.com was built on Squarespace in one day. I pay $40 a month for hosting because I sell my magazine on that site but there are cheaper plans if you don’t plan on selling anything (digitally or physical products) on your website. There is a learning curve but it’s pretty easy to figure out. You also have a 14 day free trial, meaning you can create a full website and see what it will look like before ever committing to buying a plan.
My website was built in wordpress.org. It’s been here for the last 7 years and I love it. It’s pretty easy to create blog posts with photos but as with everything else there is a learning curve. The only way to figure it out is to practice. Here’s a good post on how to create a blog post in wordpress. I bought my hosting from GoDaddy.com. WordPress blogs do not host the way Squarespace does so you will need to find someone to put your website on their internet servers. They handle everything with the backend of my blog. If my blog breaks because of an update or broken plugin they are who I call to fix it. I like that I can integrate lots of affiliate marketing like RewardStyle into my website with ease to create ads or shop the look carousels. I also love that I can easily and quickly change the theme of my website (how my website looks).
There are tons of other sites like Tumblr, Shopify and more where you can start a website but these are the 3 I’m familiar with and are the most popular.
PICK A HOST (IF YOUR WEBSITE DOESN’T COME WITH HOSTING): Sites like Squarespace provide hosting which is awesome. Sites on wordpress don’t. I choose GoDaddy to host my website and so far I love their customer service and attention to detail. Their hosting plans are affordable and they also have plans that include backups. My website is backed up every night at midnight. So if anything happens and it disappears I can always reset it. Bluehost.com is another popular hosting site. A quick google search of Hosting will bring up tons of sites where you can host your website if you choose to go the wordpress route. With GoDaddy, I pay about $300 a year for hosting and backups. I’m also on a business server which increased my plan price because my website is huge (with over 10 years of content and photos). I also get a significant amount of traffic and need a bigger server so that my site doesn’t crash.
CHOOSE A THEME: The theme is essentially how your website looks. Squarespace has a ton of options to choose from and so does wordpress. Many influencers end up investing in very clean themes that you can purchase from places like ETSY or PIPDIG. Most themes are less than $100 and with PIPDIG they will even install it for you. You simply download the file and upload it to your website. If all of this is going over your head, I’d suggest hiring someone on fiverr.com or reaching out to someone who’s blog you like and asking for the information on who created it. Many blogs have that information at the bottom center or bottom right corner of their websites.
START POSTING: Your first post is not going to be perfect. Lots of people go through all the steps and get to this part and quit. They quit because they want it to be perfect and nothing is perfect. I’d suggest keeping a notebook with a list of blog post ideas and just start knocking them out as they come to you. Create a realistic schedule for yourself. I post twice a week on this website but this is also my full-time job and my livelihood depends on it. If you can only post once a month, make that one post great! Promote is across all your social media often and refer to it regularly. Posting consistently will help your website with google. Choose blog post titles that people often google so your blog posts come up in searches. This is called increasing your SEO. Learn more about SEO here.
TOOLS TO MAKE BLOGGING + YOUTUBING EASIER
You don’t need an expensive camera or expensive equipment to be a blogger. At the very least you’ll need a computer, a smartphone and internet access. As your content elevates you can opt to hire a photographer or get a camera and shoot your own content or have friends and family do it for you. I didn’t feel I could express myself like I wanted taking my own self timer photos for fashion blogging so after a year I began hiring photographers and now I have 2 steady photographers Rose Lazard and Langre Edwards. I use a quick smartphone SD Card Reader to upload photos quickly to my iPhone where I then edit them in Lightroom CC app before airdropping them to my Macbook Pro to be uploaded to my blog posts. I prefer to edit my photos on my phone. It’s easier and I can work even when I’m commuting. Smartphone photos work just as well for blog posts too. I do love the crispness of a DSLR professional camera photo for brand collaborations because they often request photos and for my Yearly Magazine Steele Magazine. For all of my self timer photos that I do in my cloffice, I use my iPhone 8+ and a tripod with smartphone grip. Everything I use to make blogging easier is linked above (with a RewardStyle affiliate link carousel).
START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Starting a YouTube Channel is a lot easier than starting a blog. If your end game is to be a full-time blogger or influencer I’d recommend having at least: an Instagram Account, A website or blog and a YouTube Channel. This ensures that you are bringing in income from at least 3 sources and maximizing your potential for earning income.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
It’s hard to make money with YouTube unless you post consistently. Here’s a great video on how to Monetize Your YouTube. To start you need 1000 subscribers and 4,000 watched hours before you become eligible to monetize your channel. YouTubers earn money from running ads on their videos. That’s why longer videos tend to do better money wise because you can add more ads. But it’s really up to you how long or short you want videos to be. Do what works for you and the right crowd will find you. Create the content you want. You should know about music as well because that’s a big part of YouTube. Royalty free music is hard to come by so finding it is critical. Just google search like no tomorrow for Royalty Free music to use for your videos. If you use popular well known music your videos will be flagged and possibly you won’t be able to monetize it with ads. YouTube can be a vicious place. If you don’t have thick skin it’s probably not a platform you want to expose yourself on. Be prepared for rude and mean comments and don’t let the dislikes deter you. I’d suggest using the feature to block certain words if you have your comments turned on. Once you have the hang of YouTube you can start offering brands sponsored videos which only adds to moneys from YouTube including ad revenue.
START A YOUTUBE CHANNEL CHECKLIST
CHOOSE A NAME: Yep, just like your website you’ll have to choose a name. You can go the easy route and name the channel your name or perhaps the same name as your website. Keep it short, easy and concise.
CHOOSE A TAGLINE: Fill in the about me section and let viewers know what your channel will be about. Make sure to add in links to your social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc) as well as a link to your website!
SET UP YOUR CHANNEL ART: The background and what your YouTube Header will look like. This is harder than it sounds. I use Canva to create my YouTube headers.
RECORD + EDIT YOUR VIDEO: No you don’t need a fancy vlog camera. 50% of my videos use content that I recorded with my iPhone 8+. Literally just flip your phone horizontally and record video mode. It’s easy to piece together the video in an app like InShot and upload the video to YouTube. For sit down videos you can record with your smartphone as well using the tripod and smartphone grip. When I’m not using my iPhone I use the Canon Mark II G7X Powershot camera. I personally think it’s the best vlogging camera out for the lowest price and best quality. I used to rent this vlog camera from BorrowLenses.com mainly for travel but loved it so much I just went ahead and bought it. You can definitely rent it to try it out though before purchasing. If you don’t edit your videos in an app like InShot on your phone you can edit in iMovie or Final Cut Pro. You will have to learn how to piece videos together and it will take practice and a lot of googling but once you learn it’s like riding a bike. You can also hire someone to edit your videos for you. (Just not my editor cause she’s booked and busy with my videos LOL).
UPLOAD YOUR FIRST VIDEO: Yep upload that bad boy. Give it a great title that people search for often! Make sure to use tags relevant to your video such as: NYC fashion, street style, how to style, decor etc. The more specific the tags the better so that when people search, they can find your video. Once you start uploading videos you can section them into categories and create different playlists. The possibilities are endless.
I hope this post helps you all get a jump start on creating a blog or YouTube channel! Once you get started go ahead and drop your website or YouTube Channel down below in the comments so I can check out your space and everyone else who reads this can too! Don’t be afraid to promote your sites! You are always going to be your biggest advocate! If you have any more questions about making money from blogging please do head over to my ETSY Shop. I’m currently running a 30% Off Sale for the next week!
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Rates Sheet (What You Send When Brands Ask How You Can Work Together)