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.
Platform — Where your content is uploaded: wordpress.com, blogger.com, squarespace.com, youtube.com, instagram.com (etc)
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!
Pitch to Brands, Hotels + To Cover Fashion Weeks (Feb 2020)
Pitch for Travel (How to Leverage Social Media for Travel)
Pitch Specifically for Fashion Week
Pitch to Borrow Clothes from Brands + Designers
Pitch to Secure Sponsorship (With product or Money)
Rates Sheet (What You Send When Brands Ask How You Can Work Together)
So You Wanna Be A Blogger? How to Blog Successfully
15 Tips for Making Money with RewardStyle
Insta-Grow 33 Apps for Instagram + Instastories with 4 Video Modules
Something by Sonjia Pants | Oak & Fort Shirt | Thrifted Coat | Manolo Blahnik Pumps | Diana Broussard Earrings
SHOP PITCH TEMPLATES + EBOOKS FOR BLOGGERS, INFLUENCERS and BUSINESS OWNERS TO WORK WITH BRANDS, MAKE MONEY WITH AFFILIATE MARKETING AND SUCCEED WITH BLOGGING
as always, such great tips and I love the outfit!
Thanks boo! Love ya
You are such an inspiration and I thank you so for the encouragement. I’ve been wanting to continue a blog I started but wanted to continue in fashion for woman 60 and above. We can sometimes lose ourselves due to life, children etc. As I searched the channels I noticed their were women out there but not really at this age of color. Stepping back into the ring slowly but for surely.
Thank you, Respectfully Faith.
Yes! Do it. There is definitely an audience for it. I have a lot of 60+ readers and subscribers and I’m sure they’d love to see someone killing it their own age.
Faith you are so right. I hope you do start a blog.
Go for it!
I so needed this when I first started blogging a year ago. I researched as much as I could and started blogging on WordPress. These tips are still helpful for me now and one goal I have is to be more consistent! Thank you for sharing as always! I would love if you could check out my blog. The only thing I hate about the platform I’m on is that I can’t respond to comments left . I feel like It defeats the purpose of blogging. Anyway, http://www.zurriboutique.com is the site. Thank you in advance! ❤
Thats weird. You should be able to respond to comments. You should check your settings. Thanks for reading!
Thanks so much for ALL this amazing information!!!! Jus 1 quick question. I only have an IG account currently (Faith +Fashion focus) been posting for 1 year consistently and ready for the next platform. 🙂 I’ve seen growth and I’m enjoying this! So Would you suggest starting YT and then a blog (website) OR start the blog first, then YT once I gain some blog followers. Pls advise. Thanks so much!
Theres no right or wrong way. Do what you’re most interested in doing first. The longer you wait, the longer its going to take you to grow. Thanks so much for reading!
Also… some people are saying ppl don’t read blogs anymore and it’s double the work l, creating with no readers. So I’m a bit confused! Help ❤️❤️
If people didn’t read blogs, you wouldn’t be here love. Forget what “people” are saying. Its the only way to own your work. That same content you put on Instagram needs to be in a place you own.
Hahaa facts! Thanks for both responses! Much appreciated.
Love this! And thank you for being transparent and willing to share your knowledge and experience. I started my blog in November and you were a big help in motivating me to do so. I’d been letting fear get the best of me for years. I’m looking forward to using affiliate links and other tools in 2020. Bought your beginner ebook last month and waiting on my phone tripod you suggested. LOL!!
If you get time, check me out!
Hey Monroe, thank you for being such an inspiration. Even though I started a blog 2 years ago, I’m still learning so this post was for me. I started my blog with WordPress and changed it to WIX. Worse thing I did so now I’m going to try Square Space. I also started my YouTube channel December and have uploaded 3 videos so far. Working as a full time teacher and trying to do blogging on the side is a task but I’m in it for the long haul. My website is http://www.kass-stylz.com and YouTube is Kass Stylz. Thanks in advance for checking them out.
Monroe, girl, I’m at work now. I can’t wait to get off to grab a bottle of wine and absorb all this great information. Like so many others, I too would like to begin a blog for women 50+. Plus, leave a few nuggets (fashion, travel, beauty) for my daughters, you know. I’m definitely purchasing the templates. Also, thank you for sharing with us how to begin this process. Most women would say,” let them figure it out”, You’re a GEM!!!!!!
This was literal GOLD!!!!
Guilty of Glitz
Great read! I’m looking forward to supporting others too. I launched my site sheisbbrown.com at the end of 2020, and I’m on YouTube at sheisbbrown. I’m currently planning out content and your site has been a great resource for tips. Thanks!
Yes congrats on getting started!
I meant the end of 2019. Lol someone is excited about this new year.
Love the tips! Always helpful!
MONROE….GIRL MY MIND IS BLOWN…(and it hurts)!!!
Talk about some nuggets of wisdom, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and excited. I DEFINITELY need to READ AND REREAD this entire post!!
Thanks for taking the time to share all of your wisdom
Thanks so much for reading! I’m glad it was helpful.
This is why I keep coming back to your channel, website and IG! I started a YouTube channel customs_chic, (shameless plug) a little over a month ago. Im focusing on mixing my love of fashion and travel. But, that is lifestyle- great revelation. So far it’s been fun, challenging, rewarding and such a learning experience all in one! All these tips are so timely, and encouraging. It gets hard and slightly discouraging but this just confirmed that I need to keep going!
I wish I could hire your editor cause thumbnails are always on point.
Thank you for this. I’m super grateful!
Thanks Jennifer. I make my own thumbnails LOL in InShot app.
You also provide valuable content to your readers. I started my blog in August 2019, and it was the best thing I did for my creative side.
Continue to rock my blogging queen
Thank you so much!
Loved this post so much! Definitely going to look into affiliate links this year and potentially creating a website just to have my own little corner of the internet! 🙂 My YouTube is https://youtube.com/c/joyofmylife
YES! Get those coins!
This was very insightful. Thinking about doing a website in addition to my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/octanered392
Thanks for sharing!
Go for it! Thanks so much!
Very comprehensive and insightful. Thanks for sharing Monroe! and Your work ethic is phenomenal.
Thank you, Monroe, for this post. I brought your ebook about blogging at the beginning of the year because I vowed that 2020 would be the year that I started my blog. Your information is so useful, and I have uploaded my first post-www.angelasangle.com. I love that there are women here who are 50+ and have an interest in social media, contrary to popular belief.
Thank you so much for this post. I have been procrastinating and pouring all of my energy into my teaching gig for years. This is the push I needed. No more excuses!
You know I live for your content already & have a few of your templates even more relatable when you inspire those like me who may have started their blogs and YouTube channel but not sure of the best way to succeed on these platforms by sharing insightful info like this blog post. My downfall is being consistent in creating content until I figure it out. I instead get discouraged and/or consumed with life lol. But you made some great points in this post that resonated with me… If I only have time to write one blog or do one YouTube video make it the best that it can be. Also be my biggest advocate and share with others. I would love for you or anybody reading to check out my YouTube Channel ‘YourFashionFairy’ thats my blog as well -it would mean a lot!
Forewarning- I DO NOT have a lot of content however I’m proud of what I’ve created this far
Thank you so much for dropping these gems, just the
New Year inspiration I needed❤️
I didn’t realize I should’ve dropped my channel link!
Will definitely check out out! Thank you for your support!
I’m not new to the blogging world, but I love learning new things from others. Great detail information…there are some
information that I wasn’t aware of. I need to work on my pitch to brands for sure. Thanks for sharing!
So much valuable information! I may need to print and save!!! Thanks so much for sharing this knowledge! You Freakin Rock!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you Gloria! I’ve been seeing you killing it on the gram! Loving your work and consistency!
You are amazing! You didn’t have to do this posting, you put a lot of time and effort into this.
Thank you! I’m glad it was helpful!
This was a great post!!! I have learned so much from it and I have been so inspired by it. I can’t wait to start making my dreams and goals happen.
Thanks so much! I’m glad it was helpful.
Thank you so much for sharing this information. It was very helpful. I am a stage 4 cancer fighter, and through much Prayer and Faith, I finally launched my Travel Blog site 1/20/2020. I am taking Baby Steps, but I am excited to Share my stories. I can’t wait to get more of your information through your ebooks. Again, Thank You.
My site, if you get a chance to visit, is Trishtravelsandtastytreats.com. Fighting cancer with a suitcase, one adventure or experience at a time!
Wow. You are amazing. It’s never too late to do something you’re passionate about. Congrats on starting your Travel site. I can’t wait to see where you go. I applaud you.
Thanks for this very informative post. I just logged back into my blog for the first time in a year! I have been doing Youtube (Dee’s Curve) and focusing on that but I def see the benefit of having both a blog and Youtube…I also miss blogging so back to it I go! I for sure won’t let December 2020 come around and I have no posted a new blog post.
Thanks for sharing with us !
Yay! Thanks so much for reading. Good luck with starting up again. I’ll def be checking it out.
Just started binging your videos/ reading various posts on your blog and I finally decided to purchase the “So You Wanna Be A Blogger” guide and I am so excited to see my blog grow. As a fellow francophile, I love all of your Paris vlogs and I am looking forward to watching more and learning more from you as well. Stay blessed!
Hi Monroe! Lovely blogpost, thanks for letting us share our own web sites too! Mine is https://shoesandtiresblog.wordpress.com/