inspiration

Updated Blogging Tips

It’s been a while since my last post about blogging tips. If you have a blog or want to start a blog, this post is for you. Even if you’ve just toyed with the idea, maybe this will be that final push. Or you may have zero interest in blogging but you’re still curious about how it works a little more.

ONE // Start with the right intentions
I think no matter what, you have to start with the right intentions. Blogging is amazing and can bring incredible opportunities, but it might not. It may be as simple (and incredible) as you being able to share your thoughts and experiences online. My blog started as a creative outlet after a rough first semester of college and it actually shaped my entire college experience. It gave me something to look forward to and a place with no rules. No professors or coaches telling me what to do; no pressure. It was exactly what I needed to kind of pull myself out the hole I was in.
I’ve said this before and I will definitely continue to say it again and again. The best way to find success is to start with the right goal. In this case, it can be super easy to say that you want to turn blogging into your full time gig or you want to work with XYZ brand or whatever. That is all absolutely possible, but honestly not likely. If you go in with the idea that you want a creative space, or you want to build an online portfolio, or you just want to do something fun that you enjoy, you are guaranteed to be successful. As long as you love blogging, that’s success right there.

I’m also going to add that growing your blog into a legit business brings along headaches and sometimes heartaches that you might not have anticipated. If you don’t 100% absolutely positively LOVE what you’re doing, you will find that running the business element of the blog isn’t worth it. 10% of my time right now is spent doing the things that really bring me joy and the other 90% are things I just have to do, some of which I can’t stand. But that amazing 10% makes it all worth it!

TWO // How to Get More Followers

Now that I have that little disclaimer out there, let’s say that (while it may not be your number one goal) you would like to make your blog big. Now onto what you’re really interested in. This is probably my absolute number one most frequently emailed question: how do I get more followers. The thing is, it’s not about the number of followers. At all.

– It’s about engagement. Instead of thinking about the number of followers, you should be focusing on the engagement of your audience. At this point in social media, you can buy the numbers. (And it’s unbelievably obvious to everyone.) Numbers might get you noticed– if a brand sees your follower count on Instagram, for example– but it won’t seal the deal. Engagement does.

Consider this: a blogger with 100,000 followers and a 0.5% “conversion” rate, she’ll have 500 sales. If a blogger with 10,000 followers has a 5% conversion rate, she’ll have the same number of sales. A 5% conversion rate is amazing– it means you have a highly engaged audience and that has JUST as much value as someone with a huge, although less engaged, audience.

This is all to say that instead of getting as many followers as possible, you should work on cultivating an engaged audience…. and that all boils down to this point:

– It’s about your content.

THREE // Know who you are and who you aren’t

When you’re starting to figure out what kind of content you want to put out there, you really have to know who you are and who you aren’t. And stick to it. If you carefully build your audience on one thing and then wham! change overnight, it’ll be a shock to the system. Or if you’re all over the place all the time, people won’t know what you’re about and it might be too confusing to stick around.

A quick way of thinking of this is trying to picture what niche you fit within. (Although maybe that niche doesn’t exist! You may be creating something new altogether!) Another way of thinking about this is that you can’t be everything for everyone.

When you’re committing to “going big” with blogging, you should realllllly make sure that what look you’re committing to is truly who you are. So you should have a good idea of who you are, but it also helps to know who you aren’t.

One mistake I think some bloggers make is that they try to do “all the blogger things.” One day they’re wearing Valentino Rockstuds, the next they’re posting about a dress under $20, the next they’re on a luxurious beach trip, then they’re grinding away at a full time job posting coffee pics, then they’re back on a beach posting revealing bathing suit Instas, then they’re launching a new app, then they’re vegan and working out every day and sharing green juices. You know what I mean?

Don’t be sad if you’re being passed for certain opportunities. It may be because that’s not who you are. It doesn’t mean that you have to change who you are, it just means that the opportunity wasn’t right for you.

I do think you can evolve, but you have to realize that your audience may not be on board. If you’re committed to the change, don’t panic or worry if you see some drop off in your following or a slower period of growth.

FOUR // Go All In

And then once you know who you are (and who you aren’t) really go for it. I think five, six years ago you could ease into the whole blogging thing. Now, you should put the pedal to the metal and go all in. This does not mean you have to go all in and spend a lot of money. At all.

Before going public with the blog, I’d spend three months creating content. When you do go live, there’s more content for people to view– this helps with your blog’s “stickiness.” Plus you’ve had three months to figure out who you are and to get into the swing of blogging.

Going all in, in my opinion, means you should fake it til you make it. What would you post if you had 100,000 readers? What kinds of Instagrams would you post? Post it now, even if you’re starting from scratch. Take it as seriously from the beginning as you would if you were doing it full time. Waiting until you’ve “made it” to start producing high quality content just won’t be worth it because it will be a much, much harder/longer climb to get there– if you get there at all.

This might take a little sacrificing. You may have to devote your Saturdays going out and shooting outfits with your best friend after working all week. Or your Sunday mornings writing beautiful posts. Or maybe you’re dedicating a few hours of your night post-work on the backend of your blog. You can work smarter, not harder, but it still takes dedication and time. 

FIVE // Monetize

The question right after “how do I get more followers?” is almost always “how do I make money?” There are a number of ways to monetize your blog, the most common being affiliate links and sponsored content.

Affiliate: Lots of retailers belong to affiliate networks, but there are conglomerate blogger networks that make it seamless and easy. Instead of having to apply to and work with a hundred different retailers, you apply to the network and get access to all the retailers within the network. You may lose a little commission since you’re working with a middle man but the convenience and access absolutely makes it worth it. Two of the big ones are rewardStyle and ShopStyle. rewardStyle works through conversion (you make money when someone makes a purchase) and ShopStyle works through clicks (you get paid per click and the price is based on an algorithm that considers your conversion rate). To make significant money through either of these programs you really have to have an engaged audience. If you’re making $10 on a sale or 10 cents on a click, think of how many clicks and sales you’ll need to make up a salary.

Sponsored Content: When brands and agencies start reaching out about sponsored content, it may be the right time to start considering it. I don’t recommend reaching out to brands on your own. Once you have quality content that you’re proud of and want to start working with brands, I’d either wait for them to email you (it will happen!! even if it takes a couple of years) or consider joining a blogger network. There are tons and tons out there nowadays, but be very very picky about which to join and even more so which offers to accept. (In my experience, the campaigns they tend to offer are very “basic”/grocery store type items: tampons, soap, etc.)

Sponsored content is tricky but here’s some top-level, low hanging fruit advice. You have to be willing and ready to say no to sponsored content– don’t be tempted by the money because in the long run it’s not great for your brand. For example, if you say no to $1,000 for a brand you’re not passionate about in the first year of blogging, you may better grow your audience so you can consistently make more than $1,000 and more frequently in the second year. Think in the long term. When you do agree to do a sponsored post, it’s important to work closely with the brand and agency to set expectations. Have it all in writing: when to post, what the brand’s goal is for the post, what your promise is for the post, what’s included, what language, what happens if the brand doesn’t approve something, etc. Included in those expectations is being as open and honest as possible about your numbers. I’m all for leaning in and being a great negotiator, but when you’re trying to build lasting relationships with a brand, you have to be honest about what they can expect from your post. The more you take care of upfront, the better the relationship will be for both the current post and future posts. 

SIX // Full Time Blogging Myths

Now that you have monetization in your mind, I thought it would be helpful to paint a realistic portrait of full time blogging. I really don’t say any of this to dissuade you. Full time blogging absolutely can be done. (Really!) But it’s important to keep these things in mind because it’s not that easy and not as common as it may appear. There’s more to the story than just a blogger saying she’s blogging full time.

– Sometimes it’s not full time blogging. Just because someone is dedicating full time hours and not working at another job, it doesn’t mean she’s bringing in a full time salary. She could be married and not responsible for supporting herself on what would be considered a full time salary. That is, he/she’s not paying rent or a mortgage, household expenses, etc. Maybe her parents cover major expenses or she’s living at home.

(Just a little note here: I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with the above if that’s someone’s situation. I’m just noting this because it could be misleading someone into thinking they’re raking in the $$$.)

– The percentage of full time bloggers is small. There are articles floating around the internet every few months talking about bloggers making a million dollars a year. Hello! Amazing!!!!! But with millions of blogs in the world, it’s such a small percentage that are doing it full time. And just a fraction of that tiny percent who are doing seven figures. Don’t be discouraged by feeling like you can never make it (again, I firmly believe if you really go for it and have the patience for it, you can do it) or feel overly confident that you can make it happen within a year. It takes work and lots of time.

– I personally know a few bloggers who took on quite a bit of debt in the hope that it would pay off in the long run. It’s not worth putting $20,000 worth of clothes on a credit card hoping you’re going to skyrocket to blog fame. It’s an extremely risky move and definitely not one I’d recommend. You may hate blogging after six months and then you’re stuck with a huge bill that you can’t afford. Or it could take three years before you’re able to blog full time and meanwhile that $10,000 in debt has grown to $20,000 and then $30,000.

– Blogging full time is a business which means you have to make more than an actual salary. You start having more expenses beyond just being an employee at another company. A lot goes back to the government through taxes, you may have to bring on some freelance photographers, you may have some legal fees as contracts become more intense, you have to get health insurance on your own, you may start contracting out your bookkeeping/taxes to experts as your filings become more complicated, you may have to start renting a small office space. More money income, more problems expenses.

– I also know a lot of bloggers who don’t save any money. What they make, they spend. I think this is common for people in their 20s in general, but it’s an extra risky move when your “career” is blogging. Do I think blogging is forever? I don’t know. But I do know that I may personally change my mind or want something different. Or something bad could happen (medically, personally, etc.) and I need to take time off or I’m hit with a huge expense. I know the income I generate now may not last forever and I don’t intend on blowing it all at 26. (A TMZ clip… swap out “boy band” for “blogger.”) Taking an unconventional career path is not a bad thing, but it is a risk, however calculated. Be smart!

SEVEN // Social Strategy

People tend to ask me what my social strategy was when I started blogging. I have to remind them that Twitter/Facebook Pages/Pinterest/Instagram/Snapchat either wasn’t popular yet or simply didn’t exist. This made it so much easier to start blogging because I didn’t have to worry about anything other than the blog. Now there are so many places you can/should be. You could feasibly only Instagram full time.

Personally, I recommend that new bloggers join all the platforms and focus on as many as you possibly can while still creating content you’re proud of. Each social channel is relevant and useful in its own way. My strategic social media advice:

– Work on building an audience that will follow you no matter what the platform is. This means that “tricks” to “getting more followers” don’t really pay off. If you work crazy hard to get a higher number of followers on Instagram, but that audience isn’t actually all that interested in YOU, then when Instagram becomes passé, you’re in a bit of a pickle. You want to cultivate an audience that’s interested in following you, regardless of the platform. A scary example of this is when Pinterest stopped allowing affiliate links to be used. For people who were full time “pinners” (that’s a thing), they were all of a sudden not able to make income. You don’t want to find yourself in that position! Think about the Kardashian’s here. People love the Kardashians. If they’re selling lipstick, people are buying the lipstick. If they’re promoting an app, people are downloading the app. If they’re launching a new spin off show, people are watching the spin off show.

– Social media platforms are different and that means the content should be too! Why read a blogger’s blog when you can see all of their content on Instagram? Or why follow on Twitter if they’re only promoting blog posts you’ve already seen? Being active on social media accounts, without regurgitating content, is a really powerful way to build your brand. You can give a 360 degree view of the brand, adding value from every direction. Here’s a brief overview of what I personally do:

  • TheCollegePrepster.com: I’d consider this the bulk of my brand! This is where I can really go into depth with everything. Personally, I think of my blog as a conversation with friends.
  • Instagram: This is the second biggest portion of The College Prepster brand. This is more snapshots of my life that may occasionally overlap with content from my blog, but is easier to digest and quick.
  • Twitter: I do quick thoughts here and drive traffic to my blog. I love to share sales that I think my readers would be interested in.
  • Facebook: Facebook has become a little trickier over the years. It’s pretty rooted in a pay-to-play system now but it can be worth it and does work if done correctly. I pretty much only share blog posts and sales here.
  • Tumblr: I share all my Instagrams here because they get reblogged and answer reader questions.
  • Pinterest: Gathering inspiration, sharing fashion finds, and promoting my own content.
– Don’t forget to keep your social posts chronological and timely. Nothing is more confusing to a reader than seeing content out of order. Your blog and, as an extension, your social posts are telling a story. Of course your Snapchats are going to be more real time than your Instagrams. And your Instagrams may post before your blog. But if you’re blogging about something that happened three weeks ago, it’s stale. Same for your social posts. Pull out old content for throwbacks and flashbacks or “from the archive” tweets, but keep everything else within a natural story’s timeline.
EIGHT // Find your rhythm

There are an infinite number of ways to blog. It’s going to be different for everyone. And it’s going to be different for you depending on where you are in your own life. In college, I was very much strapped for time and would blog when I could. I started scheduling my blog posts to go live at midnight and would write as many as I could in my free time. (This mostly ended up being Sundays when I was avoiding homework.) When I started working after college, I made time for blogging after work. I’d stay up as late as I needed to get through my emails and to get content ready for the next day. Now that I blog full time, I write the post for the next day. To me, it reads more authentically than scheduling posts and it allows me to be a little more flexible with my editorial calendar.

Finding your rhythm is all about finding YOUR rhythm. You really have to figure out what works for you. That could be writing posts on the fly, or planning out an editorial calendar three months in advance.

Some things to consider:


– Regardless of whether 30 people are reading your blog or 30,000, blogging is public. Everything you do online goes on record. It’s incredible to be able to have an audience, again regardless of the size, but it does come at the cost of your privacy. I shared a lot more in the beginning than I do now because I never imagined that people would actually read it. Now I’m more careful about what I talk about and what I don’t talk about. I have certain “policies” in place that help me with this but the best is to remember that my dad reads everything on here. If I wouldn’t feel comfortable having the conversation with my dad in person, I’m not putting it on the internet. While I don’t mind getting stopped in a restaurant for a photo (positive!), it can be really upsetting to read nasty/untrue things written about you online (negative!). I take the good with the bad and ultimately know that the positives far, far outweigh the negatives. (But the negatives exist and it’s something to be aware of.)

– Now I love the name The College Prepster. It is playing into a larger picture of where I see the brand growing/going. “College” is also a hugely valuable intangible asset and it is the very root of my blogging story. But there was a time (right after I graduated) when I panicked thinking how dumb it was that I named my blog after something that would only be relevant for four years. Honestly, I just had NO idea that this would be something that I’d do for more than four months, let alone post-college. When choosing a name, try to steer clear of names you can outgrow (hair color, locations, stages in life, even style) or names that exist (no trademarked brands, blank and blank names, blank prepster, etc).

– I cannot stress highly enough the importance of responding to emails. Not only do I think it’s basic modern etiquette, but it’s incredibly valuable for your brand and business. I do my best to respond to every email. (The exceptions being generic press releases and regular retail emails of course.) For your brand, I think it’s important to let your readers know that it’s not just a one-sided conversation. For your business, it’s a good practice to communicate with the companies and brands, even if it’s not a good brand fit. You never know where someone might end up. A PR girl may be working at a brand that isn’t a good fit now and in six months she takes up a job somewhere that is a perfect fit. People remember how you treat them– whether you ignored them or if you were pleasant to correspond with. Additionally, a lot of brands end up working on a tight time crunch. If they know you’re on TOP of your email game, you better believe you’re going to be one of the first bloggers they think of when they have a campaign versus the blogger who takes three weeks to respond. Trust. Me. It’s so rare for bloggers to politely respond to emails in a timely fashion that you will blow the person away with your response. It pays off!

Things to avoid:
– Loop giveaways. (I’ve done one and only because it was four of my friends and one of my favorite brands, Lilly! I also didn’t have to “buy” into offering up $50 along with 2983 other people.)

– Joining blog Facebook groups where you have to like/comment other people’s things in exchange for them liking/commenting on yours. It’s the opposite of organic. (I DO think blog communities can be great and supportive, but don’t join one just for the engagement.)

– Don’t spend a lot of money upfront. Wait until you’re in the rhythm of blogging and know you’re in it for the long haul. I recommend Blogger (that’s what I use, for free) and Squarespace is something to look into as it’s gaining a lot of popularity. If you feel like you must have a great blog design, you can get already built, very affordable options here.

– Scheduled social content. I’m very anti-scheduled social content. I managed a company’s social media account at my old job and honestly, I was constantly afraid. What if a tweet went out at an untimely or inappropriate time (if there was a crisis somewhere or something that couldn’t be predicted). I also feel like it sounds extremely robotic. When you’re a major company, you can get away with sounding corporate. When you’re a blogger and tweeting like a person (because you are a person), you’ll sound robotic and ultimately inauthentic. One well-timed, personal tweet after work is worth more than ten scheduled boring tweets throughout the day.

Q&A:

I asked on Snapchat and Twitter what you wanted to know… I’ll do my best to answer questions that I haven’t already covered:

1.  Where/how do you create blog posts?


I do it all within Blogger. I start a bunch of drafts as I come up with the ideas and throw ideas/sentences into the drafts until I’m ready to write the whole thing. I do keep a running Note on my iPhone with blog post ideas and random thoughts I think of throughout the day. Occasionally, if I’m pressed for time I might write a blog post in an email from my phone and then clear the formatting for my blog post.

2. What camera do I use? How do you edit your blog photos?


Garrett shoots my outfits with a Leica M-P 240 and 35mm lens. If I’m shooting something I either use my Nikon D3200 and a 50mm lens or this little Canon that I can easily tuck into a purse. I also use my iPhone a lot!

For editing, I use Lightroom.

3. How did you manage a blog and work full time?


I gave a lot socially because both were super important to me. I would get to work by 7:30 and leave (on a good day) at 6 or 7. Then I’d go home, eat dinner, take a 30 minute power nap, and blog/answer emails until 2 or 3am. Even though it wasn’t healthy, it did ultimately pay off as I was able to grow my blog significantly during that year allowing me to fully support myself off the income.

4. How do you get your name out there?


The best thing to do is to focus on creating amazing content first and then finding ways to organically grow your content. Engage on Instagram with accounts (bloggers and non-bloggers). Participate on Twitter. Comment on other blogs. Share your posts on your personal Facebook page. Be authentic when commenting and not overly aggressive (you don’t want to come across as “thirsty” for followers).

5. Is Pinterest still the best way to get traffic?


Once upon a time, Pinterest was amazing for traffic. It’s still great, but the new algorithm (I’ve found) really doesn’t help much. (You can see what people are pinning from your blog.) To win at the Pinterest game, I recommend being very active and making your photos on your blog “pinnable” (high exposure, great lighting, wearing lots of layers, cropping out your head/face, vertical photos, etc.). To win at Pinterest now, you have to really play to the Pinterest audience. “Pinterest-y” outfits are going to get pinned the most, cheesy recipes are going to be pinned the most, and photos with click-baity title overlays are the ones that are going to go the most viral. The posts that have performed the best for me on Pinterest are: Classic Fall Pieces to Stock Up On, Intense Study Tips, Instagram Photostrips, and How to Roll Your Sleeves Like J. Crew.

If you’re really going to devote a lot of time to getting better/more traffic, I would recommend doing what you can from the Pinterest front and really investing in spending time working on your SEO and optimizing your site for SEO. (It’s something I know I still need to work on!)

6. How do you get people to engage with your blog posts?


I think commenting is at an all-time low across the board. Now that I have an app, I see even less comments but equal/more engagement with people tweeting their thoughts or shooting me an email. (More often than not when you see blogs with tons of comments, they’re either in one of those Facebook groups I mentioned above or it’s other bloggers leaving links to their own URLs trying to drive traffic to their site.) That said, the posts that are going to engage readers are the ones where you ask opinions. I like to throw in a question at the end of my blog posts… but it’s really when I’m legitimately asking for an opinion that people feel inclined to comment (what’s your favorite dry shampoo, should I cut my hair, etc.). You know why? It’s a conversation! I approach all of my blog posts as if they’re a conversation with a friend and I think the flip side of that is that it’s not a one way conversation, I leave room for comments and replies.

7. How do you manage the finances of your blog?


I use Quickbooks!

8. How do you know what your posts are worth when it comes to sponsored content?


Unfortunately there’s no right answer here. When I started out, I chose an arbitrary number (I think it was $60) and when too many people said yes easily, I would increase. It’s kind of like a very basic game of economics. How many brands want a space to be featured on your blog and what are they willing to pay. I’d prefer to say yes one time to a great contract with a great brand than say yes ten times for a “meh” contract. Now I work with a manager who helps me determine pricing and handles my negotiations. But one super easy tip, if a brand or agency reaches out to you, you can always ask them what their budget is. Throw the ball back into their court and see what their initial offer is, it will give you a ballpark range of what you can ask for. (Example: If they say $5, you could easily counter with $25, but $100 would be out of the question.)


xoxo

PS People package this content up and sell it… Unless you’re working one-on-one with a (really knowledgeable) consultant, I wouldn’t waste your money on e-books or e-courses selling “secrets.” Almost everything you could need to know you can find online for free. The secrets people sell are more like diet pills when in reality, the solution is long term healthy habits.

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78 Comments

Mary Higgins

Thank you so much for answering my question! I just started and really enjoy it, and I did not expect just how hard it would be to get my name out there! Thanks Carly!
-Mary

thedashofclass.com

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Amanda Waldorf

Learning how to grow my blog has proved very difficult, I even considered purchasing one of those e-courses! Thank you so much for this post, I'm such a "fan" of yours. #Snapchatfam
xo, amanda-waldorf.blogspot.com

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Courtney

This is a super helpful post and came at such a great time! I've really struggled keeping up with my blog after graduating and getting a full time job, and I've seen traffic and engagement plummet as result :(. My goal this year is to try to get better about consistency, content, and growing my little hobby. I've always enjoyed reading your blog, so hearing your strategies and advice is super helpful! 🙂

champagneandcitylights.com

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Katy Watkins

Loved reading this, it was really enlightening! Definitely going to start paying more attention to my blog.
I recently went through my favourite blogs and noted down what it was about them that really drew me to them. Then decided I'd like to incorporate some of those points into my own work! It's helped!
http://www.kateez.co.uk/

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Tori A.

Thank you so much for answering all of these questions! It's great to hear from an accomplished blogger like you; I'll definitely be bookmarking this post!

Tori A. from Prep For A Day

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Jackie

Great post, Carly! I appreciate the insight and I know others do as well. One question: why do you recommend not reaching out to brands, but rather waiting to hear from them? Just curious!

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carly

Great question… So I think the number one way to get on a brand's radar is to already post content that aligns with their marketing goals– and tag them. Add their handle on Twitter, tag them in the photo on Instagram, add their branded hashtags in the caption. Nowadays any brand worth working with is ON TOP of this and they'll notice!

Reaching out to big brands has the potential to sound unprofessional (like submitting your resume to someone saying they should hire you even though they don't have any job openings). It's also hard to get a grasp on who to reach out to (marketing team? social team? their pr agency?) and on what schedule they're on. Some brands plan out their budgets six months in advance, some quarterly, and others by the seat of their pants.

Reaching out to smaller brands will probably work better but you're asking a small business to take a financial risk they may not be ready to make.

Can reaching out to a brand yield results? Absolutely!!! But you're also immediately throwing the ball in their court and giving them the power hand in any negotiation. Hard to say "no" to the offer they give you… if you're the one who reached out.

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My Style Tales

Carly, this post is so awesome! I hope it wasn't one of those 'write for the next day' kind of posts because it had an insane amount of information. It took me awhile to thoroughly read it all. This is ultimate guide to any blogging questions anyone may ever have (you've answered a bunch of mine). Thanks so much for putting this together. What I enjoy the most is your honesty! You always keep it real 🙂

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Jodie Orr

I appreciate you being so transparent and honest – some truths are prettier than others, and it's important to be realistic (especially when people are considering leaving the financial security of their day jobs in hopes of being successful as a blogger). I'm not a blogger, but I do work for an online magazine with a few of my friends. Either way, I was curious about what you have to say about this topic. Great post, Carly.

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Alexandra

This is a great post, Carly! Thank you so much for sharing. It's definitely put a lot into perspective for me. I'm sure I'll keep coming back to re-read it!

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Noor Unnahar

It was such a thorough and informative post, Carly! Just when I thought blogging was become all blog-and-sell-advice thing, this post fit well with the scene. I am going to re-read and share it with my fellows (actually, a blogger friend pinned it on a board that caught my eye) so it should go like a pay-back 🙂
Again, it was amazing!

Noor | Noor's Place

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Erin Murphy

Great post! I love the blogging world, and although I don't think it's for me, I've always been curious about how it all works. I like how you covered the nitty-gritty stuff (generating income, expenses, marketing) as well as the typical advice on how to find your niche and how to create good content. When I first started following my favourite blogs, the idea of bloggers making ANY income seemed like a fantasy- they were all just side-projects. It's really cool to see how the industry has transformed so that some people can do this full time, or even part time. I'm sure if you told 20-year old you that someday your blog would make you $100/week, you would be floored! Let alone that someday you could make enough money to make it your career.

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Michele Hart

This is such an insightful post!! One thing I REALLY appreciate is you respond to emails in a timely manner and make your readers feel important. That, my friend, does not go unnoticed:) xx

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Hannah Madison

Hi Carly!

This was such a brilliant and useful article. I sincerely appreciate it, you always have great content! 🙂

I've been reading your blog since I was a freshmen at UNC-Chapel Hill and I've always loved how authentic and kind your blogging voice was // you as an individual are.

Best,

Hannah
http://www.hmsjewels.com

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Lucy Kate

I read every single word of this post…twice! It was so great and super insightful. It was nice to hear tips from a pro and recognize a few that I practice myself. It was also really great to see some things that I need to work on! Thanks Carly!

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Emily Anderson

I found so many tips in this article helpful! I started a blog a few years ago, and found myself playing into the typical "blogger things" as you call them. I didn't have much fun writing it, and it fizzled out quickly.

Now I'm writing what I want to write: TV recaps, lists, clothes, my insights on sports. My blog is a better reflection of who I am as a person, and I have so much fun writing it! I may have less followers but I feel so much more like myself.

Thanks for taking the time to write this!
xxEmily
http://www.thirdandgirl.com

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Unknown

Thanks for this awesome post, Carly! I've always wanted to start a blog (and have started & abandoned a few in my day). My primary reason for this is my concern about privacy – I'm fiercely dedicated to my corporate career (in the automotive industry, so primarily non-creative work), and I worry about what so much online presence would do for my career path moving forward. As much as I love to write and would love to share, I just can't get over the loss of privacy and online anonymity that I associate with blogging. I'll just have to get by with reading lots of blogs like yours 🙂

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Rachel S.

Thanks for this awesome post, Carly! I've always wanted to start a blog (and have started & abandoned a few in my day). My primary reason for this is my concern about privacy – I'm fiercely dedicated to my corporate career (in the automotive industry, so primarily non-creative work), and I worry about what so much online presence would do for my career path moving forward. As much as I love to write and would love to share, I just can't get over the loss of privacy and online anonymity that I associate with blogging. I'll just have to get by with reading lots of blogs like yours 🙂

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Lindsay

This is such a fabulous and informative article. I write a blog about filming locations, so quite a bit different from yours, but this post was still incredibly helpful. Thank you!

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Emily Richey

Wow–Carly, what a great post. Thanks for sharing your insight and being transparent. I have been taking a break from blogging (life was busy, and I didn't have time to push the quality of content I wanted) but this was just the little push I needed to start getting back into gear and writing! Thank you!

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Preppy Pink Crocodile

Very sage advice, Carly! I'm getting back into blogging seriously after stepping away for more than a year (save for a few random posts here and there). So much has changed in the seven or eight years I've been blogging. When I stated out it was me and like eight other preppy bloggers. No one knew what blogging was. It's such a different ball game now. I love seeing how your blog has grown- you've done an amazing job building your brand! I hope even on the hard days, you know the old timers like me are oddly proud of all you continue to accomplish.

And side note…I too have had cycles with my blog name. Loved it at first, hated it for a while because it sort of no longer fit me, and now, in an odd way, it feels sturdy and vintage and worth of being embraced.

Cheers,
KK
http://Www.preppypinkcrocodile.com

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Rylee Field

Carly, I absolutely love(!!!) this post. I've had a blog for a long time now, but only in the last year have I made the transition towards "seriously" blogging. This is so helpful, and thorough!

One thing I'm wondering – as a fellow Blogger user – have you ever felt the pull to switch to WordPress, and if you have, what made you stick with Blogger?

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carly

I'm switching to WordPress this year! I've been using Blogger (for free!) for seven years. I'm working on a new website and need WordPress for its increased flexibility and function. BUT, the hosting of it is more expensive. I just know it's ultimately the right move based on how my website has grown.

That said, I really have zero complaints with Blogger. I'll miss it.

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Chic Girls by the Sea Shore

This post was honestly so helpful! My friend and I have just started a blog and we are having a ton of fun with it. It's an awesome way to share daily adventures and outfits with the rest of the world. We took a risk for ourselves when starting it, we were afraid people were going to judge us which they do. However we ignore it because were having fun! Were you judged when you first started blogging? Anyways, thank you so much and read our blog if you please @ http://www.seashorechic.wordpress.com!

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Mimi Ho

You have given some of the best advices I've seen! Most bloggers write very generic tips, but I love how yours goes in depth.
I totally agree about engaging with the community. I look on Bloglovin on a daily basis now and am always looking out for new blogs to check out. I've found some very supportive people in the blogging community as a result of commenting back and forth.

Mimi
http://www.coffeeandsunday.com

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carly

The two easiest things to do: change the URL of the posts (the permalink) and strategically title the photos of your blog.

Labels, tags, meta labels, your post's title all contribute/help too. There are a bunch of resources you can find via Google that will give more detailed and in-depth tricks!

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Jessica Alvarez

This post was absolutely amazing!! It's so hard to get a good read on the nitty-gritty parts of blogging, but your advice and tips definitely felt authentic and relevant. I don't blog myself, but the blogging world in general is fascinating to me. Thank you for being as open as you have been with your readers. You really do make it feel like a conversation and that makes your blog so easy and fun to read!

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Angela Scibilia

Such a great post! I love that you were so transparent and honest about what it takes to run a blog. I would love if you did a day in the life post to show more of what goes on behind the scenes of running a successful blog.

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sledgehammerwithstyle.com

Love how you keep it real by telling it how it is – how and why you do what you do. There's no game, anything affiliate or sponsored still feels like you which is why I'm still a faithful reader of your blog and less of others! And all of these tips are super helpful reminders for a blogger new or old (and for those of us who still doesn't see much traffic but love doing it anyways)! Stay true to yourself and if anything (ie – the $$$) seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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Holly Peschken

I have no intention of ever starting a blog but I really enjoyed this post! It's nice to know that you're a real person and not like some other bloggers that seem fake or robotic. I also appreciate the effort you put into engaging with your followers! Thanks Carly!

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Blackmailed Cat

How do you think rebranding should be done? Slowly or all at once? Should all social media accounts linked with the blog have the same handle? You mentioned panicking over the relevance of college in your brand, especially as your lifestyle and age moves further away from your collegiate days, while saying that most people follow you because of YOU not because of "TCP"; will you ever convert into a self-brand despite the brand value you've built up as TCP? I know "The College Prepster" has been a public exaggerated role of yourself since the beginning; do you feel more comfortable rebranding now since you know how to deal with the blogging game more so now and compartmentalizing is easier? Sorry about all the questions! I just really like marketing and branding schematics, especially in the blogging world.

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carly

So the goal is that I'd eventually like to get TCP to a place where it doesn't need to be completely about myself… I think ultimately it can stand on its own two feet. And where I can do something else on my own.

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Angelina PeoniesandOrangeBlossoms

This was a great post! It was very thoughtful and informative. I've been a follower of your blog for a while, I'll admit, I don't comment too much because I dunno, your blog is so big I feel a bit intimidated! Anyway, love your style and your site.

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Taylor Hoffman

Such a great post!! I started reading your blog back when I started mine 2 years ago…hopefully these tips and tricks can take it to the next level. Thanks Carly!

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Eve Gagnon

It's silly but in one single post, you answered all the questions I had and the potential ones that would have surfaced in a day or two!

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Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections

What a bunch of great information! You really have done your research and know your stuff. I've been blogging almost 4 years and have a good groove but still feel like I have so much to learn, especially since things change (hello, Periscope!).

A question I have about followers is, how do you maintain the high number of followers you have by only following 73 people?? I am not blogging for numbers or a certain number of followers, but if I follow someone and they follow back and then say I reallize I don't really want to follow them and unfollow them, I am always getting unfollowed too. I don't know how to get more followers without following 1000 people I don't actually want to see?

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Lauren Lin

this blog post really helped me! my roommate and I just created a blog and looking for lots of tips to help boost our blog and it's content!

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Briley Butler

Wow, thank you for taking the time to share this post! I am one of those long-time hopeful bloggers that needed that last push, and your tip to "publish privately for a few months" got me there. Time to start creating!

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THE NEW WORLD OF BLOGGING

[…] came across these two amazing posts by these lovely bloggers: Comparison is the Thief of Joy and Updated Blogging Tips. They both reminded me of when I used blog back in the day. Trisha reminded me to not compare […]

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