"How did you get started in blogging?" It's one of the most common questions I get whenever someone finds out about Coffee and Cardigans. The same question came up again when I chatted with the University of Oregon's Social Media Club about blogging last week. Truth be told, I sort of fell into blogging but figured the story was worth a blog post... More than three years later.
It was freshman year of college - around 2010 - that I first started reading fashion and DIY blogs, which was my first real introduction to the blogging world. It was about the time I really got interested in clothing, personal style and sewing. Kendi Everyday and A Pair and a Spare were daily reads for me. Besides helping inspire my own sense of personal style, these ladies also helped me realize that blogging was a great way to put together some of my favorite things around a topic that I loved.
Coffee and Cardigans has changed a lot since it began, especially in the topics and editorial focus, but it's my absolute favorite way to spend free time. For me, blogging combines writing, photography, design, business management and marketing into a single platform. Call me a nerd, it's okay.
Creating and Designing a Blog
I created my first blog in 2011, but ended up deleting it out of pure embarrassment. Hopefully no one remembers that. Coffee and Cardigans kicked off in February 2012 as a personal style blog. I host through Blogger, which is a free platform owned by Google. In retrospect, I probably should have opted for a self-hosted WordPress, but freshman year Callie didn't have the budget for web hosting. But Blogger has been a great option even three years later. I also bought a custom domain, which I think adds a feel of legitimacy and professionalism to a blog - about $10 a year.
I took me another two years to really start understanding that the design of my blog mattered. Coffee and Cardigan's current look is actually the work of my go-to designer Melissa. We worked together last summer to develop Coffee and Cardigans' new image. It's true that hiring a designer can get really expensive depending on your platform - an average of $500+ on Blogger and $1,000+ on WordPress. You can also buy premade themes for both platforms, which are a little cheaper ($50-150).
But let's look at the other side of the argument. Blogger has some decent default themes that are largely customizable, so it's not necessary to hire a designer if you are ready to put the time in. WordPress can be the same way, depending on your chosen theme. I considered hiring Melissa an investment in my blog (and also my career). It's definitely increased the quality of my blog, and at the same time, helped me become a legitimate partner that brands want to work with.
Building and Managing Content
The final piece to the equation is content. Where does it come from? These days, Coffee and Cardigans really focuses in on post-grad style, career advice and daily living. Because of this, my job and life serve as the primary source of inspiration. Reading other blogs, browsing social media and staying current on trends can also turn up ideas. But once and a while, blogging needs to get personal. I think it's great to use the current challenges in your life as fuel. Some of the most successful posts I've had were just really honest pieces that addressed a personal challenge.
Budget and time were two big factors that impacted blogging for me right after graduation, so develop a rhythm was important. Coffee and Cardigans is updated about 2-3 a week, depending on my schedule. I have a Google spreadsheet that's become my editorial calendar for planning out weekly posts and guest content. But there's no "science" to it for me.
What are your questions about starting a blog and building it up? Leave your questions or best advice in a comment below - I'd love to read them!