Illustration - Conor Merriman

Blogging has exploded in the last 2-3 years and as I enter my 6th (gulp!) year of blogging, I thought it'd be wise and useful to spread out my knowledge, advice and bluntly honest tips to fellow bloggers and anyone determined to start their own blog in 2015.

Blogging is a HUGE business so I can merely touch on the topics below without writing up a 50 page essay. This is going to be quite a long post but I hope it'll be a one-stop guide for any of you during your blogging journey.  There are things I haven't mentioned below because I'm either a) not knowledgeable enough to give my advice on it b) I have little experience in that field c) I don't think it's hugely important when starting out.

I was considering breaking this up into a series but I think having the one post will make it easier for you all to bookmark and reference. If you'd like more in-depth post regarding any of the below separately, let me know in a comment. Likewise if there's still something you're wondering about after reading - who knows, maybe a second post will be necessary! Grab a cup of tea and let's get cracking..


Well first thing's first (I'm da realest, ahem) - physically starting a blog is seriously scary and daunting in this day and age. It can be overwhelming trying to launch into something new, if there are already thousands of other people doing the very same thing. However, it can be and is possible to be a successful blogger in 2015!

BLOGGING PLATFORMS - Choosing the blogging platform that suits you best is hugely important. I chose to use Blogger as it was the main platform people were using back in 2009 - however, a lot of people now use Wordpress. There's pro's and cons to both platforms and setting up a quick draft of how you want your blog to look on both websites wouldn't be a bad idea.

I personally find Blogger easier to navigate; I've used Wordpress in past PR jobs and I found it a bit too complicated for newbie users. Some people have asked about using Tumblr for setting up a blog and being honest, it isn't the best platform to use if you want to do this seriously as it's mainly for recreational use.

STANDING OUT - My biggest tip: KNOW. YOUR. NICHE. There are so many people starting blogs nowadays, that it can be tough finding ones that standout. Naturally many people look to other bloggers they admire for inspiration. However, whilst inspiration is fantastic and flattering, a lot of the time new bloggers tend to do an entire replication instead of taking bits here and there from their faves. How many blogs have you seen with floral pink/ blue backgrounds and fancy squiggly writing? Thousands. Exactly, it's boring.

Embrace your uniqueness and use it to STAND OUT when starting a blog. Knowing your niche is beyond valuable to anyone in any creative industry. I knew my niche from the very beginning and concentrating on it may have been challenging at times, whilst proving my worth, but it's made it worth it in the end because it makes me stand out.

My niche is being a fashion-focused yet alternative blogger. I like to showcase my knowledge and love for the likes of Saint Laurent and many other designers but I'm also covered in tattoos, have a ring through my nose and would opt for a band tee-fishnets combo over a ball gown any day. That's my niche.

Embracing and encouraging my grungy-self has been my biggest selling point as a blogger and business woman. Yes, it was bloody tough proving to people I'm just as worthy of attending a fashion show as much as the next fashionista but it's made me stand out to not only fellow industry peers but to brands and readers alike.

Knowing your niche, your uniqueness and what you LOVE will only keep you grounded and encouraged in the long run. Don't step into someone else's shoes and expect success to come running after you - after all, who wants to look at blog clones in their thousands?

Choosing a blog topic can be pretty tough but if you stick to YOUR interests and what YOU find interesting to read about on blog, your enthusiasm and creativity should make it come pretty naturally to you - and trust me, there ARE people out there who want to read about your gardening obsession or DIY cushion covers.

Fashion and beauty are the most popular blog topics by far, without a doubt, along with the likes of food, fitness and travel. It's a great idea to mix up topics to drive more readers to your blog but make sure you let your readers know you'll be discussing X, Y and Z in your blog description. 

If you want to talk about fashion and skiing, go for it. The same goes for lipsticks and cars. Don't be afraid to discuss completely different things; it not only boosts your niche but it also will make your blog stand out.

OPSH Fearless Four Bloggers Campaign


When I asked you all about what you'd like me to focus in on with this post, the response was overwhelming; building up a profile and getting noticed was by far the biggest factor of blogging you're all wondering about. We all have to start at the bottom, in order to climb to the top. Becoming successful in any industry requires hard work. It took me years to develop a name for myself, not only as a blogger but also as a fashion industry professional.

There are so many things NOT to do when it comes to trying to spread your name around: Don't spam: this means not leaving repeated copy-and-paste comments on peoples' photos/ videos - you'll get reported and it annoys people. Nobody ever gained success from spamming, trust me! Asking people to follow you back constantly is also a no-no, some may think it's harmless but it tends to look unprofessional to both your followers, brands and the person you're asking. 

Don't expect to get noticed immediately: Far too many new bloggers become irritated at the fact they don't see a rise in blog hits or followers within a few months of starting. If you concentrate solely on numbers, you'll drive yourself crazy and will run out of fuel.  

You reap what you sow! If you don't put the hard work and effort in, how can you expect the followers and hits to come running towards you? It doesn't work like that. Becoming a successful blogger includes endless 2am writing sessions, constant social media engagement, researching, planning and last but not least, drive. If you're not inspired by what you're writing yourself, how can you expect others to feel inspired by you?

I started blogging at 16 and I slowly but surely built up my profile. I was lucky when I started out because 2009 was blogging's early days. I started networking and interacting with a load of fellow bloggers from Ireland and the UK and within two or so years, I had built up a fantastic network of like-minded people to interact with. Most of them being some of my strongest bonds still.

YOUR VOICE - I've always approached what I do in a conversational and relatable manner - I never wanted to be a robot in how I interacted with others. I've maintained (and sometimes whittled down) my "casual" approach over the years; the naturalness in doing so has not only built up readers' respect but also industry peers'.  I find it a lot more relatable if you're easy-going yet still keep a professional polish on things. I engaged in conversation with people online as I would with a friend: I sent emails, I commented on blog posts that had inspired me and caught my eye, but I kept it real and never went overboard with it.

NETWORKING - I was eventually invited to events after my second to third year blogging and I must admit, it was petrifying, especially as a teenager. However, I dragged a friend or family member along with me each time (if a +1 was allowed) and I eventually got chatting to journalists, tv presenters and other bloggers. 

Networking plays a huge role in the fashion industry and it can be extremely daunting and scary for anyone who is not only an extreme introvert like myself but also if you suffer from anxiety. Over the years, I have literally forced myself to go to events because I know at the back of mind that it's all worth it in the long run. Who knows who will be there or what the night shall bring! Never miss an opportunity to sell yourself and your blog.

MAKING BLOGGER FRIENDS - Engaging with other bloggers, especially fellow-bloggers who are starting out like you, is key. One of the best ways to engage with bloggers (and for spreading the word around about your posts) is by using hashtags - especially on Instagram and Twitter. Hashtagging every word isn't necessary and makes your post look messy and illegible - it's best to keep the hashtags until the end of your captions or tweet. For example..

Twitter: "My new outfit post featuring these @Topshop boots just went live! Check it out here: #topshop #fbloggers #irishbloggers"

Instagram: "My new outfit post featuring these Topshop boots just went live! Check it out here:" 

I'd advise hashtagging in a completely separate comment under your photo caption on Instagram, as it looks neater and the photo will still appear in the hashtag fields. It also means that if people start commenting, the hashtags are then hidden (yet still working) and it looks even tidier.

The best hashtags to use on Instagram are brands and companies: #Topshop, what the main items are: #lipstick, #boots and anything else relevant to the post such as: #OOTD, #WIWT, #AllBlack.

BLOGGER COLLABORATIONS - Doing collaborations with bloggers is a great idea when starting out, as you can share your traffic and readers with each other - especially if you're on the same level of progression. I'd recommend getting in touch with fellow bloggers and suggesting doing collaborations such as: "My Go-To Spring Outfit", "My Day-To-Night Makeup Look" - you get the drift. Keep it simple enough so each of you can each bring your own twist to it. Plan to launch all of your blog posts on the same day and at the same time so it makes it easier for readers (and brands) to spot the posts quickly on social media.

Building your profile on social media is obviously HUGELY important in this profession but it's just as necessary to make yourself known in the flesh. Be natural. Talk to people in a professional, yet light-hearted manner - also, humour never goes amiss, if it isn't forced! The recognition will come but it takes patience and time.


This is quite a tricky area to discuss when it comes to blogging as it differs for each blogger. However, a lot of you are wondering! Alike to building up your profile, earning money through blogging comes with time and patience - years and determination.

I won't go into too much detail on this as it's quite a personal topic and discussing my own financial business isn't necessary. However, I'll tell you all a brief summary of how you go about earning money and how it works for full-time bloggers.

I tend to receive a lot of messages from somewhat-naive new bloggers who are confused as to why they aren't being paid after a year or so after starting a blog. It just isn't that easy, I'm afraid! It literally takes years to build up relationships with not only your readers but with brands too.

Companies are looking to invest money in well-known bloggers that have a high and loyal following so they can sell and advertise their products. It wouldn't make sense for a company to pay a blogger who only started a few months back and has 275 followers because a product wouldn't sell in comparison to a blogger of 3 years who has a 10,000+ following!

Earning an income via blogging isn't easy and it takes years and a lot of risk-taking for it to become regular and something you can live off. I was working in retail on top of blogging up until this time last year and only then was I able to focus on blogging 100% - after 5 years.

AFFILIATE PROGRAMMES - There's many ways of earning money through blogging if you're confident that you have a genuine and high following and enough experience behind you: affiliate programmes and sponsored content are probably the two most popular sources of income for bloggers.

Affiliate programmes are either run by a company or a PR network who will actively seek out bloggers to advertise an item for them. Not all of the opportunities they deliver are paid, which is mostly always the case in the beginning. The product is seen as payment-enough i.e. the dress you're blogging about, is the payment.

Receiving a dress worth €25 to blog about is a dream at first and especially for new bloggers looking to up their game and associate themselves with brands but for established bloggers, unfortunately an item of clothing worth €25 just doesn't suffice due to time-commitment and the hours put into creating the post.

Sometimes the affiliate programmes or companies will send you a set fee of how much they'll pay you for the feature alongside what they require (i.e one blog post, one tweet, one Instagram post etc) - or you'll be asked to send on a media package (basically a file wherein you state your analytics and current fees) and ask for your set fees. Usually this is for more-established bloggers as the company can see and knows they've worked with other brands before and the results have been beneficial.

Setting your fee can be daunting as you're ultimately pricing yourself and your work, it's best to speak to some fellow-bloggers on a similar level as you about what they're doing in regards to payment if you're confused. Think about it like this: if you were working in a retail job, how much would you get paid per hour? How many hours would it take for you to create a blog post? Think of the hours it takes to shoot, edit and write it. That should give you a rough idea. (Again, this only applies to bloggers who have a substantial amount of experience and work under their belt.)

You should not start blogging with "freebies" (nothing is free), event invites and money in mind; your creativity and voice should be a priority. If you're main aim is to attend fancy launches and to be rolling in Chanel bags, you're setting yourself up for failure as people and brands can see right through it. Believe me.

SPONSORED POSTS - The main way in which bloggers earn money is through sponsored content and features. Please note that all bloggers all required to disclaim this on their blog: I have a Disclaimer section and mark all sponsored items/ content with an asterisk (*). Sponsored content means a company/ brand will pay the blogger to feature a product or wear an item and promote the blog post across social media channels. Again, most companies will either suggest a fee or ask for your media package.

ADS - Google Adsense is something that a few people brought up but being honest, it's not something I focus on as I don't like sticking flashing ads all over my blog as it ruins the design. It isn't the biggest money-maker in blogging but it's great to add one or two on to your blog anyway for some extra cash.

This is a topic that could go on and on and there are many other bloggers who've discussed it in more detail than me, so do give it a Google search if you want more information.


When it comes to blogging, content is key, especially when it comes to photography. If you're looking to become a fashion or beauty blogger, photography is a massive component of what you need to concentrate on. Photography makes or breaks a blog (and a coinciding Instagram) so it's something you really need to pay attention to if you're determined to make this a serious part of your life.

CAMERAS - Don't think you need to go out and spend hundreds on a fancy-ass camera in order to become a successful blogger (although it does help). If you simply have a high-quality average digital camera or even a phone, you should be good to go for at the least the first year or so. Investing in cameras and equipment is essential for blogging longterm and putting the money into these investments, will only benefit you greatly as the years go on.

OUTFIT PHOTOS - It goes without saying that taking photos in daylight and natural light is the best way to go about 99% of photos for your blog. Regarding outfit photos, it's best to take photos either in the morning or early afternoon so you're chances of getting perfectly-lit daylight shots are high.

If you're taking photos of yourself, buy a tripod so you can attach your camera on to it and shoot away; set your camera on a timer and have your pose and outfit ready to go for the photo immediately. Run back and forth to ensure the lighting is right. Using a camera remote comes in pretty handy for taking your own shots too!

If you know a budding photographer, great, ask them if they can help with taking a few outfit shots for you here and there in exchange for a link to their website on the post. If not, grab a friend or family member to take them for you; teach them the basics on how to use your camera, show them examples of outfit photos your favourite bloggers take and keep checking back with them to see if the shots are to your liking.

It's best to take outfit photos against plain and simple backgrounds at first, such as white or brick walls. If the background is too busy, it will distract from the clothes if you're not careful. Take at least 2 full-body shots and then a load of detail images for outfit posts. These should include your shoes, accessories, a close-up of the mixture of textures/ prints you're wearing and a portrait, if you like.

I really like incorporating street art, graffiti and areas all over Dublin in my blog posts. Due to my international following, showing people in the likes of America and Asia that Dublin is actually pretty cool and quirky (and not just cobblestones and horses) really boosts engagement and interest in my posts. Stick to plain and simple backgrounds when you're starting out and get comfortable in front of the camera - then start experimenting.

Editing software can be expensive and I've personally never used the likes of Photoshop to edit my photos. I either use my Macbook's photo editing software or websites such as Pic Monkey to edit. If your photos are taken in clear-light, try not to over-edit as sometimes natural is best.

Depending on what your blog's aesthetic is and how you showcase your style, you can experiment with different edits for your photos too! I'm a huge black and white photography fan and as I wear a lot of monochrome looks, I sometimes post OOTD's up in black and white for a change. If you're showing off a really colourful outfit, this wouldn't work, obviously - but don't be afraid to shake things up a little if you're feeling your posts are a bit same-same.

MAKEUP PHOTOS - Alike to outfit photos, daylight is essential for makeup photos if you're starting out. Investing in professional indoor lighting is great for beauty bloggers eventually but it isn't necessary. When taking photos of products and swatches of products, make sure the surface and background aren't too busy and that they don't draw attention away from the products. Wooden floors, nicely-coloured (and clean) carpets, walls and curtains are great to use at first. If you're crafty, buy some wallpaper, wrapping paper or fancy art paper and stick it to a sheet of cardboard and use it for your product backdrop.

If you're taking photos of yourself and makeup you've applied, make sure you're standing facing a window - not too near it - and keep checking back to see if all of the products' colours are showing up true-to-life on camera. Make sure the tones are correct and that the lighting isn't too bright/ dark. You can always edit photos but you can only do so much when it comes to makeup.


PR's can either be situated in-house at a brand or out of house representing a brand. PR's get in contact with bloggers mainly via email, looking for people who will fit into a certain brand's aesthetic and customer. Having worked in PR before, I can honestly say the wrong way to go about looking for PR's to get in contact with you is to send them emails/ spam, after you've only started blogging.

PR's are looking for hits, high readership and a history of the blogger working for brands beforehand. Their main goal is to spread the word around about a product and hopefully encourage sales of said product. Emailing a PR after starting a blog a month ago just won't cut it and you risk tarnishing your name - this is a perfect example of when it comes across that someone might be in this for the wrong reasons!

If you've been blogging for a while and feel like you deserve some PR recognition - whether you want to be included on their mailing lists regarding news, launches etc or to be sent some samples to review, make sure you've a heap of examples of past work to show them; preferably of the brands they already represent. Never request samples when you're starting off - sending a short but sweet email introducing yourself, your blog and a few examples of your work is just enough at the beginning and hopefully the PR will respond.

Don't be deflated if they don't respond however. PR's are inundated with emails like this daily and it'd be physically impossible to reply to each and every person. If emailing doesn't work, make sure to tag brands and PR companies in social media posts.

Example: "My new blog post is up! I've reviewed @Benefit_IRE's POREfessional primer.." 

The chances are, the PR and/ or brand will see your tweet and will respond back to you. They might even RT it, which will drive more traffic to your post! One or two tweets (spaced out) is enough, never spam.


Trying to find the time to blog and the right balance within your life can be tough, especially at the beginning when it is new to you. I'm currently studying full-time so I've had to change my blogging routine up hugely since September.

Please, never ever pressure yourself to write X amount and feel as though you NEED to write X amount in order to be successful. Yes, writing regularly - daily, even - is absolutely brilliant and beneficial but it just isn't realistic for the majority of people. I usually aim to blog at least 4 times a week, which is a realistic goal when I'm in college. I'd rather write and publish a handful of really decent posts that I'm proud of, than stressing myself over having to write 7 and coming out with half-assed work.

Only blog when it suits you and when you feel enthused about it. It's so obvious when you're reading a blog post somebody has pulled teeth writing, as the boredom and monotonous tone becomes so apparent!

What I like to do is: write up and edit a handful of my blog posts in the one day, usually on the weekends, and schedule and space them them out for during the week. Set a reminder on your phone when certain posts are going up so you can make sure to link them on your social sites and spread the word. It takes a while to get into the swing of things and finding what times suit you best to get blog-happy, but it all comes with practise. Don't compare yourself to other bloggers and feel you need to write X amount and in such a way in order to grow. 


It's impossible to stay encouraged and engaged 24/7 - especially if you feel like you're not going anywhere with your hard work. I get stuck in a rut constantly with various things and I admittedly have an extremely short attention span. If I ever find myself getting fed up with blogging or running out of ideas, I take a step back and have a break.

Some bloggers are afraid of taking breaks because they think an entire week off will be the be all and end all path to failure. This is ludicrous! Overworking yourself is extremely dangerous in terms of your physical and mental health and also your love for your work. Taking a break from blogging if you're just not feeling it is OKAY and perfectly acceptable.

If you're apprehensive doing so, a simple tweet or post letting your followers know you're going to step back for a bit will ensure they remain loyal to you and your blog - if anyone gives you stick for it, feck them! You're only human.

Getting out of your rut is a toughie and sometimes a break can drag on.. and on.. and oh whoops, you haven't blogged in 2 months! The best advice I can give you for building up your enthusiasm and drive again is to watch encouraging documentaries and to read some inspirational books encouraging work ethic (I'm currently loving Sophia Amoruso's '#Girlboss'). Go on an internet hunt to discover new blogs to read and gain inspiration from them.

Redesigning your blog and/ or social sites is also a favourite enthusiasm-builder for me; nothing gives me a burst of energy like jazzing up my websites! It sounds totally nerdy but simple things like changing your photos to newer ones, creating a snazzy header and writing a new info section can give you a whole new lease of life and a "fresh start" feeling.

Also, never be afraid to confide in people if you're feeling stuck in the mud - especially fellow-bloggers. Chances are, they've gone through this too and will have some brilliant advice for you to help you get motivated again! Easing yourself back into the swing of things can be tough but writing simple posts such as "Nails of the Day" or a quick product review can be great to jump straight back in the game.

(If you have deadlines with sponsored content etc, that's when breaks mightn't be so okay - let the PR know you are going to take a break and suggest a date change. This doesn't always suit a PR/ company however so be aware of that).


People are often scared of starting a blog due to what their friends and family might think.  There's no polite way of really saying this but to put it simply: FUCK WHAT PEOPLE THINK. I was laughed at and jeered for years when I started my blog, and still am. People who don't understand the business and have never worked in it are often quick to point fingers, laugh and judge. They think you're faffing about all day, taking selfies, and trying on clothes. Ha!

Let's put it this way: since the rise of blogging, we have seen magazines and newspapers shut down altogether or move online - globally. Blogging has changed the world we live in and how the world works in such a short amount of time. Blogging is the present and it is the future. If people mock you for wanting to delve into an ever-growing and successful industry.. it says a lot more about them than you. GO FOR IT!


I have a confession: the technical side of blogging is not my forte and it is something that has gotten me stuck quite a few times over the years. I have a numerical learning disability which makes it difficult for me to understand things like codes, image sizing and so on. However, I've made my way around the tough parts and I'm the first to admit that I always ask for a helping hand with things such as my blog design and layout.

BLOG DESIGN - Blogger and Wordpress come with ready-made designs and layouts and it's just a matter of playing around with them at first to see what fits you. If you're unhappy with it looking unoriginal or a bit bland, go on the hunt for some budding graphic designers to help you out. Some will be happy to help you design certain elements of your blog (i.e. a header or a logo) in exchange for a permanent advertisement to their work on your blog.

Do expect to pay most graphic designers, however. If you're looking to do a complete blog redesign and you don't have many readers yet, it wouldn't be worth the time of an artist spending days on something to not get much traffic back to their website. Invest in your blog and you'll see the benefits of it in the long-run so don't be apprehensive about cashing in on it. Of course, if you're a quick-learner and creative, you could always look up tutorials on Youtube or on other blogs on how to go about designing things yourself. (There's websites and blogs available where you can use their buttons and widgets for free by the way, just give it a quick Google search and a heap of them should pop up.)

SOCIAL MEDIA - Social media is crucial when starting a blog. If you don't have an active and engaging presence on social media, you won't see much growth on your blog at all. Social media is what drives traffic to your blog. The main social media sites to focus on, I believe, are Instagram and Twitter. Instagram for showcasing your photos alongside your information and Twitter for the same reasons, but with added engagement and conversation.

Bloglovin' is also great tool in which you can follow hundreds of blogs in the one go and have all of their new posts to read on your homepage, however, over the years traffic from Bloglovin' has decreased so I wouldn't stress yourself over raking in followers at the start. The same goes with Facebook: little to no traffic really comes from Facebook for the average blogger anymore, due to Facebook charging you for your page's fans to actually SEE your posts! To give you a rough idea, say if you have 100 fans on your Facebook page, only approximately 10 people will actually see your post.. unless you pay. Again, set up a Facebook page but don't sweat over it.

SPELLING & GRAMMAR - This is a no-brainer but there is nothing as off-putting than a blog post that hasn't been edited with about 50 spelling mistakes going through it. It screams not-bothered and can't be taken seriously by readers or brands alike! If you have difficulty with spelling and grammar, copy and paste your draft into Word and go over it with spell-check. Also, sending your draft to a friend or family member to read over is also a great idea, as a second pair of eyes can spot typos instantly. Nobody is asking for 100% Shakespearean perfection but always be on the ball with your work.

Editing and re-reading your own work is crucial. My English teacher used to constantly call me up in school to tell me to re-read my work due to silly little grammatical errors here and there; I've always loathed reading my own work but it's something I have to do. There's no way around it. I usually re-read my posts up to 5 times before publishing it and if it's a lengthy post discussing something controversial or personal, I'll always send it on to a friend to read-through beforehand. (No doubt after my tenth time reading this post, there'll still be a typo or two!)

Splitting your posts up into paragraphs and highlighting important words or titles in bold/ italic is also crucial as it gives the reader a breather. This post is a perfect example; it's the length of a short book so I've had to separate it with photos and big, bold headings. If I didn't, someone would take one look at it and feel overwhelmed.

TIMING & SCHEDULE - Be vigilant with your time whilst blogging. Not only WHEN you blog but when you decide to publish a post. Think about it like this: if you want a post to get noticed, would publishing it at 2am drive much traffic to it? Nope! I'm lucky when it comes to timing because I've built up an equal American readership to my European readership over the years so I can sometimes get away with posting things late at night and still get decent traffic. However, if you're starting out, you need to be super-aware of your timing and timezones.

The best times in which to publish a blog post and share it on social media are:

 7am - 9am: First thing in the morning when people are on the way to work/ college/ school and are checking their phones and tablets on public transport.

12pm-2pm: Lunchtime, when people are browsing their social sites at their desk/ on their phones and are chatting to each other about what they're reading.

5pm-7pm: Evening time when people are travelling home, bored and stuck in rush-hour traffic and scrolling endlessly on their phones/ tablets.

It's essential you tweet and Instagram about your latest posts at these times because you're guaranteed a larger audience will see it. If you're not able to post three times a day, stick to the morning and evening times. Like I mentioned previously, you can also schedule in social media posting on websites like Facebook and Twitter (via social management sites such as a Hootsuite). 


I really hope you all enjoyed this post and have learned something from it - if you're ever stuck during your blogging journey, bookmark it just in case and refer back to my pointers. If you still have a burning question that isn't answered above, tell me in a comment - if there's more areas brought up that I feel should be discussed, I'll write a second edition to this post in the near future.

Best of luck with your blogging journey and remember, BE DIFFERENT - BE YOU!