Blogging FAQ: Answering the Most Commonly Asked Questions about Blogging

                                                  Candice Brown Photography

                                                 Candice Brown Photography

Hey everyone, over the past couple of weeks, I have had some readers reach out and ask me questions about blogging and how I got started. I thought I would share with you the most asked questions I get about Morrell's Armoire and Blogging. 

When did you start your blog?

I started my blog in the Summer of 2013 right after I graduated from Graduate School at the University of Alabama. I was interviewing for “big girl jobs” at a LOT of places after graduation.  It started it in the meantime of trying to find a real job.

 

Why did you start your blog?

In all seriousness, and if I’m being truthful with you, I started my blog because I wanted to be a real model and a lot of people told me I could never be a model because of my height.  They also said that I was too “Southern Belle” and maybe I should cut my hair and stop curling it. "Become more edgy!" These were the things that I loved about myself. I wanted to keep them.

I thought to myself, I’ll show them! After hours upon hours of researching, I fell in love with the idea of starting a fashion blog. I could be my own model!! After I spent more time researching other fashion blogs, I finally decided to just do it. I felt it was a great way to document my style. Not mention I have ALWAYS had a passion for clothes, fashion, dressing up….I’ve always wanted a reason to get dressed up.

I also just really wanted to help people with their style and confidence.  Morrell’s Armoire is now my "creative outlet fueled by my passion". Morrell’s Armoire has given me courage, creativity, and so much happiness. Sharing my style is now one of my favorite things to do! 

 

 How did you come up with your blog’s name?

 I called it Morrell’s Armoire because I wanted something that sounded classy and sophisticated. Armoire means closet, and in my eyes, it says closet in a romantic "Frenchy" way. I’ve always had an Armoire in my childhood room where I kept my most special things. My closet is my refuge and sanctuary. Every piece of clothing in my closet is like my own child. Each piece has a story and a memory. It’s so hard for me to let go of clothes. Read This.

Do you have any advice for choosing a blog name?

Make it your own! Make it something that describes yourself, but something easy to remember- short and sweet. Make it personal and meaningful. The name of your blog should reflect your blog's topic. A lot of people can’t remember the last part of my blog’s name because it’s a little hard to pronounce.  I’ve learned people have a hard time remembering it. That’s one thing I’ve learned thus far. about titles.

Don’t obsess over your blog name. A cool blog name is just one piece of the pie. An awesome blog title alone will not make you successful. It’s all about the content that you put into it day in and day out.

Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers. The more different your blog is, the better. That’s how you stand out.

 

Do you make money off your blog and can you make a living just from blogging?

YES! A lot of bloggers turn their blog into a small business and pay themselves a salary through their business finances. However, Morrell’s Armoire income is not enough for me to live off right now… solely. Lance and I are in the process of trying to build our forever home, you see.

I have been doing 2 jobs (blogging and working full-time in education) for about five years now, and I honestly haven’t been able to put enough time into my blog to make it my sole source of income. It’s great supplemental income for now. Plus, I love my full-time job as a Career Counselor! Moreover, I work for the state, and I’ve got reeeeeaaaaaaalllllllly good health insurance for Lance and me.  My full-time job offers retirement, excellent health insurance (vision, dental and cancer), and supplemental savings options. I know with the income that I make now off Morrell’s Armoire is not enough to support these benefits. If you work on your own, health insurance isn’t cheap! I just like the security of having these benefits. Knowing that my job will provide excellent health care to my family and future kids means a lot to me. You may be different and want to take a risk, which is fine. 

 Once I can make more than my full-time salary, I would consider solely blogging. I wouldn’t advise leaving your job unless you have financial support from a spouse or parents, or you can consistently replace your income every month with your blog.  You need to be able to pay your bills!

One cool thing about my full-time job is that I get six weeks off in the summer, so I get to spend a lot of time on my blog during the summer months. Summer months are  are busy for bloggers anyway…

I’ve always had a full-time job. I blog after work hours. It’s a lot. I get off work at 3:15 p.m. I then go to a coffee shop or home and write article, link up my outfits, or meet my friends and take pictures. Sometimes I blog on the weekends. I literally blog almost every minute of free time that I get, and I still have to balance my home and personal life. I just love to do it-share style. I have now kind of incorporated my love for fashion with my counseling job. I’ve starting the “Dress for Success Program at my schools. It helps young men and women learn how to dress professionally!

If you want to be a blogger because you think you’ll get free clothes, and free travel and it looks glamorous, that’s not going to be enough to keep you up and running. You have to have a serious passion for the subject your blogging about. I have never looked at my blog as  burden or  an“extra” job. It’s just a passion of mine and it keeps me going, going, going.

 

What are some way bloggers make money?

Here are some ways to make money off your blog:

  •   Advertising:  

Companies can pay to put their adds on my side. However, I do not have any paid adverting on my page now.

  • Brand Partnerships:

These are set up differently through each brand. Some PR Agencies are companies that will reach out to you. They are the middle man between the blogger and the brand. Before the campaign begins, they help both parties work out a deal that is beneficial for both parties.  I worked with PR agencies for my promotion with Goodies and Bone Fish Restaurant, just to name a few. Most PR companies I’ve worked with make sure that everything is running smoothly and the influencer is upholding their end of the contract. You can make a bad name for yourself in the industry if you don’t hold up your end of the deal.

  •   Affiliate links:

This is my favorote way! Most big online retailers are a part of an affiliate network within a company that is essentially the middleman between bloggers and retailers. There are a lot of affiliate companies like Shop style, Rekutin Marketing , Impact Radius, Amazon Affiliates but the main one most bloggers use is rewardStyleI honestly only use this program right now. It seems to be the best for me. RewardStyle is linked up with the most retailers. I have learned over the years that this company has really advocated for bloggers.

How does it work? 

The retailer or brand meets with rewardStyle to determine a percentage that the influencer or blogger will earn on any and every sale that is generated through links on their blog or social media channels. They track the activity of the links through cookies.  Affiliate links work by placing a cookie on your computer. A cookie is a tiny file that the website sends to your computer so next time you visit, they will know who you are already. Cookies stays active usually 30 days, but sometimes longer.

Please know that that there is never an additional fee charged to the shopper by the company that is then given to the bloggers. The company pays rewardStyle, then rewardStyle pays the blogger commission. It’s a win win situation. It’s kind of like a salesman getting a commission from selling a car, or shoes or whatever they may sell.  Shoppers like to know when there are affiliate links present, because they want control over who gets their commission.

Also note that you have to be approved by rewardStyle and have a Legit blog or social media blog. 

I do believe in and LOVE all the products that I post about. I don’t just post something to sell and potentially make money.

  •   Sell Memberships

Another option to make money is to sell memberships to exclusive spots of your website. For instance, a sports blog might charge $20 per month for users to gain access to their exclusive celeb interview board. If you are starting up, I probably would not charge a fee. This may be a turn off to readers.

  •  Sell Digital Products

Many bloggers create and sell their own digital products, like new crazed Instagram filters. Digital products are great because they don’t require inventory and can be distributed to quickly and easily. Another example is an e-book about how to grow your Instagram following or how to make a blog.

  • Sell Services

For instance, some brands have hied me for styling. I have helped Shades, Southern Shirt, and even Mobile Bay Bridal Magazine style photoshoots- all paid opportunities. 

Can you Contact Brands?

Although I haven’t had much time to do this in the past, it’s ok to reach out to PR agencies and brands for advertising deals.

Note: Have a Media Kit ready to present to the Agency. This a couple of pages that explains the focus of the blog, shows some of your media and photos, and it also presents your following count, your target market, and the demographics that follow you. I also have a page of what I usually charge for a partnership.

Who takes your photos?

The process of taking photos is  probably not what you think. It’s A LOT OF WORK.  I COULD NOT do it without my friends who are professional photographers,  my mom,  and occasionally my husband. I usually change clothes in my car, sweating profusely because the humidity is like 100000+ in South Alabama. I normally do about 3-4 outfits in a shooting. I ‘ll meeting my photographer friend at a location after my full-time work.

This is  a big undertaking. I have to plan out my outfits the night before. Pack it all up in my car. Re-do my hair and make-up. Unpack it and reorganize for the next time… It’s a never ending cycle…. But like I said, I love doing this and it’s a passion of mine, so I do not mind it at all. It doesn’t feel like work to me.

 My blog would literally not exist if it weren’t for my amazing photographer friends. I pay them with my own money when I can, and I give them product that I have received as payment when I can. These girls really don’t get enough credit. They are awesome! They are the bread and butter of Morrell’s Armoire! I wouldn’t be here if it were not for them.

Recently, I’ve been working a lot with Candice Brown Photography. We have become great friends! We don’t always meet up just for pictures, but we grab drinks, dinner… We even did a double date with our husbands! It was so fun! I can’t wait to do it again.

In the past, I’ve worked with Larrah Melissa when we lived in the same town.I've worked with a lot of other great photographers in the South Alabama Area! 

With my photographer friends, we uplift each other. We tag each other in our posts, and watch each of our businesses grow together.

Anytime I get a cool sponsorship, I always include my photographer. If I ever get sponsored on a cool trip, you better believe she will be coming with me. If I ever get “big” enough that I am making a substantial income off my blog, I will see that my photographer is taken care of as well.  She deserves it!

When my friends are not available, my mom is great… If it comes down to crunch time and no one is available, I make Lance take my pictures. Let’s just say we are still working on that, haha…. Lance is getting better. He does support me and that’s one of the many things I love about him. I feel guilty for asking my family most of the time, but hey it’s got to get done.


What camera does your photographer use?

Candice uses a Nikon d810.  She always tries to get everything just perfect in the initial picture.

 

What camera do you personally use?

Nikon Cool Pix

 What program do you use to edit your photos?

You may be shocked to know that when I alone edit my own pictures, I ONLY use IPhoto. That’s it… I’m keeping it as real as it gets. You can probably tell a difference from my photos and my photographers. Candice uses Photoshop, Lightroom, and Portraiture, but not all three on the same picture every time. About 90% of the time Candice uses just Lightroom.

 

Are all your clothes free?

No! I do get a lot of clothes and products to keep in exchange for a review post. So essentially, it’s not free. I must put in a lot of work for one post or review. However, the of the majority of my clothes that I blog about are bought with my own money.  

NOTE: I only post clothes and products that I love. If I do not like the product, I will not write about it and share it.

 

What is the coolest thing you have ever done with your blog?

I was on the cover of Mobile Bay Magazine in May 2015. That was pretty awesome and my favorite event so far. Fashion Show VIP status isn't bad either.

 

Did you pay someone to build your website?

 I have had two websites. The first one I made right out of college all by myself in 2013 ! I used Fatcow for hosting and I used the blogging templates offered by Fatcow. I am not at all Tech savy. It took me a while, but I figured it all out over the course of three days or so. It was not expensive. It costs about $250.00 a year to keep it up and running.

When I added on my store in 2017, I wanted to move to Squarespace for E-commerce. I paid my friend Alex Joganic to design my logos, and my new blog and commerce website through Squarespace.  He was awesome. He specializes in fronts and runs a couple of businesses himself.

There is no right or wrong answer to building your website. Just know that if you hire a professional, it can be anywhere from $600.00- $5,000.00 to design your website, depending on who you go with for designing. Find a friend that can cut you a nice deal!

 

Do you have an assistant?

I wish! I wish I had someone to just follow me around every single day with a camera, as weird as that sounds. It would make daily outfit documentation so much easier.

 

What is your advice about starting an online boutique/small business?

My end goal WAS to start my own online store, so I finally just did it and jumped right in…. My ideas and opinions on this have changed drastically since then.  I have learned so much about starting a small retail business.

This will have to be all included in another separate post because it is a lot to explain about how to start an online store…

Just few pieces of advice for right now—

1. The boutique world is oversaturated. You have to have a great following and niche to set yourself apart make your things sell. Turning your inventory over in a hurry is the key.

2. DO not let yourself have emotional attachment to what you sell. It’s not about what you think is cute. It’s about what other people are buying.

3. GET AN ACCOUNTANT.  There are a lot of tax rules about starting a business. TAXES SUCK!

PS I’m going to write a post soon about “How To Start an Online E-commerce Site” I will include everything I have learned-the good, bad and the ugly.

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I think that about covers everything. I hope you enjoyed that and found it very helpful. That took me about 3 weeks to finish. Please reach out if you have anymore questions. I am happy to help in anyway.

From my closet to yours, thanks for stopping by.

Morrell