My online magazine BLES Magazine has been online for 2 weeks now and it's going better than I ever imagined. The thing is, I have had this blog for almost 6 years now, and I remember how hard it was to get it going back in 2011. Back in that year, fashion blogs were booming! The first big bloggers made their ways to the front rows of New York fashion week and fashion bloggers like Karla Deras, Rumi Neely and Chiara Ferragni were quickly taking over the fashion world. Starting a blog back then was tricky, because ever getting as big as the top bloggers was already near impossible... Here’s how I tackled it back then versus now.
At first I had no idea what I wanted to blog about, in what language (I am Dutch) for what audience etc. “Finding your niche”… a whát?? I quickly googled some things but the language of blogging seemed like Chinese to me, so I just did it: clicked ‘Create your blog’ on my Blogger Dashboard and just started writing away. In Dutch.
Two days later I switched to English, just because I thought: ‘if this does work out, at least I’ll be able to get an international audience’. And look at me now: I’ve been blogging in English for almost 6 years now and YOU guys come from every part of the world! I still smile when I see that my readers are also from countries like Malaysia, Canada, South Africa and Sweden… Amazing! If I can say so myself, I am not doing bad. But I will not be the next Kristina Bazan or Kenza Zouiten, I’ve been blogging on this level (which is totally okay) for too long. It took me 3 years to actually gain an audience, and that’s because I just started blogging without a goal, without a plan and without a certain approach.
How I did it with BLES Magazine
I had been thinking about starting something new, a brand new challenge, for about a year. I study Communications, did a minor in Online Communications and had a few succesful PR internships. I wanted to do something with that knowledge and those experiences, something that I could turn into a business if I wanted to. So I thought about starting an online magazine. Because I knew what I wanted: to write about tons of other topics than my own outfits, looks and opinions. I honestly thought: with so many other big influencers: who the hell cares about what I have to say? That is not the main reason, but I wanted to write on a less personal level and a more professional level. No more ‘hey dolls here is my opinon’ but articles that anyone would like to read and share with their friends because they’re informative, inspiring or just entertaining. With this in mind, I came up with the subjects Beauty, Life, Entertainment and Style: BLES. Difference with this blog: I have written about probably 25 different subjects over the years, which made it hard to determain what type of blog this was. A Fashion blog? Beauty? Lifestyle? DIY or even more? That’s what finding your niche was all about. BLES Magazine consists of 4 categories and there will never ever be an exception. I know exactly what I want this time.
Go big or go home
That was really my motto with BLES Magazine. I was brainstorming and when I knew how to call my online magazine, I asked others what they thought about it. My parents, my sister, my boyfriend, my friends. People who are close to me, so I knew they would honestly tell me what they thought of it. I wanted to do this right, instead of what I did with this blog: I changed the name 3 times (malu’s fashion, the stylish confessions, maluswartjes) and I must have changed the look of my blog hundreds of times, without ever asking for feedback. With BLES, I knew what I wanted it to look like and ever since going live, I’ve been loving this lay out and theme and I plan on keeping it, because that is what makes people remember and recognize BLES Magazine the next time they see it. I was well prepared: I had about 15 articles online before I announced BLES Magazine, so people would have enough to read from the start. Then it was time to go live:
The big press release
As I’ve learned in school and during PR internships, sharing news through press releases reaches a great amount of people, when done right. I personally thought ‘Fashion blogger Malu Swartjes launches BLES Magazine’ sounded quite catchy, so I started writing down some things that I wanted to share about BLES Magazine in a very formal way. I wrote a press release in Dutch and one in English and again, I let my parents, sister, boyfriend and friends proof read it. Then I started collecting email addresses from fellow bloggers who pointed out on their blogs that they’d like to receive press releases, but I also collected the addresses of PR agencies and news/entertainment websites. (Let me know if you're one of the bloggers who received the press release:) After I had collected hundreds of email addresses, I set up the e-mail, added the press release and checked everything another 10 times. On September 14 I sent it out first thing in the morning and later that day, I saw that a few websites, including one of the biggest marketing news sites in the Netherlands, picked it up! I also announced the news on my social media channels. In a matter of hours I saw my pageviews rising, followers subscribing to Bloglovin and Instagram and likes piling up on the Facebook page. Now, 2 weeks later, BLES Magazine reached an audience that took me a few years to accomplish with this blog.
It turns out: it does not have to be harder to start a blog or website nowadays, in a world that already seems saturated with fashion and lifestyle blogs. You just need to know exactly what you want, what you want your blog to represent and who you want to reach. Starting BLES Magazine in the middle of my graduation year seemed like a challenge, but at least now I know that this is what I want and what I love doing most. If BLES Magazine continues to grow as fast as it did the first two weeks, the dream of turning it into a business will become reality too.
Let me know what you think of BLES Magazine and if you like it, make sure to hit those subscribe buttons!