Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Start & Grow a Fashion Blog


Over and over, one of the main questions I receive via email is, "How do I start a blog?" or, "I've started a blog, now how do I get it to grow?" I decided to dedicate today's entire blog post to this, since so many of you out there seem interested in this topic. Before I begin, I will say that if you are interested in starting a blog solely for the purpose of making money off of it or becoming "famous," you are in it for the wrong reasons. The most successful bloggers started blogging because they truly love it, and it's their dedication and passion for it that have made them so successful. 

Now! Let's get started with "How to Start a Blog." 

NAME YOUR BLOG
My first recommendation would be to pick a name and decide on a niche. The name is really important because it becomes your brand. To be honest, there are many times that I wish I had chosen a different name! Since I started mine in college and didn't really intend for it to be a fashion blog, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into the name or my "brand." If you're undecided, you could simply name it after yourself. If you're going with another name, pick one that you will be happy with five years from now. For a niche, decide the type of content you want on your blog that will set you apart from others. I tend to think of "southern fashion" as my niche, with an emphasis on mixing high and low fashion. Maybe you want to blog about style on a budget, or maybe you live on the West Coast and want your blog to produce content centered around West Coast fashion.

CREATE YOUR BLOG
Now that you've decided on the name and niche, it's time to actually create your blog. There are two free sites for creating a blog, Wordpress and Blogger. This blog is run through Blogger - it's really quick and really easy. There is nothing wrong with Wordpress, and actually if you are going to hire a blog designer in the future, Wordpress is the way to go. There's a lot more freedom in design in a Wordpress blog. However, I have been really happy with Blogger in the four years I've been blogging! To begin, simply go to www.blogger.com and sign up for an account (I believe you must have a gmail account to begin).

BLOG DESIGN
Once you are signed up for Blogger, you can choose from different templates and play around with fonts, font sizes and colors. For my first blog design, I created the header in photoshop and tried to do all the html coding myself (it was really bad!). Nowadays, there are a lot of really talented blog designers that can help design your blog for you. A designer will usually send you a list of questions to help determine your interests and what you want your blog to look like, and you can work with them along the way to create the perfect, customized blog design. One tip: keep your blog as simple and uncluttered as possible. Too many buttons, images and sidebars will leave your readers confused, when you really just want them to focus on your content.

This was one of my first logos:
Now that you have created and designed your blog, how do you get it to grow?! This is definitely one of the most frustrating parts of blogging. It's easy to feel discouraged if you are working really hard, producing great content and your readership is not increasing. I will tell you, it takes a LONG TIME to gain a readership. You can't expect your blog or social media following to grow overnight. It takes months and years of hard work to really see a difference and track growth. Here are some tips for growth:

PRODUCE ORIGINAL CONTENT
In a world where everyone seems to have a blog, the easiest way to set yourself apart is to make sure you are producing original content. This is especially, especially true for fashion bloggers. It doesn't take much talent to copy a look from someone else, or to buy the exact same shoes, handbag and dress and wear them in the exact same way. What I do consider talent is the ability to put together an outfit in a new and interesting way; to combine patterns, colors, and textures in a way that is visibly pleasing and makes people go, "Wow! I never would have thought to wear that, and I love it on her." Don't just replicate what someone else has already worn... be unique! Your personality should shine through your clothes and your content.

UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA
As a fashion blogger, social media is your new best friend. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat are all outlets you can use to enhance your brand and drive traffic to your blog. I think Instagram is particularly important - since blogs are very image-driven, think of Instagram as an extension of your blog. You should definitely post your blog photos on Instagram to drive traffic to that day's blog post, but also include "behind the scenes" photos, or pretty snaps from your regular life. I've found that readers usually respond a lot better to my iPhone photos on Instagram, rather than photos taken with a professional camera. Social media is also the place to let your personality shine. Share a funny story on Snapchat, talk about your healthy lunch on Twitter, share your "ootd" on Instagram, and ENGAGE with readers who reach out to you on those platforms.


INVEST IN THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Having high quality content is a huge factor in blog growth. If you are serious about blogging, I would invest in a nice camera and lens, as well as a good photo-editing program. Think about the photos you see re-pinned the most on Pinterest  - most of them are clear, bright images where the outfit is clearly in focus. Your goal should be to create images that people want to re-pin on Pinterest.

Learning how to use a camera can be very difficult (my mom and I had to watch a thousand YouTube videos, and learned a lot from trial and error!). If you don't want to purchase a camera and learn how to use it, you also have the option of hiring a professional photographer. Many wedding photographers are willing to shoot fashion photos on the side, and charge by the outfit or by the hour. It doesn't hurt to research photographers in your area and just shoot them an email to ask!



SET REALISTIC GOALS
   To keep your blog growing, you must determine where you want it to go and have a means to analyze your success. People measure their success in different ways - maybe you want to reach 1,000 followers on Instagram, or 100,000 page views on your blog. Maybe your goal is to produce the highest quality photos you can. Once you determine what your "goal" is, write down some steps that will help you achieve your goal. If you want to reach a certain number of page views, your steps may include "blog three times a week" and "promote each blog post on Twitter," etc. Whatever it is, make sure you're setting realistic goals for yourself and not setting yourself up for failure. Setting goals and striving to achieve them is something that has kept me motivated to blog!

BE CONSISTENT
I believe that consistency is the most important part of blogging. It is easy to get discouraged and want to take a week or even a month off from blogging, but consistent posting is the best way to grow. Even if you only blog three times a week, you should do it on the same days and post at the same time (for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 a.m.). That way your readers know what to expect, and can come back to your blog on those days and find new content. If you are always creating different and original content, people will check your blog and social media over and over, knowing that they will always see something new. Even when you get discouraged, the best thing to do is push through - you may not see it at the time, but your effort and consistency will pay off in the long run.

I hope this post was helpful to anyone thinking of starting a blog, or to anyone who is trying to grow theirs! On another note, thank you to each and every one of you who come back to Southern Curls & Pearls each day. I would love to try to "give back" to y'all more often and produce content that you really want to read. If you have any other blog topics you'd like me to write about, please let me know in the comments!

74 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I just started by blog in January and it can be frustrating at times when you don't see any growth. Thanks again!

    Nikki Ann Blog
    http://nikkann.blogspot.com/

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  2. What great advice! I couldn't agree more!! Love this post. Thank you for sharing!!!

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

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  3. Thank you so much for these tips. I will definitely take them on board. For me, blogging is like my personal diary. I tried to have a diary and write in it so many times, but I never knew what to write. Now I use blogging as a way to just write about things that interest me.
    And social media, especially Twitter and Google+ have been great tools for me to grow my readership. It's still small, but I'm getting there.

    Mich x

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  4. Loved reading this post! I actually just started my blog so this was very useful to me!
    Carsyn |https://colorfullycarsyn.blogspot.com|

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  5. Great tips! Thank you :)

    www.comfortablycasey.com

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  6. I'll definitely be using these tips as a reference point. Thank you! Please check out my blog if you have the time :)
    thefashionyssta.blogspot.com

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  7. I really appreciate this post! Thanks for the tips.

    http://www.sunflowersandsuburbs.blogspot.com/

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  8. This was so helpful! As a new blogger, I never even thought of some of these things! Thanks so much for sharing.

    -Ashley
    MyWellDressedLife.com

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  9. Thank you for the awesome tips. I've been blogging for a little over 2 years (and have been following you for about 1.5 because I LOVE your blog) and it definitely does get discouraging at times. I definitely agree that if you are in it for the money or "instafame" as some people call it, then you're not doing it for the right reasons. I started mine as a means to have a creative outlet because I work in the corporate world and I can't really express my creativity as much as I do on my blog. I always get excited when I think of an awesome idea for example this week I have a theme centered around my favorite show and it took the most work out of all of my posts even though it probably doesn't seem like it. If I gain a following or readers that's fine, if I don't, that's ok too. I'm really only blogging for myself and because I've accomplished so many things and gained so much confidence because of my little spot in the cyber world.

    www.jerseygirltexanheart.com

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  10. What an awesome post! Thank you for sharing your insight with us!

    Stephanie
    http://ishowedupinboots.com

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  11. Love these tips Caitlin! I totally agree on most of them!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

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  12. Great tips! I agree with consistency! And I also thinking having a blog network is super important!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

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  13. Great tips -thanks for sharing! Oh, and your kitty cat is SO pretty!!

    Kacie
    RegallySoled.com

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  14. Such a fabulous post! Thanks for being so real and sharing your tried and true tips and suggestions! Always love your posts!! Xo

    ig: @stylemelauren
    www.stylemelauren.com

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  15. Do you have another job outside of blogging?

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  16. These were great! Thank you for helping out the newbies on the block. My mom and I are still struggling with using the camera, but I think we're getting better! How did you become a type of representative for brands, and when did brands start contacting you?

    Thank you!
    Maddy
    ncsweetheart.blogspot.com

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  17. Great post and tips! Would love to know which lens and camera you use for your crisp and bright pictures... Greets from Germany

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  18. Wow! This was really helpful! Thank you for sharing! ;)

    Marissa
    www.simplymars.com
    Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle

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  19. It is funny how blogs evolve over time! When did you start really picking up traffic?

    C's Collection
    http://chelseascollection.com

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  20. AMAZING tips! I just hit my one year mark and Its people like you that help smaller bloggers keep going! Love all your content!

    Always with love,
    Sadie Lee
    http://heysadielee.blogspot.com/

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  21. Awesome tips for a first-time-blogger like me. You're inspiring!

    thesixthdisneyprincess.blogspot.com

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  22. I LOVE this post! I am just getting into fashion blogging, and this is super helpful :) I would like to know what lenses you use specifically though? Thanks!

    Rachel
    Simply Rachel Nicole

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  23. Excellent tips. Thanks!

    - Kaitlyn | www.TheCrownFox.com

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  24. I love your consistency tip. Consistency is the hardest aspect for me to follow, but I think it definitely helps!

    xo, Jen
    http://www.comfortably-chic.com

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  25. I agree that consistency is one of the most important things in growing your readership! Anytime I'm busy and my posts become more infrequent, I lose readers and pageviews because people don't want to visit a site that isn't updated on a regular basis!

    Also, I love that lucite file holder!

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  26. Great tips Caitlin! I remember when I first started blogging and I reached out to you to ask you a question about using camera, and you were so sweet to me! Watching videos on Youtube definitely helped!

    xo, Nina
    Law of Fashion Blog

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  27. I would be interested to know how you determine which outfits and lifestyle topics you are going to post about. I have been reading your blog from day one (we actually started around the same time in 2011 but unlike you I was a big slacker when it came to posting regularly). It's great to see the progress of your blog and that you are still willing to help others achieve where they would like to get with their own blogs.

    Navia
    vulnaviajohnson.com

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  28. What a great round-up of ideas! Congrats on all your success!

    xo | The Fashion Forecast

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  29. Great tips! I love blogs with great photos and yes, consistency is really important and also the hardest aspect.
    xo Kristina
    TheKontemporary

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  30. Caitlin, thank you so much for these tips! I recently started a blog about my couponing stuff because I love it and thought it would be fun since so many people ask me for tips anyway. Not fashion, but hey, it's something I love to do. And thanks for all of your posts in general, your personality shines through this blog which is the main reason why I read it

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  31. Wonderful tips that can be applied to starting any type of blog. I love your photography style and think that makes a big difference too.

    http://www.mintnotion.com

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  32. Thank you so much for the helpful tips! I love following your blog and you're the reason I started my own blog.

    xoxo Alex
    https://crossyourlegsndotyoureyes.wordpress.com/

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  33. These tips are great!!! I've definitely hit writing walls where I feel like my content is just repetitive, but the consistency of posts and the original content is what draws readers in and makes them want to stay reading your blog. Thanks for being inspirational each and every day!

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  34. I enjoyed reading this post Catlin. Congratulations on your success. It takes hard work and dedication. Like the saying goes,"Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life." :)

    Sue
    http://www.fashionqueen4u.com

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  35. Hey, Caitlin! Thank so much for sharing your tips! I love your blog and your style! I would love to see more home decor posts of your new place! Hope you have a great day!
    The Style Storm
    <3, Christina

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  36. Thank you, Caitlin! I really resonated with a lot of what you wrote about blogging here. It really takes a long time to grow.

    xo, Irina | BondGirlGlam.com

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  37. Thank you so much! I have a really hard time feeling like I'm being original with my blog! This post was so motivating! PS I'm from Charlotte too!!!

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing your tips and advice! Very helpful :)

    Www.toreybeerman.com

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  39. Thank you for these wonderful tips!

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  40. Such a great post Caitlin!! Love hearing your helpful advice about the blogosphere!

    Carley @ preppylane.blogspot.com

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  41. Thank you so much for this!

    www.livingwithlexie.com

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  42. Thank you for the great advice!

    www.lifetoppings.com

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  43. Love your work, Caitlin! I don't have a blog, but I love to read them. Honestly, I've been really disappointed lately, as it seems that I see the same content (e.g., outfits, accessories, home decor) on so many bloggers' pages. Why is that? It feels like the same high-end product promos everywhere I turn. I've been a loyal reader of yours for a couple years, so thank you for trying to remain original. I do miss your Target fashion posts, and I hope there's more room for affordable fashion in the future, too. :)

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  44. I always like to hear different views on blogging from different bloggers :) Thank you for these tips, I guess I only have to be patient since I've been doing everything mentioned for some time now :) Have a great day! xx Maja
    ❤ http://majasmuffin.blogspot.com/

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  45. What a great post!! Thank you so much! I'm a new blogger and this was very helpful. :)

    styledinsequinsblog.blogspot.com

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  46. http://binarymetabotreview.co/

    Traditional Options, sometimes referred to as Vanilla Options, have both marked similarities and differences when compared to Binary Options, also known as digital or all or nothing options. Let's explore these.

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  47. Thanks for the advice!!
    ~ Rose
    http;//babiesandbluejeans.blogspot.com

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  48. Thanks so much for this awesome post!! I've already screwed up many things when I started my blog, but I remain optimistic that I'll figure it out!
    www.surprisinglyinspired.blogspot.com

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  49. Great tips thank you!

    mathildescloset.over-blog.com

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  50. Thanks for the tips! I have just recently started my blog so I will definitely be keeping these tips in mind as I try to grow!

    http://somelikeitprep.blogspot.com

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  51. Love this and your tips! You are exactly right about being unique too :)

    BNBstyling.blogspot.com

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  52. I loved this post. I just recently created a blog and am starting to get into. I adore your style!

    brendamalyn.com

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  53. This is enormously helpful, thanks Caitlin! It gives me a good starting point to move forward and continue setting realistic (but worthy) goals!

    centsofdiscovery.blogspot.com.au

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  54. These tips are wonderful. Thank you for sharing!!

    Blonde in Cashmere

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  55. I'm new to the blogging world so this is really helpful. Thank for sharing !

    - Vicky T.
    https://vickysscrapbook.wordpress.com/

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  56. Woke up this morning to find this great advice and blogging saviour in my email inbox. I've recently started my blog and find this post is so helpful! It's answered a lot of questions I had in my head but hasn't thought about answers for... Definitely saved it on Bloglovin'. Thank youuu

    ~ Juanita | www.LdnGirl.co.uk

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  57. Great tips for my blog!
    http://maismodamujer.blogspot.com

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  58. Thanks for sharing this! Great tips!
    xx
    Mademoiselle Coconath
    http://mllecoconath.com

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  59. V helpful for new bloggers! Thanks!
    Chichistashan.blogspot.in

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  60. How timely to find this post. I am a recently new, and young, blogger. I am focussing on food and fashion. Thank you for the tips. I think I am off to a great start and I have so many ideas I have to hold myself back a bit at this point. I love your blog.
    http://xoxobella.com/

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  61. I would love a post all about photography and the specifics like what time of day you take your photos, what tips you have for background scenery, camera, lenses, etc.. Thanks for the post!

    xoxo,
    Juliana Grace | www.julianagraceblogspace.blogspot.com

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  62. Thank you so much for the tips! Especially the one on consistency. It's definitely not easy but it's worth it!!

    xx

    http://www.misslaja.com/

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  63. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing

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  64. Thanks a million times. This is exactly what I need to get started. I own an online clothing store. I have been thinking of ways to drive targeted traffic to my online store. I know blogging is one of the ways, but I cannot get myself to start a blog because I simply do not know how to, but with this post I will surely start one in no time.

    Please what is the process of getting ones blog on "BLOGOVIN", this will help to draw readers to the blog and hopefully traffic to my blog, which I hope to start soon and to my website.

    Once more thanks a million times

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  65. Great tips for beginners!

    xo Kelli
    www.kellifornialove.blogger.com

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  66. A fashion blog has always been a dream of mine, even when others thought I was crazy! I just started mine, but these tips are perfect!

    www.thecannymarket.com

    Emily

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  67. Hi Caitlin,

    I am IN LOVE with your hot pink and acrylic filing system. May I ask where you bought it?

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  68. Hi,
    Can I ask what editing tool you use for your photos and to make collages?

    Thanks

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  69. Such a great post! Thank you for taking the time to share this! As a new, aspiring blogger, a lot of your words rang very true for me! xx.

    Shelby
    Haute Since 92

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  70. Beautiful room :)
    BLOG M&M FASHION BITES : http://mmfashionbites.blogspot.gr/
    Maria V.

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  71. Great post! I just started my blog 3 weeks ago. I've been preparing for a while. Now I'm working hard and looking for ways to grow my following!
    Kassy S.
    kassyondesign.com

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  72. Super helpful! Trying to grow my blog one day at a time at www.thedowntowndarling.com :)

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  73. I am just starting out trying to create a travel blog too and I’m really struggling with making my site look the way I imagine. I’ve purchased a theme and it’s “installed” but doesnt seem to resemble what I purchased. I am not well versed in graphic design but I like to consider myself computer savvy. Can you suggest or recommend a good resource/s for setting up the themes and basically making my sight look like I imagine? Also a good place to create a banner? or is that what you mean by a logo? I’ve been considering travel blog success but I just dont know that I’m ready or willing to invest in it yet.Thank you so much for your help!
    Regards
    Deep Web
    crazyask.com

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