How Dave Bowden Started a Fashion Blog with 35,000 Monthly Visitors and Grew 131% This Year
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Ready to learn how to start a fashion blog?
Maybe you have an eye for a great outfit. Or are you always being complimented on your latest style and want to share your fashion tips with the world.
You've decided that now is the time to “purse-shoe” your dreams in the world of fashion blogging.
Today I've got some inspiration for you and perhaps someone that you can learn from.
Dave Bowden doesn't run just any beauty blog; he's the founder of Irreverent Gent, an online resource inspiring men with both fashion and confidence advice.
The Irreverent Gent has been featured in AskMen, HuffingtonPost, Business Insider, and Readers Digest. Dave also mentions that most important of all his articles were posted to his parent's refrigerator.
Not only does Dave run the successful blog, but he's written the Amazon #1 bestseller “Man in Command.”
If your goal is to become a fashion blogger, you shouldn't expect overnight success.
In fact, it took years for Dave to start earning a real income with his fashion blog (he didn't have this list of fashion blogging ideas). But as he stuck with his goals, he was able to continually improve. In 2020 he was able to grow his web traffic by 131%.
The Irreverent Gent is a successful fashion blog that gets over 35k visitors each month. The traffic and success came with some valuable lessons learned.
Dave tells us about how he was spreading himself too thin. In the early days of his blog, initiatives such as social media, affiliate marketing, and creating brand partnerships consumed his time.
When he began to really focus and leverage professional tools, his fashion niche site began to take off.
Hello! Could you introduce your background and why you choose to start a blog in the fashion industry?
My name is Dave Bowden, and I'm the founder and editor of Irreverent Gent, a men's style and lifestyle blog that shows guys how to sharpen their style and improve their confidence.
I've carved out a niche for myself in the men's lifestyle space by creating articles that are not only informative and insightful but also engaging, fun to read, and (as the name suggests) irreverent.
I also take the same approach to writing books, a space in which I'm best known as the author of Man in Command: How to Go From the Most Self-Doubting Guy in the Room to The Most Confident Man, which is an Amazon #1 bestseller (in Canada… but still!).
Since I've been working from home over the past year, I've been pouring more time and energy into Irreverent Gent. The results have been rewarding.
My website traffic has more than doubled in the past 12 months, and my revenue is up by 10x.
What's your backstory, and why did you start your fashion blog?
I started Irreverent Gent to basically combine a few of my passions into one project.
The first is style and menswear, which I've been obsessed with for more than a decade. I've always been fascinated with the effect that style can have both on you as an individual, and on the way other people perceive you.
Irreverent Gent gives me an excuse to not only explore that topic further but share what I learn with guys who can benefit from it.
The second passion it allows me to pursue is content marketing.
As a journalist-turned-blogger, I became a content marketer about eight years ago when I got a job running a travel blog, and quickly found that it's the perfect way for me to combine my skill sets into one creative and professional endeavor.
What I love about blogging and content marketing is how I get to make both creative and business decisions. From what image to pair with a headline to what the overarching business strategy should be, I'm in complete control.
What has worked for you to drive traffic to your sites?
My biggest traffic source is organic, and my blog really started to take off when I got serious about SEO and keyword research.
This year I finally stopped using free keyword tools and invested in a monthly Ahrefs subscription, which has already paid for itself multiple times over.
To give you an example, my organic traffic in December 2020 is up 144% compared to the same month in 2019:
The two biggest things that have contributed to this growth are:
It's this combination of increased quantity and higher quality that's really led to more growth.
Building a fashion blog, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The most advantageous thing I've learned from building my blog is the supremacy of the 80/20 rule. Focusing on the 20% of activities that bring in 80% of the results.
Before this year, I was spreading myself too thin by devoting roughly equal amounts of time to content creation, keyword research, social media, link building, and brand partnerships.
Eventually, I realized that the two things that make the biggest impact on my bottom line are keyword research and content creation, so I doubled down on those, which resulted in exponential growth.
I think it's common for entrepreneurs and website owners to get bogged down by bouncing back and forth between the various hats they have to wear and tasks they have to manage, but the truth is that real growth comes from identifying your most valuable tasks and leaning into them as much as possible.
How long did it take you to begin making money with your fashion blog?
It didn't take long to make the first couple of bucks – I joined Amazon's affiliate marketing program and started earning money almost right away, though very little of it.
What did take long was earning enough money that you could call it an income, or even a side hustle. It took a few years of consistent work to start earning a respectable amount of money from affiliate income, but what's nice about blogging is that it compounds.
The posts that produced those first few dollars continue to produce a few bucks each month, but now I've got hundreds more doing the same.
The other thing that helped was expanding my income streams.
In addition to affiliate ads, I now also run display ads on the site. The ads bring in a smaller but steady stream of cash each month.
I also write books that I self-publish on Amazon, which also generate a nice monthly sum.
What platform/tools do you use for your fashion blog?
As mentioned, my favorite tool by far is Ahrefs, which has made my keyword research so much faster, more efficient, and more effective, leading to a lot of growth.
In addition to Ahrefs, I use ConvertKit as my email service provider, which was built for bloggers and works really well for capturing email addresses and dripping out content.
I tend to differentiate between active and passive link building.
Active link building is anything that requires time, which pulls me away from my primary duties of keyword research and content creation.
I only pursue active link building with sites that have a domain authority of 50-plus. This goes back to the 80/20 rule. If I'm going to spend time pursuing links, I want to make sure they're high value links that will help me build my own authority.
Passive link building is done more through content creation.
Creating super high-quality posts that rank high in search also tend to get more linkbacks, so in that sense my content creation efforts don't just help me build traffic, but also have a secondary benefit of resulting in more links.
Advice for other online entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice for anyone getting started is to maintain a long view and understand that consistency is key.
It can be discouraging to pour hours into content creation and publish something you think is awesome, but then not see any traffic flowing to it.
You have to power through that and remain undeterred. If you only have one piece of great content, it's hard to get the authority and attention you need to monetize it. But it's a lot easier when you have 10, and easier still when you have 100, 1000, etc. So keep going, keep creating and keep publishing.
As your quantity of output improves, so does the quality. Building all that content requires putting in the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) “10,000 hours”. Making you more skilled as you go.
So keep pushing, keep going, and keep at it.
Now that you've heard from Dave on what it takes to build a successful travel blog. Let's take a look at what you'll need to start your own WordPress blog in the fashion world?
Here are a few steps you'll need to know how to start a fashion blog.
- Get set up with a WordPress web hosting service. We recommend using BlueHost. It's cheap and easy to use for those looking to install WordPress for the first time.
- Choose a domain name for your new fashion blog. Something short and memorable is always best.
- Choose a WordPress theme that matches your fashion brand or personality.
Here is a premium theme that can make your blog look like a professional fashion magazine.
- Get set up on social media. Be an Instagram influencer! Fashion bloggers have the opportunity to double down on their great content. Posting visual fashion content to platforms like Twitter and their Instagram feed is great for engagement.
- Write great content. As Dave mentioned, this takes time to get great at writing a viral blog post. Use WordPress Plugins like Yoast SEO and explore Ahrefs to take your content even further.
NOW GET STARTED BLOGGING!
If you have any questions about creating full-time income blogging, feel free to post your questions on the Niche Pursuits private Facebook Group. The community is always helping other bloggers and it’s a great place to bounce ideas off.
Another great resource when building your fashion blog will be our email newsletter. Subscribe to the Niche Pursuits newsletter for more insights and inspiration for your blog.
Finally, If you are looking for step by step instructions on how to start a fashion blog and get your Bluehost setup don’t forget to check out our article on starting your blog here.
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