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May 21, 2018

Ask Me Anything: The Dorky Diva Edition

Over the past few weeks I've gotten several questions about blogging and social media that all ended up with similar responses. Since I realized a lot of people out there want to start their own blogs, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share my experience in the world of blogging and open up an Ask Me Anything Q&A. You guys sent me questions in my Sarahah inbox and I'm going to answer them here! Most of these questions are about blogging and podcasting, but there are a few random ones that I wanted to answer as well. 

Blogging

How do you choose what to blog about?

When thinking about what to blog about, always write down your favorite things. What do you like talking about? What's easy for you to talk about? For me, Star Wars was always one of those things that was easy to discuss, gave me lots of new content to talk about, and I never get tired of writing about it. Don't pin yourself into a corner and choose a blog topic that only warrants a few posts and then you're out of ideas. If you're into a ton of different things, that's totally okay. Combine them! I love Star Wars, fashion, makeup and more. I always try to keep my topics centered around Star Wars because that's what most of my audience likes to read about, but I'm not afraid to stray off that path a little. 

What website do you use for your blog and why?

Contrary to popular belief, I host my blog on Blogger and secure my domain name through EasyDNS. Most bloggers think it's sacrilegious to host anywhere outside of Wordpress, but the truth is that I started blogging about 10 years ago and Blogger was the easiest platform for me to use when I was 13 years old. I've hacked the Blogger code to death to get a non-cheesy looking design and I'm very happy with it. I don't feel that Blogger limits me in any capacity, but Wordpress does give you a lot more customizable options in an easier matter. However, if you learn a little bit of HMTL coding basics, you can really maximize the standard, boring look of Blogger. 

When starting my blog, what should I avoid?

Don't let anyone tell you there are "rules" to blogging. Do what you want and write about what you love! However, there are a few things that will make your blog more easily accessible and kinder on the eyes. Avoid using neon colors on your blog, especially neon text. It's not easy to read and it can almost hurt your eyes, so try using soft colors that are more pleasing to the eye. Use as many well-lit photos on your blog as you can. Natural light is your friend! Stock photography can be a great tool, but if you have access to a camera, I say try your hand at photography. Having ownership over your own content is a good thing. I also recommend getting your own pretty domain name. Rather than having thedorkydiva.blogspot.com (messy, long and unprofessional looking link), I pay about $12 a year to have a cleaner domain name and email address. 

Any suggestions on how to collab with other bloggers who share the same interest?

Never be afraid to reach out! I would say only collab with other bloggers that you truly feel a connection with. Don't collab with someone just because they have a ton of followers and you want to feed off their following. If you find a blogger or creator that is really similar to you and seems like a great match, shoot them an email. Keep it very professional, let them know what you like about their work, and share with them a little bit about your blog/project. Don't make them do the digging. Give them the stats up front about your following, info on your blog, and what you want out of the collaboration along with what you expect from them. If they turn you down, don't get discouraged! Just keep reaching out and you'll find the right people to work with. 

Why did you start blogging? As a fellow Star Wars fan I have been thinking about doing one myself, but there seems to be alot out there already. Any tips/suggestions on how to make myself stand out? 

What makes you unique? For example, when I started blogging, I knew that Star Wars news was so heavily blogged about that I didn't want The Dorky Diva to be a hub for Star Wars news. There are hundreds of other sites that do that and do it well. I didn't need to compete with what had already been established. However, I knew that I had a passion and an eye for geek fashion. When I started The Dorky Diva, I could count on one hand the major geek fashion blogs out there and I felt like I had something different to offer. What do you like about Star Wars? For example- Is it the costumes? Start a blog about all the different costumes in the galaxy and write about how they are made, what materials were used, and interview people involved with making the costumes in the films. Don't worry about making yourself "stand out" because you're already going to stand out. No one will ever be like you! Find an aspect about Star Wars that you know a lot about or care deeply about and start there. 

What’s the best way to reach out to brands or companies and say you’d like to work with them, whether via a sponsored post or something like it?

First of all, I only reach out to companies or brands that I already love. I'm not going to promote a product or service that I don't currently love or believe in. Stick to that idea and you'll always come across as a genuine blogger, not someone trying to sell a product or service. After identifying a brand that I love and want to work with, I always email them and get right to the point. I give them a brief intro about me and my blog, tell them why I love their brand, and ask them if they have anything I can review or opportunities for influencers to get involved. I attach a deck to the email with my blog and social media stats so they know what they're investing in if they choose to work with me. Just like collaborating with other bloggers, it's okay to get turned down. Hundreds of brands have turned me down and that's totally fine. The ones that say yes are always the best fit! Oh, and proofread your email to death before hitting send. Nothing looks worse than a major typo or a sentence that doesn't make any sense. 

I am interested in building my own personal “brand” of sorts, wanting to really start blogging and engaging in the Star Wars community. I am blessed to already have a decent following on Instagram, so am thinking of branching out into writing. What would you suggest to someone who is just starting out? If you could tell your past self one thing while starting The Dorky Diva, what would it be? 

I would definitely suggest taking a professional writing course or read up on English grammar before anything else. The one pet peeve I have about bloggers is poor grammar or writing skills. Learn to write in a way that feels like you're having a conversation with someone, but also keep it as professional as possible. I started The Dorky Diva after I had been blogging on another blog for about 4 years so by the time I got here, I had learned a ton of lessons. Right off the bat I would say to not get tied up on numbers. It's really discouraging when you first start a blog and feel like nobody is reading it, but I promise that will change! Be diligent and write regularly to build a following. These things won't blow up overnight, but constant work will always pay off. I also recommend working on your blog design for a while before launching. Nail down a solid logo and color palette that you can use for images/design throughout the site. I treat The Dorky Diva as a brand, so I use the same colors from my logo throughout the rest of my design elements and stick to certain fonts.

Podcasting

Any basic must do recommendations for someone wanting to start their own podcast?

There are a lot of good videos on Youtube about how to start a podcast. I will straight up say that I spend little to nothing on my podcast and I think the quality is pretty good. I use a free editing program (Audacity) and a free recording program. My hosting subscription through Libsyn is only $5 a month. My microphone cost about $80, but up until recently I was just using the tiny built-in microphone that came with my Apple headphones. Really low tech over here guys! Don't feel like you need a ton of professional equipment to start a podcast. Start with what you can afford and then start adding better equipment as you can. Also, have fun with it! Don't compare yourself to other podcasts and don't copy anyone, but definitely learn from other shows and use that knowledge to figure out exactly how you want your podcast to sound. 

The Dorky Diva (Me)

Someone has probably asked this, but you don't come across as the slightest bit diva, so where did the name come from? Just for the alliteration? 

My brother actually came up with the name The Dorky Diva and I think he was spot on. While I may not come across as a true diva online, I feel like I have diva qualities. I have a really sassy personality that I call the "diva" side of myself. I really liked the "diva" element of "The Dorky Diva" because it explains the girly side of my blog as well. Fashion, makeup and self-care are all attributes of my blog that are not included in the "dork" side of my personality so I needed to express that in the blog title. It perfectly sums up me! I am a dork and I am a sassy diva all at the same time. 

I would love to know how you stay inspired. Do you find it difficult to keep up with a schedule, or are you super organized?

The easiest way for me to stay inspired is to follow really genuine people. I avoid following people online that post inspirational quotes just for the spectacle of it. It's easy to spot these people because they typically don't practice what they preach and post "inspiring" rants just for digital likes. There's a blogger that I really look up to even though we have completely opposite interests. Her name is Rebekah Steen and she runs Goldfish Kiss. I love her blog because it's so insanely genuine and sweet. She talks about real life- being a busy mom, trying to stay fit, and remembering to stay thankful along the way. Every time I read a new post on her blog, I feel like I get a rush of inspiration. It's like taking a huge breath of fresh air. I think following people that you feel a connection with in regards to their values or outlook on life is a great way to stay inspired. I also go to Pinterest for inspiration. I love collecting pretty pictures and meaningful quotes that remind me to stay grounded. You can find my Pinterest by clicking HERE. When it comes to organization, I think I'm pretty organized. I also like to try and stick to a routine as much as possible. 


Other

So I recently lost a lot of weight and I'm trying to think of ways that I can recycle/repurpose my old nerdy clothes that are too big for me now. Do you have any ideas? I mostly have t-shirts, sweatshirts, and old fashioned blouses and skirts from cosplay.

Yes, you can totally repurpose these items! I used to have a tutorial on my old blog about how to resize large clothing to fit you, but my friend Emily from The Stylish Geek has a really good video on this too. Click HERE to watch her tutorial on how to make an oversized T-shirt super cute again!

Do you have any future cosplay plans? You’ve done awesome Shadow Trooper and Jedi in the past - is there something you can tell us about what you’d like to do next?

I'm currently taking a break from cosplaying. While I used to love trooping with the 501st Legion in my shadow scout costume, I think the 501st community has changed a lot in just a few short years and I've stepped away from cosplaying completely. I'm not sure how to describe it, but my heart just isn't into cosplay like I was a few years ago. Cosplaying as a woman is really tough because sexy-inspired costumes are so heavily invading the cosplay world and I have no interest in that. Who knows, I might get back into costuming one day, but for now I've been a lot happier since I stepped away from that community. 

At what moment in your career did you realize you found what you wanted to do?

Hmmm, this is a big question! I have a degree in communication with a focus in public relations and a minor in photography. When I was younger, I really wanted to go to school for photography, but then I realized I was learning so much on my own that I didn't want to pay for a degree to teach me a bunch of techniques I already knew. I also wasn't super interested in fine art photography. I don't like math, science or history, so that's when I turned to communication. I think the way people communicate with each other is very interesting and the focus of public relations really seemed to align with my interests so I pursued that. Right out of college, I got a job as a video producer because I had been interning with a marketing company that did video production on the side. I assisted that company mostly with copywriting, but also dabbled in the video department which is how I got my first job. That job also entailed spending some time running social media accounts. It was mostly like doing two jobs at once, but it gave me a lot of experience in both the social media and video production fields. After doing video production for a year, I realized my heart was really not invested in that and I enjoy handling social media more than anything. From planning strategy to actually publishing the posts and interacting with the online community, I love it all. I currently work as a social media manager for a tech company and it's great! It was a weird journey getting here, but if you're not sure what you want to do, I'd say start a list of what you don't want to do and then go from there. It worked for me!

I hope this helped those of you who asked questions! If you have any more questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter. Thank you everyone who submitted a question!

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