I’m Rachel Dahl, and I run A LA MODEST, a personal style blog inspired by vintage and indie pop culture with a conservative or modest twist. I’ve been invited to speak and participate at local fashion shows in Baltimore a few times. I am also a fan of the alternative lifestyle from health to ideology. It may sound ironic, but I am a yoga teacher and a Christian! My husband Rob and I run another blog called Modern Life Survivalist, an alternative health and fitness blog focusing on exposing modern day conspiracies.
Blogging or making a presence online has always been a hobby of mine since the Web came to my world back in the late 90s! I was a kid then, of course. That was when before blogging became popular and before blogging even had a platform like WordPress or Blogger! I went into fashion blogging, or more specifically personal style blogging when I wanted to distinguish my sense of style (indie/vintage/modest) from the rest of the world and find like minded girls to interact with. Just in the past couple of years, my blog has been generating income. It’s been a good source of money on the side.
When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you be online?
A LA MODEST started in 2010, a year after I got married and a year after I had a total change in wardrobe mentality. Being online is both a blessing in a curse for many reasons, but I ultimately decided that I was going to stay online with very specific goals. It’s easy to get lost on the Web. If you keep browsing without taking a moment to stop and think, you won’t be able to find yourself—and you won’t be able to create.
Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?
All by myself! *Pats myself in the back* I’ve always been a self starter, especially with things I know very well to do. I’ve been designing websites since I was 11 years old.
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?
Probably a day or two. I honestly don’t remember. I usually have an “a ha!” moment and act on it pretty much right away, given the time I have. Acting on something right away can be both a good thing and a bad thing, but in this case, I was glad that I started it as soon as I thought of it. A LA MODEST became successful during the first year of inception.
What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?
I made my own theme for A LA MODEST, because I wanted to keep it very clean and minimalist. I wanted my content to speak for itself, and I didn’t want the layout to take away from that. I just wanted a graphical header that identified me, which I created. My blog is very picture heavy, so it’s good that my theme is light! Must have plugins include some kind of statistics plugin (I use Statpress), social plugin, and backup plugin.
What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?
WordPress is the best platform I’ve used for blogging, ever. I’ve used a few, and this is honestly my favorite as far as functionality and useability. I’ve been using WP for way more than a decade, so I really trust, know, and like it. Other CMS platforms like Drupal or Joomla! aren’t dedicated for blogging, and Blogger isn’t very customizable.
How much time do you spend blogging?
On some days, less time than I wish. This is because I do have a full time job (our own business) and another side job of teaching yoga. On other days, I wish I could spend more time blogging, because I wouldn’t mind doing this full time!
How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?
I promote my blog mainly through SEO, and because of this, most of my visitors are unique. I’m trying to keep loyal readership, but it’s been harder these days when I don’t write often enough or when my voice and tone change. Although people like variety, they also feel safe in consistency. I haven’t had that much luck promoting through social media, honestly. I mean, yes and no, but most of my traffic doesn’t come from social media at all. I either must not be that attractive, talented, or in league with the devil!
Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?
Definitely. That’s a not a secret anymore, including to non bloggers!
Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
I would encourage it if it were a person who have a lot to say or show to the world. Often times though when I try to encourage someone with the above criteria, they’re either too lazy, don’t have time, or don’t like to write. It really takes someone determined to make and keep up with a blog.
Please give us some advice for new bloggers and for people who are still not sure should they make a blog of their own?
Write about what you love and know a lot about. If you write about just things you like, you might not stick with the blog. If you write about something you only know little about, you won’t stand out. Learn and befriend your “competitors” and keep in touch with them, but do not be so intimidated or jealous that you either stop creating yourself and/or start copying them. If you blog, blog because you want and love to. It doesn’t matter who is reading or if anyone is reading. Always strive for excellence, because you are excellent. Continue writing as often as you can, even if you think no one is noticing. In time, your followers will grow.
Photos ©: A la Modest