I received a request via twitter to write a post about how to blog and have since received several other messages through social media and text agreeing with the original request! I figured since it was a widely requested idea, I’d do it!
I’m definitely not a blogging pro, so keep that in mind. I do, however, have experience on several different platforms and I’ve learned a lot in the last year and a half with my blog – so I’m just going to share some friendly tips and some personal advice!
- Find your website, find your voice, find your style. I think it’s very important to do your research when it comes to what website you use to build your blog. There are tons of options and you should be educated on all of them so you can make sure you start on what’s going to be best for your blog and what you intend on doing with it! When I started, I was blogging “for me” but as it’s grown, I wanted to write more, have more topics, open more doors, do more business, etc. So after a year of pretty consistent blogging, I had to move all of my content over to my new self hosted website – a huge pain in the butt! Like all of my posts from before the move are still missing their photos because they didn’t transfer properly. UGH! I would definitely recommend starting with a self-hosted WordPress account. That way, no matter what direction you decide to go with your blog, you’ll be in the best position! I started on Squarespace, and while that was totally fine, I was looking for more opportunities, creatively, and I wanted to have a self-hosted website. Both are amazing options though, and I do recommend both! Find your voice: What do you want to write about? Find your focus and stick to it. I chose “lifestyle” because I don’t do any one thing, really. I enjoy many things: fashion, travel, food, etc. I talk about everything in my life! Find your style: What kind of vibes do you want your page to give off? Professional? Fun? Boho? Cutesy? Pick one and make sure it’s cohesive with all social media! (This is discussed at length later in this list!)
- Get to know your website inside and out. Once you choose your website and start building your page and creating content, you’ll get to know your website fairly quickly. Spend time with it, play with different themes, styling options, and click on ALL the editing options! Get to know what you can do and what options you have. The more you learn about your website, the more you’ll be able to do with it!
- Don’t read into your stats too much. EVER. Of course, looking at them is beneficial to you knowing when to post and what posts get the most attention, and so on. But don’t get caught up in wanting more. Don’t let your stats bring you down if they’re not where you want them, or they’re not as impressive as someone elses! Your only competition is your yesterday. Always strive to better than yesterday and you’ll constantly be improving!
- Have basic computer knowledge and *some* basic HTML coding knowledge. I’ve always had some basic HTML skills and they came in handy when I switched to WordPress. Squarespace is more user-friendly in that aspect as it’s more “drag and drop”. But WordPress is more technical and knowing simple codes comes in handy!
- Read blogs, but don’t compare! Reading other blogs is a good idea in that it provides perspective. There are tons of blogs out there and they’re all totally different! Get to know a few, and connect with other bloggers that write on similar topics as you do. Don’t compare yours to others though! There are a handful of blogs I try not to look at too much because “mine isn’t as good.” – Like professional travel bloggers, or fashion bloggers with really awesome photos.
- Understand how Facebook and Instagram work when it comes to business pages. Facebook limits the kind of exposure your posts get. That way, you’re more apt to “pay to promote” your page and posts. It’s complete garbage, but knowing this is how it works will allow you to work around it! I always share my blog page posts on my personal page, I tag people in my posts if they’re part of it, that way it shows up on their page. Always tag businesses and destinations in your posts, too! Do whatever you can to broaden your audience. For Instagram, using hashtags is a great way to get more people to see your content. And then tagging people, businesses, and destinations the same way as you do on Facebook works as well!
- Advertise Advertise Advertise! Before people know you have a blog, you have to tell them! Don’t ever assume people are just going to your website. My own mother doesn’t visit unless she sees something on Facebook. Always share your posts via social medias and build an e-mail list so new posts can be delivered to people’s inboxes as well!
- Recruit your friends and family to help spread the word. My mom is seriously my biggest supporter! She always shares my posts and page with her friends, likes my posts, and sends me kind words on my writing and authenticity when it comes to what I portray online. My sister and a few other friends are also so helpful – retweeting me, sharing, and talking about my stuff online!
- Invite your Facebook friends. You may feel like a total annoyance sending invites to all your friends on Facebook, but they won’t know unless you tell them! Just send a quick invite one time. If they like your page, awesome! If not, it’s fine. Some people just don’t like seeing a bunch of stuff like that on their pages.
- Networking is KEY. Join blogging Facebook groups, follow other bloggers, join a group of bloggers to collaborate with, reach out to small businesses, work in your community! Be active. If you’re trying to grow a following, just creating content is not enough. You need to get it out there! Making friends in the blogging world means creating a support system for yourself and your blog. It’s always having people to retweet, like, comment, and share your posts with their followers. But it’s not a one way street. You have responsibilities in such relationships as well, and it’s important that you do as much to help those helping you! One of the best things I’ve done is join a “blogging tribe” on Instagram. We talk, share tips and advice, ask questions, and support each other when it comes to social media posts and blog posts! I’ve met some of the sweetest women through this group and I love having a safe space where I can get honest opinions and advice on all things blogging!
11. Find a functional design that’s not too aesthetically over stimulating, but still pleasing! This goes back to my very first point – finding your style. There are tons of themes online for purchase for WordPress sites. For Squarespace, you can build your own or pick a theme off their list. Your options with SS are more limited than with WP, but it’s all about what you want out of your page and what you want it to look like!
12. FUNCTION is important! I want to know and be able to navigate your website with ease! Make sure it’s functional. There is nothing worse than a confusing-to-navigate page, or something that looks messy. It’s like walking into a thrift store. Overwhelming, over-stimulating, and I want to leave.
13. Cohesive design. Blog design can be a bit overwhelming because there are so many options to choose from! I am pretty indecisive so I always go for a basic layout – something I can add to and dress up as I please. Find a color scheme and keep it consistent. Pick 2-3 fonts and use them as they’re meant to be used. (Body font for all text/paragraphs, title fonts for just titles, and so on!). Create a header and logo that are similar in design and are easily recognizable as being associated with one another! Sometimes your header isn’t just your title (for those extra-creatives out there!) and sometimes those headers don’t fit into certain formats. It’s a good idea to make a logo that is similar to your header that way you have something that can be used anywhere! (Stickers, profile photos, headers, letter heads, etc!)
14. Find a name and stick to it. No one will ever remember you if you have a different blog URL, or social media handle every few months. Find one you like – make it your URL, and then make your Facebook page and all social media handles the same thing/a variation of your URL. That way everything is again, cohesive. It’s so important in building a following and a brand! What if someone on one platform wants to find you on another, but your names are different? That’s a follower you could’ve had but they gave up because they couldn’t find you.
15. Have a cohesive brand. How many more times can I stress this.. LOL. This is reiterating my last point: Be sure than your names (instagram, twitter, facebook, etc.) all coincide with each other so you stay easily recognizable on all fronts of the internet. And also be sure that all pages have a similar look and vibe. The title on my page (my logo) is also my sticky nav bar logo, my background on my blog Facebook page, and my twitter page.
16. Don’t go overboard with ads. The promise of making money by putting ads on your blog is tempting and in most cases only makes you pocket change – unless you have a crazy-huge following. A few isn’t too distracting, but too many makes your page look like a mess, and it looks like the only reason you write is to get page hits so you can collect money for impressions and ad clicks – doesn’t leave a very good impression on readers.
17. Websites that have free downloads! A couple of my favorites are Dafont.com (free downloadable fonts, FTW!) And Angiemakes.com (She makes tons of cute watercolor designs, fonts, and other cute things that add a little color and uniqueness to your page!)
18. Don’t “buy” your followers or fall for those “get 1,000 free followers” scams! Building a following can be a long and grueling process but doing it legitimately is important. Those apps are not always reliable and it’s a little awkward when you have thousands and thousands of followers and little to no engagement on your posts! I have never gained followers that way, and I notice I get more likes and comments on my photos than some “bigger” and “more popular” bloggers out there with 10,000+ followers. Why do you think that is?? The followers you get through these apps are not engaging and they aren’t legitimate for the most part. It’s a waste of your time and frankly, is not the moral and right way to grow your following and business!! Keep your growth tactics clean and you will experience “more” in every aspect: followers, comments, likes, and blog views! Just be patient and put in the necessary time and effort.
19.Focus on your audience! It’s important to note: Don’t make your blog a space to brag. Keep your audience in mind! The people who know you personally and care about you will be interested in what’s going on in your personal life and what you did over the weekend, but as far as building your audience outside of your primary circle goes, they need to benefit from it somehow. I don’t read a blog post unless its topic is something I am particularly interested in or can apply to my life. Instead of listing everything you did over the weekend (Which is not to be written off completely – I love doing weekend posts!) Make several posts about the things you did without any regard to when. So instead of a long post about your weekend, do a review on the restaurant you went to, share photos from the zoo, make a list of things to do in the area you were in. These are posts that will grab the attention of your audience AND that’s three posts for the week instead of just one! Your audience will actually be gaining knowledge from your posts: “That looks awesome- I want to go there.” “Let me look for a zoo where I live, it looks like they had a great time.” and so on.
20. Post Consistently. I have trouble with this LOL. Posting on a schedule keeps your readers in the know about when to expect new content from you. If you post sporadically or hardly at all, people lose interest, stop visiting your page, and forget about you. It’s really a fight to stay relevant! HAHA! Right now, I am blogging full time. I try to post new content daily (even though it sometimes doesn’t happen.) But when I am working more and go back to school, I will have to set a blogging schedule so I don’t forget about it, or on the other end of the spectrum, forget about everything else I have to do and just spend time blogging.
BONUS: Have fun with it. Last but not least! It’s vital that you enjoy blogging. How miserable is it to do something you don’t love? If you’re only blogging because of the possibility of income or for popularity, then you’ll never get what you want you want out of it. Do it first because you love it, and reap the benefits second.
I hope this guide was helpful! If you have any other blogging questions that weren’t listed here, or you want me to elaborate, you can send me a message on Facebook, tweet me, or shoot me an email! (firstname.lastname@example.org)