First off, sorry for the lack of a Friday Fill in the Blank post! Friday afternoon I decided to trim the hedges in 90+ degree heat, and the task was much longer and exhausting than I expected it to be. I really didn't want to move afterward, let alone think!
Anyway, this post is all about starting a blog! I've actually been getting lots of questions from people looking to start blogs, and after writing a long email to someone with tips, I thought maybe others could benefit from those tips if I made them into a post. I've been blogging since 2008, shortly after I started my YouTube channel and I've learned about a lot of things I like, and things I'd do differently. Just so you know, this blog is maintained through Blogger. I know WordPress is another option for blogging, but I'm not super familiar with that and other hosting sites, so I won't really get into that.
Before You Start...
- Have a brainstorming session- what do you want to blog about? Jot down a list of different posts you might want to do. Ask yourself- "what would I be interested in reading?" Think about some different blog "subcategories" that you might rotate through... for me it might be Face of the Day posts, reviews, hauls, random stuff, etc.
- Look around at other blogs to get ideas for what you like and what you don't like- whether it pertains to content, appearance, writing style, etc. I'm not telling you to copy anyone, but it helps to get the creative juices flowing-- and can spark ideas for how you can be DIFFERENT.
- Think about how you will add media to your posts- like pictures or embedded videos. Do you have a camera that takes clear photos and some sort of software to crop, color correct, etc.?
- Come up with a general goal for how often you'll post. Whether it's daily, 3 times a week, or once a week- try to keep your posting relatively continuous without major gaps. Inconsistent posting loses readers- I've learned that the hard way! The ability to write posts in advance and "schedule" them can make it easier.
- Monetize your blog. The ads you see on my blog are through Google Ad Sense... clicks from viewers equal a profit. The blog Dollars and Roses has tons more info on this type of thing.
- Now that you have a vision, start thinking about a name. Think about names that are short, catchy, unique, and memorable.
When You're Writing Blog Posts...
- Try to write in a conversational way. I try to write like I'm talking to someone because I think it's easier to read.
- Be concise- rambling doesn't just happen when we speak, it can happen when we type as well (guilty!)
- Take advantage of hyperlinking... if you're talking about a product/video/post on another site, link to it so people can easily find it. Google is great, but why not make things convenient for readers?
- Include something visual... I know this is a very non-visual, information-loaded post, but I did put together one little graphic at the top using picmonkey.com to give the post some pizzazz... plus it'll come up as a little icon when I share it.
- Proof-read your post to check for spelling errors, grammar errors, and just stuff that doesn't make sense.
Before You Spread the Word...
- Get a good blog design. It does NOT have to be complicated or intricate, and sites like Blogger offer a lot of templates... there are also many great blog designers. You can always re-design, but try to settle on an initial "look" so you aren't constantly experimenting... potentially throwing off new readers. Don't feel pressured to make your blog overly decorated-- cute blogs are nice, but informative, interesting content is most important.
- Get a handful of posts on your blog BEFORE actively promoting it. Five seems like a good number. Many people ask me to look at or share their blog, and they only have one post. Not that the one post isn't great, but try to beef up the blog a little... there are millions of others out there that are already fully loaded. Not saying it's a big competition, but your blogging efforts will be taken more seriously if you seem to have really put some work into it. Prove yourself and give people a reason to follow.
- Figure out your other social media that you will use in conjunction with your blog. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest are accounts I recommend having so you can share your blog with others. You don't necessarily need to give those accounts the same name as your blog, but I think that can be particularly helpful where Facebook is concerned. I'm glad I have a "Beauty Broadcast" Facebook page so I'm not constantly sharing beauty posts with friends who really don't care about beauty.
- Bloglovin' is another great site to use- on the right sidebar I have a link so you can "follow me on Bloglovin" - it's a website and an app that allows people to keep up with the latest posts from multiple blogs, kind of like a YouTube subscription feed.
When It's Time to Share...
- When you start sharing your blog on social media, do it EVERYWHERE, EVERY TIME. As much as we would like people to make a habit of checking our blog everyday, that doesn't always happen. A lot of people will wait for (and rely on) a link on Facebook or a Tweet before they realize there's something new to see. Make sure to ask the communities on these various social media sites what they want to see-- take requests and actually do them! :)
- Does your blog mention a certain brand, store, celebrity, or blogger? Make sure to tweet them or contact them to let them know! That could mean a re-tweet to a large audience and possibly important new connections!
- Pinterest is driving more traffic to blogs now than any other social media site. Make sure to pin your posts... and interesting, great quality pictures will do the most good. I mentioned the picmonkey.com site above-- it's great for jazzing up pictures or creating collages that show groups of products or a process that you want to demonstrate. Scroll back through my blog and you can see how I've used those collages. They are very Pinterest-friendly! :)
- Include an option to follow your blog by email- that way readers are contacted in their inbox when there is a new post to read.
- When you share- be ready for feedback. I love the blogging community, and I feel like my readers are my friends! But there will always be critics. Try to get to a place where you're ok with that, and don't let them irritate you. This can take time, but stay confident in what you're doing. Embrace the constructive feedback, and shake off the destructive feedback.
I tried to cover as much as possible, but if you have any other questions, let me know! Do any other bloggers have advice to share? Good luck to all of you who are starting a blog. For me, blogging is fun, relaxing, rewarding, and has opened me up to many fantastic people out there! :)
- I have a new vlog coming and it's kinda crazy. 25 Things You Don't Know About Me! Hope you don't think I'm too weird! :)
- It's a dreary, rainy day here! Hopefully Mother Nature gets it out of her system before the July 4th weekend.
- Yesterday I chipped some balls in the backyard with Tyler. I haven't golfed in months, but I gotta say, I was oddly consistent!
- One more tidbit about my Friday afternoon lawn work-- as I was trimming the small tree where the old robins' nest was, I realized ANOTHER nest is in that tree. How did I realize this? When birds started flying out in all directions, chirping loudly at me the entire time I was out working! Should've known, it's THEIR porch! :)