This time last year I was writing my very first blog post. How has it been a year already? I cannot believe how naively I jumped into blogging. I didn’t have the foggiest what blogging was all about and I hadn’t really read any blogs. And as for social media, well the extent of my knowledge was Facebook. I wasn’t prepared at all for the journey I was about to embark on. A year later I am loving blogging but I still have a hell of a lot to learn. Here are my 10 tips for wannabe bloggers who are as clueless as I was about jumping into the blogosphere. These are the things I wish I would have known before I started:
Read lots of blogs before starting
Reading blogs will give you an idea of where you want to go with your own blog and maybe help you develop your own writing style.
While it may take a lot of time to look at what others are doing, it should be something every blogger needs to do, just so they get an idea of how unique their own blog is. Turning it into a habit is key. Perhaps take 30 minutes or so every day to scan the blogosphere, but also think about it as a proper investment in your development. Treat it seriously by buying a notepad and a new pair of reading glasses and it can be like a study session. Spending so much time staring at a computer screen isn’t the best thing for your eyes so you can go here for some glasses, but also remember the art of balancing your time blogging and researching with other things in life.
Learn as much as you can about the different social media platforms
We all know social media can have its downsides (thank God I grew up before everyone had a camera phone!) but social media is also fantastic, especially for bloggers. Learn about each platform so you can utilise it for your blog.
I am still learning as I go with social media. I really struggle with Pinterest for some reason. Maybe laziness on my part? I mostly get the gist of it but I cannot seem to fully get my head around it. I guess this is the reason why I never really pay it any attention. I’ll have to change my approach to Pinterest as soon as. Pinterest is a fantastic way of driving traffic to your blog though so it is worth focusing on. I could be doing with showing my Instagram some love too.
Design a logo
Mess around with ideas for a logo/header for your blog until you come up with a design you are happy with. Canva is fantastic for this. Or you could pay someone to do it for you. I must have designed (badly) a gazillion different logos over the past year because as soon as I design them I instantly decide I don’t like them. Changing your blog’s image all the time might confuse your readers.
Write write write
Write a batch of blog posts before your blog is live which will keep you going for a while. I didn’t do this and struggled to write even one post a week at times. I would never have envisioned how much work goes into blogging so having a few posts to keep you going from the beginning will really help you out.
What’s your niche?
Will you have a niche or will you blog about whatever you feel like blogging about? Blogging about whatever you want is fun, and more personal. My blog is family and lifestyle oriented but I tend to blog about whatever I like to be honest. It’s my blog after all. Niche blogging can be big business though. People tend to search the internet to have their questions answered so may end up on your niche blog website as a result of their search. If you plan on having a niche try to decide what this will be before your blog goes live, or as soon as possible afterwards.
Get yourself organised
Make yourself a schedule and try to stick with it. Have a plan of when you will write your posts, when you plan to publish these posts, when you will schedule these posts on social media, when you plan to do your blogmin… Being organised will really help you out. I am not organised at all so I need to take my own advice here.
Hosted or self-hosted website?
Free hosted websites are fantastic because you can set up your own website really easily and it usually doesn’t cost anything. These websites do come with limitations though. I started my blog on the free hosted WordPress website, which was a great way for me to start my blogging venture, especially as I am a massive technophobe. But, I do wish I had set up a self-hosted website to start with as it would have saved a lot of messing around later on when I decided to make the change. When setting up your website you need to decide on a domain name, choose which blogging platform you will use (e.g. WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr), and then pick and modify a theme until you are happy with it.
Be a joiner
Join in with linkys and join Facebook blogger groups as soon as you can. By joining in with the blogging community you will get to know other bloggers, read some fantastic blog posts, and you can share your own posts too.
Take a break
Seriously! If blogging is getting on top of you then take a break from it. Your blog will still be there tomorrow or in a few days time. I know some people may worry about stats etc. if you take time off but to me, your health is way more important than how many page views you had that particular week. If you do need a break, or are going away and are worried that you won’t have a chance to post you could always host guest posts on your blog. Or if you know you will be away you could always write a batch of posts upfront and schedule these for when you are having your break.
You started blogging for you and no one else. Try not to let it all get on top of you. It is your blog to run the way you want so enjoy yourself and don’t spread yourself too thin. Blogging is brilliant and can also be really cathartic. For me, blogging provides the opportunity to get things off your chest. You also get to talk with like-minded people and you have the support of a fantastic community if you ever need any help or advice with anything.
So those were my 10 tips for wannabe bloggers. These are the things I wish I had known before I started blogging. If only I had done a little bit of research or read a few blog posts about blogging before I started then I might not have been in a state of confusion for the past year. I still have a lot to learn (Pinterest, SEO, Newsletters) but I am going to take it in my stride and you never know, maybe this time next year I might not be quite so confused…
What tips would you give to people thinking of starting a blog?