I’ve done a post in the past with a few blogging tips and tricks I have learned along the way. I thought it was about time I updated it as that was FIVE years ago. Holy cow, time flies. More than anything, I wanted to talk about how to start a blog the right way from the beginning. Starting out right makes a huge difference, and there are so many things I wish I had known.
Blogging Tips and Tricks Q&A – General Blogging Information
1. Plan for the blog you want to have
I started on a hosting site with a domain name I didn’t buy that I ultimately changed, and I used my personal social media. ALL WRONG – don’t be like me. You want to plan for the blog you have not start and work towards it. Set up your infrastructure for success!
- Define your niche – what is your blog about and how are you going to serve people? What is your purpose?
- Come up with a strong blog name that explains what your blog is about.
- Find and buy your domain.
- Set up your social media channels.
- Get a good, professional looking theme with your social media buttons readily available
- If all this sounds overwhelming, I get it! Consider taking a class like this “Website in a Weekend” offered by my friend Michael who really knows what he is doing. He will start off with an hour long virtual event to walk you through defining your brand, the most important pages in your website and what pages should be on each one, and then go through his developer toolkit. It’s a much more cost effective way to create a great looking site.
2. Images make all the difference
Sometimes I wish it were different, but we live in a visual world. The appearance of your blog and your image quality are probably the two most important things. If you are trying to sell clothing or convince a brand you are a good person to represent them, your images need to look good. Once you have good images to post on your blog, you will also have good images to share on your social media platforms.
- I have gone to using almost exclusively my iPhone. I edit my photos using the same preset on the free Lightroom app to give them all a cohesive appearance. See #3.
- Find a good photographer. Bonus points if you can talk your hubby into helping you (I’d be lost without you babe). Though some people can master tripods and taking photos themselves, it’s really hard. I think having a good photographer is important. You might be able to find a local blogging buddy and take photos for each other.
- Take photos in good lighting in professional settings. We avoid direct, harsh overhead sun. Professional photographers can shoot in these settings, but they are harder. For us, shady spots near large buildings are what work best. Ideally the golden hour is best, but the reality of that just doesn’t always work.
- Pinterest is your best friend! The majority of my traffic comes from Pinterest. Think of it like a search interest, and plan your content around what people would search for there. Create images like the first one you see here using text overlays on your photos. Start early and often with images associated with your posts for Pinterest! I use PicMoney to make mine, but Canva is great as well.
3. Engage with other bloggers in your content area
This is hands down my favorite part of blogging. I have loved getting to know other bloggers. I feel like I have friends all over the country even if I only virtually know them. Sometimes when I travel, I am even lucky enough to meet some of them in person. Besides being fun, engaging with other bloggers really provides a support network. I have learned so much from other bloggers, been encouraged by them, found collaborations through them, and more.
- Join groups on social media outlets. There are group Pinterest boards to help share your blog pins (see the ones I am in here), Instagram comment pods where bloggers engage with each other to support Instagram posts, Facebook groups to share ideas and questions, and more.
- Comment, comment, comment. Besides being fun, inspiring, and challenging (getting to see what others are doing and learning from it), it also helps drive traffic back to my blog. I also have gotten to know some awesome bloggers this way.
4. Consider ways to monetize your blog
This is one of the hardest things, especially when you are first starting out. It does take time, and as your blog grows it will come.
- Consider joining an affiliate network. There are a lot of these, and often times brands even have their own. I personally cannot keep up with multiple networks, so I have chosen to join one. I am part of rewardStyle. It works well for me, but it did take time to start making money and seeing it come in regularly. If you have applied and been rejected, they typically look for an engaged and growing audience, consistency in posting, quality and original content, and clean design. I’d be happy to refer you if you’d like. Just send me an email. This is how I make the majority of my money through blogging.
- Work with retailers for sponsored content. Whether a sponsored post or social media share, this can be a good way to make a little money. Determining rates can be a little tricky, and I think it is something you need to decide at an individual level. There is a guide here that has been published that might give you a good starting point based on your following.
- I also run ads on my blog through Mediavine. This has been huge for me as it creates a semi-regular salary for me as a blogger. You do have to qualify for the service via pageviews.
- Many retailers consider gifting product as the payment. For me personally, I typically weigh how much I want to work with the brand and how much the item costs when deciding if I will accept product only as payment. For example, if I am being gifted a $300 item from a brand I’ve always wanted to work with, I am much more likely to do the collaboration without additional payment than I would be to take a $30 item from a brand I feel only lukewarm about. I also consider how much I think I might be able to make in commission on an item.
How To Reach Out to Brands?
I was so nervous about this in the beginning. It is something that I have gotten more comfortable with over time and definitely something that just comes with blogging territory. Most brands have a contact email on their website if you look hard enough, though not all. If you cannot find a specific PR/blog email, start with a general. They will often pass it along to the right person if they are interested. You can also try messaging in Instagram. If I do this, I typically send a shorter message and ask for an email.
- Make it personal! Why should the brand work with YOU? I have a general email I created a while back that I use and customize each time I reach out to a brand. It starts with an introduction, why I think working together might be a good fit (i.e. I have long loved the brand and have a lot of it in my personal collection), explains a little about my blog, highlights other recent brand work, and mentions blog/social media highlights and engagement.
- Have a media kit.
- When reaching out to brands in the beginning, I heard no a lot (still do) or just didn’t get a response back. Don’t be discouraged!
- One tip I have is to pay attention to brands that are working with bloggers. Some are more receptive and used to working with bloggers than others. If you see a brand working with bloggers regularly, chances are they will be more willing to work with you too.
Blogging takes time and hard work. Give yourself grace and enjoy the process
I’ll be honest with you all, I play the comparison game. I struggle with feeling like a failure too. The truth is, blogging is hard work and growth, for me at least, is slow. I have to remind myself that I do this because I genuinely love it. The creative aspect gives me joy. I love getting to know and be inspired by other amazing women like YOU! Give yourself grace and enjoy the process. Remind yourself why you started.
Personal Blogging Schedule
- What is my blogging schedule and when do I take photos?
- I post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I have found that three days a week works well for me at this stage. It also helps me know what I need to have ready and hopefully helps my readers know what to expect.
- During the week, Jane is in MDO 2 days a week. Those are my “work days.” I also use every other spare minute I can like naps or post-bedtime when I don’t feel like blogging is taking away from our family time to respond to comments, blog email, and tend to social media.
- It is definitely a balancing act that has gotten harder as a mom. It’s far from perfect. Some weeks it works well, and some weeks I feel way behind and stressed out by it. In general though, I feel so fortunate to be able to do it! I am also really grateful for the flexibility even though it’s definitely not a normal career.
I hope you have found this helpful! Let me know if there is anything I didn’t cover that you would like more information on in the future.