I really can’t believe it, but I’ve officially been blogging for 6 months! I still feel like such a newbie and I’m definitely still learning about the process every day, but I also feel like I’ve learned so much since I started. So, in honor of my 6-month anniversary, I wanted to share my top 10 tips for anyone thinking about starting a blog. Like I said, I am still very new at blogging and by no means an expert, but since the process of starting up my blog is still recent and fresh in my mind, these tips should be helpful for any of you who are thinking of starting a blog of your own!
1. Dive in
I wanted to put this tip first because it truly is all about diving in and making it happen. I’ve thought about starting a blog for years but I would always make up excuses: “I don’t have the time.” “People probably won’t care about what I post.” I wouldn’t know what I’m doing.” Sound familiar? That went on for a long time until I finally realized I just needed to do it! If people don’t care about what I have to say, then they can just ignore me, right? And I’ll never truly be ready, but the sooner I start, the sooner I start gaining experience and learning from my mistakes. So that would be my first piece of advice: if you’ve always wanted to start a blog but you haven’t been able to bring yourself to following through with it yet, just give it a try!
2. Have a clear message
When I first started my blog, I was kind of all over the place. I would post some pictures of my outfits, my makeup, coffee, flowers, anything really! It wasn’t until a few months in that I realized I needed to narrow in on a topic and really be consistent with what I was trying to say. That’s when I decided to really focus in on fashion. I work in the fashion industry, so it’s what I know best and what I’m truly passionate about. Now that’s not to say I don’t still like to share some of my favorite beauty, hair, and even food products with my followers (I know I’m always curious to hear what products people like, so hopefully you are too!) but at the end of the day my main focus is posting about fashion and providing outfit inspiration. Once I started having a consistent message and a consistent feed, I definitely noticed a boost in my engagement levels.
3. Find your support system
Part of the main reason I was so nervous to start a blog was what my family and friends would think of it. Honestly, that fear created a lot of anxiety and hesitation. Once I started telling people, though, I was amazed at how supportive and excited everyone was for me. My friends all said they couldn’t wait to read my posts, and my family was excited that I was starting up a hobby that I was truly passionate about. Also, if you plan to use Instagram for sharing pictures, it helps a lot to have someone who is willing to take a lot (and I mean a LOT) of pictures for you. Luckily, I have an extremely supportive boyfriend who has always been willing to take my pictures without complaints, but a lot of other bloggers use their parents or close friends. By having someone who is willing to go on some adventures with you to find new and exciting spots to shoot pictures, it definitely makes the whole process a lot easier and more fun.
4. Utilize inexpensive (and sometimes free!) resources
So I definitely want to do a separate post on all the apps and resources that I use for my blog, but for now I’ll just list a few of my top favorites. First off, WordPress is a great platform to use for your website. I had never used WordPress before, and I was able to figure out how to build a website just by following their how-to videos (no coding necessary!) WordPress is free to use, but you’ll have to buy your website domain through WordPress or another site (usually about $10 for the year). Another resource I love to use is Canva. You can use the app on your phone or the website on your computer. This is a great way to create visuals (sort of like photoshop) but it’s super easy to use. I use this when I’m putting together my “outfit idea” posts. I also use it to create the visuals for my Pinterest page. There is a free version, but I pay $12 a month for some added features, like being able to download and share my creations. To edit my pictures, I use a few different free apps on my phone, but my #1 favorite is snapseed. You can pretty much do everything you need in this app and it’s completely free! Again, I want to do a post on how I edit my pics so stay tuned for that. Finally, make sure to convert your Instagram to a business profile. This way, you get free analytics that will show you engagement rates on your posts, and will even show you when your followers go online the most, so you’ll know the best times to post!
5. Connect with other bloggers
I think everyone knows it’s easier to do something when you can connect with other people who are doing the same thing. Since I started blogging, I’ve been amazed at how many genuine and nice people have reached out to me through social media whether it’s to say they like my content, or to offer up advice if I need it. It’s really incredible that there are so many people out there in all different parts of the world who not only want to share their story, but also want to hear about yours. One thing I wish I had done when I started my blog was try to connect with other bloggers sooner because it would have made the beginning months much easier. There are amazing people out there who have been through what you’re going through and want to help you, so take advantage of it!
6. Seek inspiration but stay true to yourself
So I followed a few bloggers on Instagram before starting my own blog, but I definitely started following a lot more once I started blogging. It’s definitely easier to do something after seeing how other people do it first. That being said, you want to make sure that you don’t feel like you have to copy other bloggers or be exactly like someone else. I definitely fell into this trap a little bit when I started blogging – I felt like I had to go to all the spots in NYC where other bloggers took pictures, and eat the same foods and wear the same brands and basically do everything they were doing. Luckily, it didn’t take too long for me to realize that a. that wasn’t sustainable and b. no one wants to follow someone who’s just like everybody else. Now I’m not saying what I put up on my blog is always extremely different or revolutionary, but it is truly me. I would never share a product and say I loved it without meaning it, and I would never wear something I didn’t feel comfortable in or didn’t like just because it happened to look good in a photo. It’s definitely hard to stand out and be different in the over-saturated world of blogging, but luckily just by being human, we already have characteristics that make each of us unique. I know it sounds cliché, but if you just be yourself, then the whole process will be a lot easier and more fun.
7. Be consistent
A lot of the bloggers I like to follow are consistent with their posts, so I knew I wanted to try to do the same. By offering new content on a consistent basis, it keeps your audience engaged and gives them a reason to keep wanting to follow you. Now I still work a full-time job so it’s not realistic for me to come out with a new post every day, but a realistic goal that I set for myself is to try to write a blog post on my website once a week, and to try to post on Instagram 2-3 times a week. Once I started getting into this set routine, it definitely helped reduce some of the stress of blogging because I had set a realistic, achievable goal for myself.
8. Get organized
To continue off the last bullet of being consistent, in order to do this, you need to get organized. It can definitely be overwhelming to try to decide what you want to post and when you want to post it, so one thing I’ve found that helps is to have a content calendar. At the beginning of each month, I try to lay out the month ahead of me. I’ll choose 4-5 posts that I want to do that month, and then put it in the calendar. Once those are in there, it gives me a framework for when I need to shoot the photos and do the prep-work to be ready to publish the posts. When it comes to the photos on my Instagram feed, I use a free app called “preview” which allows me to lay out all my pictures ahead of time and see what it will look like on my feed before actually posting it. This app is amazing for ensuring your feed looks consistent.
9. Don’t get discouraged
The world of social media can be extremely overwhelming. Because starting a blog is fairly easy and inexpensive, a lot of people have done it and it can be frustrating when you follow people that have been doing it for awhile and make it look effortless. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started blogging, it’s that it is NOT as easy as it looks! Blogging forced me to learn about photography, website design, all different social media platforms, and so much more! It can sometimes feel like a part-time job, especially when you’re first starting out and trying to get your website up and running. Try not to get discouraged if you’re blog isn’t taking off right away like you had hoped. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and make sure to recognize your small successes.
10. Remember to have fun!
At the end of the day, I started blogging because I wanted a hobby outside of work that allowed me to share what I was passionate about and meet other people who are passionate about the same thing. Sure, there are days where I have to finish writing a post or I have to go take pictures and I wish I could just stay in bed and watch tv, but the feeling of knowing I’ve created something that I’m proud of outweighs those times when it feels a bit like a chore. Don’t stress yourself out and don’t put too much pressure on it. Just make it fun and stay true to yourself. That’s what it’s all about!