Are you thinking starting your own blog? Have you thought about what it takes to be a blogger? I only started my blog less than a year ago, and I feel so late to the game compared to some veteran bloggers, but in the short amount of time I have had my blog, I have learned many tips from studying other blogs and from other bloggers that I want to share with you! Even if you already have a blog, maybe you’ll learn a new nugget that you didn’t think of before or a reminder to something you haven’t been focusing on.
Step 1: Come up with a Name! This step is crucial. Your name represents you and your blog. As a blogger, you want it to be inviting, relatable, and have a name that is easy to spell, pronounce, and remember. Do you want to use your own name? Do you want to come up with a fun, catchy, unique name? Do you want to use your blog as a brand or business name? When I was coming up with a name for my website, blog, brand, and business, I wanted to come up with something catchy and fun that used my name and something that represented me as a mom and a professional. Before you decide on a name, make sure the domain is available first and if it is, buy it as soon as possible! It took me years to find the perfect name that represented my brand and me. Many of the names I came up with first weren’t available. I can’t imagine having another name other than The Parentologist w/Dr. Kim (and I also took an additional step and trademarked the name but it was a very long and expensive ordeal) but it took a long time to find a name that was what I wanted that wasn’t already being used. I think that is why many bloggers use their first and or last name!
Step 2: Buy a Domain! One of the largest domain companies is GoDaddy, but you can search around to find the best deals for what your needs are when buying a domain. Some domains are as low as $12 a year and others are higher and may come with more perks, so choose one depending on what you want out of your blog and online space. I used Bluehost to buy my domain but another option is Google because they have domains available now, too. And don’t forget to renew your domain once you have it (usually every year). You will typically be sent a reminder, but if you don’t renew in time you can lose it, so set a reminder for yourself. I also use WordPress to write my blogs and hired a web designer to create an inviting website as a place for others to visit.
Step 3: Create a Logo! Like the trademark, this isn’t a vital step in the blogging process. I know a lot of successful bloggers that do not have their blog trademarked or even have a logo, but it is an option if you have the money and the desire to fully capitalize on your brand! My logo is exactly how I envisioned it, but it took months to get it just right and a few hundred dollars. Make sure you own the rights to your logo if you get one. For me, I use it on everything from my website/blog, social media, business cards, etc. My logo represents me and my brand it is an integral part of my brand.
Step 4: Decide on a Platform! Do you want to be a mom blogger, a lifestyle blogger, a fashion blogger, a travel blogger, a food blogger or something else? You can always evolve to some extent, but once you come up with a niche, stick with it and grow within that platform. If you blog about everything your audience may get confused. I consider myself a parenting and lifestyle blogger so I have some freedom in what I post since I have so many interests and knowledge in so many areas, but even if I go outside the box and post something about travel or food, for example, I always try to tie it back to family, children, parenting, etc. I have found that most of your audience will follow their favorite bloggers within a specific niche. They will have their favorite parenting blog, their favorite craft blog, their favorite fashion blog, etc. Rarely can someone pull off all of them! But if you can, more power to you. I suggest starting with one platform and then adding on more eclectic information as you grow.
Step 5: Think About Photos! I personally haven’t used photos in my blogs. I solely focus on the content in my blogs and save the photos for my social media accounts. However, I personally think pictures tell a story and I know there is a good chance that my blog would be more successful if I posted pictures to go along with what I am writing. Honestly, I do not own a fancy camera and you don’t have to either. All of the photos I take are on my iPhone. Because they are taken from my phone, I have to try really hard to focus on lighting since I don’t edit my photos other than using a filter once in a while. When I am ready to take my blog and social media to the next level, I will invest in a camera and better photography, but right now, my phone will have to do.
Step 6: Link Your Social Media! You certainly do not have to have a social media account if you have your own blog and vice versa. However, many successful blogs are also linked up to an Instagram and even a Facebook and other social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Promote your blog posts through these social media platforms and have more than one because some of your followers many only have a Facebook page and not an Instagram account or vice versa. Cross promotion is always helpful. I am on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!
Step 7: Network with Bloggers! Read other blogs. Support other bloggers. Comment on posts. Email them and collaborate with them. Do what you can to get involved and find a network of bloggers that will also support you! To be honest, I have spent most of my time over the last year networking to grow my audience. The more people you know, the bigger the following and the more opportunities you will have. I have tried to creatively find ways to collaborate with other bloggers and you win some and you lose some. I have been rejected and ignored more than I have actually been accepted and reciprocated. So have a thick skin. Some people will get back to you and some won’t. Some will want to collaborate with you and some won’t. The ones that will work with you will most likely support you 100%. I have reached out to some bloggers and they have gone above and beyond to help me, support me, encourage me, and work with me. Hang on to those networks and they will almost always instantaneously become your lifelong friends – virtually and or in person!
Step 8: Find a White Garage Door! This one seems funny, I know, but have you noticed how many of us take photos in front of a white garage door? This is used mostly for social media posts but next time you are on Instagram, scroll through and count how many photos are taken in front of a white garage door! If you don’t have one of your own, maybe a friend or neighbor does. Obviously this strategy is just for fun and helpful for a quick, clean photo with generally good lighting, but not imperative for a successful blog. You can take great photos anywhere that has a good background and excellent lighting, especially if you have a fancy camera!
Step 9: Find Time! If you are like me, one of the most difficult parts about blogging is finding the time to actually sit down and write a blog. I have a lot of good ideas, but getting them all down on paper is hard when you are a full time wife, mom, housecleaner, cook, educator, and also work part-time. Even if I were to schedule posts in advance, I’d still have trouble writing them in the first place! Organization is key and stay as consistent as possible. Unless blogging is your full time job and the way you make your living (which is rare for many of us) make time for blogging when you can, but if you are like me, being a mom and paying the bills are my priority and blog when I can. I do set aside time for it each week, but at this point I don’t blog more than once a week. Again, when I am ready to go to the next level, I will post multiple times a week and make it more of a career focus, but for now, I am happy connecting on the level I am now.
Step 10: Don’t Expect Much! Especially at the beginning, don’t get into blogging for the money, the fame, or the free products. Be true to who you are and genuine to your blog. Be unique and honest with your audience and followers. If you aren’t, shops, bloggers, and other viewers will see right through you. Create quality content that you would want to read and write your heart into your blogs. Some of your blog posts will get many viewers and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. Keep it up and do it until you don’t want to anymore. If you gain a strong following and can make a living out of blogging and collaborations, then do it! The bloggers I know that blog as a full time job work very hard networking and attending blogging conferences, are emailing and networking on a daily basis, are constantly taking photos, and are writing everyday. For now, focus on getting yourself out there in this special online space and community and have fun!