I’ve been blogging for over a year and I’ve learnt so many lessons and picked up countless tips from more established (and very kind) bloggers – this being the main reason I’m assuming I know what I’m on about – so I thought it only fair I share them with you. Here’s my advice:
1. Why? What? Which?
Before you start, have a think about why you are starting a blog, this should help you define what it’s about, what format you want it to take, which platform to use and what theme best suits your needs.
There are so many types of blogs: Specific blogs focusing on a particular subject such as beauty or film reviews. Visual blogs to displaying people’s photography or art work. Diary/journal type blogs which come from a more personal perspective. Literary blogs to showcase and store people’s creative writing. Lifestyle blogs (like mine) which cover multiple aspects that combine to create something similar to an online magazine, with re-occuring features and subjects.
The two most popular blogging platforms are Blogger and WordPress. In my opinion (having tried them both) Blogger is a lot simpler and therefor easier to use but WordPress gives you infinite options to expand and the chance to easily have full command your domain.
Stick to similar colours and fonts (only altering it for different sections of your blog if you really have to) as this will make a busy blog easier to navigate and instantly give it a professional feel. If in doubt keep it simple.
2. Find your own voice
It’s not much use thinking “I want to be just like…” You are you, you have your own voice, that’s what makes you – and therefor your blog – individual. I suggest at the beginning you keep your first couple of posts private and just write what ever comes into your head. Write how you would chat to one of your mates so that your personality and cultural background come across on the page. However, if you want your blog to have international appeal then avoid the over use of local slang. Read it back to yourself out loud. If you struggle to get all of the words out in one breath, then put more punctuation in. If you find yourself waffling on, then put more paragraphs in or edit parts out. Then if you are brave enough, get some one who knows you well to read it. Ask them if they think your writing sounds like you and how you normally express yourself. When I first started, my writing had this really arsey formal tone to it, like a government information broadcast from the 50′s!
3. Be consistent
It’s no use posting sporadically, being really enthused at first and then loosing steam and ignoring your blog. In order to gain regular followers and to establish a report with them, try and post at least once a week. Try not to get over whelmed by putting too much pressure on yourself to write amazing content with every post. Your readers will prefer regular posts rather than an award worthy essay every two months. Saying that, try to keep the content of your posts up to a consistent standard, even if you are creating a quick post from your smart phone on the bus. Always spell-check and then proof read before you press ‘update’.
4. Photo Do’s
When shooting outside always keep an eye on who is around you. Don’t make yourself a target for thieves, it’s not worth it.
If you are photographing something for review purposes and/or makeup try to make the most of natural light to get the truest colours.
If you are using flash be aware of surfaces that will reflect it back.
By a miniature tri-pod where you can lock off the height and angle, these are fairly cheap and will save you a lot of time.
Edit your pictures using free online software you can download. PhoXo and GIMP are two that always come highly recommended.
5. Photo Don’ts
Don’t sloppily take a long shot thinking “Oh I’ll just zoom right in and crop it later” as the more you do this, the more picture quality you loose.
Don’t publish countless selfies, that’s what your unfortunate instagram followers have to put up with.
Don’t post shots that are at wonky angles, badly framed or are badly lit.
Don’t post a hundred pictures of the same subject at ever so slightly different angles when a few would do.
For any OOTD (outfit of the day) posts don’t take a shot of your outfit in your bedroom mirror with your bedroom visible in the background looking like a clothes bomb just exploded.
Don’t include shots that have a stranger/your friend/your pet/or your Mum photo-bombing the background…. OK possibly your pet if it’s cute.
Don’t stand near a brightly lit exit sign/a bin/a random advertisement or street rubbish. These are all guanine examples of awful OOTD’s I’ve seen.
If a person is walking down the street, they are in a public place and you have the right to take their picture (unless it’s for professional purposes) so don’t worry about general street-photography and be brave!
6. Use Social Networking to drive traffic to your site.
Twitter and Facebook are invaluable for getting people to notice your blog in general and to advertise individual posts. Give your blog it’s own Twitter profile and Facebook page, listing what you and your blog are about (don’t go over three lines when writing your Twitter profile or the link to your blog will be buried on the third page).
Set up your blog so it automatically sends out a link to each new post to your Twitter/FB account.
Routinely tweet links to your post and include any relevant hash tags such as #greenbbloggers (green beauty bloggers) #crueltyfree also include any group that you think will RT (re-tweet) your tweet such as @fashbeautylife (FBL: Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle bloggers) and @FemaleBloggerRT. If you have reviewed a product (in a mostly favourable way) or are reporting on an event by a company etc then don’t forget to include that @company as they might RT it or even get in touch to work with you!
A fun way of promoting your blog and meeting fellow bloggers with the same interests as you, is to join Twitter chats. These are live scheduled events that last for an hour and happen once a week, where everyone gets online and creates a community.
My faves are:
#lbloggerschat @LbloggersChat every Sunday 19.00
#fblchat @fashbeautylife every Tuesday 20.00
#bloghour @UKBlogAwards every Tuesday 21.00
#organichour started by a coffee company, it’s now taken on a life of it’s own Wednesday 20.00
Add the times of any relevant Twitter chats into your calendar and set up alerts for them.
Pinterest and Instagram are also a more creative way to draw attention to your blog. Set up an account in the name of your blog and post photo’s you have included in your latest blog posts (not the in between shots explaining things, just the shots that are easily understood which make more of an impact). #Hash tag them appropriately and include any names of @brands/people who are also on instagram that your post favourably alludes to. Include photo’s of you out and about doing the things that you are blogging about and enjoying public holidays such as Halloween and Christmas etc to make your feed more personal and relatable.
Put your blog on Bloglovin. This an app/website that let’s you catch up and follow all of your fave blogs – no matter what platform they use – all in one place. Lately companies are asking how many followers you have on Bloglovin as well as Twitter and FB, when deciding if they want to work with you.
Remember with social networking that it’s not all about you! You have to put the time and reply to comments and also comment on other people’s posts to build a raport. Don’t neglect your follower alerts and try to ‘like’ as much as you are liked.
7. Get in on the action
Rakuten Link Share is a great site that has a huge list of companies in different fields which you can apply to, to become affiliated with. Wether that’s posting their banner adds on your site, promoting sales/events /offers or writing specific posts with link backs to their site. You will get paid accordingly. Sign up for news letters so you get alerted when new companies join. If you are promoting/advertising something by a brand you are affiliated with and getting paid for doing so, you have to make this clear in your post, otherwise it is illegal.
Bloggers Required is a site that lists all sorts of blogging assignments from companies. They ask you to run a competition where their product is the prize. They may send you an item for review and let you keep the product – after all you’ve used it, to be able to test it. They may request that you write an extensive piece on a product/experience/event which you will get paid for.
You must have full disclosure on your blog to let people know you are being paid to endorse said product/experience/event, otherwise it is considered illegal/shady advertising. If you are making money through blogging you are considered to be self-employed and should declare it to the tax man.
Note: Some blog hosting sites like WordPress will delete your blog if you are earning money from your blog if you are not self hosted, with your own domain.
Facebook Groups are a fantastic way of promoting individual blog posts, your blog in general and they are also another great way to connect with other bloggers. Keep an eye out for threads about upcoming blogger events and opportunities, then politely get in on the conversation. Obviously it’s under-handed to just high-jack someone’s PR contact, they’ve mentioned!
My faves are:
North West Bloggers UK (for group chats, info and shared events)
North West Bloggers UK – (blog sharing only)
The Girls Inspired Group (Rather strict rules with this one but it works well)
Facebook Giveaways (for your giveaway/competition posts)
UK Competitions and Prizes (for your giveaway/competition posts)
Bloggers PR Events (UK PR events only)
8. Giveaways and Offers
Giveaways are a fab way getting people to do want you want! By that I mean, when you are giving away a prize you can use Rafflecopter to set entrants a little task (such as following your blogs page on Facebook or tweeting about the competition etc) followed by a series of optional tasks – or even mandatory ones if you are offering a really awesome prize!
Displaying offers can be a great way of giving your followers exclusive opportunities, such as discounts on particular brands, luxury experiences or fun days out. The easiest ways to do this are either by agreeing on a code your followers can enter at the checkout or to have them quote the name of your blog when making a booking. It’s also a great way for you to network with independent companies and build up a relationship with them.
9. Abbreviations and Phrases (this one’s deliberately silly)
There are so many depending on what subject your blog covers, I’ll just add some of the more common one’s I frequently come across.
OOTD: Outfit of the day. Fashion and personal style bloggers photograph their outfits each day. “I just went totally OTT with my OOTD lol”
Selfie: A shot of yourself taken by yourself holding the camera with varying degrees of success. “It’s selfie Sunday”
Duck face: The over exaggerated pout that seems to be essential for any selfie. “Mmwah”
Photobomb: When someone dives in your shot at the last minute. “Dude, that pigeon just totally photo bombed your shot!”
FROW: The front row at a fashion show “Guess who I just saw on the FROW.’
*- – - -*: Explains what action you’d be doing if you weren’t typing . “He actually asked me what face palm means *face palm*”
Face Palm: If someone fails miserably but inevitably or does something particularly dumb, you might gently hit your forehead with the palm of your hand to demon straight their stupidity.
Don’t stress about everything being perfect, just get blogging and have fun!