8 tips for new bloggers
hi :) today i am sharing a few tips with you guys on how to start a blog, as well as a few things to keep in mind while you grow it.
when i first started, i didn’t realize how big of an undertaking blogging was - it truly is a rabbit hole and there is always something new to learn.
in a way, it was a blessing in disguise that i didn’t know what i didn’t know because i think it may have discouraged me from starting in the first place.
i hope that you find these tips helpful, but at the end of the day, trust yourself and your own vision - it’s unique, has a purpose, and will resonate with someone, somewhere (the internet is a big place! ha). so try not to focus on finding some specific path (or recreating someone else’s) that you think will get you to 1.94 million followers and instead on what you want to say and what you want to create, because that’s what matters at the end of the day.
with that said.. let’s jump in :)
8 tips for new bloggers
really generic and probably too “duh” to be helpful, but believe it or not.. this is something i see come up over and over and over again. like almost anything else that is new to you, you just have to start. put one foot in front of the other and make a tiny decision, then make another.. and before you know it you will have a body of work that you are proud of.
there are obviously tons of tips and tricks on how to blog or the best way or how to set yourself up for the most “success” - research is great but i think you can find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of (conflicting) advice out there, which leads to a lot of overthinking and second-guessing, in a way. when i decided to start blogging, i focused more on what i wanted my site to look like and what i wanted to talk about rather than what other people were posting or how they were doing it. analytics, google rankings, and follower counts never crossed my mind once. i didn’t think to ask anyone how many blog posts i should have posted right off the bat or how to advertise and make money - i just started because it was something that i was excited about. a lot of people will say that i made things harder for myself because i wasn’t prioritizing value-rich content that has my audience in mind, but at the time i really didn’t think i would have anyone reading my blog besides my mom (really - there is no guarantee your instagram followers will follow you to another platform!). i was really naive when i started and it helped me out big time because i just went for it, and learned as time went on.
start where you are with what you have and i promise, you will figure it out as you go along. and the more authentic you are to yourself and your vision, the more likely you are to catch fire - remember, try to please everyone and you please no one.
2. be prepared to invest (but don’t spend a lot!)
please hear me when i say you do not need to spend a ton of money to be a blogger. you do not need the priciest camera/ lens or the most expensive website. i designed my own website (still do), which saved me thousands. if you are doubtful about it, my best advice is to start on a platform like Squarespace that is user friendly because you can always switch over to Wordpress once you are more comfortable with blogging or can maybe afford to pay someone to help you. i will admit that having a camera makes a huge difference - i’ve used a DSLR camera from the beginning because i already knew how to use it (for the most part) and liked taking pictures for a lot of different reasons outside of blogging. your iPhone will do just as good of a job and will be easier to work with if you are just starting out. there are also cheaper DSLR models (and pre-owned models, too), so you can work your way up as you go.
when i say be prepared to invest, i am referring to time and energy. there’s a lot to learn and do at any given time! i am still figuring out new website tweaks and you can never know enough about SEO. and then there’s the effort that goes into creating blog posts and being consistent with it - but it’s all worth it in my opinion :)
3. prioritize progress over perfection
something that i think is really important when it comes to blogging, especially since comparison seems to be especially heavy within this group, is to not worry about being perfect right off the bat. no matter how good your intentions are, you will change your mind a LOT. and you will learn and grow a LOT. i think the only things i have really stuck to on my blog are that (1) i try to not be negative and (2) i don’t capitalize words [more on that here].
i have ended up posting more about what i think than what i wear lately - it was never my intention to write about “more serious” topics, but it’s just began to feel right at the time. as time goes on, you change.. and what you want to post or do changes as well.
i am definitely a perfectionist, and have been known to throw out the entire notebook rather than rip a single page out when i want to start over, but that’s not a realistic option when it comes to blogging. odds are high that you are going to hate a set of photos, wish you phrased things differently in a post, or external circumstances will force you to change how often you press “publish.” life happens! learn to be flexible and understanding and don’t be too hard on yourself.
4. a few things you will want to learn:
when i first started my blog, i didn’t know anything about anything 🙃 i will be sharing more tips and tricks relating to web design, shooting + editing photos, and planning your content as this month goes on but here are a few things i wish i knew more about in the beginning: SEO, Google Search Console, media kits, Pinterest (i avoided it like the plagueeee for so long and still kind of do! just not my thing but it is great for getting traffic to your site), and Adobe Illustrator (or Canva) for making graphics. you might also want to learn about Lightroom if you aren’t yet familiar with that for editing photos. VSCO is a great photo editing app if you are wanting to start simple (here’s how i edited photos using VSCO for years). obviously this is all way too much to cover in one post but just having a list of what to learn is something i wish i had when i was starting out.
blogging in and of itself is fun, but there’s a certain level of satisfaction (and gratitude) that comes when people actually visit your site. you want people to visit your blog, and to come back to it, so make sure you make it easy for them by utilizing a few marketing techniques:
make sure you have a few “call-to-actions,” or places on your website where visitors can sign up for something like an email list, so that you have a way to entice them to come back to your site. add an opt-in (like a free download) so they get something out of signing up. i have a sign-up spot in at least 3 different spots on my website, and they’re each phrased a little differently, in case one version is more appealing.
also you can create little funnels by linking to similar content at the end of blog posts, which helps keep readers on your site longer.
communicate your brand, or who you are, really clearly. show how you provide value to readers - you want to eliminate all guesswork, because first impressions stick and they only take a few seconds to form. you don’t need to be selling products to provide value - tutorials, style guides, and things like that count as well. (PS - the better you explain it, the more valuable it will appear to be, too)
don’t use link tree :) or similar services. create a mobile landing page on your website (mine is here), so that people are going directly to your site rather than taking an unnecessary step. it’s a direct introduction to your branding because you have full control over the design, and that click will add to your stats, too.
join a few facebook groups for bloggers so that you can network and share your posts with other bloggers - it’s a good way to make friends (it’s how i met emily - love her blog) and you can learn a lot, too. literally the only reason i still have a facebook, ha.
6. you need good graphics.
this goes hand in hand with marketing, but is worth saying again. one of the most important parts of blogging today (and how you stand out) is through good graphics, especially if you are incorporating text onto photos. make things clean and easy to read - no one is going to zoom to read something, i promise you that. less is always more.
for graphics that go on Pinterest or my blog directly, i use Canva, which provides templates if you are just starting out to get a feel for what looks good - think of it like using a coloring book before you start drawing on your own. i will use some blurry photos on my blog but when it comes to graphics, i have found that sharper, cleaner, brighter photos are always more eye-catching and perform better.
for graphics that go on Instagram Story, i use the app Unfold. you can also use Canva (and i have in the past) but Unfold is easier to use on my phone when i’m on the go.. and i like easy hah.
7. make sure your content makes sense.
by this i mean.. make sure what you are posting makes sense to who you are, what you stand for, and where you’re at. there is a lot of comparison that goes on when it comes to blogging and you might feel like you need to mirror what “successful” bloggers are doing in order to grow but remember - not only do we all start somewhere, but we all have something unique to say. don’t try to keep up with what someone else is doing, especially if that doesn’t fit with your current lifestyle. for example.. don’t think that you need to book these extravagant trips in order to be a travel blogger, and don’t drive yourself into debt buying new outfits every week (or worse - buying something, taking a photo, and then returning it) in order to be a style blogger. work with your budget and what your life looks now - maybe you will post about fun local things to do in your area while you are saving up to backpack through Europe. focus on the life you’re living now and what aspect(s) of it you want to share and that is how you will stand out and make your mark :) x
PS - if you ever get stuck with content, try something new or ask others for input. i saw a random hair product at target and decided to try it out, and it became the game changer for me and my blog when i posted about it. sometimes those random posts you don’t plan end up being what your readers like most, so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit and go out of your comfort zone, too.
8. remember your why
full disclosure: this is something i learned in my business classes but i think it’s really relevant to blogging as well. remember why you started blogging and keep that in mind as you make all of your decisions. there’s a lot of talk about cohesive instagram feeds and posting a certain amount of times a day/ week, but i think tying your why to everything you do is the real secret to what makes a blog successful. it gives you purpose, direction, and vision; it’s also what makes strong brands so identifiable. keeping your why at the front of your mind will help you whenever you feel discouraged, when you are trying to decide on sponsorships and collaborations, and as you set goals and plan future stuff. for example, i have been a big fan of certain bloggers and then gotten really confused when they went from talking about one thing to contradicting themselves as they sell another.. so remember your why and that will help guide you as you grow, learn, and develop your blog into a cohesive body of work.
and a bonus tip for you..
don’t confuse social media with blogging!
by this i mean.. you never know what is going to happen with social media platforms (RIP myspace, yes?). everything could disappear tomorrow, and there really are no guarantees with any of it. obviously promoting your posts is important, but you have zero control over a lot of social media changes, whereas you have complete control over your blog.
take pride in the ownership of that and prioritize it over getting an extra 5 likes on your last photo and you will be just fine, promise. (coming from the girl who has waaayyyy more readers on here than on IG.. trust me).
post blogs consistently, create exclusive content for your email subscribers, work on enhancing your SEO.. these are the types of steps that will help you out in the long run.
(i will still post on IG stories, especially when i post a new blog, but it’s not my main source of traffic so i don’t invest a lot of time in it, and haven’t scrolled through my feed in months.)
thank you so much for reading :) i hope these tips help you! and i just want to end this with a final piece of advice, because it’s probably what held me back the most when i first started:
don’t let the fear of people misunderstanding you or potentially saying something mean discourage you. i have only deleted one comment on my blog, and that was because it wasn’t directed towards me (i signed up for all of this knowing i would be criticized at some point, but others didn’t, and i will always be protective of that). not everything is sunshine and rainbows all the time, and it’s normal to get frustrated at times, but everyone goes at their own pace and timing will work out for you when it’s meant to. focus on you, celebrate milestones big and small, and keep at it :) i do think consistency is key.