How to start a blog. Six tips to ensure you don’t waste your time.
As you may have read I recently attended a networking event which brought a number of people in the WA fashion industry together, (if you missed it, find my tips on networking story here). At the event I spoke with a number of people who had been reading Inspiring Wit and asked me a few questions about blogging. I thought I would address some of my experiences with blogging here to perhaps answer some of those questions.
I will start by saying that this blog is very much still growing, I do not have all of the answers but have enough experience and research to share a little of what I have learned.
How I started blogging
Personally, I began blogging in 2010 with very little planning. I liked to write, I had a lot of interesting vintage clothes I wanted to share and at the timeI was pretty bored. Years later, I was unhappy with the blog I had been running and knowing it was still a passion I wanted to pursue, decided to commit to it more wholeheartedly.
1. Do your research
For months I researched how to build a better blog technically. I sent out surveys to my current readers, asked anyone I could about their habits online to get inside their heads. During this time I also read a lot of online forums and e-books on how to market, build readers and so on. I drew charts on what the blog was about, who read it and why, where I was sharing it and how. It was vital to plan strategies, write a business plan, get help with the graphics and technical side and more. Armed with this knowledge I had a much clearer idea of why and what I was doing.
If you are thinking about starting a blog, make sure you know what your point of difference is, who you are targeting, know your own voice and commit to high quality original content. Ask yourself, who am I doing this for and why?
2. Pick a simple name
My first blog had a really long title. It was impractical and drove me mad. Trust me when I say chose a name that is short, to the point, a little bit clever or memorable and easy to spell. It is unbelievable to learn that spelling is such a factor, but it matters. Don’t let poor spelling skills interrupt your traffic.
3. Consider your blog as an online portfolio
Blog posts have the potential to reach a large number of people easily. Once you have your plan, name, url and design, consider your online voice and content. Personally, It’s important to me to keep things upbeat, encouraging and PG friendly. I do not like to share every personal detail nor do I write entirely in slang. Opting to have a personal yet professional voice, I feel a responsibility to my readers. Neither do I wish to string them along like a salesman nor swear like a sailor. At times I have had feedback from mothers who have heard about my Instagram account (@inspiringwit), having had to look into it after their daughters began following me. So I am very aware of what I post. I am not a big drinker, have never tried drugs and enjoy living a healthy life.
People will come to a blog for any number of reasons. You never know what it will lead to or who will be reading it. It can lead to new work and job opportunities. Before you hit publish on any story, make sure if nothing else, it is true to you, your vision, your reader, the quality you strive for and that it is honest.
4. Build networks
There are a number of ways to build your audience and your networks. After you have created and committed to quality posts, you will need to share it. Set up accounts for your blog on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + etc. I find that my traffic comes through a lot of different streams. Facebook, Lookbook and Linkedin all provide a healthy percentage of my daily traffic. Part of my blogging process is to share links and write an engaging tag line for each post. For excellent examples of how to do this I think of the Vogue Facebook links. The tag line will be something like “Victoria’s Secret models share their best work out routine” (get’s me every time!).
The aim is to build a meaningful relationship with your community of engaged readers. Replying to comments is important. I aim to reply to each comment left on the blog as well as on social media, even if this takes time. I appreciate when my comments left on other blogs are replied to, so I like to pass that on. Also answer your emails as promptly as possible in order to execute smooth collaborations.
5. Be real
The market is heavily saturated, a new blogger will have to work hard to create quality stories and even then you can not guarantee that it will bring you exposure. If you are interested in blogging to seek fame, I would suggest reconsidering your intentions. If you are merely wanting to be given free clothes and to attend events and runway shows, you will tire of this very quickly. You have to build a loyal following, readers need to know that they can trust you.
If you want to make money from your blogging efforts, you will essentially need to generate your income from a number of different revenue streams. It may include commission from sales, appearance fees, giving talks or hosting events, creating e-books, through banner advertising or working directly with brands for sponsorship of a post or campaign. PR agencies generally work for a brand to get them free exposure of a product, so don’t expect they will pay you to post a photo.
If you have a lot of followers but the companies generate no sales through working with you, it is unlikely that you will create a long term working relationship with that brand. This I find comes down to your readers trusting what you are recommending to them. If I wore something completely out of character, I would loose the trust of my readers, so I regularly turn down offers to work with brands that do not fit with my style or ethos.
6. Prepare to invest
Finally you will need to invest in your blog as you would in any small business. Do not overlook details when it comes to web hosting, graphic design, camera equipment, printing business cards etc. This will all need to be a part of your plan.
I have left out a lot of valuable lessons and points, however if you like this type of post, I will put together another. Have any questions on blogging? Want to know how I plan my content? Need help with finding online courses to learn more? Need help making a media kit or logo design? Want to know how I edit photos? Need to work out what camera to invest in? Looking for some advice on cold emailing out to pitch to brands?
Feel free to ask me anything below.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: MARESA SMITH