I started my blog back in 2015 as I prepared to leave my “real job” in IT and become a stay-at-home mom. At the time, I thought it would be something fun to do in my spare time (2018 note: stay-at-home moms have no spare time), keep my mind sharp, and maybe make a little side income. I read a ton of blogs back in 2015 (2018 note: I read even more now) and felt a smart girl like me could figure out that little thing called the internet. While I knew it was going to be a ton of work, I had NOOOOOOO clue the journey I was about to go down.
I’ll say this before I go any further. I am absolutely no expert when it comes to blogging. In fact, I’ve made a billion and one mistakes over the last 2.5 years. I’m still working on figuring out so many things and my to-do list for 2018 is pages and pages long. However, I have learned A TON over the last 2.5 years. I receive a lot of messages from people looking to start a blog and asking for advice. I absolutely love sharing my tips and tricks because, hey, I wasn’t there all that long ago. I’m not going to go into technical details of where to start (there are a billion people on the internet more qualified to do that), but instead, focus on the things I believe are truly important when it comes to blogging.
- Find your passion and write about that. If you are going to spend as much time as I do blogging, you better care about what you are writing about. When it comes down to it, fashion is my #1 hobby. If I have free time to myself, I shop. I just love it. I could talk about sweaters and sales all day long if you guys would commit to reading my posts. The fact that I’ve somehow managed to create a job where people pay me to shop and write about clothes is absolutely a dream. Whatever it is, write about your passion. If you love cooking, write about food. If you love to garden, start a gardening blog. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what topic it’s on, but make sure you are passionate about it. You can’t fake passion.
- Be relatable. Let’s be honest here. One can only say so much about a pair of shoes. I love shoes probably more than the next fashion blogger, but showing my personality is what is going to differentiate me as a blogger. This is where the whole “lifestyle” side of my blog comes into play. Yes, I wear what I consider cute clothes, but most people who read my blog also care about the other stuff. How do I spend my days? What is my life like as a mom? Where did I go on my latest vacation? What beauty tips make getting ready in 5 minutes possible? To me, that is what makes a good blogger. You know all about their holiday traditions, their daily routines and their favorite meals. One that almost feels like a friend, even though you’ve never met them. I always try to write my blog like I’m speaking to a friend. I’m sure I use way too many capital letters and am not always grammatically correct, but that’s me. If you knew me in real life, that’s also me. That’s what I love about blogging. It doesn’t have to be polished and perfect. It just has to be me.
- Get personal. This is one point that I’m still working on. In fact, getting more personal is one of my top blogging goals for 2018. It is easy for me to do Instagram Stories showing my daily routine, talking about my kids and my favorite <insert random product here>, but cracking the surface can be tough. Those real life stories are what people connect with and remember. Even if they aren’t so pretty. Some of my most-read posts on my blog have nothing to do with fashion. It isn’t easy, but being willing to be vulnerable is an important part of this job.
- Invest in a good camera. The internet is a visual beast. Good pictures are SO SO SO important. Yes, iPhones take awesome pictures. Some of my favorite pictures were taken with my phone. But when I take a shot with my phone and the same shot with my DSLR (I use a Canon Rebel T7i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens), I can tell a huge difference. You can definitely do a lot more with a good camera than a phone and create a more interesting picture. This brings me to…
- Focus on creating quality photos. Buying a good camera will only get you so far. You need to actually know how to use it. Take photography courses and a photo editing courses to truly become an expert. If you can’t do it yourself, consider hiring a photographer. Some photographers who are just starting out will do shoots for a nominal cost. High-quality photos which are clear and bright are what people want to see. Try different angles, unique close-up shots and a different mix of colors and textures – be creative! I still have so much to learn as far as photography goes. But honestly, if you look back at my photos from a year ago, they look nothing like what they do now. Let’s put it this way. I’ve come a long way.
- Put yourself in front of the camera. This one was HARDDDD for me. For the first year of blogging, I only used website stock photos on my blog. I didn’t have much on my social media pages, mostly because I didn’t have any of my own content. I hated the way I looked in photos. Truthfully, these feelings had nothing to do with body issues. It came down to the fact that I thought I looked awkward and uncomfortable in pictures. And honestly, I did, because I was. I had zero experience being in front of the camera other than the staged school, sports, travel and silly bar photos I took with my friends and family. Also, I had no clue what I was supposed to do with my arms (I still don’t most of the time), where I should look, and how I should stand. I still feel that way, but practice makes perfect. After doing countless photo shoots over the last two years, I now only feel like an idiot maybe 50% of the time (that’s progress, right?!). But seriously, the biggest reason this is important is because people want to get to know YOU. Can you imagine if you had a friend you have never seen before? People connect with faces and showing yours is important. Even if you are a mom blogger who takes photos of your kids, show your face, too. Hop in that photo – it makes a big difference.
- Make friends! The blogging world is truly community over competition. There are more than enough brands and collaborations to go around for all of us. In fact, I’ve gotten a ton of exciting campaigns because my blogger friends referred me. I love my “real life” friends, but in most cases, they aren’t up to speed on things like SEO, influencer networks and social media algorithm changes. I have several blogger friends that I’ve made over the years who I chat with almost daily about things like media kits, pitching brands and taxes. These relationships are invaluable to have as a blogger, plus it makes the whole experience that much more fun.
- Be social! By far, the #1 mistake I made in the first year was not establishing a presence on social media. I set-up Facebook and Instagram accounts when I started my blog and then let them sit for literally a year. No one really read my blog because no one knew it existed!! Very few people actually seek out new blogs on their own. They find out about them through other platforms – mainly social media. Most of the brands I collaborate with find me on Instagram. I can’t tell you how important social media has been for my blogging business, so don’t overlook it like I did.
- Don’t become a blogger to get rich quick. It won’t happen. We all hear about these internet celebrities who become what sounds like millionaires overnight. But those people are WORKING THEIR BUTTS OFF to do what they are doing. In fact, I work harder now as a blogger than I ever did when I worked in the professional world. I’m up working until midnight more nights than not and I’m spending every single spare moment online doing something. Yes, there is a lot of money to be made blogging, but you will put in hours upon hours doing it. That’s why tip #1 above is so very important.
What do you guys think? Do you have any other questions? Any other tips you’d love to hear? I’d consider making this a series on blog if people find it helpful. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!