Lucie Loves... Blogging // Top 10 tips for starting a blog...
I’ve recently had a few people enquiring as to how they might go about starting their own blog. I decided to give this some serious thought and put together a few of my own tips for starting a blog. You can tweet me your questions @LucieKerley.
Get in touch to book a one-on-one consultancy and personal coaching session on starting your own blog and/or getting to grips with social media, etc. I’m London-based and happy to travel or do sessions remotely, to suit your needs.
1. Be realistic
Don’t expect to earn any money* or Kardashian-esq fame* overnight.
(*or at all, in fact.)
I do my blog as a hobby - this way I can write about what I want, when I want and not necessarily about what other people want. I do my ‘day job’ to earn my ‘bread and butter’ money and have my blog as a sideline, not because it pays well - although, I admit there are definitely perks to having a blog - but because I love it. But I guess I’ll always be a photographer, first and foremost, and a blogger second.
2. Only start a blog if you are going to be committed to it
A blog is like a relationship. Give it some love and it will flourish. Ignore it and it will die a death. There’s no point in being half-hearted in your blogging efforts - if you don’t care about it, why should anyone else?
3. Do a bit of research - in fact do lots
Think about content, style, tone of voice, audience, etc. Look at the people who already do what you’re planning to do. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How will I stand out from the crowd?
- What can I say that hasn’t already been said?
- What’s my unique selling point?
- Why do I want to do this?
Your USP is what will set your blog apart from the millions of other blogs that are already ticking over rather nicely. After all, what is the point in being a clone of everyone else?
Pitch&Post is worth a visit too, it’s a must-read for bloggers who want to work with brands - and vice-versa, and go about it in the right way. Founder and top blogger, Anna Hart of South Molton St Style, has put years of personal learnings and experience into creating a one-stop-shop of blogging genius!
4. Read fashion magazines - Learn from the best
My regular glossy fashion magazine reads are ELLE UK, British Vogue and Company Magazine - I bought a subscription to ELLE UK and British Vogue a couple of months ago and have not looked back - this way you’ll never miss out on new season style inspiration.
Tip: Look at the bloggers these fashion magazines recommend. Follow your favourites on Twitter, share those favourites with your followers and also check out Instagram and Pinterest. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes.
5. Look at the blogs you read - what do you like about them?
Is it the way they write? Is it the photos? It is the amount of text they put with their photos? Is it how often they update them? Is it the variety of stuff they write about?
Tip: Take your time to plan your posts. Invest in your blog - research different platforms and themes - wordpress, blogger, tumblr, will you use YouTube? and so on. Buy a decent camera. They aren’t cheap so save up if you are serious about buying a good DSLR camera. I use a Canon 5D MKII with a 50mm f1.4 lens. It cost an arm and a leg, but the photos it allows me to produce are sooo very worth it.
6. Write about things that GENUINELY interest you - this way it’s easier to be enthusiastic
Tip: Look at what products/brands you use/wear on a daily basis - review those - give your opinion.
For ideas think about:
- What products do you carry with you at all times - tech, make-up, sentimental stuff, fashion accessories?
- What’s in your make-up bag?
- What do you wear when you go out - clothes, shoes, make-up, hair products, etc?
- What do you wear on a day to day basis - again, think: clothes, shoes, make-up, hair products, etc.
- What new brands would you love to try and what makes them special?
- What events are you going to?
- What musicians do you love listening to?
- What creative people, artists or things inspire you?
7. Make sure you link your social media profiles
Make sure that your Instagram account is linked to Tumblr (in the sharing settings) and that your Tumblr is linked to your Twitter and - if you want to do so - add your blog’s Facebook page. It will help you build a following by directing traffic (readers) to your blog. Make sure you add Google Analytics to your blog too. It’s a great way of seeing what posts are popular and where your visitors are from.
Tip: When writing your posts, make sure you link to relevant products and the brands you are talking about on your blog - use their twitter handles to mention them if you’re sending your post to twitter. (That’s where I get most of the traffic to my blog, via twitter, google - direct traffics - and Facebook.)
8. Make sure that you proofread your posts
Good grammar, spelling and punctuation will help your blog to stand out from other (often poorly written) ones and will make people take you more seriously. If in doubt, look for wiggly red lines under words and see what you’ve misspelt. Ask a friend or a relative to cast their eye over your blog post and see if they can help spot any glaring mistakes. There is also a great plug-in for Chrome called Ginger, which is a grammar and spell checker.
The lovely Liv Purvis of What Olivia Did is the queen of please and thank you. Show your followers a little appreciation and it won’t go unnoticed. After all, manners cost nothing.
9. Be professional
Don’t 'bad mouth’ other brands, bloggers or people. You don’t want something you’ve said to come back and bite you on the a*se one day. Be openminded and willing to collaborate with other creatives. You’ll meet some fantastic and awe-inspiring people.
Love this gal! Amy from Wolfwhistle.org who I met at the Daloo3a event.
10. Network Network Network
Make friends with other bloggers, go to events, set yourself up a LinkedIn account, a social media version of your CV. A place where you can list all of your skills and build connections with people in the industry(ies) you wish to work.
If you are interested in doing some 'Blogger Outreach’ type stuff, sign yourself up with agencies like Brands on the Blog, Best British Bloggers or Bloggers required. You can also join an affiliate marketing network such as Linkshare and promote the brands you love that way, you can sometimes earn commission too.
If you’re good and learn how to use Twitter to put yourself 'out there’ and teach yourself a bit of SEO (search engine optimisation) too, you can sometimes get yourself spotted by some fantastic Creative, Social Media and PR agencies.
I started blogging as a hobby, dabbled around with sending my fashion and lifestyle-based Tumblr posts to Twitter and eventually got approached by a creative agency who offered my the chance to become the Resident Blogger for a local shopping centre. I lived ( yes it was hard work, but very fun) the role for two years - blogging about fashion, reviewing restaurants and beauty reviews and events - before finishing to start my new job down in London.
And guess what?
Being social media-savvy and knowing how to blog, tweet, photograph and write, got me this job too. If you are looking for work, always check out the Guardian Jobs site for any new creative, digital and social media or community manager-type roles that might be on offer. My last two positions were found on there and they were pretty amazing.
If you work hard and be nice to people, you never know what might happen.
** If you have any more questions - or if you have blogging tips of your own that you’d like to share - feel free to get in touch, post a comment or send me a message. I’m always happy to help. **
Thanks for reading.
A little update in response to a lovely question I received via email. I thought it might be useful to share my reply.
Q: “What kind of websites can we use to create our blog? We’ve tried using Google’s Blogger and found it impossible!”
A: I hope you’re both well. I’m glad you liked my post and found it helpful.
There are a vast number of blogging platforms to choose from and websites that will help you design how your blog site should look.
- I use Tumblr for my blog lucieloves.co.uk and have done ever since I started blogging a few years ago now. I like it because it’s very simple to use and there are a multitude of theme designs to choose from. There is a great site for Tumblr themes called Mike Did This. http://mikedidthis-focus.tumblr.com/ I can link my Tumblr to twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc and edit it when I’m on the go.
- Wordpress is also good. Take a look at sites like theme trust - they do some great 'responsive’ designs. Basically this means your blog is accessible on ANY device. Which makes sense really as I’ve found that most of my blog traffic comes from Twitter, so it’s good to have a website that looks ok on mobile too. http://themetrust.com/
- Also, have a look at Blog Milk. http://www.blogmilkshop.com - they do very nice themes for Blogger.
- There’s also SquareSpace. This also looks very good: http://www.squarespace.com/
- Habari* http://habariproject.org/
- Simvla* http://simvla.com/
- Concrete5* http://www.concrete5.org/
It’s worth buying your own blog URL domain name and hosting too!
NOTE: It actually might be worth researching your blog name ideas first to check if a url is still available. You can also set up an 'firstname.lastname@example.org’ type email address for your blog here too. This way you can try and make sure that you choose one which will let you have the same Twitter, Facebook and Instagram username - if not already taken.
TIP: Add Google Analytics code to your blog to track visitors and see what content has proven popular.
(*I’ve not used/tried these ones, so cannot say how good they are.)
Hope this helps.
Want more? Read this great article called '12 Reasons You Won’t Make It As A Blogger’ by Ashe Robison.
Update: Sunday 17 November. I recently did an interview about getting started as a blogger here: http://www.starti.ng/posts/view/25