As it comes up to my blogs one year anniversary, I thought it would be suitable to write an article detailing some tips I’d personally give for any new, prospective bloggers. The guide carries over to any sort of blog that you may be thinking of starting whether it be based around fashion, gaming, reading or just simply a lifestyle blog. The guide may also be useful as a refresher for any current bloggers looking to improve their standing in their niché.
All of the topics covered within the article could very well have their own dedicated articles but the plan with this is to highlight key points that you could research more into yourself upon reading this. By no way do I think I am established or feel like I’ve made it by writing this article but I have managed to secure some exciting collaborations, managed to build up a little following and have gotten some great viewing numbers from my articles since starting (which I am all very grateful for!) so I just want to share what I’ve learnt from knowing absolutely nothing just less than a year ago. Anyway, without further ado, I will begin.
Establish your niche and get networking
Realizing the area you’re planning to operate in is everything. If you are planning to create a blog I’d assume that you already have this base covered as not many people are going to decide to start a blog without any sort idea what will be featured on it. For me, I would say my blog is generally a lifestyle blog, with a higher focus on fashion but also covering fitness/nutrition and travel. I am looking to ‘re-jig’ my categories a little as I move into a self-hosted website soon (more on that later).
After you’ve found your niche this will give you a lot of much needed direction. Ideas for blog posts will be filling into your head, be sure to write these down! You will also find other people who are doing similar things to you or carry the same interests. For example if you’re in the ‘male lifestyle’ category you should get networking with other male bloggers, drop them a follow on social media, engage with their posts and establish yourself within that community. Interacting with others is the best way to get yourself noticed, not to mention you’ll make some new friends along the way.
I started my blog late last year and since then I have interacted with countless bloggers, both male and female and I haven’t come across anyone that hasn’t been open and willing to have a chat. Even some of the more established bloggers have opened up their DM’s to have a quick chat, so don’t be scared to approach people. Just by following people in your niche you will learn from them and be inspired to create unique content yourself. Which leads onto the next point…
Approach companies and separate from the pack
I know I just said you should get involved within your community, which is still true. However, this doesn’t mean you should be doing the exact same things as everyone else. I’ve seen it happen quite a lot and have even done it myself. PR companies may approach several people in the same niche to work on a campaign, that’s great, but if everyone is writing about the same product/service/whatever it may be, the uniqueness of that content can be blunted a little. This is why I would say approaching companies instead of waiting for them to come to you is a much more effective approach.
Of course, there will be bloggers who couldn’t care less about collaborating with brands and may be happy just using their blog as an online diary of their life and more power to them, you do you. But if you want to extend your reach and be exposed to wider audiences, collaborations are a fantastic idea.
As I was saying, approaching companies is a great way to ensure your content is unique, not only this but it ensures that the content on your blog is relevant to you/your followers. You may be approached by a company that wants you to promote their shaving foam, which is great but if your blog is strictly about gaming then where does that fit in? Having the option to approach companies you like and would love to collaborate with is the best way to tailor the content you put out and ensure that it stays engaging for your audience.
I saw a recent poll on social media that asked if bloggers are approaching companies or just wait to be approached and the vast majority seemed to be waiting around for brands to come to them. To me this seemed like an opportunity missed, sure, you may have to send quite a lot of emails out to get just one response but securing a collaboration with a brand that no-one in your community has worked with before is going to spark some interest, add more value to your brand and ultimately boost your figures.
You must remember to retain your integrity at all times though. Promoting a product that you don’t believe in or vouch for just for a quick payment/gifting opportunity isn’t the way to go. Should one of your followers choose to buy something you have showcased on your blog and it’s quality/effectiveness is drastically sub-par, this follower is going to associate you with this product and your reputation will have been negatively impacted. This is where choosing what companies you want to feature on your blog is essential, this allows you to do your homework and read their reviews before collaborating, ensuring complete trust from your followers should they decide to purchase something after your collaborative project with a brand.
Brush up on your professionalism
This may set you apart from others in your community. As I mentioned approaching brands is a great way to grow your blog, but to do so you must have a proficiency in crafting your emails. Adding a signature with your blog and social media links cuts out a lot of the questions you may get in the replies, addressing the email to the right person and finishing it with “kind regards” are simple things that people may forget and it could have a big impact on how you come across.
Approaching from a different angle in looking more professional, having your own domain name is definitely something that will add to your professional look. Whilst some may not take their blog as seriously to pay for a domain name, having .wordpress after your website name doesn’t look very appealing and almost looks like you’re just a sub-section of WordPress themselves, you want to be your own brand, not be advertising for another within your own website name! I personally use GoDaddy, since making the switch I feel others have been able to find my website a little easier as it doesn’t carry the wordpress tagline along with it.
Harness the power of social media
For me my social media pages are my biggest drivers of visitors to my blog when creating new content. A simple share to your Instagram story or a pinned tweet on your Twitter timeline could convert to hundreds of visitors. Growing your social media pages could have entire categories dedicated to them but to keep it simple the same rules apply. Engage with similar people to yourself and be an active member of the community.
One of the biggest mistakes is thinking that everyone is going to come to you with nothing in return, people aren’t going to want to comment on someones posts if you never reply to them or actively engage with them in any way. And I don’t want that to come across in a way that you should only like someones picture in order to get a like back, the people you follow should be people you actually care about and you are interested in the content they are sharing with you, whether it be an image or a story they put up.
Growing your pages can also be achieved by learning what hashtags to use within your niche, covering trending topics and being featured by larger accounts than yours. More specifically for Instagram, ensure your images are clear and have something about them to make people want to discover your page. As for Twitter I don’t really have much of a guide for that, the general consensus seems to be to just keep tweeting in hope that people find your tweet funny and it goes viral. I mainly use it to plug my content from my blog and sometimes to rant over things that don’t really matter (usually directed towards public transport operators…).
Invest in your blog/content
Again, you may be completely fine with having your blog as an outlet to write down your thoughts and feelings and nothing more. That’s fine, but if you’re looking to enhance your blog outreach as a personal brand, one of the most effective ways to do so is to actually invest in the platform you’re trying to grow on. No this doesn’t mean buying followers. It might mean looking into taking your website self-hosted. Doing so allows you much greater customisation as well as giving you a chance to really work on your SEO tactics to improve your Google ranking.
Another way may be to buy a custom theme from a theme developer. This is a great way to set your blog apart from others and allows for further customisation and creativity when it comes to your content.
If you’re looking to grow on social media, particularly Instagram I’d suggest doing some research on how to take photographs, it isn’t always as easy as ‘point and shoot’. You certainly don’t need an expensive DSLR camera (though it might help) to get started. Smartphones are equipped with more than capable cameras that will do the trick, pair that with a couple of editing apps like VSCO or Lightroom and you’re set.
A great tip I’d suggest for getting photographs whether it be for a blog post or for your next fire Instagram shot would be to take a friend with you. I find photo-shoots much more enjoyable when you’re with someone, it is possible to do so with just a tripod but I find it a little awkward setting it up, running into position, running back to the camera to check that you’ve cut your head off etc. So I’d suggest taking a friend, and get some pictures for them too!
These are just a few tips I’d give myself if I could suggest some advice when I first started my blog. I still have a lot to learn and I’m sure I’ll make some mistakes as I go. The main thing is to enjoy what you’re doing. I sometimes have periods where I won’t write anything for a few weeks because I’m so busy, that’s fine, you shouldn’t need to force the content out as it will only appear as so, forced.
If you have any tips yourself I’d love to hear them, I’ve probably missed out some big ones but I just wanted to add in my two-cents for new bloggers to give them a little direction as I didn’t know where to look when I first started.
If you want to get networking with me give me a follow on my socials!