Blogging is such a popular platform these days. People start blogs to promote their businesses, charities, personal stories, offer advice, promote a lifestyle brand, etc. On the surface it seems like such an easy venture. I mean, how is blogging different than the Xanga and LiveJournal I had back in high school? Turns out, it can be a lot more than you bargained for.
When I began A Mommy Nearest, I believed that I would just knock out one blog per week while I was up all night breastfeeding. Somehow, magically, people all over would appreciate my sage, motherly wisdom and provide a consistent reader base. Boy was I wrong. So here are my five BIGGEST mistakes that will hopefully help any of you new bloggers out there get started on the right track!
- Design, logo, name
You really need to think long and hard about your preferred blog aesthetic. I went from over the top feminine to a more editorial and sleek look. The original design and logo were not representative of me or my blog posts and left the whole feel very disjointed. That will do nothing to attract readers. Launching a blog too quickly often leads to mistakes like these. Its okay to learn through trial and error but it doesn't hurt to make decisions and then sit with them for a few days before releasing to the World Wide Web. It goes without saying that you will also need a platform you are comfortable with. I use Squarespace and love all the template options. Obviously Wordpress and Blogger are popular options as well.
P.S. When thinking of your website title, make sure the domain name is available first! You can purchase your domain name through your hosting platform if you choose to go that route.
2. No iPhone photos please!
High quality photography and content are a MUST for a successful blog. Don't get me wrong, phones can take amazing pictures these days. If they are really clear and aesthetically pleasing, then go for it. However, investing in a DSLR or mirrorless camera could be of huge benefit to your blog. Especially for food blogs, promoting some type of product, and fashion. High quality photography will also capture attention on your affiliated social media accounts. If you are so excited about the topic that you are inspired to write about it, make sure the pictures do it justice. The literary content also needs to be top notch. Churning out regular, high quality content is still something I am having trouble keeping up with. Sporadic posts make it hard to maintain subscribers and an interactive fan base.
Interact with other bloggers! Comment on blogs that you follow, interact on their social media, have guests post on your blog and be a guest writer on theirs. Find some blogger link ups and blogging communities you can get involved in. Link parties are a great way to gain blog traffic and for the blogger community to support each other's posts. If you want to start your own, you can use a service like InLinkz to get started! Send emails out to all the bloggers you know (or don't know) asking them to contribute, promote the link party (pick a theme like interior design for example), and you're all set! Some blogging communities that I've been using to get my posts out are BlogEngage, StumbleUpon , and Medium. You are essentially sharing your posts with a commmunity that actually cares about your content, you can interact with each other, and hopefully get some shares and drive more traffic to your site.
4. Get organized!
I was terribly disorganized when I first started out. Heck, I still am. I have only recently discovered the more efficient ways of promoting my blog. Apps like Hootsuite help me schedule my social media posts so I can post the recommended 2-3 times/day at the most ideal times (afternoon and evening) and still have a life. It's best to set aside a section of time in your week and dedicate that time to preloading all the blog posts and images you want to put out for the next few days. Then you won't even have to think about it again until the next week.
5. Don't get caught up in the hype!
Yes, all the above items are important to a successful blog. But there is no point in running yourself ragged, stressing over followers and likes, for something that a lot of you may have just started as a hobby. Yes, many people make money off their blogging through affiliate marketing, but it can be nominal and you beginners certainly won't be raking in the dough anytime soon. Write what you enjoy, do your best to make your site appealing to whatever niche you are aiming for, and get to know other bloggers in the community so that you can promote each other's work. That's what most important. Any product endorsements or monetary benefits that may follow are just icing on the cake!
"Writing is an excercise in joyfulness. I write to share, in a beautiful way, the things that give me joy." - Erika Simone