Originally posted on YYC Girl Gang.
So you want to start a blog, but you don’t know where to start. It’s true that everyone and their dog has a blog, but how do you push your blog out of the clusterfuck of other fashion/fitness/lifestyle blogs? I’m no expert by any means; I’ve been running FranklyRay.com for over two years now, but there is always so much more to learn.
When I started my blog, I wish I would have sat down with other bloggers to get a lay of the land, and save myself endless hours of blindly navigating the blogging world. I’ve embraced the steep learning curve and dove head first into what it means to be an influencer in a sea of influencers. Like I said, I’m not an expert, but if I could go back two and a half years ago, I would have been ever grateful for a few helpful tips. I’ve put together a list that will get your blog ball rolling and hopefully ignite your passion for writing, photography and networking.
10 Tips When Starting a Blog
1.) Do the Research
This could be reading endless articles on the internet or going for coffee with other bloggers. Either way the best way to learn is to ask questions. I love going for coffee to share my experience with new bloggers and exchanging tips with veteran bloggers. It’s a loving, supportive community that is easy to tap into.
2.) Pick a theme. Pick a name.
So you want to start a blog, now what are you going to write about? Pick your passion, and go for it. My blog is technically a lifestyle blog, and that was my theme when I started, but I’ve narrowed it down to Fashion, Wellness and Travel because those are the topics that I really enjoy writing about. It can be a broad theme, like lifestyle, or narrowed down like a vegetarian foodie blog. But don’t worry, you aren’t tied down, it’s just a starting point. Successful blogs grow and evolve as the founder and their audience realize what they like.
Once you pick a theme, do more research. Start following and reading similar blogs; what are they writing about, how often do they post, what kind of brands are they working with. Call it industry research – it’ll help you develop your own content and get an idea for what is already out there.
Now that you’ve scouted out what interests you, and you’ve starting developing your ideas and concepts you need to pick a name. If you already have one in mind, count yourself lucky. It took me a lot of humming and hawing before picking Frankly Ray. I didn’t want to limit myself by including the topic in the name, or too abstract that people wouldn’t get it. Run ideas past friends and family, use the Thesaurus and just go with what you really like.
3.) Buy your domain; scoop up all the social handles.
My fingers are crossed for you that once you pick a name, the domain and social accounts are available. If not, it’s better to adjust your name than having an Instagram handle that is different or hard to find. Make sure you secure them all; you don’t want to use Twitter? Still grab the handle so no one else can start using it.
There are lots of website platforms and hostings to choose from. I use HostGator and WordPress, but there are plenty of other options. GoDaddy and SquareSpace are also very popular. If you don’t have the funds to outsource, building a website is not very difficult, especially if you can find a theme you like that is already set up for you. I have changed the look of my website multiple times (lack of commitment issues) so I never invested money into it, just my own time.
4.) Plan out your content.
Content is king, right? Even though you’re keen and eager to get publishing, plan a couple months out of content to get you going. It’s better to have too many posts ready, then be scrambling to pull something together. The simplest way to plan out content is with a content calendar laying out what days you are going to post what. Don’t feel pressured to post more than once a week, lots of bloggers stick with that timeline. It gives your audience a consistent day to look forward to a new post.
There are lots of resources online for content calendar templates. I use Excel, but there are much more fancy platforms to use. When you plan farther out you can more easily plan photoshoots, hit upcoming season changes, or the latest trends. It’ll keep you organized and put less pressure on you to create new content if the rest of your life gets busy.
5.) Find a few awesome photographers.
If you have photographer friends, you’re a lucky duck. I was fortunate enough to have lots of really amazing photographers around me that have added unlimited value to my blog and Instagram.
If you don’t know any photographers first hand, there are a few options. You can seek out professional photographers who will do an amazing job of curating beautiful content for you. The other option is to seek out amateur photographers who are working on their portfolios and exchange services. You can promote them, and they can supply their photography service.
I recommend trying as many different photographers as you can to find a style that you like. Each photographer is different, and you will find people that you really click with and their style reflects your brand.
6.) Reach out for collaborations.
My absolute favourite part of blogging is getting to meet so many cool people and hear their stories. Collaborating is the number one way to grow your blog traffic and following. Reach out to other bloggers, brands or businesses that you really like, and work together to create unique, creative content. Two heads are always better than one, and collaborations can open doors and opportunities that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Plus, I’ve made some really good friends with the people that I’ve collaborated with.
It’s important to point out that nothing is free, and the assumption that bloggers and Instagrammers get “free shit” is an exaggeration. Working with and collaborating with brands and businesses is an exchange of services, and the time it takes to create content for a blog and social posts is exchanged with other products or services. A blog that is created for the sake of free stuff will quickly become dull, salesy and be overlooked.
7.) Write genuine content.
Like I just mentioned above, it’s easy to pick out the bloggers that are in the industry for the wrong reasons. Content can become fluffy, repetitive and continually sound like a sales pitch for random products and services. Blogs that become successful are ones that tell the story of the person behind the blog through their outfits, experiences, food, and photos. What this means is if you are approached by a brand or business evaluate the value it will bring to your blog; Is it on brand? Do you actually like the product? Will you be falsely promoting it?
If you’re worried about what people think, you might as well quit blogging. You are here to tell your own story and share your opinions and thoughts. Haters gonna hate, and not everyone will be interested in what you have to say, but at the end of the day you have to be interested in what you are saying to make your blog genuine and a reflection of you.
8.) You are your brand.
Everything you do going forward is part of your brand. Your blog is the business, and you are the face of it. Being genuine makes personal branding simple if you stick to what you like, believe in and value. It will reflect in your style, content and photos. Especially when you start to use Instagram stories, keeping in mind that you are running a brand will dictate what you post on there. Brands evolve, just as you will as a person, you just need to be aware of how people are seeing you and how it’s reflecting on your growing blog and business.
9.) Be consistent.
The best branding comes with consistency. Brands like Apple, Starbucks and McDonald’s are awesome examples of consistent branding – you know when you are in one of their locations because they are all the same no matter where you are in the world. You know what to expect, and what not to expect. Same goes for personal branding and a blog; stick with your theme and evolve and grow it instead of jumping from topic to topic. Your audience has so many other blogs to choose from, they are reading yours for a reason.
10.) Put in the work.
Successful blogs don’t happen overnight, even if it seems like every other girl is being paid to sip on champagne in the latest trendy shoes. There are thousands of blogs out there with girls busting their ass to make the best content they can. From the outside, running a blog looks easy, but as we know it can be a full-time job. Don’t get discouraged if your blog doesn’t get picked up in a week, grow slowly and steadily and your audience will come.
If you love blogging, the hours spent writing, taking photos and organizing collaborations is fun and doesn’t feel like work. For me, blogging is a hobby for the weekends and I love spending time working on it to get away from my day job. A blog can lead you to so many awesome opportunities, people and experiences that make all the time put into it worth it.
Do you have any blogging tips? Or are you looking for more information? I am always open to coffee dates to chat about blogging and social media.