10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting A Blog
I am so blessed to be working in an industry that excites and challenges me every day. Social Media is fast-paced, unpredictable environment. I get so many questions on Instagram about how to start up a blog, so this post highlights what has worked best for me and what I really wish someone would have told me.
1. Find Your Niche
What excites you? Is it fashion, fitness, food, or all the above? It's hard to specify a niche when you're starting out. Like me, you may want to try a bunch of things until you find what feels best. If that's the case, I recommend "testing" niches out on Instagram or another platform where you can easily gauge how your audience responds. More importantly, gauge what content makes YOU the happiest.
Narrow it down to two niches at the most in the beginning and just remember, you can always expand later. When I first started, I tried to cast a wide net and was quickly overwhelmed and almost resented the process. Get good at one thing and then crush it as you grow!
2. Set Longterm Goals $$$
Visualize what you want this blog to be in one, five, and even ten years. Write those ideas down and create a foundation around those values. How much revenue do you want to bring in from this blog? Whoa, did I catch you off guard? Did that question make you uncomfortable? Good! Keep reading.
What I wish someone told me, is that it's okay to make money from things that make me happy. After starting my creative journey, plenty of people told me to start making money from it, but I felt guilty about this. I realized that at some point in my life, I picked up a false belief about how to make money. If this is your mindset, get rid of it. The blogging industry is abundant in money and you have every right to capitalize off of this industry if you are putting in the work.
3. Define Your Brand
When defining your brand, you're going to have to view yourself as a business, not "just a person". Think of some of your favorite brands and jot down the first few things that come to mind when you think of them. Now do that for yourself.
You may need to pull in other people for this one. For some reason, we sometimes have a skewed perception of how wonderful we are. Ask friends, family, and lovers to give you adjectives that describe you.
Once you have a strong list of adjectives for your brand, start to think about what aesthetic might reflect that. Put aside colors, fonts, clothes, etc that work beautifully together and support your brand.
4. Research Your Host
There will be many opinions here, so I will give you mine. I started out on Wordpress and for someone with ZERO web design experience, I did not find this user friendly. I eventually switched to Square Space and had a much better experience! Research all the different options for hosting your blog. Let us know in the comments if you have questions here or any experience that could be helpful!
5. Plan Website Development
You've got two options for get your site up. Do it yourself or hire someone. In my experience, it was much easier to pull someone else in to help with the website. Chances are, if you ask around, you'll find a friend or co-worker that knows how to do this and will give you a mega discount. Sara Li helped me redesign my website and is great about offering discounts to small businesses and bloggers. Hit her up for inquires!
Alternatively, you could read a couple books and watch YouTube videos on building your blog and get it done for free. It’s definitely a valuable skill to learn if you have the time to do so!
6. Marketing Time!
There are many ways to market, but you need to know your plan before launching. Do some research on email marketing and social media marketing
Outside of sharing content on other social media platforms, Pinterest is a great way to optimize traffic to your website. I can and will do an entire series on this because it is SO IMPORTANT for any business owner. For now, at the very least, get a Pinterest account and start pinning here and there. More on this soon!
Familiarize yourself with SEO, which is a fancy way to say, "learn how to use keywords to make your content searchable". This is another topic I would have to dedicate an entire blog post to. I'm still learning a lot about this, so stay tuned!
6. Strategize Blog Launch
So now you've created a vision for this blog. You know how you want to bring value to the world and you're ready to plan for the launch! Get people excited for this! This is a wonderful accomplishment and you should share the news! Utilize other social media platforms to get the word out and of course tell people close to you so you can have some support.
Let people know the value they'll be getting from subscribing to your blog. Give them a reason to sign up!
8. Follow Through
Running a blog is a job itself. Once you launch, it's time to deliver the value you promised. Be consistent! My biggest struggle was continuing to produce content on a frequent basis. Now, I have a personal goal to get one blog post a week out. Eventually I want to do more than that, but for now, that is an attainable goal for me.
If consistency is hard for you, I would recommend always having several blog posts ready to go. This way, if anything comes up where you can’t create a blog post on time, you always have a buffer.
9. Insights and Analytics
Just like Instagram, blogs allow you to see your analytics. This allows you to review the number of views, clicks, and traffic you're getting on your website. Do not get caught up in these numbers! Use this tool as a resource for reading your audience. You will have posts that flop, but you will also have posts that soar! Use these reports as a guide for connecting better with your audience.
10. Community Is Everything
It's hard to know everything about this industry that is ever-evolving. You really have to be self-sufficient and willing to read books and research what you don't understand.
Outside of doing the work yourself, connect with others in this community. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst that could happen is they ignore you and if they do that, it's probably for the better that you DON'T seek advice from them.
I started my own organization called, Media Mixer to do just that. We meet up with other talented people in this industry and share insight, knowledge, and opportunities with one another. There are kind people in this industry willing to help. Find a few that you trust and support one another. Share your experiences and lift each other up. There is plenty of room at the top for everyone!
My goal is to create a safe space for you all to get answers. If there is something you want to dive deeper on, feel free to ask questions in the comment section and start up a discussion. I also plan to elaborate on this topic so keep sending in questions!