Tips for Newbie Bloggers

By Grace Atwood, of Stripes & Sequins.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve received a lot of questions from newbie bloggers asking for advice.  I thought I’d put all of my (very honest!) advice in one easy place… I hope this is helpful.

 

Be original.


There are a gajillion other “me-to” blogs.  Figure out from the beginning… how are you going to differentiate yourself?  Choose a name that’s different and fun.  You are one of a kind… your blog should be that way, too! Standing out, being different, and having a point of view right from the start is incredibly important.

 

Build great content, then create community.


First, focus on making your content amazing.  Speak from the heart and write what you love.  It may feel like nobody is reading what you have to say, but that will come.  Try not to blog about what everyone else is writing about.  No one wants to read the same thing over and over again.  Original photos are great – if you can.  Until now, I’ve only had a point & shoot and would take all of my photos during the day on the weekends.  It takes some planning, but makes a difference.  If your blog’s focus is outfits, you need a DSLR – but that’s just my opinion.

 

Once your content is ready, build community.  I spend hours reading and commenting on other blogs every week.  Remember that it’s about others, not you.  Be encouraging and supportive of others.  And tweet… a lot!  It’s a little bit scary how many friends I’ve amassed via twitter, and how many of them have turned into “real” friends.  If you can, attend as many industry events and blogger conferences as you possibly can.  You’ll make great connections and form friendships with other bloggers.

 

Keep it clean.


Nobody wants to work to read your content.  A nice white background with legible text is the way to go.  Make your images the best they possibly can be, and invest some time creating pretty collages.  Learning a Photoshop is a plus.  Aesthetics really are everything when it comes to blogging.

 

Keep your sidebar clean.  It’s prime real estate.  So what if you won the “versatile blogger award?”  Don’t put it there – it’s clutter.   And as far as ads go, commission based ads like those from RewardStyle are great, but if they aren’t performing for you, why keep them up?  You are cluttering up your blog without gaining anything from it… remove!

 

Take it seriously.


Treat yourself like a brand, and be obsessive about it.  A great example of this is what Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This does.  Read her tweets, her Facebook, etc… everything is P.S.  this, P.S. that.  She’s an amazing business person and has turned her blog into a brand.  On a smaller scale, for Stripes & Sequins, I try to wear both at least once a week… and always to events.  I simply must be on equity with my brand!

 

Treat your blog like a second job.  You may disagree with me, but I firmly believe in posting daily.  If you don’t have something to say, peruse Pinterest… go to the bookstore… open up a magazine… find that inspiration!  To be honest, I take my blog so seriously that I get teased – a lot.   But my blog is my baby, and I want it to be the best it absolutely can be.

 

That said, have fun, too.


Keep it positive, people!  I may get some disagreements here as well, but nobody wants to hear about your crappy day.  (I sometimes have a hard time remembering this, especially on twitter!)  Figure out your blog’s mission and tone (is it to make people happy by visiting?  To be a source of authority?  To provide the latest news?  To inspire?  To make people laugh?) and stick to it.

 

And as you get bigger…


Use discretion and learn when to say no.  You’ll get lots of requests from brands – only work with the ones that are a perfect fit.  I’d rather not work with anyone than work with the wrong brands.

 

Be your own PR person.  Talk up your brand (blog!)  And don’t be afraid to pitch sites or blogger networks that you think might be a stretch.  Dream big and be persistant.

 

A few last words…


A great resource for every blogger is Yuli Ziv’s amazing book. Get it, read it every night, make your blog amazing, and thank me (or rather, thank Yuli) later.  I also read IFB daily… so many great tips and tricks!

 

Stay positive and don’t give up!  At times, blogging can feel very lonely.  Overall, the blogging community is super supportive, but there will be times where it doesn’t feel that way.  If you work hard, keep at it long enough, and do all of the above, I promise… it will get better!

 

Lastly… never ask people to follow you.  Please, just don’t.  It’s annoying.  It looks desperate.  If you want to stand out, tweet, comment… but be witty/sarcastic/sweet/funny.  People will take notice and check out your site without you asking them to!

 

Grace Atwood runs the fashion & DIY blog Stripes & Sequins.  Her blog has been featured on Guest of a Guest, the Wall Street Journal, and Dismount Creative as a Top DIY blog.


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49 Responses

  1. Fanny

    Great tips! I just started blogging myself and I’m bewildered by the blogging world.
    Thanks for clear and concise advice!

    Reply
  2. Jasmine Sinclair

    Perfect artice for me today!! I am fairly new and super excited about my blog! I have struggled with getting my stuff together but just kept trying and tweaking my blog and it is finally coming together! I just posted about your first point CONTENT. That is my main focus right now. I am definitely going to be referencing this article when I need some encouraging words

    Reply
  3. Sasha

    Thank you so much for this. My friend and I have started our blog, and it has only been a month and a half.

    Everything you have said above is so relevant and important. To us the blog has become our baby and we are still defining our ‘brand’ as one but from two individuals.

    It has been great to have a creative outlet and write about the things we love- style, places and events.

    Thanks again for the advice- it was much needed (It was the best thing ever for us to have joined the IFB community).

    *Sasha and Jill

    Reply
  4. Bella

    Great tips and suggestions for a newbie like myself! The blogosphere is an exciting yet intimidating place! It’s nice to know we are not alone :).

    Reply
  5. Tiffany

    I also started a blog not too long ago and I truly appreciate these tips! Learning about all the different ways to network and getting readers’ attention has been overwhelming, especially while trying to keep up with other areas in my life. I do, however want to keep my blog a priority and I think you have given some great advice in order to do that.

    All the best!
    Tiff

    Reply
  6. Shay

    I always read posts like this. I’m really trying to build my blog, and my brand it takes time and commitment but it really does pay off. On the days I don’t post, I’m on my tumblr I’m on Twitter or I’m actively commenting on my favorite hoofs. I do agree blogging can be lonely, cause its just you and your computer but the pros out weigh the cons.

    My blog is still really young but its my life and I.wouldn’t have of any other way.

    Reply
  7. Jayvee Doroteo

    What a great article, as a young and newbie blogger, blogging for only about 5 months, I’ve seen my mistakes and I’m now commited in making a better blog with a strong clear point of view. Thanks IFB for such great articles!

    Reply
  8. Pencil Skirts and Lattes

    Grace!!! This is great!! I couldn’t agree more with your tips – especially about the ‘follow me’ (one of my biggest PET PEEVES!). You are SUCH a professional when it comes to your blog, so admirable and I am thrilled at the opportunity to guest post for you next week. So glad to see you on IFB, fantastic article!!

    -Sarah

    Reply
  9. Shayne Renee

    Great tips!! These are so helpful!! I especially agree with your advice NOT ask people to “follow me!” I’ve only been writing my blog for a few months and I’ve got a dozen of these requests. I always feel bad for not following but I would feel disingenuous following a blog that I am uninterested in. Thanks for the tips, I appreciate all of the “newbie” stuff you guys write 🙂

    Reply
  10. Kate

    These are really great tips! There seems to be an influx of “Great blog, follow me?” comments left on my blog lately… more than ever! Even the sweetest comments that end in a “I’d love it if you could look at my blog and maybe follow me?” lose their sweetness with that closing line!

    Reply
  11. Julieta

    I love every single tip here, just as much as I love your blog, I also think that a daily post is lot of work but a great thing to do, my blog is still so young (4 months) and I only wish to get to more people eventually, and these tips are going to help!
    xoxo Julieta

    Reply
  12. Brooke

    Beautiful post, postive, supportive, encouraging, just the sort of thing I need to read every now and then to get me back on track when I’m feeling uninspired.
    Thank you.

    And, PS, whole heartedly agree with your final point, pet hate right here! 😉

    renewvintage.blogspot.giveaway

    Reply
  13. Akanksha Redhu

    You reinforce my faith in the fact that although blogging may seem lonely at times, there are always people reading it, and developing a sense of belonging with it, and thats why I do it! Great read!

    Reply
  14. Stephanie

    Thank you so much for this advice! I have been blogging for about two months now and I am always looking for tips and advice on how to be a better blogger, how to network, grow my blog, etc. You really have answered many of my questions.

    The more and more I blog the more confident I feel. Thank you again for your great advice!

    Reply
  15. Bela Monstro

    In Portuguse we say: “Tenho dito!” which means something like “I’ve said it all!” and really you have! Thanks for the help and the support. I really believe in work, persistence, supportiveness, collaboration and positiveness in blogging. And i’m happy because i am learning A LOT with my new adenture in “The Beauty and The beast” and i really LOVE what i do and that passion along with being hard-working and persistant is the key to success. Thank you again!

    Reply
  16. MJ

    Great tips especially about taking yourself and your brand seriously. Another tip I would add is to Be Patient! That is key and I didn’t really learn that until my second year of blogging. There are things I still want but I’m also taking time out to have fun, like you said, and enjoy the journey! 🙂

    Reply
  17. Stephanie Unter

    Thank you for these great tips! I just took a great Blogshop weekend class to learn Photoshop and it does take me longer to put up my original material. But I agree it will be worth it in the end. My favorite tip?
    Be Original. As I write this, I am thinking of one word that can describe me and my style!

    Reply
  18. Sandra

    These are great tips. Any bit of advice is really helpful to new bloggers. I especially think the one about not posting spam comments with follow me requests is important. Sometimes its just not all about yourself right?

    xoxo
    Sandra

    Reply
  19. Jelena

    Excellent and very positive post!!! My lovely Grace I agree with u 1000%, with each line of yours!:)
    xoxo
    Jelena (glamfabchameleon.blogspot.com)

    Reply
  20. Jessie

    Spot on, as usual!!! Thanks for the reminders of great advice… love to continue to be inspired by Stripes & Sequins! XOXO

    Reply
  21. dreamy

    This is really interesting. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years but have never built a particularly big following, and I’ve always wondered what I was doing wrong… I’m passionate about, and put a lot of effort into, what I post; but I can’t post very often.. Maybe that needs readjusting… Or, maybe I actually need to take notice of twitter!….

    Reply
  22. Gloria Tamayo

    Thank you for the tips!! Very clear and concise. A newbie like me need some advise and support, and I have found it her.

    Thank you so much!!

    Reply
  23. Fashion-isha

    Awesome tips! The lonely part is so true. You can see thousands of people looking at your blog but so few comment. Every sweet comment and email means so much is so validating…it’s like, “aha, they do like the blog.”

    Thanks,
    xo
    Sharon

    Reply
  24. River Sun

    Thanks for the tips,they where emotionally supportive,inspiring,and motivated I believe that you planted positively seeds in every single reader of the post.

    Reply
  25. Erin

    Great advice, thanks! I think the hardest part for me to wrap my head around is “treat it like a second job”. It’s especially difficult when I know I should be writing a post but I reeeeeeeally want to nap instead 🙂

    Reply
  26. Lou Jones

    Fab tips in this article – if you’re just starting out, I think the most important point made here is about creating original content. Anyone can write about a celeb wedding or the latest must-have bag etc so have some fun with it, and remember to get out there to some events if you can, don’t sit behind your computer forever!

    Reply