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.
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!