Bloggers are no longer competing amongst other bloggers for readers attention, they're competing against magazines, industry professionals who branch out into digital, mega bloggers, start-ups, entrepreneurs and it doesn't stop there
A friend recently asked for advice on how to start a blog today. It sounded like a simple question, but when thinking about it, I realized that starting a blog today would be very different from how I started six years ago… heck, I started my first blog nine years ago! Ashley talked about how much harder blogging has become. It's tough these days to garner traction for your blog. Bloggers are no longer competing amongst other bloggers for readers attention, they're competing against magazines, industry professionals who branch out into digital, mega bloggers, start-ups, entrepreneurs and it doesn't stop there. There are a lot of opportunities in blogging, but with those opportunities there is a lot more competition.
But it's not impossible to succeed, blogging just needs to be approached differently.
Approach starting my blog like starting a business
I started my first fashion blog as a personal venture. It was great, but I found it uncomfortable to monetize my personal taste. Starting a blog, like any magazine, newspaper (digital or print) is a business. What is the mission? What is the niche? Who are the readers? What are the brand values? Is this a feasible topic for a profitable business? Is this blog scalable? These all can evolve over time, but it's easier to monetize a blog that has always been treated as a business than transitioning a hobby to a business without freaking out hard-earned readers.
Have goals clearly outlined
What are the goals for this blog? Is it the start of a media empire, or just to pay the bills? Maybe it's to build a portfolio piece to get a job in social media or publishing. No matter what your goals are, having them clearly outlined in the beginning will give you a great place to start.
Have a plan
Having goals is one thing, achieving them takes planning. Plan out how you are going to achieve these goals. How many posts are you going to write? What are they going to look like? How are you going to promote them? Who are you going to promote them to? Outline as best you can as to how you are going to achieve your goals.
Create a keyword rich name for my blog and buy the URL
Clearly, I was not thinking ahead naming my personal style blog “The Coveted” which started as a street style blog until I realized I suck a street style and moved to personal style. Either way, it doesn't have keywords so if someone was to search for my blog, they would have to know the blog. Creating a keyword rich title for your blog allows people to find your blog through search. Purse Blog is a good example of a keyword rich blog. Of course many of the simple names are taken so we have to get creative, but none the less, I would encourage having keyword rich title and buy the URL.
Invest in professional looking branding
While you don't HAVE to spend money on your blog, I would advise people to treat their blog like they would a business. Business owners invest in branding, a magazine would invest in designers and writers, and a blog that starts today needs to look professional and updated. Invest in the brand by getting a beautiful theme, and logo design. Invest in the tools you'll need, cameras, video equipment, writers, developers, everything you will need for a polished blog.
Create an editorial calendar
This probably goes with “planning” but creating your editorial calendar is important. What kind of features are you going to do? What kinds of themes are you going to have throughout the year. It doesn't have to be detailed to the minute. But a rough outline, bullets are fine, of what kind of content you want to create, and if your topic is feasible.
Start monetizing early
It's never too early to start with affiliate links. Maybe create a product like an e-book, or a podcast, a shop, a service whatever makes sense for your niche. When brand partnerships start to come in, you will have a wealth of examples of successful monetization efforts and you will know your worth. Plus, it lets your readers know from the beginning that the blog is your business and you are committed to delivering quality content.
Activate a community around my niche
Here I would advise bloggers to get in touch with other bloggers in their niche and meet up with whomever they can. It's so important to be part of the blogging community.
Develop relationships with PRs
Become an insider as quickly as you can. Those press releases will let you know ahead of time what is happening in your niche. Get in touch with the PRs for the brands you are interested in covering and ask to be put on their mailing lists. Eventually you will develop relationships with the PRs you like and who like your blog.
Promote the blog as though it were a business
This goes back to treating your blog as a business. Send out announcements to your contacts that your blog has launched. Have it listed in as many places as you can find. Heck, I've even made postcards for my blog and left them in cafes (which inevitably put me on the radar to be interviewed for a tech event). The sky is the limit, you can get creative as you like with promoting, but treat it like your business.
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