Hello friends! I hope you all are all doing well. It’s been a few days since we’ve hung out. Things have been a little busy my way. But that’s the usual around here.
Today I’m going to take a break from my typical home decor posts and talk a little about blogging. When I first started my blog, I had no intention of ever posting anything about blogging; however, I’ve learned so much in this short time and I have become really passionate about sharing what I’ve learned. I’ve had so many friends tell me that they would love to start a blog, but aren’t quite sure where to start. So today I wanted to share some lessons learned and how I would do things differently if I started again.
My husband will tell you that when I get something in my head, I go for it 100%. I guess that can be both good and bad. Good because I’m motivated and driven to accomplish things. But bad because sometimes I don’t think things through and consider what is involved before I begin.
The day that I decided to start a blog, I googled blogging platforms, picked out what I thought was best and pressed GO. I set up my website and wrote my first blog that same day. I didn’t take the time to consider what it would take to maintain and grow a blog.
You know how when you start something new, you don’t even know what you don’t know? That’s where I was. I thought it would just be setting up the website and writing a post when I felt like it. I had no idea the amount of time I would have to devote to keep a blog going.
So, my friends, you get to learn from my mistakes. You’re welcome. 🙂
10 things I would do before starting a blog:
1. Build your social media accounts.
Social media is key to building and growing your blog. It can make or break you. If you neglect social media, it will definitely reflect in your number of page views. Start building those accounts before you launch your blog. Having a loyal group of followers before you begin will help you tremendously! They will be the first ones to visit your blog and comment on your posts when your press the GO button. And they will be the encouragement you need on the days that you feel like you just can’t do it anymore.
2. Connect with other bloggers in your niche.
This has become my absolute favorite part of blogging. I have met so many wonderful people. I am in blogging groups on Facebook and Instagram. We encourage each other, learn from each other, share tips, answer questions, share each other’s blog posts, and everything in between. I honestly do not think that I could continue to do what I do without the support and encouragement from these groups of ladies that I have met.
You can also connect with other bloggers by following and commenting on their blogs, and also emailing them with any questions that you may have. When I first started blogging, I emailed one of the top home decor bloggers with some questions that I had. I wasn’t sure if she would respond or not because she is a well established blogger and I wasn’t sure if she was interested in helping a little nobody like me. But she graciously responded and answered every one of my questions. Most bloggers are more than willing to help and support other bloggers. It’s like a little community.
3. Choose an email software and start collecting email addresses.
There are several email software systems you can use, such as Powered by MailChimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, as well as many others. I would choose a free one when you first get started. Email addresses are so important because this is the one group that you have control over. Social Media can be a little crazy at times and the changing algorithms can cause your audience not to see your posts. You always have direct access to your email list and can send an email at anytime to update your subscribers. As you are building and planning your blog, send out updates to keep your subscribers posted on your progress.
4. Build your brand and design your website.
I built my website before really considering what I wanted. I quickly decided on one of the free themes offered and later realized this wasn’t the look I wanted. So I ended up having to take my website down for a day to change it out to something that I liked. The website that I am using now is Refined by Restored 316. They create beautiful, feminine WordPress themes. They even have a quiz to help you decide which website design is best for you. Decide on your colors, font, logo and what you want your website to look like before you launch. This is what will set you apart from everyone else.
In selecting a platform, my recommendation would be to go with a self-hosted blog, such as WordPress.org, especially if you plan to monetize your site. Many free sites will not allow advertising. It’s what I started with because it allows so much more versatility. I use Bluehost as my hosting site. I cannot say enough good things about Bluehost. Their support team is excellent! UPDATE: Once I reached about 20,000 pageviews per month, Bluehost became extremely slow and I was having difficulty with my website loading and having days where my website would be down for no explained reason. I’ve since made the switch to SiteGround. I’ve been with SiteGround for about 8 months now and they have been AMAZING! My website loads so much quicker and I’ve never had any downtime since making the switch!
A great way to build your brand is on Pinterest. I use PicMonkey to create all of my pins. Pinterest drives the most traffic to my blog so it is essential to create attractive pins and PicMonkey allows me to do that with ease.
5. Do your research.
Learn what’s involved behind the scenes. I have spent so much time reading other blogs and watching YouTube videos about blogging. If I had done this before I launched my blog, I would have more time to devote to actually writing and promoting my blog right now.
Research how to monetize your site, if that is something you plan to do. It’s much easier to do that beforehand than to have to go back into all of your old posts to add affiliate links. I was clueless when it came to affiliate marketing, so I took the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It is a little costly, but was extremely helpful and well worth the investment in my opinion. You can read my review on the course [here].
Spend some time learning your platform and all that it can do. Research how to monetize your site, if this is something you plan to do. Also, research auto schedule apps (such as Tailwind and Boardbooster) to pin to your social media sites – these will save you a ton of time!
6. Have about 5 posts written.
Launching your blog with a few posts already written is a good thing for a few reasons. First of all, if you have a few posts written and published when you launch, it will keep people on your page longer. They will have more to explore and look at.
Secondly, keep some of those that you write on reserve. This way, when you are having a hectic week and unable to write the post you had planned, you have some already written and saved that you can publish.
7. Develop an opt-in incentive.
An opt-in incentive is something that entices people to subscribe to your blog. Have this planned out and set up before you launch your blog. There are many different ideas for opt-ins, such as printables, tips and tidbits, e-books, etc. I created a pdf of my Top 10 Interior Styling Tips that all of my subscribers get. You can scroll down to the bottom of this page and opt-in to have my tips emailed directly to you.
8. Develop a plan and set goals.
You can’t just start a blog and hope that people will come. It’s just not that easy. Develop a plan to launch and promote your blog. Spend some time thinking about your blog and set some short term and long term goals that you want to accomplish. Create a calendar for scheduling posts. Come up with a list of topics that you want to write about. Have a plan for how you are going to share your posts on your social media sites. Although plans and goals are great and help keep us accountable, remember to give yourself some grace. Some weeks will be more difficult than others and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach every single goal.
9. Focus on one step at a time.
There is so much to learn about blogging that it can become overwhelming. It’s so easy feel defeated before you even begin. Focus on 1-2 things each week. Make a list of what you want to get done, prioritize it, and cross it off your list as you get it done. This will help you stay on track and ease a lot of stress.
10. Have fun.
It’s easy to get sucked into the thought of having to write so many blog posts a week, having to post on social media so many times a day, and so forth. If blogging starts adding more stress than fun, it’s time to reevaluate why you are doing it. Blogging should’t feel like a job. It should be something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing. So have fun with it!
That’s it, friends. Now you have my best tips for starting your blog off right. I’d love to hear any other ideas or suggestions that you all may have. Please drop a comment below and share your thoughts. Be blessed. xoxo