On May 1st my blog celebrated it’s first anniversary. What started off as a blog about finance and accounting developed into a fashion and lifestyle blog where I can share my thoughts and opinions about topics that I am much more passionate about. Throughout my first year of blogging, I have learned SO much. If you’re thinking about starting a blog this blog post is for you! Today on Sweet and Saving I’m sharing my what you need to know before starting a blog and tips and tricks to get you started.
Finding Your Voice
It’s no secret that blogging is super hot right now, I mean why else would you be thinking about starting a blog? Prior to launching my blog, blogging had been on my mind for quite some time. Luckily, I got some experience blogging at my first job as I became the author of our corporate blog. Eventually I decided to take a leap of faith and launch a finance blog. My hubby is a Chartered Accountant and we were always getting questions about taxes, finances, and all that “fun” stuff. The concept was simple. My hubby would provide me with the topic and I would simply translate into practical, jargon-free, content. The blog was doing relatively well, but I came to a point where I dreaded writing another blog post. Writing about money was just not doing it for me anymore. Why was I so bored of my own blog? I realized that I was speaking on behalf of my husband and not using my own voice. It was time to re-brand. I stopped blogging for a few months to figure out what I wanted to write about. What did I like? What were my interests? What did I want my brand to be? Fashion, Travel, Food, Home, Décor, Sales,…the list seemed endless. So I thought, why not write about it all with a lifestyle blog. It can be a place where I talk about topics that are important to ME and can be a way to connect women with similar interests, questions, and stories. That’s when blogging changed for me. I developed my voice and my personality started to come out in my posts and my engagement suddenly went through the roof! So, what are my tips for finding your voice? Write down a bunch of words that first come to mind when you think about your blog. What words reflect your vision? What do you want your blog to say about you? Narrow those words down to a few and have them flow through every aspect of your blog from your content, to social media. One of my favorite blogger examples of someone who has a strong and influential voice is Kenna Kutcher. Check her out for some great inspiration.
Hosting Your Blog
Okay, so you have your blog name, and you know what you want to write about…but now it’s time for the technical. I am not a techy by any means and figuring out the tech side of a blog can be quite intimidating. But there are lots of resources available to help you along the way. There are so many blog platforms out there, and upon doing my research I concluded that WordPress was the best option for me. To keep things simple, I decided to go with a WordPress hosted site. This is a great option for those just launching a blog. It’s super user friendly and easy to navigate. However, as my blog grew and I got involved with affiliate marketing (more on that to come), I needed something that gave me more customization. That’s when I discovered SiteGround Web Hosting. With SiteGround I could still use a WordPress interface for free, and pay a smaller fee to have SiteGround host the blog. This also allowed me to have all the features of the WordPress business plan without having to pay for it. For more information on self hosting your blog read this excellent article by GuruPress.
This is where I struggled. The first version of my blog is laughable but it’s all about growing. With my very limited Photoshop experience, I attempted my first go at a logo. This logo was paired with a pink blog template and iPhone icons. Looking back, it was SO bad! When I re-branded to Sweet and Saving I found a new, modern template, and once again used my photoshop “skills” to craft a new and improved logo. It was a big improvement, but I just couldn’t get my blog to look the way I had envisioned. That’s when I finally decided to accept help from a WordPress Guru. Michelle from GuruPress was absolutely amazing to work with. Not only was she the one who educated me on the benefits of a self hosted site, but she completely transformed my blog and turned my vision into reality.
Creating content for your blog is the HARDEST part of blogging. It’s extremely time consuming which can quickly turn to blogging burnout. Content includes blog posts and social media posts (which I will get to next). According to blogging best practices you should aim to go live with 1 new blog post a week (minimum!). New and engaging content is the only way to keep your readers engaged and coming back for more. For me, there are weeks when the content flows effortlessly, and other weeks that I am struggling to come up with ideas or have writers block. When I am in the blogging mood I will write a number of blog posts so I have a library of content to choose from. It also helps to keep a notepad or use the notes app on your phone to write down ideas as they come to you. However, as important as it is to create continuous content, I never blog if I simply don’t feel like it. Blogging for me is a hobby and I don’t want to take away my enjoyment from blogging.
Social media is your most powerful tool when it come to the promotion of your blog, and you must be prepared to spend a considerable amount of time developing social media content. There are SO many avenues to choose from when it comes to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube the list goes on and on. If your not a full time blogger (like myself…yes I do have a job), my advice is to only focus on a single social media channel that best engages your audience. For me, because I run a lifestyle and fashion blog, my leads primarily come from Instagram so that is where I place my focus. If you wish to have more conversational engagement with your audience, perhaps focus on Facebook. When it comes to social media, it’s recommended to post at least once a day. Video’s (i.e. stories) are an amazing way to see a better ROI on your content. Did you know that it’s estimated that by the year 2020, 80% of internet content will be video based? It’s also important you post quality pictures. You don’t need an expensive DSLR camera to get the job done, but make sure your pictures are clear and have good lighting. If you are going to use your phone, consider purchasing a quality photo editing app to enhance your pictures and give them an aesthetic theme. I personally love VSCO which has endless filters and editing capabilities. Finally, when it comes to social media you MUST be active and engaging! You can’t expect to post once and suddenly jump to 1000 followers. You must like, comment, and engage with your followers and other bloggers. When someone comments on your photo or content, comment back. The more engaging you are, the faster your blog will grow.
For me blogging is a hobby, it was never intended to make enough money to replace my income. BUT…it is certainly nice to see my blog making money. But how do blogs make money? First of all, don’t expect your blog to start making money over night. It takes months, even years to build your audience to the point where you actually start to see a return on your blog. There are three main ways your blog can make money. The first and least profitable is through paid advertisements. Many blog hosting sites give you the option to allow ads on your site. The more views your have, the more profitable your blog will be. The problem with this method is that you need hundreds of thousands of views before you start seeing a meaningful impact. That’s why I prefer options 2 and 3. Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money from your blog. This is where you link shoppable content on your blog or social media sites (see my Shop My Instagram page to see what I am talking about). When you make a sale, you earn a commission. When it comes to affiliate marketing there are tons of companies to choose from, but many companies require an application process before you can join their program. Before you jump into affiliate marketing you must show quality and consistent content AND audience engagement for a minimum of 4 months. Before you apply to a program link your favorite products so when affiliate programs review your site they see that you already know how to link and promote products that you enjoy. I’ve found success using the LiketoKnow.it affiliate program. If you have the LiketoKnow.it app make sure to follow me at Sweet and Saving. The third way to make money is through sponsored blog posts. Again, this won’t happen over night but once your blog has momentum your blog will get noticed and companies looking to advertise will reach out for a sponsored blog post. I charge upwards $150 per sponsored blog post, so if you get enough requests you can do quite well. But again, it shows the importance of developing meaningful, quality, original, and consistent content.
If do start your own blog, please let me know! I would love to subscribe!