The Newbie's Guide To Running A Successful Blog
Evening all! I've been inundated with emails from people lately, asking me for tips and advice when it comes to starting a blog. It's impossible to answer all of these emails, so I thought I'd write one big blog post on the matter. I'm not going to lie, I feel like I am slightly repeating myself after my 10 Blogging Commandments post, but hey-ho! These are my opinions and thoughts, they're not the official rules of blogging (there are no rules, so to speak).
- First thing's first; why do you want to start a blog? Maybe you're inspired by other bloggers, encouraged by a certain interest (fashion, music) and want to express it through blogging? Starting a blog for the right reasons is key. I've received a handful of emails before from people asking me why they haven't received event invites/ PR samples yet, stating they've had their blog up and running for a month, for example. Tut, tut, tut! If you want to start for the sheer prospect of receiving freebies and trotting along to glamorous events, you're in the wrong place! Readers, PR companies and fellow-bloggers aren't stupid; it's easy to read straight through someone who blogs for the wrong reasons. I started my blog in 2009, and I didn't receive any samples until 2011. I never started a blog with anything in mind other than sharing my interest in fashion and styling with others, freebies never even crossed my mind. As @WhatKHDid said on Twitter earlier re: samples and invites: "It's a privilege you earn, not a right!"
- Your blog and you need to stand out to get noticed. There's no point copying another blog and posting constant similar content. A lot of new bloggers fall into the generic blogger type; thinking they have to take product photos against a floral backdrop, own a DSLR and have shabby-chic themed designs. There's nothing wrong with those things, but at the end of the day who wants to follow 100 blogs that look the exact same? Be different, be you! Think of a catchy and unique blog name; names like Sarah's Closet and I Love Makeup are far too bland and predictable. Layout wise, play around with the design tools on your blogging platform for a few days before you officially launch your blog. If you're thinking about blogging professionally, maybe invest in hiring a graphic designer to make you up a swanky design.
- Gaining readership seems to be a big worry for new bloggers. I'm lucky I started blogging when I did, as there weren't half as many blogs around back then as there are now. Blogging may seem very daunting, and trying to get your blog noticed in a sea full of millions of other blogs can be tough. First things first - DON'T SPAM! Linking your blog to other bloggers and companies constantly is incredibly irritating and won't get you any clicks - trust me. Commenting on another blogger's post with "Nice post. Mind checking out my blog?" won't get you any clicks either; it's blatant you're not really interested in the post, and that you're just using it as a way of promoting yourself. No established bloggers got their readership through spam or hounding people to follow them. It's unprofessional. Include yourself in forums, chats and become friendly with other new bloggers to exchange links and posts. Use labels relevant to your post e.g if you review a Chanel lipstick, label it with 'Chanel' and 'Shade X and Y'. When people Google search reviews/ swatches of it, your blog might come up!
- Keep things simple and clear. Over-edited, dark photos of makeup won't appeal to people. Use natural daylight and a good-quality camera to take snaps. You don't need a DSLR to blog! I've never owned a "professional" camera in my life until a few weeks back; I took every blog picture off of a simple digital camera bought from Argos. Early-afternoon is my personal favourite time to take photos. I also don't use flash, natural daylight works best for everything. Keep your font legible, don't use overcrowded buttons and banners all over your blog. A busy blog distracts from the content!
- Time and time again, I see new bloggers bitch and moan about current popular bloggers on sites such as Twitter; bitching about big/ fellow bloggers won't gain anything. You'll come across as immature, and it'll give you and your blog a bad name. It also reeks of jealousy; that blogger may have thousands of followers, but all s/he did was work hard at their blog, surely? Be nice.
- Edit your posts! Nothing puts me off a blogger/ blog post more, than seeing heaps of spelling and grammatical errors. Not everyone is a decent speller, but spell-check is available! Poor spelling and grammar comes across as unprofessional and lazy. Proof-read your blog posts multiple times before publishing. Also, language and tone are majorly important; I'd advise to refrain from swearing or using slang often. Also know the tone you want your writing to be in. Just a heads up; nobody wants to read an OTT Shakespearean-description of a brown eyeshadow. I like to keep things balanced, professional, yet conversational. I don't overuse flowery language, and I like to add a bit of humour into my posts here and there. Everyone makes mistakes, but make sure you correct them and that they're not constant!
- Some new bloggers also stated they're concerned about how many times you should post; at the end of the day, you're the boss of your own blog! Whether you blog 10 times a week, or once a week - nothing is wrong or right. Yes, regular posting will probably get you more hits and followers, but there's no point in stressing about it if you can't manage it! The fun is lost when something becomes a chore. Work blogging around your schedule; if you've a few hours free one weekend, why not write up a few posts and schedule them in to be posted on different days during the week? I tend to post around 4-5 times a week, maybe less.
- Never write for the sake of it. If you feel like you're writing something for the sake of writing something, it'll show through. Write about what interests you, not what you think will interest other people. Of course, what interests your readers is important but you have to remember it's your blog. They're on your blog to read about you and your thoughts. If you're passionate about something, write about it! If people don't like it, it's not the end of the world. If they love it, great! All that matters, is that you have fun writing and being creative.
- Some people aren't comfortable with sharing their identities online, but I find that bloggers tend to be more popular when they show readers who they are. Hiding behind a cartoon avatar will put people off eventually, as the whole personal element of your blog diminishes. At least show your readers what you look like, say what country you're from and give them a few fun facts about you. Nothing too personal - just your favourite tv shows, shops, lipsticks.. whatever! Don't be afraid to let your readers in.
I hope those tips have helped some of you! They're only my tips and opinions, at the end of the day. If you disagree with me, that's fine! Leave any extra tips you can think of in the comments below - I give you full permission to leave your blog links along with them.. just this once ;). Check out each other's blogs; hopefully you'll gain some new readers and blogs to read. Good luck!