So many people are looking to start a blog but sadly fail shortly after they begin. I for one have started a blog or two, only to give it up a few weeks down the road, mostly due to my exaggerated expectations.
When starting a blog I think the first rule should be to throw away any expectations. I know this is hard as blogger success stories are plentiful and you might start blogging thinking you’ll make money or that you’ll get lots of freebies. Some of you might only want the odd pageview or two. When we don’t see these results in the first few days, weeks and even months, we immediately start doubting ourselves. You might start feeling like you’re just not good enough and like you can’t compete with the big bloggers who have thousands, if not millions, of readers every month. The point is that you shouldn’t try to compete with them. Not yet anyway.
I am not trying to scare anyone out of blogging by stating the above, but it is really important that these things are realised before you start, so when you are feeling this way you can be prepared to overcome it.
I am going to start off with a set of blogging tips which I hope will help ease you into a successful blogging career.
#1 Blog without expectations.
(I’m mentioning this twice because it’s pretty damn important.)
Don’t expect too much at the start, you will just set yourself up for disappointment.
Below are the first month’s stats from one of my other blogs. These stats are actually not bad for the first month so if you have lower results, don’t be discouraged. It was a blog written by 3 people and 1 of them has everyone and their dog added on Facebook.
So realistically a third of this or even less can be expected in the first few months but like I said before, don’t expect anything.
#2 Don’t blog to make money.
Starting a blog should never be about making money. I know this has been said a thousand times, but it is for good reason. You won’t be making much, in fact, you might actually spend more than you earn in the beginning.
simply-delicious-food.com made a whopping R154.08 (approximately $15) the first month, so don’t quit your day job just yet. It was only 3 years later in 2013 that we started seeing a decent rise in our AdSense Revenue. We made mistakes that set us back a few times but these are things I hope I can help you with. Still, those mistakes are also vital in growing your blog because you learn from them.
This does not mean you should not put ads on your site from the start. In fact, if you intend on running ads rather do it sooner than later, you don’t want to turn your readers off by suddenly shoving ads in their face.
#3 Love what you blog about.
Don’t just pick the first topic that you assume will make you stacks of money. Blog about something you actually have an interest in. This will make it much easier when you have to create new content a year from now.
You need to find your niche and stick with it, don’t try switching topics every few months trying to find one you think people might like. However, if you have multiple topics that you are interested in and that fit together (like beauty, fashion & lifestyle), you can of course include all of those on your blog.
#4 Use social media.
Being active on Facebook, Twitter and many other social media sites is a big part of your path to success. I don’t know a single successful blogger who doesn’t have at least a Facebook and Twitter account. Using social media makes it easier for you to engage your readers and it’s also good to engage with other bloggers.
Twitter and Facebook are a good start but you might want to look into other social media that is good for your type of blog. Pinterest for example is by far the best thing you could use to drive traffic to a food blog, it’s also great if you run a wedding or DIY blog.
I’ll cover social media more in a future post so subscribe on the right so you don’t miss it.
#5 Don’t be a blegger.
One sure way of killing a blog and your reputation is by being considered a “Blegger” (aka the worst kinds of bloggers). You see them all the time begging for free things on social media. It’s really embarrassing to watch.
Sorry dude, but you and your 400 pageviews a month don’t qualify for a free weekend away.
The worst thing about these people is that they actually complain when the companies say no.
Another thing is to think before you post that tweet or status. We’ve seen a few people publicly embarrass themselves recently due to silly things they say on Twitter. It might seem funny at the time but step back and think how others might react before you hit send.
#6 Plan your posts.
Planning your posts ahead of time can be a huge help, it also helps to have a schedule for your posts. This isn’t essential when you only want your blog to be your hobby and you don’t care about traffic and monetisation but if you do want your blog to go somewhere, then you need to start thinking of it as a business and you can’t run a business only when you feel like it. It needs planning.
Try getting ahead with your posts by a week or two, this will help when you find you’re either too busy to write a post or just really not in the mood. You should also keep in mind when you will be going on holiday, etc. Having a few posts already completed will keep your blog going while you relax.
Many bloggers will tell you that it is a full time, none stop job and they are not lying. You never switch off, so the more you plan ahead the less you will stress out.
#7 Write quality content.
Don’t waste your time writing something you wouldn’t read yourself, rather spend some time browsing the web for inspiration, websites like pinterest.com are great places to find inspiration. You could also do some research on the current trends related to your topic.
It is also very important to stay relevant. Writing about how awesome the iPhone 5s is when everyone else is already writing about the iPhone 6 would be silly. The problem with staying relevant is that you will be competing with many others for the same traffic, and that is why you need to make sure you write quality content. The way you try and engage social media can also determine the success of a post, writing something like “Check out my new iPhone 6 post” will not get as much attention as “iPhone 6 has 5 awesome new features you may not know about.”, just make sure you actually have 5 new features in your post when doing this sort of thing. This can also be done to your page titles since they will appear in search results.
Writing a quality blog post will increase the chances of your readers clicking through to other posts and will increase your pageviews significantly.
#8 Take great photos.
Good photos are one of our top priorities on Simply Delicious. Without them we would have less than half our current traffic. Websites like Pinterest.com send us huge amounts of traffic each month from people repinning photos. This would not be the case if our posts contained awful images (which they did when we just started).
Taking great photos does not mean you need to run out and purchase that top of the line DSLR you have been eyeballing. A bad photo is a bad photo, it does not matter if it was taken on a R1000 ($100) or a R30 000 ($3000) camera.
I firmly believe that lighting is the most important thing when taking a photo, it makes sense since all our cameras are doing is capturing light. Composition and subject also play a big role but bad lighting will ruin any photo.
I have a post dedicated to photography coming up soon, so check back if you want some photography tips.
#9 The importance of a domain name.
When you start your blog, your domain name is one of the most important things you will need to consider. Choosing something like www.johnsawesomeblogaboutcooking.com will not be very easy for readers to remember. Imagine someone asking you where you got a recipe and having to remember that URL. In most cases it is also important to choose a domain name that does not limit your content. www.chickenrecipes.com will limit you to only write about chicken recipes.
#10 Clear the clutter.
Your blog needs to be easy to navigate. Clutter can confuse the reader and send them away. Things should be organised and consistent throughout your blog. A good way to test your blog would be to use friends and family, some who are tech – savvy and some not and have them give you feedback on how what they experienced while browsing your blog.
We have many more blogging and photography posts lined up, so please check back soon or subscribe to our feed.
Check out the next post in this series – 8 helpful tips to start a blog.
I hope you found this post helpful, if you have any questions or post suggestions, please post a comment.
I’m just starting a blog for my media writing class, so thanks for the tips!
Only a pleasure!
#3: YES! You really do need to love what you blog about! It makes blogging easier and readers can tell. Also, Blegger!? Hilarious! You should definitely not be a “blegger” (my new favorite term). You’ve got some great tips here. I would like to add some things I’ve learned over the years:
Create a blog purpose (sort of like a brand statement) that clearly states why you are blogging and what you hope to accomplish.
Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, time-bound.) These goals will set the standard for what you are working towards and guide you as you develop your blog.
To add to your planning tip: use an editorial calendar. This will make you uber organized! My blogging became 10 times easier when I started using an editorial calendar.
I have more tips on blog planning and editorial calendars in my Skillshare class on Becoming a Better Blogger through Content Planning. Here’s a link if anyone is interested: http://skl.sh/1i23PjJ
Lori | Foxes Love Lemons
Such great tips! I really need to start working ahead in my posts by a week or two. I ALWAYS write them the day before, and let me tell you…there are days where that is a struggle and I wish I didn’t have to.
sadly, the Bleggers seem to get free stuff, taking those of us who don’t bleg out of the loop. They offer free blog posts for free stuff which people love. Great post Alida 🙂
good tips, I was thinking to start my own blog about food , fitness, healthy, cooking and fashion still dont know how but its looks it will take time, thank u for sharing this
Thanks fardous, you should check back tomorrow for our post on starting a blog.
I started following your blog after reading about it in a magazine. Your photographs are magnificent and mouthwatering. Thank you for the delicious recipes and I am looking forward to the rest of the blogging tips.
Thanks for your lovely comment Undine.
I have subscribed/followed your blog via e-mail for awhile now, and I am SO GLAD I did that. Thank you SO MUCH for all the valuable info., and more to come. I am looking forward to reading it. (And yes, I found you via Pinterest) 🙂
Thanks Pang, I hope you enjoy the upcoming posts as well.
Hi Alida … been stalking you on Pinterest for a while now … love your photos and your blog … I’m a very frustrated cook, photographer and foodie and have wanted to start a blog for a while now … this is the most “sane” set of tips I have found yet … thanks so much 🙂
Di, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I hope that our series will help you. Before the end of the week we’ll have a more concise set of blogging tips and then next week we’ll do in depth photography and monetisation posts. 🙂
Super helpful! Thank you A & C (not ANC) 😉 xx
That made us snort-laugh! Thanks for your comment Tami! 😉
Love this new mini series 🙂 Well done Alida and hubby!
Thanks T! x