My top tips and advice for anyone starting a blog.

How to grow your blog. 


Lately I have been getting questions about blogging and the most popular questions are. 
How to build a following? 
&
Where to start?

Now I wouldn't class myself as a major blogger or even in the same league as the big ones but I have a decent amount of readers and I have learnt a lot in the past three years of blogging. Over the past few months I have been getting questions from people who want to start blogging but don't know where to begin and just want some advice on it all. 

My first question I ask people to ask themselves when thinking of starting a blog is why?Do you wanna go to glam events and get blogger mail? do you wanna make a ton of money and be famous?
If these are your main reasons then these are not reasons to start a blog. Yes there can be perks but you have to put in the work and be genuinely passionate about what you are writing about.
I have seen a few blogs come and go over the years and the main reason was they were in it for the wrong reason. Genuine passion shines through and blogging is harder than it looks. You need to be passionate about what your are writing about and genuinely interested in building a community. Are you willing to stay up late drafting posts?, shooting photos and filming videos on your day off? Some don't realise how hard it is and just give up because they expected over night success. 
You have to Hustle! Some people do get lucky but the majority of us have to work our asses off for it.




Where to start? 


I wasted so much time contemplating blogging and I wish I started sooner. A lot of the time fear is holding people back, fear of what others might think is a common one and it was one of my fears. I know for a fact people would slag off my blog at the beginning and more than likely they still do but I had an epiphany and realised that I can't and won't be living my life to please others and I am gonna get my creativity out there. 

Simply start. 

Get a notepad and write down the topics you are passionate about, write down ideas as they come. You might want to cover a range of topics like travel, fashion, interiors, beauty, lifestyle. Write down all your interests. Your blog is going to grow with you so its okay to add in a new topic as you grow as a person. 


You need a webpage. 

Pick a platform, I am not tech savvy and I find using blogger.com as a platform works for me. Wordpress is better ( so I hear) but it is too hard for me! At the moment I am happy on blogger but in the future I may change to wordpress.
Also its free, you can buy fancy templates or tweak the one already on it to personalise your webpage. 
There are tons of other sites people use to make websites but I find the two mentioned above to be the most popular. 
Down the line you can buy a custom domain (.com .co.uk .ie) but don't worry too much in the beginning about this. 

Don't just blog on social media platforms!

So your a Facebook blogger or Instagram blog? What would happen if both them platforms shut down tomorrow? Your gone and so is all your content, at least if you had a website people could still find you. Your website is your home. Yes its amazing to have a following on social media but don't get caught up in it and neglect your blog and the content your write. 
Use your social media platforms to direct your audience to your website/blog. 


It takes time to grow an audience. 


There is no overnight miracle grow for your blog or social media platforms. Sure look at the larger bloggers, they have been building their blogs and Instagram's for many years. Yes some might make it look easy but a lot of work goes into building an audience. 
If your looking to become Insta famous over night then I am sorry to burst your bubble but unless your buying fake followers this is not going to happen. 

Top tips for growing your website.

  • Share your blog posts on social media platforms and don't be afraid to share more than once. Sometimes we hit publish and share and that is it, share it again they weekend or at different times. 
  • Share your links in Facebook groups relevant to your topic, so if you have written a cool travel post then share it in a travel group. 
  • Pinterest is gold. Got a great image? share to Pinterest, I get a decent amount of traffic from Pinterest posts. 
  • Guest post on fellow bloggers websites, a great way of collaborating and then linking back to your website. 
  • SEO, search engine optimisation. Something I still have not a great knowledge of so I suggest a quick google and you will find great articles on this as it is vital for how you rank in googles search engine. Its a whole other blog post but in the beginning just be mindful of it. 
  • Have a clean webpage that is pleasing on the eye with great quality imagery and easy to navigate. People click in and if they don't see what they want they click the back button. Your first impression needs to be a good one. 


Social media.


Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, Snapchat, Youtube! There are tons of different platforms and more than I mentioned. For me I found it best to pick fewer platforms and to engage better on them.
So I focused on Instagram and Snapchat as my two platforms. I try and engage and reply to people on Instagram, I don't have a Facebook like page as I don't have the time to moderate another platform. I like to reply to comments and  build a community. You might be the opposite and better engage on Facebook. Pick a platform that is right for you and the content your create. 
Recently I joined Youtube. This opened up another platform where I could direct the audience to my blog. 

My biggest piece of advice for growing your social media is engage, engage, engage! 
Always reply, comment and interact with your audience. I hate seeing Insta pages and a ton of lovely comments and the person ignoring them. You don't have to reply straight away but even set aside a few minutes throughout the day to reply to comments and leave comments on other peoples pages, this is a great way of building a community too. 

Don't hound people for shoutouts! Yes you might want to be eager to grow your following but don't randomly mail accounts for shout outs without even trying to build a relationship first. I am more inclined to mention accounts that I comment and interact with on a daily basis, if you mail me looking for a shoutout and we have never even spoke before I won't entertain you, its just plane rude and spammy.

I do find facebook groups useful. I interact using my personal account and I am in tons of groups from shabby chic groups to blogger groups. This is a great way to meet likeminded people and most of all make some new friends along the way. 


Consistency.


You don't have to have a new post every day but do try and stay consistent. I work full time so I have been posting twice a week on my blog. This is the most I can manage at the moment. Remember writing a post takes a lot of time and don't forget about shooting the images/video too. 
Quality over quantity!
I do however share a minimum of once a day on social media accounts. 
Also make sure to update your blog regularly and don't neglect it. I read some blogs that I love but unfortunately their posts are really inconsistent and there could be weeks between new posts. 


Don't sweat the stats. 


In the beginning your focus should be on writing your content, creating nice images and enjoying the process of blogging. Don't get so caught up in the stats that you neglect to create your content. Stats are great for giving you insight on your audience and useful when engaging with brands but don't obsessively check them or be disheartened when they are not good. 
Keep creating quality content and the stats will after themselves. 


Tools. 


I recently wrote a post on all of the tools I use for running my blog ( you can read that post here) but in the beginning when I started I was using my iPhone 5 and an iPad to write my blog. Don't let not having decent equipment stop you from starting a blog. Cameras on phones are really good nowadays and their are tons of editing apps and useful tools out there that are free. 
I built my tools up over the years and I add to my kit as I go. 


Working with brands. 


A common question I get asked often is how to get collaborations with brands. I used to wait for them to approach me but last year I contacted brands myself and pitched ideas to them. When contacting brands and PR's you need to try and be unique and stand out as they can get tons of emails from people on a daily basis. What makes you unique and why should that brand work with you? Also don't worry if you get ignored. Just wait a few weeks and maybe try again.
You can google search for a specific companies PR, some have in house pr's and other have a pr company.
You can also send them a media kit with your stats, a media kit is like a blog cv.


Know your worth and nothing is for free. 


Its really exciting when you get a ping to your email and its a brand who wants to send you something or invite you to an event. I honestly believe that nothing is for "free" so I always ask what they want in return, Do they want and Instagram post, blog post or snapchat mention? If a brand is asking a lot then don't be afraid to send them on your media kit and give them a cost for what they want. 
You can take hours shooting images, editing, writing, filming all for a free lipstick? 
Brands and PR's need you not the other way around, they want your engaged audience so don't be selling yourself short.
I do work with brands on a gifting basis and in exchange they share my posts and links etc on their site. You can come to a mutual arrangement with a brand that works for both of you. 
Don't forget to disclose to your audience. If I am being paid or even gifted an item I always mention it. Its the law to mention if you have been paid to promote an item.
Always stay true to what your write about. I get a lot of offers that I refuse as they are not what I write about. Yes I would love some beauty items but I don't blog about it passionately so I politely turn them down.
Also beware of spammy emails and always check the email address to see if it is legit before giving information about your blog.


Most importantly! Enjoy it!


Yes! don't get caught up in it and stop to enjoy the adventure. From meeting like minded people to making friends. Blogging can open up many doors for opportunity so make sure you enjoy it and have fun. Don't be comparing your success to others and stop and simply enjoy it. 


I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful, I have a more personal post also on why I blog if you want to read that too. 

Best of luck in your blogging journey. 

Chat soon,
Catherine. 





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