Hey everyone! So today I've written a blog post that I never thought I would write, well not for a while anyway. The main reason being, that i'm still learning more about this crazy blogging thing everyday myself. The reason for this post is because recently I’ve been receiving a lot of emails asking me for general blogging tips and tricks so I’d love to share some of my ideas with you. Now before I continue, please bear in mind that I don’t consider myself to be an expert on the subject, but hope that I have been in the blogging game long enough to help you iron out many potential teething problems and mistakes that you may run into faster than I did. Whether you've just started a blog, had a blog for a year or you want to start a blog in the future, this post will hopefully help you towards achieving your goals in some way.
I started my blog just under a year and a half ago, it was initially called 'adayinthelifeofems' until I bought the domain 'emtalks'. I was never happy with the name 'adayinthelifeofems' but 'adayinthelifeofem' was already taken. I started my blog as a hobby to put onto my personal statement when applying at University and I've continued it from there. Adayinthelifeofems was simply me, talking about what I did on a day to day basis. Pretty boring huh? I then ventured into discussing more beauty related topics and that's when I decided that I needed to re-brand myself and get rid of the horrific blog name. This takes me onto blogging tip number 1:
- Make sure you're happy with your blog name. The beauty of the online world is that even if you detest it as much as I detested mine, you can always just pay about £8.00 for your own custom domain. I bought emtalks.co.uk from a website called GoDaddy.
- There are many websites that you can use to easily set up a blog. A question which I'm usually asked is, what website do I use to write a blog with? I blog using blogspot.com, better known as blogger. Blogger is really easy to use and it gives you all the templates etc that you need to start a blog, I just used the 'simple theme' and then edited my background etc using HTML/CSS codes (you can find most of the codes that you need from a simple Google search). Most of these codes are similar to the ones that you learnt back in the Myspace days (I know I did anyway) and you input them onto your blog and it makes fancy things happen, the beauty with most blogging websites nowadays is that you don't really need to worry about HTML, you can easily click a button to make something Bold, Italic or Underlined and you don't have to insert a code like you did with Myspace. As you can see below, blogger is pretty easy to use.
Wordpress is another great site to set up a blog with, I use this at Uni and personally don't like it as much as blogspot, but a lot of people swear by it. Do a little bit of research online and I'm sure you can find out which one works best for you. You can always play around with both of them until you decide which you like best. If you set up your blog using blogspot, your blog will end in .blogspot.com so for example, my blog adayinthelifeofems was www.adayinthelifeofems.blogspot.com and once I bought a domain, it now ends in .co.uk - I still use blogspot.com to edit my blog but adayinthelifeofems now redirects users to emtalks.co.uk. Tada. Sorry if that's all a bit technical for you. Basically, choose a nice name that you love and set it up quickly and easily with either blogspot or wordpress.
- Once you have a nice little blog set up, it's time to let people know that you exist. I highly recommend following other blogs via Google Friend Connect (if you're using blogger) that's the little thing usually on the right hand side that says 'join this site'. Generally only other bloggers or people with Google accounts can sign up via this so it isn't a real reflection of who reads your blog but it's still quite good to have. If you've already got a blog I'm sure you'll have heard numerous people exclaiming that GFC is getting shut down, it hasn't been shut down and still exists but if you are worried, you can use Bloglovin to follow people too.
I was quite late with getting Bloglovin but it's another great way to get an instant feed of what all your favourite bloggers are posting about (you can follow me on bloglovin here). Another great way of getting your blog known is to comment on other peoples blogs too, leave your link and have a chat with them but make sure you don't spam, it's quite frustrating when you spend a lot of time writing an article for people to simply write: 'great post, enter my giveaway'. If you genuinely like what you've read, prove that you were engaged with the content and leave a meaningful comment and a link to your blog, most of the time that person will want to check out your blog too.
- Meet other bloggers. There are lots of lovely people in the blogging community and they're well worth talking to, you might even make some friends for life like I have through it (I went to Paris with fabulous blogger and now good friend of mine, Scarlett London). It's always scary going to events by yourself but I've met so many incredible girls through events and everyone is in the same boat. When I first started my blog, my friends really didn't get it so it was great to be able to join in with bbloggers chats on Twitter (Sundays 8PM-9PM), a topic is usually set or on Wednesdays there are general chats (8PM-9PM) where you can just use the hashtag #bbloggers to discuss any topic you want. I found I met so many like minded people through getting stuck in with those chats. The most prominent Twitter hashtags for all things bloggy are probably, fbbloggers (fashion bloggers), bbloggers (beauty bloggers) and lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers).
- Use instagram, like Twitter, there are so many bloggers who use instagram, you can usually find them by using the same hashtags as above. I was really late with getting instagram and had it for months without even realising that people followed you (oops). Social media is a great way of finding new blogs and there are so many bloggers who instagram so make sure you use it! Plus it's an addictive way of showing what you're eating, what you've just bought or taking a cheeky little selfie.
- - Photography - In an age where people expect things ‘on demand,’ it’s not hard to recognise that our attention spans have shortened considerably and we have come to expect high quality, visually stimulating content at the click of a button. The amount of bloggers taking good images has increased and nothing is more off-putting than a blog with poorly composed images, they help tell your story. Think about it this way, how many magazines have you flicked through where a picture has grabbed your attention? Images are hooks which can increase the time spent on your site, people tend to make an initial judgement about a website within seconds and the images can make a huge difference.
- With a half decent camera, anyone can take a pretty good photo and photography is something that you learn along the way. When I first started my blog and in fact, for the first 6 months or so, all of my photos were taken on an iphone. I forever find myself going back to blogs which take beautiful photos, personally, I love reading nice visual blogs. You don't necessarily need an expensive camera to take good photos, you may just be naturally good at photography but using a DSLR with a good lens can make a huge difference.
- Use Pinterest. Pinterest again is something that I only recently got stuck into, you can find me here if you want to see the kind of things that I pin. I find that Pinterest is so inspirational when it comes to creative ideas and for finding other new blogs, much like Instagram, there are so many bloggers who use Pinterest, plus it's full of beauty and style tips.
- Play around with it. All of this software, whether it's iPhoto to edit photos, iMovie to edit videos, your new swanky camera or the use of blogspot.com, takes a bit of getting used to. Play around with it all to begin with, everyone has to start somewhere and it does take a while to get to grips with it, it's like riding a bike, it's difficult at first but you'll quickly get the hang of it.
- Write however you want to write. It's your blog. If I really wanted to I could write my blog like an English literature essay but I prefer to write it in a talkative and chatty style, you can write your blog however you want to. Write for you. Don't let anyone dictate what you write about, just write as if no one is reading, okay don't give away your deepest and darkest secrets, but when you start a blog you really are just writing for yourself as it may just be your family who know about it, so you really can just be yourself. Never let this change.
- Timing. A lot of people ask me how to juggle being a full time student/working at the same time as writing a full time blog. The only answer I can come up with as I'm not really that good at time management, is to schedule blog posts, if you know you've got exams coming up for example, spend the weekend scheduling lots of blog posts. Another great tip is to take your photos in bulk, when I'm at Uni I can't really take blog photos as I don't have a pretty white background anywhere, instead, when I go home, I take about 500 photos in bulk so that they're done for me then when I get back to Uni. Blogging isn't even just about writing posts, you've got to make sure you put time aside to reply to emails, blog comments and more.
- You can blog anywhere. In bed, at the breakfast table, in the library, on the train. Wherever you want to blog.
- Don't compare yourself to other people. It's easier said than done, we all do it but you are an individual person and everyone starts at a different time, everyone has a different life and therefore, everyone's blog is unique to that person. Don't beat yourself up over a number of followers or page views, after all, it really is just a number.
Having the guts to start a blog is an achievement in itself, it's another huge achievement to keep it up because blogging really can be time consuming and even if one person reads your blog, that's a huge achievement too. Think of all the websites in the world and someone is taking time out of the day to read yours, pat yourself on the back.
- Be yourself, This is my main tip, if nothing else, be yourself. If you're wanting an example of someone who really has made it by being unique and been herself, please watch UglyFaceOfBeauty - the lovely Gracie Francesca, not that she's at all ugly but she's such an inspiration when it comes to really letting your own personality shine through whilst blogging and she's proven that it really is the key to success. When I first started blogging, I didn't really even know that the blogging community or other bloggers existed, I was told to start a blog by a boy at college who used to write about sports, I didn't really think people read blogs, I just thought it was like an online diary where you wrote for yourself, because of this, my blog has always been quite unique as I started off with a complete blank canvas and no inspiration from anyone else. In 2012 I was fortunate enough to win the Cosmopolitan Blog Award for the 'best newcomer' for my blog and I really was just myself and that's when I was happiest. When I was shortlisted this year as the 'Best New Beauty Blog' I was obviously over the moon (thank you to anyone who voted for me, it does mean the world to me) but I became quite unhappy with my blog in the run up to the awards ceremony and almost felt pressured to write about beauty, not by Cosmopolitan, but simply because I was in the beauty category. I felt that I could only write about beauty and as my blog has got older, I don't just write about beauty anymore, yes beauty takes up 80% of my blog, but here and there I really enjoy lifestyle, whether that's a new restaurant or telling you about my travels or me ranting about life.
I hope this has helped some of you, do leave a comment below with your blog/pinterest/instagram links so that I can check you all out but also, if you have any of your own blogging tips please do leave them in a comment too or tweet me @emshelx or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org it would be lovely to hear if you agree with these tips or if you have any more to add. Like I've said, these are just the things that I've discovered along the way but you can and SHOULD blog exactly how you want to blog!
Lots of love, Em x