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Friday, 2 March 2018

How To Be A Blogger: Blogging / Social Media Influencer Tips, Tricks

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So you want to be a blogger? The last time I wrote a ‘blogger tips’ post was years ago... I’m lucky enough to get tens of emails a week asking for blogging tips (thank you guys for trusting me and asking for my tips/guidance) and I usually direct everyone to my older blogging tips blog post, after all, it covers the basics of starting a blog and getting it out there (linked above if you missed it). However, I got a private message on Instagram this week (@emshelx) asking for more of an updated blog post for new bloggers/wannabe bloggers etc. So, I thought, it's only right to actually give you guys more updated advice. I thought I’d write up a blog post with some things I’ve learnt along the way, tips and tricks if you’re a blogger, or want to be a blogger, or if you're interested in how it works and a general chat about what it takes to be a blogger/blogging in general, plus talk about my equipment and more. So you want to be a blogger? Let’s go. Read my most updated top social media influencer tips and tricks blog post. 

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Name: Blogger, influencer, YouTuber - love it or hate it, there are so many names for 'bloggers' now. Some people just use Instagram now rather than traditional blogs but I personally LOVE using a range of platforms (as time-consuming as it is, they all bring something totally different). In my opinion, you don't have to label it. I personally call myself a 'blogger' but many say the word influencer. 

First things first: I am not perfect, nor am I where I want to be. I am not saying I have reached any of my goals yet, I am just fortunate enough to receive so many lovely emails asking for advice so thought it was only right that I took the time to write an updated blog post with my tips. This is not me saying: everything I say is correct, I know all the best ways to be a blogger. I don't. No-one does. This is purely a blog post full of a few tips which may help you. If you're new here and you want some background on me, you can read my press page here and see where I've featured and maybe start off by reading my highlights of 2017 post. It's frowned upon to be proud of ourselves but you know what, sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back. I am proud of where I am right now, I get to do what I love, every single day and I feel so grateful but I also know how much work has gone into that. However, do I want to remain where I am? No. I have strong motivation and goals for the future. 

Rules of blogging: There are no rules of blogging. Seriously. There’s no magic handbook, no magic guide, it’s just you and your passions. Whilst this may help you, you really are your niche and you are your power. Be you. Do you. Go with the flow. Try not to feel the pressure. Remember why you started this, hopefully, because you wanted to share your passions on a platform to an audience. No ulterior motives, you just love the topics you cover. 

Third rule: There is room for us all and don’t let anyone tell you any different. There’s no better time to start than the present and there’s room on this huge internet space for us all. 

Final rule: If your main question is ‘how do I make money from blogging/social media?’ then you’re doing it wrong. Sorry to be harsh. One of the emails that I don’t like receiving are ones that ask me simply: I want to start social media to make money. I say this from my heart. When I started my blog, I didn’t know what a PR company was, I had NO idea that brands talked to bloggers and I didn’t even know there a blogging community existed. I certainly didn’t know you could make a career from this. I didn’t have a business plan. I just started writing about the stuff I loved (with crap photos). So please, only do this if you’re passionate about it. Don't start a blog just 'to make money' it really isn't that easy. If you're passionate, maybe it will accidentally turn into a career. 

Let’s get going. Some things I’ve learnt along the way with blogging and my blogging tips and tricks for anyone who may want to hear them:

SET UP - Most bloggers use Blogspot or Wordpress. I personally use Blogspot although apparently Wordpress is better. I just find blogger SO easy. Again, personal preference. There's no right or wrong here. I had my blog way before any other social platforms too. I always wish I started Instagram sooner but I always thought it was just a photo editing app, oops.

SOCIAL CHANNELS - When it comes to social channels, I personally use them all. This isn't to say you have to do this too, just to reiterate, this is just what I do, there's no right or wrong. I originally made a ‘blog twitter’ account but then ended up just doing everything on all channels under one username as emshelx (looking back now, why did I not just choose @emsheldon haha). I am active on Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I see them all as completely different platforms with the need for different content. Let’s break that down. Of course, a social network can be whatever you want it to be, but here’s my kind of thoughts on them. 

Snapchat: @emshelx - To me it is unedited, raw, real, on the go snaps. Today I’m eating this. Oh wow, look at the snow! Oh here’s a cute dog filter. RANT RANT RANT ABOUT SOMETHING I CAN’T PUT ON INSTAGRAM! I'm sad to see that less people use Snapchat nowadays, engagement has dropped by half ever since Insta stories. I guess it's difficult to tweet, snap, vlog and insta story out every single meal/movement/mood so one thing had to give. I try to be loyal to Snap but I definitely don't use it as much as other channels.

Instagram: @emshelx - Then there’s Instagram, a struggle due to the algorithm (more on that later down) but I feel like Instagram is more of a highlights reel. People curate their images, use their creativity and put beautiful content on there, they tend to show to best of life. I sometimes find the pressure is real because I feel like my Insta stories are way too ugly for Instagram now people have started making amazing collages and stuff. YES they look amazing but I’m not a neat person and feel I fall behind because mine isn’t artistic enough. I guess that's why I often like Snapchat, you can just snap what you like with no pressure. I do love Instastories though, I just need to make mine look a bit prettier. Ultimately, that's just how I feel, you can do what you want on Instagram. I see women posting before and after pics, photos to show the realness behind the gram and I even wrote an essay once all about an Australian Instagrammer who changed her captions to the reality behind her photos 'this took me 46 takes and I squeezed in on all of them'. Use these channels in whichever way you feel suits you. Show your highlights reel, your best work, curate beautiful imagery or, just post an un-edited photo of your breakfast. As long as you're comfortable with what you're doing. 

YouTube: @emshelxObviously there are so many different types of video on YouTube, I personally upload Em Weekly every Friday which are my vlogs. Vlogs are by far my favourite videos to film as I feel like I can be myself a little more, I also feel like with the edit I can be a little more raw and normal. I can show my spots. I can cry on camera and I can giggle too. It’s a bit more real. I feel less pressure with vlogs and I actually prefer watching peoples vlogs, they make me feel so calm. I also upload sit down videos, where I shoot on my professional camera and will do fashion hauls for example or travel videos with my drone. These take a lot more time but so many people love these kinda videos and I like having the mix between raw, real videos and beautifully shot travel and fashion videos. As much as I love watching vlogs, I also love watching story makers such as Peter Mckinnon and Casey Neistat. I have studied media my whole life so really appreciate how well they can make the mundane into a story, this doesn't mean I want to make my content like theirs (I wish) I'm just happy uploading what I feel confident doing. These guys are filmmakers and have taken YouTube vlogs to the next level. 

Twitter: @emshelx - Twitter is my favourite social platform, it's so easy plus I can engage with anyone at anytime. I do feel as if people can stalk you and judge your every sentence on there so sadly feel as if I don’t tweet what I want to tweet as much as I used to do, but it’s a great place to meet people, chat, share your links, photos and although you get the odd uptight person, you also get some wonderful people. I’ve met great friends via Twitter. It's also probably the best way to engage with other bloggers.

Facebook: Emtalks blogI use Facebook to scroll although find it's only really pages funny videos I see on my feed. I do have a page for my blog and I try to update it as much as I can but it doesn't get pushed out to many people.

Pinterest: emshelx Pinterest can be an amazing tool when you know how. I love it for finding inspiration, making mood boards and for sharing my own content. I need to savvy up on it though as apparently it's amazing for driving traffic to your site.

Vero: Last but not least. Vero. Vero is a new social platform raising a few eyebrows. I signed up for it under the name Em Sheldon incase everyone migrates, but I feel like it’s Instagram and Facebook rolled into one timeline. Share music, videos and photos. You can basically choose 'acquaintances, friends, close friends' and choose who you share what with, as well as followers too. It’s pretty glitchy right now so I’ll report back soon. 

EQUIPMENT - I started my blog on an iPhone. I used to write it up on my phone on the blogger app (the iPhone 5 I think it was) and take my photos on my phone. I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that it doesn’t cost money to start. I wrote a blog post about bloggers becoming unrealistic… yes, let’s be honest, bloggers are creating editorial, swoon-worthy, lust-worthy and amazing content, but you know what? So what. It’s your blog, whether you have a love for photography and want to put the highest quality images or, you want to focus on your words. You do you. I personally love seeing incredible photography but you may be interested in something different from a blog. Just know that you don’t *need* money to start a blog. I take the majority of my photos on my iPhone for my Instagram and then use the Canon 5d mkii for blog photos, sit down videos and the G7X for my vlogs. I did vlog on iPhone for months and months though! If you have a phone like the Google Pixel or the iPhone X, the cameras are SO good now so don’t fret too much. I recently went to the BAFTA's and vlogged it on my Google Pixel as cameras weren't allowed, I saw absolutely no difference and was so impressed. If you are interested in the equipment I have invested in later down the line for my blog and social channels you can see below. How I edit my Instagram photos

My blogging/video equipment:

Big Tripod (Manfrotto are the best of the best):

Travel Tripod: 
Soft Box Lights:

Editing tools I use:
Final Cut Pro for videos
Adobe Lightroom for Instagram & Blog Photos
Snapseed app for Instagram
Afterlight app for Instagram 
VSCO app for Instagram

Updated for 2019: My Lightroom Presets & Filters are now available for purchase at - find out how I edit my Instagram photos here

COMMUNITY - Community is SO important. I’d highly recommend getting involved, whether this is genuinely commenting on peoples photos on Instagram, getting involved in chats on Twitter or, commenting on peoples videos or blog posts. When I say genuinely commenting, don't put 'nice skirt' if the caption is about someone dying for example, take a few minutes to read the caption and genuinely engage with their content. I try not to aimlessly scroll anymore and try to ensure I’m liking the photos of those I follow and actively clicking on their blog posts. It takes so long to make that content and you could make someone's day, and make a friend too, by letting them know you like their content. Instagram and Twitter are both great ways to engage with fellow bloggers. Ask questions too, people are more than happy to help. The hashtags #fbloggers (fashion bloggers), #fblchat (fashion, beauty, life chat), #bbloggers (beauty bloggers), #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers) and blogginggals are great on Twitter, you can find other people using these hashtags and find a new favourite or just ask people stuff. They also do regular weekly chats for you to get involved in too just have a stalk on twitter to find out times (you can find me on Twitter here @emshelx). It opens a whole world of new blogs to discover and new friends to make in the community. There’s also a great chat (one I often take part in) called #blogospherechat hosted by Blogosphere magazine where the topic changes every week and you can ask burning questions and discuss interesting topics. There is room for us all and I truly believe that we should help each other. Blowing out someone else's candle won't make yours shine brighter. 

blogger flatlay

TEACH YOURSELF - With blogging, you really do have to teach yourself so many things. I wrote a blog post all about full-time blogging and spoke about the different roles you have to juggle as a blogger. There’s accountancy, photography, videography, writer, being an editor, a spell checker, negotiations, being your own boss, manager, agent, model, motivating yourself and so much more. You name it. I’m not a model and I certainly still don’t feel confident posing in front of a camera, I’m not a photographer either and I’m certainly not good at maths but these are all skills you have to teach yourself. It’s amazing though, the skills you learn are so valuable in life, whether you're doing this as a sideline or as your career. My best friend recently started a new job in PR and I told her to start a blog first so she can really understand what goes into blogging, it helped her so much and gave her transferable skills. I used to be quite shy with barely any confidence and in some situations, still am, but walking into room full of new people, hosting talks or meeting new people on a daily basis are all things I do now and I have blogging to thank for helping boost my confidence. You really can teach yourself the ropes. Watch online videos and how-tos, read guides, SWOT up. Again, Blogsophere Magazine is good for this, they’re basically a magazine featuring bloggers, for bloggers and I sing their praises so much because ultimately they support our industry. There's a blog I read quite often called OneRoofSocial too - possibly the best for advice when it comes to being an influencer, working with brands etc, they give you very honest articles written more eloquently than anything I have written. I forever find myself reading their articles and swotting up. Pinterest is also good for getting info about blogging, photography etc. I have taught myself so much from Pinterest. 

TAKE TIME - It doesn’t happen over night. Whilst it’s amazing to have dreams, turning around and saying ‘ I want to be a full-time blogger’ is quite a difficult thing to decide. When I was younger, it wasn’t even a thing, I accidentally fell into it. I created content for the love of creating content (at my own expense) for over 4 years, I didn’t even know you could earn money from it, that’s just a total bonus. So, bottom line, yes, you can aspire to be a ‘full-time blogger’ but I believe in doing it for the passion and the love first. There are often fake reports online saying how much people earn from it and showing off ‘blogger freebies’ but those things aren’t free, they come from years of hard work. Start a blog because you love it and if money comes from it then wow, that's a bonus. 

INSPIRATION - It’s okay to take inspiration from people but sometimes inspiration can go too far. Recently I’ve seen people stealing peoples work, word for word. We all follow similar blogger cliches (hello marble tables and bright houses) and similar video uploads but in a crowded marketplace, try and be your own niche. Don't outright copy someones exact YouTube title, don't copy and paste their words into new blog posts... you are a bright light in your own right. Don't feel the need to be someone else. Take inspo but don’t blatantly copy. Stand out by yourself. You are your power. You are unique and there’s no other you.

FREQUENCY - Frequency of posts on social media channels is something I'm often asked to discuss. I used to post 4x a day to Instagram (@emshelx) but with ever changing algorithms (see below) who knows what social media channels want from us now. There were rumours that Instagram wanted more ‘quality content’ and therefore didn’t want 4 posts a day anymore, but goodness knows. I just go with the flow now and try not to over think it. I’ll post at least once a day every day on my Instagram and have done for years. I’ll post all day on Twitter (oops) and on YouTube I upload twice a week and my blog at least 3x a week. I’ve been uploading to my blog at least 3x a week for the last few years. When I’ve been ill I’ve maybe taken a day or two off but we are all allowed off days. Sometimes it’s better to post nothing at all and wait until you’ve got your mojo back than posting for the sake of it. Go with what feels right. Like I said, there are no magic answers or rules. You do you. You do not need to post every day. You can read my blog post about Instagram removing likes and updates to the Instagram algorithm. 

ALGORITHMS - You may wonder what on earth an algorithm is, there’s so much talk of it in the community. According to Google the definition is: a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. So basically, each social platform sets its own algorithms. Technically, you never *really* own your social media business, as scary as that sounds, usually, it’ll be Google or Facebook who own it (Google own Blogger and Facebook own Instagram) and technically they choose how far they push your content out. Instagram is an interesting one, ultimately and, of course, they want to make money. This is fine by me, they deserve to make money, I just wish they’d charge all business accounts a one-off fee or even a monthly fee so they could push our posts out to our full audience. It feels as if they’re favouring certain accounts to promote and push out at the moment and it can be soul destroying when you've created content and you can see that your reach has been capped. I notice a direct correlation between a photo of mine that's had incredibly low impressions and that same post popping up in my timeline and saying 'you should pay to promote this post'. I get it, they want you to pay for more reach on that post and they want you to pay to promote it and push it out so have almost capped it until it goes out further. I'm not here to lay into Instagram. I love their platform. I just wish it was more of a level playing field. I see the same accounts coming up on suggested and the same accounts growing rapidly. I try not to get down about it but when you receive messages every day saying your photos aren't going into peoples feeds, it's pretty frustrating. I sit here and hope that this gets sorted out because Insta, I am your biggest fan. That’s just my opinion but I love the platform and truly hope these silly algorithms soon stop so we cn stop worrying about platforms. There's more to life but I thought it was worth mentioning. This is why engagement is key, like your friend's photos, comment on them and hopefully, we can all support each other. Come say hello on Instagram @emshelx - I'd love to find your account too! 

BLOGGING IS EASY - Again, something I touched on when I wrote my blogging full time post. Of course, blogging is not the same as being a doctor, or a nurse, a dentist or a banker, but, every single job is difficult and different in its own right. We shouldn't compare. I am grateful that this is my job and understand there are so many perks to it but, it does take a lot of grinding. I often share these perks, for example, dropping bags off on a weekly basis to my local charity shops, using my platforms to help me with fundraising/raising awareness for issues close to my heart, sending gifts to people who really appreciate them... In my ‘is blogging a real job post, I touched on the idea of blogging being easy, after reading someone say ‘bloggers need to get real 9-5pm jobs’ - for many of us, we have degrees, have worked many 9-5 jobs but I fell into something that requires endless hours of my attention, it doesn't finish at 5pm. So many people who do this don't have degrees and were able to use their creativity to build their own empires. It's inspiring. I’m not knocking people who do 9-5pm jobs, every single job has challenges and is difficult in its own right (take my family, for example, they all work incredibly hard but that's not to say that any of us work any harder than anyone else, in my opinion, we all work hard in our own careers), but what I am saying, is that blogging shouldn’t be disregarded as seen as easy. If I had £1 for the number of times someone asked me if my job is 'to take selfies all day'. There are bloggers currently taking over supermarkets with their faces on adverts, bloggers launching fashion ranges, selling out books, selling out clothes the minute they put up a clothing haul and I’m telling you, this isn’t just the super bloggers, this is micro-bloggers too. Where you have one follower or 1 million, you are still influential to someone. 

HOW DO I GET MY BLOG OUT THERE? - The main question, how do I get my blog out there? Again, there's no magic answer. In my opinion, if you write about something you love, eventually the audience will find you. If you grow your social channels and push your content out on there, people will find your content. If you couple this with all of these tips and tricks; regularly sharing your links, getting involved with the community, other bloggers and of course, researching SEO (search engine optimisation so your blog ranks on Google and then gets organic hits) - I have now written a WHOLE blog post about making your blog SEO friendly but it's more than worth researching then eventually people will find you! It isn't a quick process but I hope this helps. 

TOP TIPS - To conclude? Top tips if you want to start a blog? You are your niche. Be passionate. Be yourself. You don’t have to choose one topic, I write about them all but for example, if cars are your strength, go for it, you may find a gap in the market. If you feel like no-one is reading, so what, keep writing, write for yourself and eventually your own audience will follow. I’m a big believer in pushing yourself. No dream is too big. You CAN do whatever you want to do. Whether you do blogging as a side line or a full time career, both should be highly commended. It isn't easy! Juggling a degree, a social life, a part time job and blogging was incredibly tough and so many people continue to do this every single day, it shows such commitment. Even if you don’t want to be ‘a blogger’ but want to write, it will be valuable for your CV and for other career paths, it shows off so many skills. You are a writer, editor, photographer and more, don't forget it! As long as you are passionate, your audience will find you. Let's stop stressing about algorithms and comparing ourselves and focus on writing/photographing/filming/discussing the things we love or things we are passionate about.

Phew, so there we have it. Whether you already have a blog and wanted to read this, you're totally new to this or, you just wanted to understand the blogging world more. I hope this may help you. Leave any comments with any tips you have below, I'd love to hear them. 

You might also like:

How to make your blog SEO friendly
Tips To Start A Blog

Is Social Media Dangerous? 
Blogging As A Full Time Job 

Lots of love, Em x

 Don't forget to follow me on bloglovin! to stay up to date with my posts!
 I would also love it if you could subscribe to me on YouTube here!

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