If you’re thinking of starting up a blog soon, and want some down-to-earth advice from someone who hasn’t experienced overnight success and the luck of going viral, then this is definitely the post for you! Despite this particular blog being less than a month old, I do have over three years experience in the blogging field. I’ll be totally honest with you: I started my first blog very young and I really had no idea what I was doing. I set it up thinking it’d be a fun way to make money in future once it grew a little in traffic, but the growth never really came. I managed to get my Instagram following to a significant number, but not my blog.
So what mistakes did I make? I’m going to review them here, along with what I did correctly and continue to do. Also, so as not to put you off, I’m going to talk the positive aspects of blogging . Trust me, they were sometimes the only thing that prevented me from hurling my laptop at the wall in frustration…
1. YOU NEED TO CHOOSE A GOOD, RELEVANT NAME!!!
I cannot stress this point enough. The internet is full of blogs, and when you come up with a name that’s unique and hasn’t been used yet, it’s so tempting to grab. Try to look ahead. It’s so easy in the moment to think that a random name will be catchy and brand you, but when you start to become a bit more serious with your blog it can become ridiculous sounding. If you want to read into a bit more detail about my own experience of having a dodgy blog name that needed changing, you can click here. So yes, that was a huge mistake of mine.
Extra Info: In order to set up a blog you will need a niche, a general topic you will focus on. I’ve decided to devote this blog to cruelty-free beauty (even though I am branching out a little with this post about blogging) as it’s what I’m passionate about and love to read about myself. It is important that you pick a popular niche if you want to receive a large number of views – supposedly the most popular is teaching others to make money online, but I’ll let you know how I feel about that once this post goes live – but please pick one you’re interested in. I’m not sure I’d enjoy spending my free time writing about something I didn’t care about. Once you have a chosen niche, you can think about names from there which should hopefully relate to your content. Don’t, for goodness’ sake, choose a name that relates to ANOTHER niche. Like, say, baking, when your blog is about makeup.
2. Blogging is Hard Work
Ever wondered why there are so many dormant blogs lying around the internet? It’s probably due to the fact that so many bloggers love to give the impression that their job is easy, and making money is a doddle. I can see this perspective (once you get the ball rolling, it REALLY rolls) but to get an audience to help you earn anything is time consuming, and when people find this out, they give up. Taking a few hours to write a new post for your blog isn’t enough. You need to promote it in any way possible, whether by social media, or advertising, or Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You really do have to juggle a lot, and it’s time consuming. I’m not sure if I thought starting a blog would be easy, but I certainly didn’t put the effort into it that I am now. This is something I really wish I had taken more seriously.
3. Pinterest is Necessary
I’m still relatively new to Pinterest (follow me here!), but only because I had no idea how important it was. To me, beauty blogging was for Instagram, and that was it. To be totally honest, I genuinely thought Pinterest was one of those sites no one used because they didn’t understand how it worked. I’m still learning the ropes, but a lot of experienced bloggers swear that it brings in the majority of their traffic, especially through the use of group boards. And I can totally see why – just posting a direct link? To your devoted followers? I’m kicking myself for not starting it sooner.
I actually managed to work out a pretty good Pinterest strategy that helped me gain over 35,000 monthly unique viewers in under a month, I’m currently on 65,000 and it’s been around a month and a half since I set up my account. I suggest you check it out here if you’re interested in creating a Pinterest!
4. As a Blogger, things Land in your Lap
Let’s move on to a positive point. When you are blogging, a lot of things seem to show up conveniently as you’re looking for them. My primary example of this is when I was struggling a bit to build my Instagram following, and after trying out Archie (no longer in use, I don’t think) for a free trial I was then offered a year’s free premium service for a review. When that ended, I started to see my numbers dwindle again and I was then offered the same thing but from the company Upleap. To pay for these services would have set me back at least £1200, and all I had to do was write up a post reviewing their service. I guess what I’m trying to say, is, if something is bothering you and your working on it doesn’t seem to help, hold tight. You never know what kind of coincidence is around the corner. Bloggers are offered countless deals, and one of them might just be what you’re looking for.
5. You should only accept deals your audience is interested in
This is something I managed to get right the first time around. You really do need to stick to your niche. People will offer you the most random things for exposure (I was once contacted to blog about a beer hat. I mean… ??) and you have to know when to say no. If you choose to work with people who aren’t related to your niche just to make a little bit of spare cash, it might damage you in the long run. You won’t really have established a proper audience if you’re not focused on one topic, and, similarly, the audience you have won’t want to read what you have to say if your post is about something they have no interest in.
To help you find deals and sponsorships with companies you can check out my favourite brand & blogger collaboration programmes.
6. Not all Followers will Convert
If you’re here from following an Instagram link, you’re a rarity. I have almost 15k followers and I probably see about a 0.1% conversion rate to my blog. Pinterest seems to be a good option (due to every post being a link to a solution someone needs), but on Instagram, where people are looking at photographs, no one is really in the mood to read about what you have to say. I did focus the majority of my time into Instagram – and I suppose it did pay off, as I’ve been working with a lot of brands specifically on that platform – when I probably should have been putting equal amounts into my blog. An audience on one platform does not necessarily convert to another one. In fact, they rarely do cross over at all.
Extra Info: Nonetheless, social media IS important. It makes you look a little more established to brands if you have an online following, or any kind of audience. Most bloggers say to stick to two platforms. I just chose to focus on the one, but as I said before, I wish I had set up Pinterest as well. I do also see that a lot of bloggers use Facebook for blogging groups and promoting posts, so that might be worth looking into. Unfortunately I fell out with Facebook a few years ago and refuse to go back to it…
7. No Matter the Path, you will Get There Eventually
This is probably the most important point. Do not let other people’s progress put you off. I’ve seen a lot of fellow bloggers on Instagram, who’s accounts I loved, become inactive after giving up on it. And I was fairly tempted to as well. The truth about the internet is that it’s a bit of a mystery as to what will take off and what won’t – some people set up a blog and within a few months they’re making a fortune, and some people’s sites are slow burners. Social media is exactly the same. It’s disheartening to see someone who joined your niche after you suddenly have an audience twice the size of yours. It’s important to remember that you don’t know why this is the case. Maybe they have much more time than you to promote, maybe something has went viral, maybe they can afford more than you and so have more to post about. Maybe, as bad as it sounds, their content is better than yours is at that point in time. And there is always the possibility that they’ve maybe purchased their followers. It’s not a reason to give up.
One of my favourite things to do is to look at some of my favourite successful bloggers (social media, income reports, whatever it is I’m feeling a bit insecure about) and see how long they’ve been doing it for. I always find that some of them with the hugest audiences have been doing it for the shortest time. Does that mean the other bloggers aren’t still successful? No. Does that mean the fastest growing blogs are the only ones making money and getting brand deals? No. Stick with it. It’s your own experience you need to focus on, and you can’t compare yourself to others. Everyone gets there eventually.
If you want to set up a blog, please, PLEASE go for it! It will be one of the most fun and rewarding things for you to do. I’ve covered everything you need to know about the realities of blogging in this post – meaning the rest of it is about as straightforward as people make it out to be. If you’re still confused, please don’t be afraid to email me; there’s a contact form on this blog. As well as that, I never ignore my Instagram DMs and I’m always more than happy to follow new bloggers and help them get their accounts set up properly. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m experienced enough to know a few things that do and don’t work to build an audience.
Thanks for reading,