So this week I’ve been out with a friend, who asked to meet me as she is wanting to start her own blog (Yay!) She was kind enough to say she enjoys reading mine and to ask me for some hints and tips. Well, she certainly got that-I chewed her ear off for almost three hours! Sorry, Jamie! I decided that as I have so many things to say, I may as well post about them and hope that someone else can get the benefit too.
*Disclaimer-I am in no way a blogging expert, nor am I pretending to be. But I have learnt things and tried things that did or didn’t work for me, and if I were starting a brand new job tomorrow, these tips are things I personally would follow. You don’t have to, you can if you want to, and of course you are more than welcome to ask me any questions-tweet me @Insdelaurashead if you’d like.
1) Make sure the name you choose fits on, and is free on, all your social media accounts.
Now, I adore my blog name. I wanted it to reflect what my blog is about, which can be anything I fancy writing about-so Inside Laura’s Head is perfect. And when I created my social media accounts, I was thrilled to see no one else was called Inside Laura’s Head. But, on Twitter, we had a problem! You can only have 15 characters in your Twitter name. Count them in Inside Lauras Head (because I can’t have the ‘ in Laura’s on there anyway) Oh look, 16. D’oh! So I am @Insdelaurashead on Twitter, which looks like I can’t spell my own blog name. FAIL
2) Buy your own domain straight away.
(This links nicely in with 1)
You don’t HAVE to do this, but if you are looking to work with brands in the future, you’ll need your own domain (basically a website address. See how mine is insidelaurashead.com? I own that domain. Before I bought it I was insidelaurashead.wordpress.com, and I didn’t own that, WordPress did)
Before you look at buying your domain, make sure the one you want is actually available, and if you want the rest of your social media to be called the same, open those accounts first so that you have them. Otherwise someone else might jump on in there and you’ll miss out.
So why do you EVER need your own domain? Well, websites are ranked (called Domain Authority, more commonly referred to as DA) and this is basically your website’s trust rating. Different things affect that, one of them is the age of your site-so if you’ve held your domain for a day, it will be lower than if it’s been a year, for example. Lots of other things affect your DA and I’ll be covering this in a later post, which I’ll link here for you when done
3) Write some content before you launch your blog.
Blogging is hard work and can be time consuming. This post, for example, has taken me a good few hours-first to think about it and make some notes, then to do a bit of research, and then type it up. I then left it for a day or two and went back to re-read and make some changes. One final spelling and grammar check and I’m ready to put it up. I’ll then be promoting it, which also takes time.
I aim to post daily, but that doesn’t often happen. And the reason for that is an obvious one-I don’t have the time. I wish that before I’d started I’d written a number of posts to have ready to go, for those days when I have no time to write. I’d suggest at least 5, but to be honest as many as you possibly can. Things like an about me post, your current makeup favourites, why you decided to start blogging, a story from your past that could help people, there are lots of things you can write about BEFORE you’ve even called yourself a blogger, that are so relevant to people and people would want to read. You’ll thank me for this one, really
4) Choose a small number of categories and stick to them
This allows readers to quickly find posts they are interested in. Now, when I started, I would categorise a post about MAC Lipsticks as Review, Lipsticks, MAC, and possibly some other things. My categories looked a huge mess (I’m a bit anal when it comes to the look of my blog anyway!) and if you were trying to find all my Beauty posts you’d struggle. I eventually realised that it was better to have just a few categories-I think I’ve got less than 10-and make them cover a broader area, like Beauty, Fashion, Travel etc. Sadly though I realised this at 100 posts in, and I had to go back through and change them all. That took ages, don’t make the same mistake I did!
5) Take some stock photos before you launch your blog
You may notice that not all of my posts have photos-this one certainly doesn’t. I, personally, think that doesn’t look very nice. If you have a look at Jemma’s blog Dorkface you’ll see that when she has a post she doesn’t have relevant photos for, she’ll use a stock photo-basically some items she’s put together that look good together-in the post instead. It can be something as simple as a lipstick and a couple of makeup brushes, or some fairy lights, or a plant, anything. I am going to be taking lots of these for posts I have no photographs for, but again this will be a big job to go back and add them.
6) You don’t need a blogging camera, a smartphone will do (but if you have a camera you might want to learn to use it)
My photos on this blog have gone from quite frankly rubbish to quite professional looking. I’ve even managed OOTD (outfit of the day) photos that I quite like using a selfie stick. These were all taken on my iphone and they haven’t been edited either. Next on my list is to get a proper DSLR camera sorted and learn how to edit photos, but I think any blogger producing photos like mine now is not doing badly at all.
7) Always carry a notebook
Oooh, it’s 3:45, I’m at work, I’ve had a brilliant idea for a blog post! It’ll be really good, lots of people will want to read it, I’m so excited! Oh but the phone is ringing, and once I’ve dealt with that I’ve got this pile of work to do, and then my colleague is talking to me..
Right, it’s 5:20, I’m at home, lets start on that post. Balls, I’ve forgotten my genius idea! GET IT WRITTEN DOWN, ALWAYS CARRY A NOTEBOOK.
8) Buffer is your friend
Generally bloggers blog because they want people to read what they’ve written. It’s not all about the numbers, it’s not all about how many followers you have BUT if no one is ever reading your stuff, thats hard. When I first started, I wondered why no one was reading. I now know that it was mostly because I wasn’t ever promoting my posts, other than tweeting the link out once when I’d posted it.
Buffer is a clever little app that lets you schedule tweets to go out at a later date. I would recommend that from your very first post you get into the habit of scheduling tweets promoting it (make sure they contain the link, and the photo if you have one, and that the text isn’t always exactly the same-tweet one could be ‘Have you seen today’s post about Bees? the second could be ‘I love products containing honey’ and the third ‘Want to know which products I love?’) it’s best practice to promote the post via twitter now and in the future-I suggest three times the day it’s written and the day after, once a week for the next four weeks and then once at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 month mark. Your post will still be as relevant in 12 months and people will still read it. Going forward, this is how I’ll be doing things. You can schedule all these tweets on Buffer the day the post goes live and I’d recommend doing that, 5 or 10 minutes a day means you don’t have to catch up to this later.
9) Jump straight in and chat to other bloggers, and never be afraid to ask for help and advice
Us bloggers are a friendly bunch, and we always like to help and support each other. Jump in there and follow bloggers on twitter, talk to them, read their posts and comment on them, just interact. This serves two purposes- it helps you to make some friends and start to love blogging, and it drives traffic to your blog. The girl you’ve been talking to on twitter for ages about that lipstick she’s just bought, who has just followed you back, will probably have a nosy at the post you put up tomorrow about your makeup collection. The girl whose post about a holiday destination you’ve travelled to you commented on saying you loved it there, will be quite likely to come and have a look at your blog. And it’s just fun
10) Get Bloglovin
Bloglovin is a platform that allows you to follow any blog, no matter what platform they blog on. Because some bloggers use wordpress and some use blogger and some are self hosted, it’s not easy to follow everyone (you can easily follow others on the same platform but otherwise you need to remember blog addresses and go back to them regularly-who has a memory that good? Not me!) Bloglovin means that I can follow any blogger I want to, and it shows all of their posts in real time on my feed, much like Facebook does. You can ‘Like’ or ‘Save’ a post, too. I do this if I want to comment on the post later, for example. It’s easy to put your blog on Bloglovin, the site talks you through it, and you get a link you can use to direct others to your page so they can follow you. They can also search for you via your blog name.
I hope some of these tips have been useful to you-please do comment, e-mail me or tweet me if I can help with anything. And let me know your new blog address, so I can pop by and show you some love!