So it’s around 6 months since I created this blog and actually started using it. It’s been difficult getting myself off the ground and getting some proper traffic to grow my blog and actually engaging with other bloggers but it’s not been unpleasant.
I’ve decided to create this post as a new blogger, for new bloggers. These are the tools that have helped me organize posts, decide what to post, helped me gain followers and so much more.
Blogging is not easy. It’s not a case of sitting down and writing a post and hey presto that’s it. It does take time and effort and does start to feel like a job. This was a mistake I made when I first started blogging- I thought it was easy and growing would come with a click of my fingers but it was not so easy. It’s taken grafting and hard work to get to where I am and I am no way a “big blogger”.
If you are serious about having a blog, working with companies and getting a following of people who enjoy reading and do come back to support you, you need to have engagement. Blogger Mail or PR doesn’t come pouring through your letter box just because you review items often. You need to be engaging with followers instead of just posting the content.
I am by no means a blogging expert. But these are the things that have helped me and they may help you or they may not. Every blog is different and has different goals or ways of doing things. There’s no set rules to running a blog because it’s your piece of the Internet so you work it how you want to!
Thank you, Ru Paul.
You probably already have social media because in this day and age, who doesn’t??? But social media is a great tool for getting people outside of WordPress reading your blog. This counts for Blogger and other blogging platforms too. Not everyone is a blogger like yourself but they do have the ability to view and share your post to their social media.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the three that I use to get my blog some attention. Set yourself up with a Facebook page for your blog where you can repost your links and photos or just share between sites. Both Instagram and WordPress have functions for you to share a post without having to write out whole new posts or share photos between devices if you work between your phone and computer.
TIP: To protect your identity and keep personal information private, use a Facebook Page and try not to use your personal account for posting. If you don’t want to reveal exact location or sensitive information, post as your page rather than your profile.
Twitter is a key player in engagement. This doesn’t just apply to blogging. You can connect with other bloggers and find bloggers a lot easier and when people post about their daily life, it’s easier to connect with them and almost feel like you know them. But you can also connect with brands really easily. I’ll touch on this later but if you make a post featuring a brand, tweet a link to them! If they like it, their followers can see that but they also may end up working with you in the future, that’s how I ended up working with a favourite skincare brand of mine.
Having your Twitter feed can also help people get to know you and interact with you. Twitter polls can be helpful for asking what would be a well viewed post so you can see what your followers want to see. It can be good for planning posts as well as sharing posts. 140 characters is a great length for a link, short summary and a few tags. You’re not throwing a tonne of information at people which can be a huge turn off for your audience. When I’m reading, I want a no fluff, straight to the point description so my yes or no decision to read is easy.
Instagram is great for posting photos and sharing what you post on your blog. A lot of photos I post are featured in or are related to blog posts. Unfortunately you can’t have links on posts so you have to rely on people using the link in your bio or typing in your URL from within the body of your text. But with the link in the bio, you can only plug one site and if, like me, you use it for your latest YouTube video, your blog may get a bit neglected as far as Instagram is concerned. However, you can put your URL in the body of your bio and it will be one of the first things people read when they view your profile.
As you can see in my bio, I have my name, my age, the fact I’m a blogger, my job title (Optional but if you’re wondering, MLA is a Medical Laboratory Assistant!), my blog URL, Twitter handle, Snapchat name and the fact I’m PR Friendly. My bio link is always to my latest YouTube video.
If you do have a Facebook page, link it to your Instagram and make your Instagram a business page. This allows you to see insights and activity and also lets you see when your audience is most engaged. You can also add a button for people to be able to email you and this opens doors for easier brand engagement.
A lot of bloggers use Pinterest but I personally can’t get a grip on it. I download it, use it for a couple of days and then delete it again. It can be good for inspiration for blog posts though, which I will touch on later.
Recently, I’ve started using an app called Buffer that schedules Tweets and Facebook posts for me to keep my feeds alive even when I may be having a lie in, working or at college. Or simply not using my phone. All it takes is a few minutes at the beginning of the day to schedule your posts and it means that if you have a busy day ahead, you can turn your phone off and not worry about tweeting or posting through the day. I have started to post my Instagram link, Blog link and a link to my most recent post at intervals through the day. I also send out a tweet with the hashtags #bloggerswanted and #PRrequest to alert companies looking for bloggers that I may be interested.
WordPress also has the feature to schedule posts and this can be good for a number of things. If you have a busy week ahead or maybe you’re going to be away on holiday or without Wi-Fi, you can schedule a few posts that you’ve already written to go up on different days so you don’t have to find time or Internet to post them. I mainly use this feature because if I get to the weekend with loads of ideas for posts, I don’t want to post them all at once so I space them out.
TIP: When writing Tweets to schedule, if you plan to have a standard format for your Instagram, Blog, YouTube or Facebook links, write out the Tweet in your notes app and simply copy and paste it into your scheduling app to save even more time.
Branding and Self Hosting
If you’re a serious blogger who is looking for opportunities but is still doing it for fun, your branding is important. By a serious blogger, I mean someone who is posting regularly and looking to work with people. There is probably a better way to explain this but for now, that will do.
Branding is basically keeping everything together and having one thing that identifies you. So for me, that’s “melaniewithanie”. That’s, if you want, my brand name. It makes it easy to find you and things associated with you. Your name is important and can say a lot about you. My original name was ‘SarcasticGoose’ and this was great to start with but surprisingly, when I changed it I got a lot more companies reaching out and wanting to work with me. I would say try to stick with something relevant to your name, if not your name. Even if it’s a pseudonym, something boring is usually better. If in doubt, think to yourself
“If I was a company or brand, would I want to work with someone with that name and promote their name?”
Another important part of branding is your brand style. If you can have a logo or image that is featured in headers, profile pictures or on photos, try to do that. It’s something to be identified by. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either! It could just be the name of your blog or your name written in a nice font. If you have the option to customise colours on a platform, try to keep the colours you use across sites and apps the same. Brands and companies use it all the time and it forms their identity and if you think to your favourite brands, their logo is probably how you recognise them. Along with things like their colours too. Some brands that you can instantly recognise just from the colour include the NHS, Facebook, Snapchat… colours can be surprisingly effective at identifying you.
Self hosting is optional but does sometimes say a lot about you as a blogger. This is unfortunate because not everyone can afford to be self hosted but if you can save up £30 for the basic WordPress plan every year, I say go for it. Companies see that and see that you’re committed to your blog because a custom domain is essentially a commitment. It’s also a lot shorter to say .com rather than .wordpress.com and therefore your blog URL does become more memorable. With the plans that enable self hosting, you do get access to other features that can enhance your blog.
TIP: Invest in or make your own Press Kit. If you’re looking to work with brands or companies, a Press Kit is an easy way to show your month views, follower counts and other information such as contact details. Some bloggers sell them for £5 or less but if you have basic knowledge of Photoshop or other tools, you can do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy or an essay, just basic information.
Email Addresses and Contact Information
When I first started my blog, I set up a new email address for my blog and only for my blog. I used my blog name for a Gmail account so I could make a YouTube channel later. Having a separate email address is good because all your blog and social media stuff is going to go to one place rather than get tangled up with your personal or work stuff.
Having a separate email was a given for me because nowadays, people can easily go online and use tools to find out what an email account is linked to and call me a security freak, but I’m happier with someone having my blog email rather than the email I use for my banking, work and more!
I would suggest having a separate page on your blog for contact information and your social links. If someone stumbles upon your blog and wants to find you elsewhere, a contact button or social links tab is a good place for them to go. With my blog, my social links are all labelled on my top menu but also in my About Me page.
Photography is going to become a big part of your posts and also if you use Instagram. Try to invest in a decent digital camera if you can but if not, smartphone cameras are usually pretty good these days. Photos help readers to really connect with what they’re reading and as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. You can describe something perfectly but without a photo, your description will be lacking a visual connection.
I use my iPhone and Canon 1200D DSLR for photos but mainly my iPhone because the photo size is smaller and therefore doesn’t take up space on my WordPress account. Photos on my blog from my DSLR have to be compressed so therefore, the quality decreases.
TIP: If you’re posting a lot of photos that are relevant to each other, consider a collage making app to combine all the photos together and consequently save space when uploading to WordPress or other sites.
To enhance my images, I do use Photoshop, VSCO and other apps. There is no shame in editing photos at all. I sometimes edit out blemishes and whiten teeth slightly but only so that it still looks natural. I also edit the contrast or brightness of a photo if it doesn’t look great. The lighting in my bedroom is appalling and I can’t wait for a sunny day just to take photos so 9 times out of 10, I will take a photo and edit the lighting levels later on.
Apps like VSCO allow you to add filters to your photos and while you can do this on Instagram, some of the filters aren’t as good or customisable. Other apps like Photoshop Express or Photoshop Fix are good, solid apps for adding filters, changing lighting etc without the need for a computer. I personally use Photoshop Elements on my iMac but this means I’m sending photos back and forth between devices.
Photography Apps Every Blogger Needs: https://lovelaurenellen.com/2017/06/08/apps-every-blogger-needs-to-know-about/
How To Take Better Blog Photos: https://busybeeblogweb.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/how-to-take-better-blog-photos-%F0%9F%93%B7/
Getting inspiration to write blog posts can be difficult, trust me. sometimes you’ll have loads of ideas and then you’ll be stuck for a while.
There’s a few ways to keep inspiration high and these are some of the ways that I do it.
I invested in a small, pocket sized notebook and a basic one from the supermarket can cost 50p or less. Carry it around wherever you go (along with a pen) and jot down ideas you have for posts, or items you see that you may consider buying and reviewing. Or maybe you buy an item and want to review it later on. Jot down every idea you have so you have a list that you can refer to when ideas run dry.
Another way I do it is by setting up Twitter polls asking what my followers want to see more of and then branch out to make polls of ideas I have so that followers can vote yes or no. This works for me because I can see what my followers will be likely to read and enjoy. I’m writing this blog for people to read so other’s opinions are valuable to me!
A quick Google search of “[Your Niche] blog post ideas” is a good way to find lists of ideas or blog posts that other people have written giving ideas for posts. You can also use other people’s ideas as a starting point for inspiration as long as you give credit where credit is due! My anti-haul posts are inspired by other people’s anti-hauls and that’s an example of a time where I was stuck for what to post.
We all use hashtags but when used properly, they can be incredibly useful for building your audience.
You can use as many or as little hashtags as you want. There’s no set limit on how many will make you successful or unsuccessful. Your hashtags should be keywords associated with your blog or post.
TIP: Use as many tags as you want but don’t spam tag. On tag keywords and phrases associated with your posting habits or the actual post. Don’t tag unrelated things.
Some companies and brands or even individuals can use apps for tracking hashtags and that’s how they find the content or people they want. Your tags will put your content in front of people who are searching for that kind of content, if that makes sense. So, if you tag a photo as #beautyblogger, people looking for beauty bloggers or other beauty bloggers themselves are likely to see your post and maybe even follow you and check out your other content.
In the beginning, it can be a great way to build an audience and platform for yourself.
When tagging, think about different ways you can say things. For example, if you’ve made a post on SFX Makeup, you may use these hashtags:
Different people have different ways of searching for things so try to be as inclusive as possible.
TIP: The way I use hashtags on Instagram is to come up with a few that will always apply and write them out in my notes app on my phone so I can copy and paste them onto my post instead of writing them out each and every time.
Other Tools and Tips
Another way that you can get organised is by making or using a blogging planner. One that I use is by Designer Blogs and I find it really helpful for tracking what I’m going to post each month and how my blog is progressing. I’m already planning some of my posts for 2018 just to make sure that my blog stays up and running during the Christmas period!
One good way to get your blog off the ground is connecting with other bloggers and Twitter is such a great place for doing so. It’s full of people there to support you and cheer you on and honestly, it’s such a great environment. It’s a great place to get collaborative content for blog posts and other people’s views and ideas on things.
TIP: Remember to spell check your content and do a few read throughs before you post! It’s basic stuff but it makes posts look better and more professional.
There’s so much more I could discuss but we could be here forever!
As I said at the start of this post, I am by no means a blogging expert and these are just things that help me and work for me. If they don’t work for you, don’t assume that you’re a bad blogger because there is not such a thing!
Your blog is your part of the Internet and you have the power and ability to make it whatever you want it to be. But if you have been struggling, I hope these tips help you out!
Other bloggers, what tips would you give to someone just starting out in the blogging world? Let me know!