So You Want to Start a Blog?
You don't have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. - Zig Ziglar.
"I am writing this message on regards of your blog and how you managed to transition the whole look. I have been following you since your blog was called 'Carelle Style' and I like the way you have developed your blog to how it is now. I have been wanting to start a blog of my own for a while now and I was just wondering whether you have any tips on starting one."
The excerpt above is from an email sent to me not too long ago and I thought I could share my thoughts on starting a blog on here as well, for anyone out there who hasn't started and isn't sure where to begin. I've been blogging for over 3 years, and while transitioning my blog at the start of this year feels like when I really found my style and voice, all the experiences and lessons learned beforehand is what got me there. So these are, in my eyes, some of the important things to think about at the very beginning - things I wished I knew at the start.
1. Do Your Research!
I'm assuming you'll want to create something of value and good quality, therefore understanding your market is super important. Get to know what's already out there, what kinds of styles you like and what you definitely don't like. All that information will help you in conceptualising how you want your blog to look and what direction you want to follow. You could even create a mood board to really focus your ideas. Also, test different platforms to host your site - try signing up for a free trial to get a feel of how they work. I use Squarespace because it's easier to navigate around but you might enjoy Wordpress where you have more control over formats, etc... But I would highly recommend buying your own domain from the get-go if you're serious about this blogging thing - it saves lots of time and effort later.
2. Know Who You Are and Who You're Not!
It sounds cliche but being clear on what you're about will help your audience understand your angle. The market is already oversaturated. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for you but working out what makes you different stops you getting lost in a sea of very similar looking and sounding blogs. It's really about what you enjoy and are truly passionate about because that originality is what will attract people to you. Think about whether you want your blog to have a diary feel, or are you interested in writing articles about your favourite subject? Maybe you're not much of a writer, so you prefer creating sick visual stories without words. Ask yourself why you even want to start a blog in the first place, examine the things you're good at [or want to get better at] and then run with it. Being true to yourself is key!
3. Identify your target audience!
People forget about this one but it really helps when deciding the type of content you'll be creating. Figure out who you're talking to with your posts. Go on Instagram and find real examples of the people who would visit your site and stalk them. Get to know what they are into, what music they like, what fashion styles they admire, how they communicate and what other blogs they read or publications they visit. What platforms are they most active on? Gathering all this information will help you understand how to market yourself correctly to the right people e.g. style of voice, content subject, what social media platforms to create, etc...
4. Be Realistic!
Set realistic expectations for yourself, in terms of how much content you can produce and how often, especially if you'll be juggling working and blogging. It’s much better to start off slow and steady, build up consistency and then think about adding more layers to your blog as you go - rather than trying to do too many posts, run too many social platforms and then flopping. You don't have to create a content calendar necessarily (though that has been extremely useful to me lately) but know that if you are going to produce one post a week, let's say, do just to that. Having some level of consistency pays off. On the other side, be kind to yourself if things don't always go to plan; we're only human after all.
5. Set a deadline!
Don't get too hung up on making everything perfect. Do the best job you can do whilst working towards a deadline, to make sure that you actually start the damn thing or regularly post content. Once you’ve figured out who you are (and who you’re not), identified your market and set realistic goals for yourself, you should be ready to get cracking with creating all your amazing content. There's no need to delay - once the work is done, it's done. Send it out into the world and learn as you go.
6. Keep Iterating!
The worst thing a blog can do is remain stagnant. Keeping experimenting and playing around, testing new ideas out and making your blog better. Learn from your audience, seek feedback, look at new ways of presenting your content and just keep pushing yourself to grow. It doesn't matter if you make mistakes along the way because that's all part of the journey.
7. Engage with your community!
This is one that I really wish I started much earlier. Don't be focused on numbers in the beginning, instead put more of your energy in being an active member of the blogger community. Comment on people’s posts, reply to comments on your own page and ask fellow bloggers out for coffee. By doing so, you’ll create a bit of a hive for yourself - all people you can learn from and run ideas by. Form online and IRL connections, collaborate with people and just have some fun. This is one of the best parts of being a blogger, finding a whole new group of people to be friends with!
That's it for now! I hope this helps in some way. If anyone has more questions or needs advice with any of this stuff, drop a comment below or send me an email, and I'll do my best to help however I can. Much love xo