Every now and then , I get asked questions about how to start and grow a blog. And I respond individually to the queries that come through . I thought why not write a post about blogging .In lots of ways I am not at all qualified to answer some of the question but I do try . I am still so lost on so many things and I get very overwhelmed with all of the “other stuff” (you know the backstage stuff that has nothing to do with fashion or writing..) i.e. Technical stuff, SEO…So were do I even start from .
I feel like what I have learned (mostly through trial and error) would have been nice to know from the start, so in hopes that any of you who are wanting to start or grow your blog can benefit from some of what I’ve leaned.
1.Picking the name of your blog
Your blog name is very important so I would say take your time when picking a name .If you haven’t already picked one I don’t envy you the task. It took me literally months to come up with mine and after all that pondering , I actually ended up changing it when I re-branded about 2 yrs ago . I asked the opinions of family, friends and random strangers before I picked a name. The ideas ranged from pretty decent to pure garbage. Anyway, I initially called my blog MOI-LESEDI ( meaning my light ) which at that time felt pretty unique however people found it difficult to pronounce and it just wasn’t memorable . However, I decided to change it to STEPHY-LATELY after a conversation with a friend who was simply asking what I have been up to lately. That was my eureka moment and led to me changing my blog name which I am totally smitten over.
2. Buy your own Domain
If you are like me and you are on a budget, buying a domain /.com will not really be your priority. However , I would say if you can just get it from the word go. Even if you are creating your blog as just a hobby and not a business I recommend buying your own URL. I looked at a few sites that sell domains and I also asked around before I bought mine . You can buy yours at dream host, however there might be better places out there but that is were I got mine from.
3.Have a Mission Statement.
What’s your reason for starting your blog ? This question is really important because when you reach a point were you feel like giving up on the blog, your mission statement will redirect you into the right direction. Trust me you will get moments like this. If I had done this early on I think I would have saved myself from a quitting two years after starting the blog. The mission I finally put into a statement is:
Help women look good on a budget and inspire them to dress to suit their body type. I also started sharing tips on how to set up a successful blog after realizing that I had an impact on people who reach out to me for blogging advice.
My mission statement helps me structure posts and also determines which collaborations I should decide to go ahead with .
Will I post about something for money? Probably not. As a blogger you will have all sorts of brands reach out to you for collaborations and most of them will not even be in line with what you blog about. Imagine a company that produces protein shakes reaching out to me and proposing a post about protein shake . Surely that would be a pass even if the brand was offering to pay . Simply because it contradicts the goal. If I didn’t have that mission statement it might me more difficult to turn down offers like that which could lead me in an entirely different direction than I intended.
4.Be Honest, be yourself.
Authenticity is key .Don’t cover up who you really are. I am not saying you need to air your dirty laundry -just be you. That is what people want from a blog. The rest of the internet is peppered with commercials and airbushes and sugar-coated everything, we have enough of that. We want someone real, someone we can relate to.
In everything , you have to start from somewhere. I am a big dreamer and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Although, getting to those big goals doesn’t happen all at once, it takes doing small things consistently.
It is so easy when you’re excited about something to get carried away. However having a system in place as to how you want to achieve those goals and that dream will really help you. In the beginning you might need to buy your own outfits, wear the same shoes in a couple of shots however, with time you will get noticed by brands that will want to work with you . Don’t just think brands will instantly spot you . It might take time and you might need to put in work .
6.Take good photos
The images you take are incredibly important. I knew this from the beginning because I had a few bloggers that I look up to and they inspired me to take fantastic quality pics . With iPhones now being more advanced, you really have no excuse as to why you can’t take crisp pictures. Crisp pictures speak volume and show professionalism and that’s something I would reiterate.
7.Blogging is a long-term effort if you wish to make money from it
Things don’t just come on a silver plate. Many bloggers tend to give up in the first few months. Why? They expect to get traffic the minute they hit the “Publish” button. But naaah boo! That’s not how things work. You must hustle for that organic traffic. You can’t just build a blog and wait for traffic to come. It doesn’t work that way. Maybe in the past, keyword stuffing worked for Google. However, Google is getting smarter every day and they change their algorithms regularly. You need to write quality content and lengthier content to rank well these days. Now I know sometimes I don’t have long right ups simply because I don’t have much to share. Back to the point. Without traffic, there is no revenue. If you plan to start a blog just to make money, don’t do it. You will get demoralized and eventually quit blogging altogether. You need to have passion in the topics that you’re writing in. If you have passion and you know how to monetize your passion, you can make money after some time. However, it takes time!!!
8.You must promote your blog posts
As already mentioned above, you can’t build a blog and wait for traffic. You must promote your blog posts. I roughly take 4 hours to write your content, therefore I should take at least another 4 hours to promote it. Yes 4 hours!!The easiest way to get instant traffic is to promote your posts via social media or other platforms. Instead of spending hours like Mary’s Instagram page, why not follow people just after posting a new blog post ensuring that your latest blog link is in the power and that the pics relating to the blog, have necessary words redirecting your audience to your blog. Remember what I said, you need a system! Come up with a strategy that works for you. In case you feel lazy to do this, just remember the amount of work you put in to create that post. Surely that should be motivation enough to get you into hustle mode.
9.You need to invest to earn from your blog
As much as you might start off blogging as a hobby, you will be required to invest. Who said that blogging was free? Sure, you could have started with a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger, but how far can you go?
It’s not that those with free blogs can’t earn. It’s so much easier to monetize your blog if you use WordPress and get your own hosting company. I use dream host for my blog. SiteGround may be a great choice for you though. It had excellent reviews so far. From your domain to your template and hosting, you will need to invest .
10.You need to learn how to do SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is such a common term nowadays as everyone wants to have their blog post appear on the first page of Google for high-traffic keywords. How do you raise your posts to the top? There are probably millions of blog posts published a day. It’s a crazy amount, I know. While I’m not an expert in SEO, I tend to optimize my posts for SEO to the best of my knowledge. If you don’t know how to do SEO, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. The free version is good enough for new bloggers. Once you’re pretty good at it, you can start using the premium version which gives more keyword suggestions.
SHOP THE POST
Another exciting look I created in my recent collaboration with Stradivarius. If you have not heard about Stradivarius, you are in luck today because I must say they have great pieces at affordable prices. Stradivarius is an international women and men’s clothing fashion brand from Spain owned by the inditex group. Customer service is superb and delivery is very efficient. I love the fit of my jeans because I tend to struggle with buying jeans especially online. Its either they fit me perfectly or too tight on my thighs(big thigh problems). But I was amazed at how the jeans felt great on me. I would definitely recommend checking their site for a wardrobe revamp especially with their OW17 Collection as we enter a new season.
Have you got any other thing that you wish you had known before you started blogging?