I started my blog back in 2011 when blogging was SO different. Pinterest had barely just come on the scene and they had a waitlist to join. Many things about blogging has changed, but there are certainly some important things that have stayed the same. In the last 6 years, I have watched my blog skyrocket to high traffic, have low points where I needed to change up my strategy. I’ve seen a million trends come and go, and I have made some wonderful connections through blogging. Here are the top 7 things I wish I had known before I started blogging….or at least right when I started.
1. Networking is just as important as content. Having good content is so very important to build a strong and successful blog. But right next to that is having a great network around you. Every successful blogger has a strong network of other bloggers and marketers. Don’t wait until you have a booming blog. Start building your network from the start. Having a strong network leads to some great things. Interviews, inbound links (back to your site), social media shares, referrals, partnership opportunities and so much more!
2. Traffic does not always equal money. Just because you have decent traffic, doesn’t mean you will have a profitable blog. On the other side of that, just because you may have lower traffic, doesn’t mean you can’t make a good income from it. The important thing is to maximize your blog’s earning potential. It’s not all about ads and ad networks. Adding in affiliate programs, offering memberships to member-only content, and having sponsors is an important way to add higher income potential to your site.
3. People follow people. Not blogs. Not brands. People like to know who is behind the blog. It’s fun to get a little glimpse in to the author’s life. We all want to feel connected and form relations. Social media has made this easier and more relevant than ever. When you have a relationship with your audience, they want to know what you wore, where you shop, what kitchen utensils you use, how you pack your suitcase for a trip, what you thoughts on the latest novel or tv show. Be personal and easy to relate with. This is why brands love working with people who have a good following and interaction with their audience.
4. Pictures matter. In the beginning of my blog, I focused 100% on my recipes and making as many of them as possible. I would spend the afternoon making amazing dinners and desserts. Then I would simply snap photos with my old digital camera while it set on the table right before we would eat. All of my photos were small, with horrible yellow lighting. Grainy, no structure, and the food did NOT look appetizing. Seriously, go find my posts from 2011….it was awful! I have no idea what kept people coming back.
Maybe you won’t write about food, or crafts, or DIY, or hairstyles. Maybe your blog will feature more of what I call “wordy content”. You have something really great to say, and it needs to be shared. Maybe you have the gift of words. How do you put a picture with that? You create an awesome text graphic! It’s so easy to do! (I use Big Stock images and Pic Monkey to add text)
If you will be taking your own photos, be sure to use lots of natural light, use appropriate props and a good lens. Spend lots of time looking at other photographs. You will become inspired.
5. There are SO MANY free resources. Youtube will become your favorite tutorial for specific tasks. Pinterest will be invaluable for articles, inspiration, new ideas, and trends. PicMonkey is a wonderful image editor and has a free option. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are all free social media accounts and that is where you do 90% for your promotion. Mail Chimp is an email subscription service that also has a free version you will want to use to be sending out your awesome new content to your readers and subscribers.
6. You cannot ignore the technical stuff after set up. You don’t need to know everything about the technical stuff on your blog, but you do need to understand the basics. Problems will crop up and you will save a good deal of money by knowing some basic technical skills. You will want to know how to install and update plugins, understand the setting features of your site, put posts in your side bar, and enough html to install ads. Now, don’t be scared off by html. I know noting about code, but I do know how to identify what I need to do some basic tasks.
7. You have to self-promote, people won’t do it for you. It is so exciting when your post gets shared on Facebook, when an Instagram follower suggest your site, and when your pins get repined on Pinterest. It’s a virtual pat on the back and fuels your fire. But with the internet FULL of blog posts and content, it is so important to make sure that your content is up at the top. Sharing it once on Facebook won’t do the trick. There are some great ways to come up with a social strategy that will make sure your content is being seen over and over by many people.