So, you’re new to blogging? Here’s my top piece of advice: STOP! Turn and run now before you get in too deep!
I jest, of course – blogging has saved my sanity if not my life, and from the spark of the initial idea to the end result, I’m completely in love with the entire process; which of course none of us ever actually reach… If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, just bear this in mind:
When you have a blog, your work is never, never, ever done.
When I started out, I used to think I had specific ‘jobs’ to achieve, ie. write and publish a post each week. A-ha. Ha. HAAAAAA. As you become better acquainted with the world of blogging and all that it entails, you’ll come to realise just how very, very much is involved – and how little of that comprises writing posts like this one.
So, my apologies, but it’s probably best you learn and accept this fact now:
To be a successful blogger, you’ll need to spend approximately 20% of your working time writing, and 80% on all the many forms of associated admin. If you can’t be doing with it (I wouldn’t blame you), then just accept now that pro blogging is not for you: it makes a lovely hobby for some.
However, if you’re as crazy mad as I and 15,000+ other parent bloggers in the UK, then this may help. What follows is everything I wish I’d known from the start…
Beginner Tips for the Newbie Blogger
Find Your Voice
Wow, this sounds trite. But it’s one of the most relevant tips you’ll come across, promise.
I’m mortified with the way I used to write when I started out. I was so conscious of the impression I was giving that my writing came off stiff and probably a bit aloof – or even worse maybe even supercilious. Cringe, cringe, criiiiiinge.
I’m actually not like that at all in real life (unless I don’t like someone, in which case I’m probably very like that); but I found it so difficult to relax. However, with time and practice I’ve loosened up and I now write as I talk. And thankfully people tend to respond.
There are so many bloggers around today, and our number is growing all the time. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to shine. And despite the crass cliché, your best way of doing so is to simply be yourself: nobody can replicate that.
Find your voice – and stay true to it.
Interact With the Community
I didn’t do this for like, six months of blogging. Why? I avoided all social media – which is, after all, social!
I was lazy, or at least not willing to put the required leg work in at that time. In my defence I had a young baby… But know this:
Whatever your reason or excuse, nobody but you will care.
I don’t mean that as coldly as it sounds, what I do mean is that without that interaction, nothing will change. Don’t fool yourself into believing you’re the only person with other commitments – it’s why blogging is actually very intense and hard work. It’s also why the community is so vital. (See next point.)
Join Relevant Facebook Groups
Interacting with the community is not simply a chore. Far, far from it in fact. If you’re nice and respectful and listen to others who know more, they will carry you, erm… far.
My most highly recommended groups (play nice or you’ll be kicked out) are without a doubt UK Parent Bloggers and Live Love Blog. They’ve both been invaluable to me, and one or two contacts within each are basically my guardian angels (you know who you are).
Write a Kickass About Me Page
Want to showcase your awesomeness and give brands a reason to choose you over anyone else they’re considering? This is the page to do just that. Need some help with what to say or how to say it? Here are my top tips:
Let your personality shine through, and link to your best posts.
Cop-out advice? Actually, no – because nobody can write about you better than you. If you’re looking for some inspiration or a little guidance, feel free to check my page out – I reckon it gives a pretty clear picture of who I am, how I write, and what my strengths – and weaknesses (cake) – are.
Social Media Accounts
I know. I know, I know; I know. Trust me, I really do – I resisted for as long as possible. But honestly – if you’re serious – you at least need to get yourself on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I also have a StumbleUpon account which I’ve given up on (though I know some bloggers swear by it). Many also have accounts with Linked In, Google+, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
I’m all for the bare minimum; but seriously, the four I’ve recommended really are the minimum.
Need help with getting the most out of your accounts? I’ll pass you over to the experts…
Here Aby from You Baby Me Mummy talks about Twitter;
Here she is again on Facebook (the lady knows her social media stuff);
A word from Amy of Mr and Mrs T Plus Three on the subject of Instagram;
And Katy from What Katy Said re Pinterest;
They’re not social media accounts! I shan’t go into too much about them here, because there are tons of fab blog posts about them already. But if you’ve not already registered, then do so.
Want to know more? Over to Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham…
Use Hashtags to Find Opps
Use #bloggersrequired and #bloggerswanted on Twitter to find opps for guest posts, linkys, reviews/giveaway prizes – and even paid work.
Scary? Get used to it.
If you want to make anywhere close to a living from blogging, then you need to get started. If you’re knocked, try again elsewhere. If you can’t handle the rejection, you’re in the wrong industry.
Oh, and on a more positive note – people start to say yes; and that turns into a bit of a buzz; which in turn becomes addictive. And before you know it… BOOM: you’re a pro blogger!
Go and write your first pitch now – don’t be too ambitious: start small and pop that cherry with a win.
Always Ask About Giveaways
Once you have your first review in the bag, you’re baby steps away from also hosting a giveaway! Always ask about running one alongside reviews – 90% of the time the brand or PR will be only too pleased to oblige.
Use Rafflecopter (or Gleam)
To ensure professionally run and fair giveaways, use one of these sites. I have accounts with both, but I personally favour Rafflecopter.
Sign Up to Competition Forums
Once you score your first prizes, you obviously want your giveaways to be a success. Sign up to Loquax, Prize Finder, and Competition Database to list your giveaways when they’re live. These sites massively help to drive traffic.
Money Saving Expert is great too, but you’re not allowed to list your own giveaways unfortunately.
Set Up a Gravatar Profile
Keep consistency across social media accounts with the same headshot.
Also, make it a headshot rather than a flower or anything equally pretty and detached.
Save Draft Emails to Your Mobile
You know those times when you get an awesome opp pop up in a group and you want to fire off a pitch asap before it’s too late; but you know you really need your laptop to hand in order to make it look pro? No? Join those groups I mentioned and it will happen!
Also in one of those groups, someone* came up with this awesome pearl of advice. I now make sure to have several draft emails with my signature neatly at the bottom saved on my phone, ready to work their magic for me!
*FYI, this is one of those times I should really shout out the blogger who shared this tip. Alas, I’m a mother: I have a poor memory. Unfortunately, despite posting in the group a while ago for the person to come forward, it didn’t happen. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘hey – I told you that!’ – please drop me a line so I can rectify and link back to you!
Learn Blogger Etiquette – and Practice It!
What I’ve just written in that last paragraph is a sort-of example of blogger etiquette (damn my memory failing me). For more on this – because it’s super important – click the link and refer to my post all about said subject!
I’ll be back soon with more newbie tips, next time focusing on WordPress and the layout of your website. In the meantime, if you found this helpful please share with your blogger pals and pin for reference!
Got another awesome newbie tip I’ve missed off this list? Share your wisdom in the comments!