Blogging

Beginner Tips for the Newbie Blogger

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.

Everything I wish I'd known as a newbie blogger. Beginner tips to help you up your game and get serious about blogging - plus some awesome advice to make your life easier too. Packed full of links to useful resources.

 

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;

 

Sign Up to Klout and Tots

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…

7 Truths You Need to Know About Klout;

7 Myths (and a Few Truths) About the Tot100 Rankings

 

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.

 

Pitch. Hustle.

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!

26 Comments

  1. chocolateandwineandillbefine

    September 16, 2016 at 8:37 am

    This is a fantastic set of tips! I have been blogging for a few months now so I am not sure when I can stop calling myself a newbie, but I feel there is so much to learn and so much still to do that I may be a newbie forever! I have just sorted out my Klout (something I really know nothing about but now kind of understand that it is important)! I have to admit, I started blogging as I love writing and it seemed a really good creative outlet, but I am really getting into it and realising how much time it takes up if you actually want to do it “properly” – it is good fun though and I am finding so many new blogs to read that I had never heard of before I started blogging! #thelist

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      It’s quite overwhelming when you have the epiphany of next what is involved! It was for me anyway as it’s not really what I was signing up for! But I wouldn’t change it now – I’m a little bit in love/obsessed with blogging. ????

  2. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    September 16, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Great set of tips – I know I hesitated to do lots of these and wish I’d done them sooner. It took me a long time to be brave enough to start engaging with the blogging community, and even longer to sign up to Tots100! That said, I think a lot of those things come with the confidence of having been blogging for a little while and being more proud of what you’re creating. So for me, I think I definitely needed to find my feet a bit before doing any of those. #TheList

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      That’s a very good point Katy, perhaps some of these tips are more geared up towards the ambitious newbie, or the middling blogger?! Finding your feet before embarking on these tips is key to making them a success for your blog – there’s no point (nor need!) taking these steps before you’re comfortably doing so.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Laura - dear bear and beany

    September 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Fab tips! There is just so much to do with blogging, you are right its only about 20% writing, which is crazy really! I love the idea of saving a draft email, I have one on my laptop. But not on my phone, I need to get that sorted. Most of it comes with time and confidence and I agree both those groups are brilliant! x #TheList

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      That’s such a fab tip isn’t it! I really want to credit the blogger who shared that one!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Andrea @ Topsy Turvy Tribe

    September 16, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Some great tips here. I will check out your post on etiquette I’m sure I’m missing something! #thelist

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      I’m sure you’re not but hope you enjoy the post nonetheless!

      Thanks for reading.

  5. Alana - Burnished Chaos

    September 17, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Great advice. I’m only in my second month and learning more and more each day but my huge list of other things I want to learn also gets longer and longer every day so I can totally see how the process never ends. Definitely pinning this to refer back to.
    #TheList

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      It’s insane how becoming accomplished in one area seems only to open up another which needs attention! Alas, that’s the nature of the beast. Best of luck with everything and I’m so pleased this helped you!

  6. Kirsty - Motherhoodery

    September 17, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    ‘When you have a blog, your work is never, never, ever done’ – never a truer word spoken. I’m a newbie and had no clue how all-consuming blogging would be. As you say, it’s all the other ‘stuff’ that takes up so much time. Some great tips that I’ll definitely be referring to. x #TheList

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks Kirsty! It’s crazy, I know. The deeper in I get, the more I’m appreciating that that’s a certain ‘type’ of person who blogs. Awesome people, obviously. And maybe a little OCD, with a side of tenacity. X

  7. Helena

    September 17, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I loved reading all your tips. Will pin this on Pinterest. #TheList

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks Helena! Glad you found it useful. ????

      1. Helena

        September 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        It definitely is. There was so much information that I pinned it to look back over and use it as a check list. x

  8. Susie - This Is Me Now

    September 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    This is great. I rated blogging a few months ago but am already totally overwhelmed and am struggling to decide whether blogging is for me or not because of all the admin/social media etc it entails. There’s just not enough time when looking after a toddler! And I’m not prepared to give up my evenings with my husband who’s getting irritated at how much time it’s taking up!!! There’s some great tips here that I will look at doing though. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 17, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      I truly understand and I appreciate that it’s not for everyone. Getting serious about blogging does, unfortunately, mean it takes priority over almost everything else: I never switch off and I never have down time. I drive my hubby a little bit insane with it… But I love it and luckily he is very supportive of that.

      However, if I’d realised at the start just what I was getting into – I probably would have turned and run!

      Best of luck, whatever you decide! X

  9. Tim

    September 17, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks for linking to my Klout and Tots guides, Kate. Finding your voice is so crucial as a blogger – both developing a voice that is consistent and one that is truly yours. I often see new bloggers who are struggling to find their own voice and seem to veer between imitating one big blogger’s voice one post and then a different one the next. As the old Oscar Wilde quote says: be you – everyone else is already taken. #thelist

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 19, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Hey Tim! You’re most welcome – they’re brilliant resources for those of who need a better understanding.

      I couldn’t agree more re voice. If you do anything other than be yourself, it will come off as insincere – eventually if not immediately. It’s not possible to keep that charade up – it’s exhausting as much as anything. I find since I ‘found’ my own voice that my writing is better – and much quicker too. Great quote!

      Thanks for reading.

  10. Christine Jaureguiberry

    September 18, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Brilliant post! So much good advice! I often get discouraged and people telling me it’s not a real business but I still believe that it will be one day!

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 19, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you Christine! Sadly that seems to be par for the course, but I use any negativity to drive me on! Best of luck.

  11. JuggleMum, Nadine Hill

    September 21, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I enjoyed reading this post Kate and it has some great tips for newbies. Finding your voice is important but that does often take time, just best to keep going, tweaking and trying new things and the newbie will get there in the end! Also the community is so helpful and supportive – plus we all know what it takes to make a great blog! Don’t forget – for any newbies reading this post, there is a fab Newbies Round-up on the BritMums website, which is a great place to get your posts seen. Check it out here:
    http://www.britmums.com/category/roundups/newbieroundups/
    http://www.britmums.com

    1. Kate Tunstall

      September 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks Nadine! You’re right, finding your voice doesn’t happen over night. But when it does it’s a revelation!

  12. Mudpie Fridays

    September 23, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Invaluable I wish I had read something like this when I had just started! I’ve just started paying forward as well and have written a post about running your own giveaways. Great summary #thelist

  13. Kate Tunstall

    September 23, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Thanks Clare! That’s a great idea for a post – I think anything aimed at helping newer bloggers is generally well-received. I know I was grateful for the advice when I was a newbie!

  14. Lucy At Home

    September 23, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    This is great! There’s so much I still need to learn. I think the next big thing for me is definitely to up my social media (I only have twitter at the moment!). #TheList

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