What I wish I did when I started a blog
Its 2018, and if you haven't noticed yet blogging is very over saturated, and sometimes it feels like a hopeless endeavour to get noticed by followers and brands. You can plan an array of content, purchase products, spend hours looking for the perfect location, finding the best lighting, learning poses and which outfits/styles/colours suit you best, rearranging products for flatlays all while taking a million photos, and spending hours editing them. Writing, SEO, configuring optimization efforts, self promotion, engagement, all of that comes later after the photos and writing are finally ready and take MORE time than anything else. Then after all of that work to have no views. or very low views on a post can hurt. Lets, be honest. Of course all good things take time but there are common mistakes people make, that I have made, that can deter you from growing right off the bat. Again, I have made many mistakes over the years and although that is totally fine, I want to share some of the practices I wish I knew and did when I started my blog. These practices are tried and tested, I now implement all of them and have seen a noticeable difference.
Promotion needs to happen 100% of the time
The work doesn't end when you publish a post, you don't get to hit that button and watch readers pour in, likes increase, and comments galore. As Britney Spears put it best you need to work, work, work. All of the time, every single day on all platforms you use. I never did this, mainly because back then I didn't need to AS much. Algorithms weren't a thing when I launched my blog, so using platforms like Instagram as a promotional tool was very effective and lets be honest I was SO nervous about putting content out there I didn't really feel comfortable promoting it. Sure I got hits, interested readers and a bit of engagement but it could have been so much better had I worked every day to promote it. Even if you don't post anything, still promote your blog and your brand. Its never ending, it really is. But totally worth it.
Stop trying to perfect everything, or anything
I did this a lot, I worried SO much about having the perfect blog template, design, logo, and colour scheme that it overshadowed everything else. I found myself never satisfied with how my blog looked and constantly revamped it, I switched from WordPress to SquareSpace and even changed my blog name. I do regret doing that as I often miss my old blog name. For some reason I thought it would make me more inspired to create content, and ultimately gain more readers. I didn't give my old blog enough time to grow, instead of changing everything I should have continued to create content regardless of how 'popular' I thought my blog was. My method essentially restarted my search engine ranking, over a year of content GONE off of the Internet and ultimately I started over. Mistake! I do miss some of that content, it showcased how far I have come and was in a way an online diary of memories. If you feel the need to constantly change everything you've done hoping it will fix whatever problem you think your blog has, don't do it. Be persistent and consistent because search engines recognize that, and so do your readers, and eventually after a lot of hard work it will pay off.
Getting people to visit your blog via Instagram
A lot of people do this, and while it is okay if you have a decent amount of followers it will only make you frustrated. Instagram is a platform of its own (obviously), but try and get people to visit your blog via other methods such as Pinterest or search engines like Google. Your blog is yours, Instagram is not. So if the app one day (heaven forbid) decides to plummet you still have YOUR blog, and all of your readers (THEY are the important ones). In short Instagram is another ball game, don't create images and content according to it but make content according to your blog. It's okay to publish images on your blog and not instagram, because most of the time less edited, more real images into your life. That's what blogging is, thats what makes it fun. People seem to forget, myself included that blogging is done through your website not Instagram. Instagram 'bloggers' aren't exactly bloggers. They're paid according to brand partnerships made in accordance with an Instagram post, so if you want to make money sole through Instagram try focusing on just Instagram. A blog is very different. On a side note, Pinterest is the #1 platform for getting traffic to your site, here is a simple list of easy and efficient ways to use Pinterest to get blog traffic. If you look at the analytics for your site you will see where the traffic is coming from, utilize the platform with the highest number of visitors directed to your site. Instagram for me is very low therefore I should have been implementing Google and Pinterest more from the start, but since Instagram is so popular thats where I put most of my effort, and now with the algorithm it is next to impossible to reach an audience. So think of alternative ways of getting traffic to your site, and in return your Instagram will most likely grow as most readers will look for your socials if they like your blog.
Spending money beyond your means
I don't make much money, as a full time student working part time minimum wage this is clear. I used my earned money and spent it on the blog (clothes, makeup, skincare, props, anything that was needed to create content) Heres the thing, there was no NOI !! But thats okay, because thats how it goes when you start out. Blogs need to gain momentum through search engines etc and you have to put money into something to see any return. However, buying new clothes (albeit not expensive) and new products just to blog them is simply not smart. Okay, if you really need the products thats one thing, but think about YOUR place in life at that moment and reach an audience that relates to it- trust me THEY ARE OUT THERE! One of the best things I did was minimize my closet and spending, I feel so refreshed to have LESS and honestly it has inspired me to write more content. And you know what, Im still getting the same amount of feedback and engagement, if not more because now I'm passionate about what I'm doing. According to Statistica in 2018 Instagram boosted 800 million, that means you have an audience... you just need to find them and that takes time and work. So, how does having less give you more to write about? Well, having less often means having more. You now have items you truly care about, that have meaning and you're less stressed about keeping up with trends because you have a wardrobe full of items you love. What a horrible feeling it was to spend hard earned money on a low quality shirt just to take one photo of it, and feeling defeated when the post didn't get well received. Don't buy that designer handbag just to appeal to people who aren't really in your tribe, and probably never will be. Don't try to impress anyone doing things that aren't really you, that don't really make you feel good. I now put my money into things that give back, I have a subscription to Lightroom, I have bought filter packs through Etsy and AColourstory, invested in new lenses, and boosted Instagram posts for a fraction of the cost of a new outfit or beauty product. When you start growing more, then buy accordingly, otherwise blog about what you have because girl... people love it.
Blog your passion
This final point might sound cliche but when I first started I blogged about what I thought was popular, doooon't do that. Blog about what sets your soul on fire. For me, its simplicity. Being a student teaches you simplicity, and over the years I have truly learned how to be somewhat of a minimalist and am happier than ever. Quality products for less, brands that STAND for SOMETHING, local, simple, slow, all of that good stuff. That's where I am in life currently, and if you try and blog about whats popular chances are you might not truly care about that topic and get bored, feel discouraged, and give up.
I hope these insights help you in some way, I'm not an expert but these points are quite common through my chats with other bloggers, and reading others posts about their blogging journey. So I decided to summarize them in hopes new bloggers can avoid spending $300 on a new bag, or turning their phone off after posting. I don't know what course blogging is going to take in the future but I do hope it becomes more diversified. I hope it becomes easier to build a community, and I hope if you ever start a blog or if you already have one that you don't make these simple mistakes.