I receive questions often from people who have just started their first blog and are looking for tips. Two years ago I blogged 5 Tips For Bloggers and while I still stand behind those tips I want to dive in a little deeper today! Recently my friend and co-worker, Kinsey, started her first blog Sincerely, Kinsey. As she prepared to start her blog and developed it for the first six months I had a chance to mentor her a little bit. In this article I'll share the advice that I gave to Kinsey and she will share about her experiences and perspectives as a brand new blogger with you too!
There are also some not-so-good reasons why people choose themes for their blogs. Is your main goal to get free items? Are you choosing this theme because you admire another blogger and want to be just like them? Also a lot of people start blogging based on trends they see other people writing about and not something that they personally gave a lot of development to. If you start blogging based on what you see other people doing then the chances are good that in six months you'll feel uninspired and in need of change.
Once you've chosen your theme spend some time (weeks or maybe even months) filling journals with ideas and inspiration for your concept. Try to think of ideas that you haven't seen anyone do before. Try to develop concepts that play off of your strengths. Are you a great writer? An exceptional photographer? Are you extremely knowledgeable about your subject? Use your strengths to create ideas that are unique and will be fun for you to work on week after week!
Kinsey, When you were choosing your theme what advice did I give you? Do you have any tips for brand new bloggers who are still choosing a theme?
"This was one of the most crucial decisions I had to consider before launching my blog. As Elsie suggests above, I spent a good three months developing my ideas, vibe, content, look, and name. Working for Red Velvet gave me an instant urge to start blogging right away, but I'm so thankful I waited a bit to start cultivating the themes and content of my blog and truly believe it made all the difference.
Something I took to heart was in a conversation we had about blogging and you told me to make sure I blog about what I love. With blogging today, there are so many themes to choose from, but if it's not something you're passionate about, no matter how many readers or sponsors you get, you'll eventually get burned out. I really had to evaluate and say,"If I have just a few readers and don't make a dime, would I still blog?" The answer? Yes. But only because my overall theme is something I'm passionate about and would still be doing even if I wasn't blogging about it."
You don't have to blog about everything. If you aren't comfortable with sharing your personal life, don't. If you don't enjoying developing DIY projects, you don't have to create them for your blog. If you think ________ is annoying, skip it! Give yourself complete control and zero obligations to do what other bloggers are doing. Do what you love and be confident about your choices. Some of my very favorite blogs are super focused on just a few things and never branch out much. Doing less can be a strength!
This same principle applies to post frequency. I definitely recommend keeping a regular schedule, but if you can't manage to post every day don't stress out about it! Again, some of my favorite blogs only post a few times per week or only during the weekdays. The most important thing is that you choose a schedule that fits with your lifestyle that you can enjoy creating each week!
Kinsey, What are some popular subjects that you decided to skip on your blog? Do you think this more focused concept has made your blog stronger?
"When choosing subjects on my blog, I really wanted to focus in on my strengths. Just because I love reading it, doesn't mean I have to blog about it! For instance, I really enjoy some food, family oriented, and high fashion blogs, but I choose to steer clear of those subjects because writing about them are not my strong points.
I definitely believe having focused on a couple of really strong concepts has helped my blog immensely. Something I've learned from talking with you, Els, is letting readers be able to define your blog within moments of visiting your blog. You only get one first impression, and if readers can't define what your blog is all about, they might feel a little overwhelmed by your content and unable to relate. When you have a focal point it becomes the "main course" of your blog, making it appealing to the readers you want to attract. But a "do it all" blog can become all side dishes."
In the first year of blogging it's normal to still have some kinks to work out. Give yourself permission to keep developing, changing your routines and regular refining content until you are completely happy. You might be surprised which posts are most popular. You might even be surprised which posts are the most enjoyable for you to create! These unknown factors are completely healthy and it's good to keep your options open. Don't tie yourself down with lots of rules in the first year, allow your content to develop and evolve in a natural way by listening to your readers and most importantly, your instincts!
Kinsey, How have friendships and connections helped to grown your blog in the first year?
"This has got to be one of bloggings' most cherished attributes. I remember finding out at your wedding Els, that some of your bridesmaids started off as blog pals and thinking it was one of the neatest things. I honestly thought meeting such wonderful people through blogging was just a lucky chance and only happened to those who had been blogging for years. But already I've met some truly sweet friends that I plan on keeping in contact with for years to come. There is such a unique connection with fellow bloggers because they can relate with you in ways that most people in your life can't. It's really beautiful."
For most types of blogs photography is a big deal. I really love stumbling upon a blog I've never seen with amazing photos. In fact, photography is the number one thing that attracts me to most blogs I enjoy! To practice your own photography you don't need a fancy camera or editing software, start with what you have. Try angles and photos that you've never tried. Take 10 more photos than you would normally take to get a better "best" shot. Follow some photography blogs and use their photos as inspiration to try a new effect, lighting or pose. Whatever level you are on, challenge yourself to get to the next level!
I hope you've been inspired by these tips! Since Kinsey started her blog in November it's grown to around 245,000 page views each month. She is a great example of a brand new blogger who is learning, growing and challenging herself every single month!
Oh… one more question for Kinsey.
Kinsey, Do you have any personal advice for new bloggers. Anything you learned from your first year that you'd like to share?
"Something Elsie and Emma have said that has influenced me so much, (I don't even think they know how big of a difference it has made!) has been when I've asked specific questions that should be personal decisions, (themes, ideas, sponsor pricing etc) they have told me they will never tell me what to do on my blog. I'm so thankful for that."