Blogging Tips For Beginners: Mindset Goals and Finding Your Niche
Your Strengths Alone Won’t Carry You
I’m super excited to share some of the inner workings of starting a blog! I’ve been running Girl of an Era for 3 years now and I’ve definitely made my share of mistakes and also hit a home run in some ways from the beginning. What started as a passionate hobby about fashion has turned into a storybook journal of my travels, relationship advice, and the clothes I love to wear. Blogging to me is an art form. The art of blogging and creating content is my absolute FAVORITE part! I struggle with the business side of things (SEO, pushing pins, growing my blog, email subscribers etc) and excel at the artistic side (writing blog posts, storytelling, styling the shoot, editing.) Both elements are vitally important. If I could go back I would have researched more about how to monetize the first year I had my blog. It wasn’t my priority at the time so I don’t regret it but it would have help the leg work I’m having to do now come a lot easier. So do your research!!!
Something over the past three years I’ve learned is: I have to be the best I possibly can at the thing I’m good at but do it without ignoring my weaknesses. For me I know my strengths are editing. I edit throughouly in Lightroom and Photoshop which makes my content top edge and I LOVE DOING IT!!! It’s the fun part of blogging for me so I tend to focus on that and end up leaving out the things I’m less skilled in. If you ever want to monetize your blog you have to learn the business! You can’t just focus on the artistic side and not learn how to grow, how to monetize, how to network and connect with likeminded bloggers. It will always stay just a hobby if you don’t learn how to do ALL aspects. Figure out what works for you! Where do you want to spend your time? Is it on IG, Youtube, Pinterest or all three? My advice is figure out the social channel you love spending your time on and go 100 % on that before you launch another.
Blogging Starter Tips, Consistency, And Creating Relationships With Other Bloggers
Getting started is the HARDEST part and can seem daunting at times on how to even start this thing called a BLOG!!!! It isn’t the highlight reel on IG, it’s long hours sitting at a chair or sometimes my couch just typing away. I literally have a headache most days from the screen time between my laptop and my phone! Ahhh it’s terrible for your brain sometimes but so so rewarding. Writing is about 20 % of the effort and the rest is taken up by coming up with the content, editing, posting the content, promoting it, sending it out in email blasts to my subscribers. The list truly does go on!
After you find your niche you can now go through the following steps to starting your blog!
1) Giving Your Blog A Home (Aka: Picking Your Website)
-Squarespace: is what I use! It’s user friendly for those who aren’t skilled in web design. There’s a variety of customizable templates to choose from, blogging tools and analytics, SEO tools (all super helpful things!)
-Word Press: Word press is the most commonly used blog platform because it allows for limitless creativity and design options but it ain’t easy girl! I never wanted a Word Press site because I don’t have the money to hire a web designer to design it and I don’t have the skills to do it myself. If you don’t have those skills you can hire a professional web designer to design it to be exactly what you want!
2) Naming Your Blog: No matter the niche of your blog you have several routes you can go on in terms of naming your blog!
-Use your name! A lot of bloggers/influencers are now using their first and last name as their brand. This is the trend these days as compared to the past where people named their blog something to do with their niche (ex. @barefootblonde @prettylittlefawn.) You can do either of these! It’s totally up to you! There’s no wrong choice.
3) Deck Your Blog Out: Yay, you’ve named your blog! Now this is my biggest advice when first starting. MY ADVICE IS GETTING YOUR WEBSITE FULLY DECKED OUT WITH BLOG POSTS AND PICTURES BEFORE YOU LAUNCH! This is one of my biggest tips because the last thing you want is to encourage people to check out your blog for the first time and your blog is halfway finished with blank sections that feel empty. You want to start off strong! First impressions are important so others feel confident in what they are reading and want to come back to your blog again and again! You want to be a source they trust from first glance.
4) Investing In SEO: if you want your blog posts to rank higher in search engines like Google and Yahoo you must have SEO set up! SEO or Search Engine Optimized means that you will have more traffic to your blog which will in turn increase your income. I’m actually taking some SEO classes right now to learn how to do it properly so I suggest looking into a program or starting with researching articles on it (use Pinterest or Google it.)
5) Utilizing Social Media For Marketing: Pick at least one-two social media platforms to hone into! I would focus on one at first and really develop yourself on there. My two social networks I market the most on are Instagram, Facebook, and I’m beginning and utilize Pinterest. Pinterest is supposedly HUGE for blog awareness and I’m just now finding that out.
6) My Thoughts On Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate Marketing is set up by brands to promote their products by giving a percentage of the commission from the product sales to the blogger for promoting it. This is a tricky subject because everyone has a different perspective on affiliate marketing being good in the long run for bloggers and influencers. If your looking to monetize quickly then I suggest using affiliate marketing to do that! It can also grow your following. The most common affiliate program for fashion bloggers are LIKE TO KNOW IT or REWARD STYLE, and NORDSTROM’S. AMAZON is another big company that does it. I haven’t personally wanted to do any affiliate programs because I’ve learned a lot from podcasts etc and it can prevent you from working directly with brands in the future without giving a large percentage to the brand itself for YOUR work.
7) Don’t Give Up! Be Consistent And Keep It Fresh: Keeping your content fresh, new, original and consistent is the HARDEST thing if you’re trying to do it by the seat of your pants. If you put 30 % of the effort into thinking about it or being inspired you will see 30 % of the results. And I am the first to attempt that I’ve treated this as a hobby far beyond the point of hobby status.
My Tips For Growing and Engaging On Instagram
1) Who Do I Follow First? Start by following you friends and family! Not everyone but those you think would be interested in your blog niche. You don’t want a bunch of ghost followers from high school that aren’t interested in your blog subject.
2) Find Your TRIBE Of People: Go follow accounts that are doing what you want to do! Ex. If you’re a mom blogger go follow other mom bloggers that believe similar things to you, or have a similar style or feed aesthetic that you want to emulate. Her followers are your target audience!
3) Figure Out Who Your Target Audience Is: You can do this by asking yourself three things that represent you as a brand the most! For ex) I’m a christian, I’m into fashion, and I’m married. BOOM! Three things that sum me up and that I want my followers to relate too. These three things are exactly the three qualities to look for in a potential follower.
4) Engage With Your Target Audience To Grow Connections And Your Following: Engaging with your target audience is one of the key pinpoints when it comes to growing your network and platform. How do you engage? It will look different on every app but I’m gonna talk about Instagram since that’s one of the biggest platforms for marketing your blog.
5) Follow Your Target Audience: The three qualities you are looking for in your target audience are the accounts you want to search for. Like I used before as an example: women of faith, married women, and women into fashion are my three categories. I will go through other influencers or bloggers who represent those things and find the accounts that are following them that also have those things in common. I will like, comment genuine comments, and DM those accounts and start that relationship.
6) Targeting With A Strategy: Make an excel sheet and start with 60 accounts that fall into your target audience and TARGET THEM! Can I encourage you to look back at each of these accounts once a day for 45 days and genuinely engage in their new posts? This is a long lasting strategy that works over time. Instagram is about relationships and giving back and you must be persistent. The one off comment doesn’t work the same way it used too.
7) Follow A Specific Hashtag: Start following specific hashtags that speak to your content. For example, I follow #Lafashionbloggers because that’s the location I want to target and the type of follower I want to connect too. Carve out 20-1 hour a day commenting and liking likeminded accounts using the hashtags you follow the most. These hashtags should be hashtags that people would see your account under! Build that relationship and start a conversation with those profiles.
8) Tagging Brands: Listen up!!! Tagging brands is sooo important for growth and networking. Planting this seed with brands is vital to a potential long term relationship with them. I tag every brand you see in my feed and even DM them to let them know I posted about them. I try and get in front of them as much as I can. It’s important to only promote brands you would use whether you had IG or not. Being authentic with the products you love is part of your audience trusting you to lead them to right way. It’s a longterm decision with great rewards and small sacrifice.
9) Giveaways: Giveaways!!! This is definitely a loaded topic for many people. Doing giveaways is one of the biggest ways people gain quick followers. Whether it’s teaming up with a pool of other bloggers and giving away a LV bag, camera, or iPhone; giveaways allow you to gain followers but they don’t always stick around. I don’t do a lot of giveaways with other bloggers because I think the value I gain isn’t worth what I spend. I have done my own personal giveaway and that works for me! A lot of people grow really quickly with giveaways but their engagement sometimes doesn’t grow with the following. This is called ghost followers: followers that follow you but don’t engage at all and are just taking up space in your follower count. I’ve decided I’d rather have a smaller follower account and have every person that followers me be an active and engaged follower.
10) Collaborating With Other Bloggers/Influencers: I recommend following other bloggers that you love and subscribe to their blog. Be a dedicated reader and leave comments in the comments section on their blog posts. Often times (just like on IG) these bloggers will do reciprocate the love on your blog. Give yourself an hour a week to comment and engage on other bloggers websites and get in front of them. This really helps set yourself up to guest blog on those same blogger sites later down the road. Do the same on the gram! Message, comment, and repeat daily with the influencers you want to become friends with. Ask them to coffee and get to know each other in a real and authentic way. Let’s Be Friends, okay? You can’t expect to make connections expecting other to give to you if you’re not giving to them. Have a giver mindset on the app and you will go far. The love you put out is the love you will receive!
Focus In On One Thing And Make Yourself An Expert At That Thing
Julie Solomon on the Influencer podcast said, “If you’re doing two things or more at once then you’re not able to give 100 % to both things and you’re more like giving 30 % to both!” When I heard this on her podcast it lit a fire inside of me!! I knew it was true about my own life. I was dabbling in acting and fashion blogging and wasn’t committing to either one hundred percent.
FIGURE OUT YOUR EXPERTISE: WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT?
Is it fashion, relationship advice, beauty, fitness, interior design, women encouragement? You might be interested in multiple of these but I encourage you to start with one and become as knowledgable and relatable to your target audience as you can be before bringing on a new subject to focus on.
Say, it’s fashion blogging!. Research everything you would possibly need to know (google is your friend) about how other fashion bloggers work with brands. This might mean you have to take a few courses on how to pitch to brands, monetize your blog, use Pinterest, use Linked In to connect with others etc.
Connect with others in your niche on Social Media (INSTAGRAM IN THIS CASE.)
-Follow hashtags and comment and like those hashtags that you currently use!
-Message women doing what you want to do and let them know they inspire you! You would be surprised when I started reaching out to other influencers and bloggers how generous and kind they were. I’m actually getting together with a new influencer friend next week just because I was brave enough to ask!
Read, listen to music, go on trips, laugh a lot, pin on Pinterest and REPEAT! This is how you will get inspiration. If you expect to gain inspiration from others on IG, or by sitting in front of your computer or phone and have a magic fairy drop that magic inspo into your brain…KEEP WAITING. It can happen but it won’t be consistent. If you wan to consistently be inspired figure out what’s unique about your specific voice in this world and use it! Enjoy life, take trips with your loved one or have girls nights and talk about life and your struggles. Sometimes in those conversations little nuggets are exposed that are the perfect subject for your next blog post or IG caption. Get off Instagram and start enjoying real experiences in your own life. What’s relatable to others is when you are authentically and unapologetically you.
I can’t tell you how much joy and purpose writing this blog post has given me! I would love to hear your feedback and your biggest takeaways below! Just leave a comment, say hi, and tell me what you loved most about the post!
Thank you all for reading.
Inside Scoop Of My Shoot
These pictures were taken at Joshua Tree back in June. A little unorganized, my friend Nina and I were on a tight shooting schedule and had only an hour and a half left before sundown. We shot these shots at golden hour. My top and pants are from Urban Outfitters, my jewelry is from Maxwell, and my boots are from DSW.