Do you have a blog or thinking about starting one? Here are a few tips on how to get started and what to keep in mind. I have been blogging on and off for almost 10 years (10 years?!), firstly just to have a place to write about my own creative thoughts and projects and to share interior design inspiration while doing up my house and looking for ideas. I wasn’t too bothered about anyone else wishing to read it, I was just enjoying the creative process. Nothing too ambitious. Then I had my vintage furniture shop for four years, using my blog mainly to promote the items I had for sale or events I took part in locally. Not really using it as a blog anymore but rather as my business website.
I really love writing and creating interesting content, so after losing my shop last year in a fire, I decided to go back to ‘real’ blogging: publishing articles about interior design, featuring inspiring images and styling tips. My readership wasn’t great, so I wanted to ‘up my blogging game’, driving more traffic to the site and growing the number of readers, as well as followers on social media. Right now I have a healthy number of social media followers that is still growing every day and much better stats on the blog. My hard work is beginning to pay off as more people now visit my site and brands are starting to look to collaborate with me as a result.
If you like the idea of having a blog yourself, it can feel like a minefield and pretty daunting. Where to start? What to write? In this post I am sharing a few beginners mistakes to avoid.
1. Low quality content.
First things first: other than the essential question of what is it about and who is it for, a blog needs content. Good, interesting, creative content. And while I am still learning every day myself, I know from the stats (I love my stats!) that certain content does better than others. Firstly, you need a love for writing and in case of interiors, fashion or lifestyle blogs, also an eye for visuals and aesthetics. Stuff needs to look good! Think about what you would find interesting to read and see if you visited a blog. People online have the attention span of a goldfish these days, so grab ‘em with something hot!
Most readers enjoy learning something new (try a tutorial), are looking for inspiration (provide good quality images, ideally your own), and love a freebie or a giveaway (what can you offer?). In my experience, my most popular blog posts are the ones that are providing unique content, reveal something personal – like a house tour, an interview with someone or a personal story about yourself, as people love a look behind the scenes, they’re nosey ;-). Also always try and include original content and your own images. People often follow you not just because of the topic of your blog but because of you and your personality. It is worth showing a bit about yourself and your views, even if it makes you feel a bit awkward and shy at first (I mean, who wants to read about you, right? Believe me, we all want to read about you!). It makes the site ‘human’, people feel a connection and you are able to build a relationship with the reader.
2. Ignoring copyright and image sources.
Sites like Pinterest are a great resource for finding images and ideas for content. It is usually OK to repost them (if in doubt, ask the person whose image it is) onto your own blog, but please make sure to always put in links to the web source of images you choose to use. You wouldn’t like to find one of your own beautiful images around the web without any mention of your name or blog, would you? Apart from that it is bad manners, it also doesn’t make your blog look credible if you steal pictures and make it look as if they are yours. Before you ask, all images in this post are from Pixabay, a great resource for copyright free images – free to use.
3. No commitment.
Having a blog is a big commitment, especially if you want to start doing it professionally in the long run, attracting not only readers but also brands wishing to collaborate with you. If you want an interesting, high quality and popular blog, you will need to post at least once a week, ideally more. I know, it’s not easy and takes a lot of time! Not all posts have to be of literary quality and of great length, some can be short and sweet; I tend a post a more substantial article (about 500 words) once a week and often mix it up with a shorter additional post, sharing mainly images or what inspired me that week. Make yourself a schedule and plan your posts ahead. This helps to keep the creative flow going and you know what to work on next. If you schedule it in advance, you can time your posts according to when your readers are most likely to click and read (check those stats!).
4. Not telling anyone about your blog
If you have spent hours on putting an article together, then you’d better tell the world! Chances that someone stumbles across your site by accident are slim. Make sure you have a Facebook page, twitter, instagram and pinterest, and share your blog post with your followers. Mailchimp is also good if you have an email list and make sure to grow that list! (but that is a whole other post which I shall talk about another time).
5. Ignoring keywords and SEO
If you want to be found by search engines, make sure your titles include words that people likely type into google. Try and place yourself in someone’s shoes: what would they type in if they were looking for content such as on your blog? Location, brand names, ‘how-to’, ‘top five’ are all examples of words and combinations you could try. Look at popular blogs too to see how they do it and learn from them.
I am still learning myself! What have you tried that worked well for you? What are you struggling with? Please share in the comments below.