It seems absolutely CRAZY to think my little teeny space on that there interweb has been around for 5 whole years. Half a decade! Isn’t that something? I started it originally to document the changes we would be making to our home and then realised that money doesn’t go very far with a home renovation so started writing about interiors in general. That quickly morphed into sharing many different things that I love including travel, lifestyle, food, and writing is definitely my therapeutic output.
Fast forward 5 years and I’m now at a point where I’ve been able to take a bit of time out from the corporate world to spend some time blogging and freelance writing for a living. It probably won’t be forever but after 16 years on the corporate treadmill without any kind of career break at all, it feels wonderful to be doing something more creative and having a bit of a breather. I’m turning 40 in January and you do start thinking about what’s really important.
I often get asked on Instagram what tips I have for someone thinking about starting a blog and there’s been so much talk lately about whether the blog is in fact dead as people start consuming content in different ways. It still remains one of the only platforms that’s actually ours though and remains evergreen unlike a lot of other social media where if it disappeared tomorrow so too would everything we post on it.
So what have I learned from the last 5 years? Here goes.
Find Your Passion
It’s all too easy to see someone making a phenomenal success of blogging, Instagram or You Tube and think you can just replicate them and achieve the same results. But it will never work. You have to create content which reflects YOUR personality and passions otherwise instead of being enjoyable it will just be a chore.
Choose Your Platform
From Squarespace to WordPress there are plenty of blogging platforms to choose from. I’ve been a WordPress user since the beginning and have always found it very straightforward and intuitive. It’s easy to customise with many off-the-shelf themes or you can create your own look if you’re clever enough (definitely beyond my capabilities). These days most blogs I come across are self-hosted and again, this is a route I went down right from the beginning to avoid any complications from switching over once my blog was already established.
SEO, SEO, SEO
Yes, SEO is one of those annoying, time-consuming jobs but it really should form a crucial part of your blogging strategy. Thankfully there are lots of tools to help. With WordPress, there is a fantastic plugin called Yoast which makes optimising your posts and pages super easy. It takes you through all the different elements to include once you’ve chosen your keywords, including internal and external links, alt tags on images and meta tags. You can also at this point think about whether you want to incorporate Pay Per Click (PPC) into your SEO strategy for additional exposure.
The biggest tip I can offer to making it work is to be honest and authentic. Once you’re established it’s easy to be swayed by the opportunities which may come along but not all of them will be relevant to your content or your audience. I’ve been offered payment to promote gambling, e-cigarettes, products for babies/children and more that I can’t even recall right now. Yes I have to make a living but I know nothing about any of the above and have worked really hard to build an audience who (hopefully) trust what I do and know that when I do work on a paid campaign it will be something that I believe in or would use. I may cover quite a variety of topics on my blog but it would be very easy to spot something that doesn’t sit right and doesn’t represent my values.
Remember Your Value
Every blogger will give you different advice about how you should work with payment, products and more in return for content creation. There isn’t a one size fits all, you may choose to work differently with small independent businesses than you do with larger brands. But the most important message of all is ALWAYS remember your value. Whether it’s a simple Instagram grid post or a more involved You Tube video, it’s your time you’re using. This is still such a new industry that is evolving all the time. Stand up for yourself and don’t be railroaded into doing all your work for no return. Otherwise it will very quickly turn from being your dream job into something you no longer enjoy.
I hope this has been a helpful post, I’m definitely by no means an expert and there are many out there. I love writing and all the opportunities my little online space has brought and hope to be blabbering on for a long time to come.
Post in collaboration.