Blogging and vlogging is probably the topic that I get asked about most when it comes to advice and help. I’d say daily I get at least two emails/messages/DM’s asking for tips and advice on how to start, grow and maintain a blog and/ or youtube channel and I absolutely love that I’m seen as someone who knows what she’s doing … because let me tell you 99% of the time I feel like I don’t have a clue!
The only problem is if I spent all of the time it would take to give real thought out and helpful replies then I wouldn’t have the time to grow my own channel and then I’d probably be no use to anyone. I never want to help people in halves by giving half hearted replies so when I do respond to messages like these I usually find a time that I have nothing else on and I write a bit of an essay giving all that I know and can think of as useful. Every time I do this though I think, why not just write this once into a blog post or even share it in a video so that loads of people can share the insight … not that it’s anything ground breaking of course and not that I expect loads of people to read this but if I can help more people to set up their dreams then that would just be amazing!
So, I’m going to do a mini help series of top tips on how to start, grow and maintain your blog and Youtube channel; maybe even Instagram but not Twitter or Facebook as I seriously have no clue there!
I’ve realised that I’m quite bad for plonking too many tips into one post – ’57 ways to start a blog’ would be a bit daunting so I’m going to break everything down into 5-tip posts. This’ll all reach you guys pretty quickly though sen as I’m daily blogging for a month (plus it’ll help me with content ideas!). So here we go, 5 tips for how to start a blog:
1 – Decide why
I think one of the biggest mistakes that people can make when they start a blog is that they start it for the wrong reasons or start it for the right reasons but then get a little caught up and lost along the way, forgetting what their initial intentions were. When I started my blog it was purely to document my pregnancy; I’d had a paper diary previously but kept forgetting it whenever I left the house so my husband Pete suggested that I started a blog. Yes I may have branched out from keeping an online diary to blogging to help others and also to collaborate with brands and ultimately earn a living but I still have my initial aim, to document our family life. Sometimes when the work load gets too much or the stats become too competitive I have to take a step back and remember that I started this as a diary and anything else is just a bonus; this makes me remember why I love what I do.
I get a lot of people asking me how to make money, how to reach 10,000 subscribers, how to work with the top brands and yes this is a great aim to have and I’m more than happy to answer these questions (in posts to come) but ultimately you need to think about how you’re realistically going to get to those points and whether the workload is worth it. It took me months of blogging for the love of it before I started earning pennies and it’s taken me a couple of years to get to a point where I’m earning substantial money; yes this could have come quicker if my aim was to make money from the beginning but it’s important to make that aim clear from the beginning so as not to get frustrated along the way.
It doesn’t matter what your reason to start a blog is; it could be to earn money, to document your life, to offer help and advice, to vent, to advertise your brand; whatever it is it’s wonderful, just stick to that and you’ll never be disappointed.
2 – Choose your name wisely
This may sound like a silly one but your blog name will become your brand. As tempting and as cute as it is to have a name like ‘Jessica and her baby’ or ‘Mummy to Jasper’ you really need to think about the longevity of that name and how long it’ll be relevant for. ‘Jessica and her baby’ would have been a great name but when Jasper turned two would that really be relevant anymore? Okay any subsequent pregnancies would have brought the relevance back but what about when my boys are all grown up, the baby aspect just wouldn’t fit. You may also change your niche over time; life changes in many directions as will our blogs and I hope to see mine go in the direction of minimalism, style and positivity as my children grow older and don’t feature as heavily on here anymore so it’s important not to restrict yourself too much with a name. I’ve seen lots of bloggers with blog names focused on beauty, change their blog names when they shift over to parenting and vice versa and it’s quite a task to do so it’s best avoided.
My biggest mistake I made on my blog was having a name with no relevance whatsoever; ‘Lilypod and Sweetpea’ symbolises my sister and I’s nicknames when we were younger. It may sound sweet and it is what I’m known for so I am so proud of it but it’s not a name anyone would search for as it has no real meaning. I have actually bought the domain jessicaavey.com and have had a whole load of rebranding done with new logos but I’m waiting until I’m ready to let go of ‘Lilypod and Sweetpea’ before I make the switch. I know this will work so well though as having a blog title as my name won’t restrict me in any direction and will of course match my Youtube name so there will be consistency across all of my social platforms.
It’s also important to check whether or not your potential blog name is available on your chosen social handles. I was lucky that ‘Lilypod and Sweetpea’ was available but I’ve found that ‘Jessica Avey’ is taken on some platforms and I’ve had to use @JessicaAveyUK for my Instagram. There are some platforms that won’t allow you to change your name or at least make it difficult to do so which is why it’s super important to be 100% sure first time around; for example my Youtube channel ID is JessicaCThornton1 and my Facebook blog page is still Lilypod and Sweetpea and there’s not much that I can do about that.
3 – Pick your love and stick to it
Something that I really struggled with was spreading myself too thin. Yes I started by writing what I loved but once stats and figures became more important to me I started to write what I thought other people wanted to read and what brands wanted me to write. I found myself with a million blog ideas swirling around and I was so busy trying to reach every possible target audience that I lost my love for writing and all of my posts just became saturated – none with any real depth or quality. Once I realised that it’s okay to stick to one or two topics that you really love and are passionate about, I found my writing became much more focused again. Sure I may not get any tech lovers or pet fanatics reading my blog but that’s okay, I’d be a fraud writing about something I didn’t know and I think it shows. So, stick to what you’re comfortable with and what lights your spark and the right readers will not only find you but love you.
My main topics that I write about are family life and minimalism and I find sticking to these provides much better quality content than covering every topic half heartedly.
4 – Write, write, write
The biggest tip that I give people when starting a blog is to write, write, write. If I find a blog post that I love my initial reaction after reading it is to see what other posts they have. What’s next? What else do they have to say? If they talk about toddler tantrums this well what can they tell me about potty training? Have you ever watched a new tv series, gotten absolutely hooked at the first episode and then had the disappointment of trying to find the next episode on catch up and it not being available yet? Well think of your blog as that exciting new series; some readers wont want to read more but some will and those some are the some that will help you grow your blog into whatever you want it to become.
Sure later on when your blog is more established I’d advice things like schedules and spreading out your content (that’ll be in another post) but in the beginning I’d advise you to just get as much content as you can onto your blog; don’t rush it mind, try and make it good quality but just make sure that there’s enough to keep your readers going.
5 – Self promote
There’s no use having wonderful content if no one knows how to find it. This can be a slow burner (unless the right person shares your post at the right time) but it’s so so important to self promote. Share your new posts on all of your social handles, some you can do automatically and others require a teeny bit of work. Whenever I write a new post, I have a tool (I’ll share these in another post) that auto-shares a link to my blog on my Twitter page and my Facebook page. I then upload a picture to Instagram, usually a relevant picture to the blog post, letting everyone know that there is a new post on my blog. I also take a picture of the blog post and share it on my insta-stories or I simply tell people on there that I have a new post. I sometimes change the link in my bio on Instagram to my current blog post/video and if I’m feeling extra on the ball I let people know ahead of time to expect a post at a set time.
There are loads of other ways to self promote such as sharing posts in Facebook groups and commenting on other peoples blog posts but I am planning a post on how to promote your blog so stay tuned for that!
Well those are my 5 top tips for starting a blog; nothing technical I’m afraid if you were looking for the actual how-to’s of starting a blog but I hope it was helpful nonetheless. I have loads of ideas for my next few posts including how to promote, how to earn money, how to grow your following, how to schedule, how to find your niche, how to collaborate and so many more. If you have any particular questions then please do pop them below and I’ll either answer them in the comments or I’ll write up a blog post.
Thanks for reading!