The first step is to set up your blog; choose a name (you’ll hate it in three months anyway ha) and opt for a blogging platform; there’s Blogger, pretty simple and hard to go wrong with – usually the first choice for most bloggers. There’s also WordPress.com, a bit like blogger in that it’s a hosting platform for blogs, it’s a bit limited when it comes to customising but nonetheless, free and easy to use. There’s also self-hosted WordPress.org (this is what I use), you may need someone to help you set this up as it’s more complicated than the aforementioned and involves buying hosting and a domain. Whatever you decide to settle with (and Blogger and self-hosted WordPress are just fine) I would recommend buying your own domain – so you’re www.you.com rather than www.you.blogspot.com – you can always set this up later but it’s good to have it from the start.
Customising your blog will make it stand out, make yourself a nice header that defines your blog and is unique. This will help your blog to stick and people will remember it! You can always ask a friend in the know to give you a hand.
Next up, get your blog up on Bloglovin‘ – so many people use this to follow and track the blogs they like, create a Facebook page and get yourself a Twitter handle and Instagram account if you wish. You don’t have to go all out at first but these will make a huge difference to traffic, if I have a scan at my blog stats I can see Twitter is one of the top referrers, meaning I get most of my traffic from here. It’s helpful if you keep your name all the same, for example my blog is gh0stparties as is my Twitter and Instagram handles. It makes it easier for people to find you. You can also set up a Google Analytics account, this will give you accurate reports on your traffic and helps you to understand what works – it will tell you so much about your blog, where your traffic is coming from, who has linked to your blog, how people have searched you through Google. You may also be asked by PRs for your stats so it’s always handy to have them.
Other small things you can do is find similar blogs and interact on Twitter and comment on blogs, this gets your name out there but I would say try not to be too spammy. I like when people leave their links but I understand people find it annoying when they say “nice… check out my giveaway I’ve also got a post on this and that *blog link*” this is just good “netiquette” and won’t annoy your fellow bloggers. Also, go in to your blog comment settings and REMOVE CAPTCHA. It’s unnecessary and readers will feel more obliged to comment.
If you have blogs you like, build up relationships on Twitter. In my experience, tweeting your blog link to every blogger going probably won’t get you far but occasionally replying to tweets etc can help bloggers notice your blog. I have so many followers that tweet me all the time with funny little things that I usually retweet, I also find so many blogs and new followers this way.
Whether you’re starting a blog or already have one, there’s quite a few things you can do to improve your traffic and monetize your blog. I’m not going to get to technical with this as it’s not going to be that type of blog post, most of these things come with time (such as working your way up the search engines and building a readership). The one thing I would say is to find your niche and always be original – when I check out possible contributors for Nouvelle I always, always look for the signs they really are different. Although it’s great to have regular features, I really do think it’s best to do things differently – especially with the post title! Do you know how many beauty blogs come up in Google when you search for “Sunday Post beauty blog”? Set your blog apart from the rest by doing something a bit different, blogs can get a little samesy and it can become a bit of a blur for readers (not to mention rather predictable) when there’s several bloggers posting Instagram posts on Saturdays – mix it up a bit and don’t follow the crowd.
The first few months or so are likely to be you writing to yourself – don’t worry about that as it will come with time and it will allow you to make some errors, post some terrible photography and get to grips with blogging while not that many people are reading. This leads me to my next point; photography. I would say having good photography is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a fancy camera. You can use your iPhone (I sometimes do, I doubt anyone notices) but focus that photo by touching the screen first. If you have a digital camera, learn to use it and try to get as much out of it as possible. This is something that will again come with time so don’t sweat it just now. I’ve always been in to photography and already owned a DSLR but if you ever feel like buying one, do it when you’re ready and not because you feel pressure to.
Try and make your posts varied, find a topic that suits you and throw in some other posts from time to time. I love lifestyle blogs as they are so, so varied and you can post whatever the heck you want and no one questions it. As I said above, try to find your niche and let your personality shine through, don’t feel disappointed because you don’t have a post called “The Edit” or haven’t got an iPhone to use Instagram – this will work in your favour when you’re forced to think outside of the box. Try and post regularly but don’t feel you need to do is religiously, great things come from blog breaks but remember, readers usually like it when blogs post often.
Now, once your blog is underway you can step it up a bit, introduce yourself to PRs and monetize your blog. There’s quite the debate when it comes to PRs and everyone has a differing opinion. What I think is this; if samples come your way then yay! But don’t make it a thing, stay true to yourself – be a blogger not a blagger. Saying that, if you think you have built up a great readership that trust what you say and you have good traffic, why not introduce yourself to PRs – think realistically and go for some smaller brands at first. Usually you’re going to be helping them out far more and if they don’t want to work with you then it doesn’t matter. You can send a simple email saying “I write this here blog and would love to be added to your press lists for more details on your latest releases” but probably you’ll just get an inbox full of press releases. Blogging is not all about the freebs, they are just an occasional bonus.
I am probably responsible for a large number of girls buying Laura Mercier Silk Cream foundation for example, but I still buy the tubes myself over a year later and I really don’t mind, I’d rather have followers with happy makeup and a willingness to come back to my blog. I have a few great brands that I work with often but I don’t rely on samples, blogging only works if you’re honest and relatable and sometimes, posting about £100 moisturisers and £70 candles every day makes it hard for your readership to relate to you (in my opinion). I recommend being honest when it comes to samples, even though I get samples for Nouvelle rather than my blog, if they’re really great I usually pop them on my blog too and do mark them as samples. I don’t think it really matters how people have got hold of products, personally - I’m pretty trusting but it can become a little suspicious sometimes so be honest and don’t take the piss. I’ve never been paid to feature a product on my blog and I think this is really ridiculous so I really wouldn’t recommend this – to anyone that may be suspicious about bloggers posting about a product at the same time, from what I know it’s never because they’ve been paid to post about it. Sure, if we’ve been sent something new (especially if it’s limited edition) there can be a flood of posts but that’s usually only because we want to inform you all first!
If you think it’s time you could be earning money from your blog, sign yourself up to Skimlinks and even Google Adsense. Skimlinks is an affiliate program that a lot of bloggers use, you basically can use the link builder to make affiliate links that when people click on and buy the product, you get a cut. I think this is a great idea and there shouldn’t be any stigma surrounding this, as long as you’re honest about it. If you’ve taken the time to find something and trial it yourself then why not get a tiny bit of commission.
Google AdSense is also great but it can take time for you to earn any decent money. You can also sign up with Glam Media, an advertising network that feeds adverts out through blogs. You can earn a good amount of money through this if your traffic is high.
You can also do sponsored posts, I usually ignore these as I don’t think people really appreciate them. However, the choice is yours – as long as you declare it there’s not really any problem.
Moving on to YouTube, I would say if you’re thinking about getting in to this then do it before you have an established blog! I sort of joke here but I wish I had kept going when I first started making videos a few years ago, when I finally started it up again last year, people expected me to be perfect as I was already a blogger. YouTube is HARD, it’s not like blogging and people will piss all over your work at any chance they get. I do really, really enjoying making videos as I can have a laugh but I do get upset easily and it seems the more subscribers you get, the more nasty comments you get. Saying that, you do get so many lovely comments and people will also find your blog. I have found so many lovely people through YT so it can be great. Have the same attitude for YouTube as the above and BE YOURSELF. You don’t need to be someone else, people will like you for being genuine. You will also come out of your shell eventually so don’t force it, if you look back to any well-known YouTuber’s first videos you will see they were also shy and quiet (Tanya Burr was literally the most adorable thing in her first videos and now she’s a confident, happy woman so keep this in mind!). You don’t all need to be Zooey Dechanel in New Girl, I promise you. Ignore most of the feedback or you’ll change rather quickly and no one wants that
I think I’m coming to the end of my tips and advice post… the main thing is to be original, create a blog/channel that you yourself would read and be a nice person and create a happy atmosphere. No one likes Twitter drama, anonymous comments or dishonesty so let’s avoid this. Blogging really is great fun and there’s so much to gain from it; meeting readers, the endless lovely words and always, always having people on hand to cheer you up are just a few. Stay grounded, don’t be competitive, don’t get too too big for your boots and remember, your readers keep you afloat so be nice and appreciate them. Failing all that, read this post and have a laugh.
Please, please add your own little tips and helpful pointers in the comments. I realise this post was long and it’s taken me hours to write but I do hope it’s helpful! In the last couple of years blogging has just exploded and there’s just so much happening! Love. xo.
Some of these products may have been sent to me for review. For more information, see my disclaimer.