When I started my blog aged 17, I didn’t anticipate that four years later I’d still be sitting at my laptop writing out blog posts. I didn’t anticipate the opportunities that blogging would open me up to nor did I expect that I’d still be just as in love with it as I was all those years ago. I always wanted to blog, I wanted to have some sort of social media presence – I thought it’d be in YouTube though, and as I watched more and more vloggers and gurus come around, I quickly realised it was never going to happen for me. Then I discovered blogging. My world definitely changed the moment I set up Georgia Anne.
Here’s the thing though, with new laws and more people blogging now than ever, it’s incredibly easy to feel intimidated and to feel like maybe blogging isn’t for you – which okay fair enough, it’s all a bit confusing to begin with and people do get confused over new rules and laws, but it’s actually all very straight forward. I talk about setting up a blog pretty much every year, because every year it changes. The industry changes rapidly and we change with it. I’ve changed with it, that’s for sure.
what you need to know
Setting up your blog
I answer Q&A’s a lot on my Instagram and the first few questions are usually always asking me how I set up my blog. Setting up your blog is the easiest process out of this whole journey. All you need is the interest in blogging and your foot is already in the door – but the rest of the process is completely up to your creative brain.
You need to decide on a name for your blog, and this may not stick for the first few months or even the first year of blogging, but you want to be discoverable. If your name is generic then Google probably won’t rank you highly making you hard to find. Amazingly, my blog name is my actual name – and I share this name with an American singer who is much more discoverable than I am. But I’ve been stubborn, I’ve persevered and Google does find me now with the help of me using my name everywhere. More on this in a sec though.
Tips for deciding on your blog name:
- Make it simple and easy to remember
- Don’t feel pressured to use your own name, if you want to go for something a little wackier, do it!
- Make it relatable to your blog. If you’re talking about fashion and beauty, then “My little bakery” isn’t exactly a good name choice!
- Keep it short – preferably up to three words
Once you’ve decided on your name, you then want to decide on your first ever blogging platform. If you stick with blogging, in a few years time this will definitely change, especially if you ever feel ready to go self hosted – but I don’t recommend going self hosted straight away, because even though blogging is new and exciting to you right now, six months down the line you may decide it’s not for you, and you will have spent a lot of money going self hosted for no reason.
I recommend blogger as your first platform. It’s a really straight forward platform and it’s really easy to use, especially if you’re not very techy. Every post is easy to write, and although the platform is very restricting, you don’t have much say over the layout of your images and your actual website itself isn’t completely in your control, it’s easy to use and the least confusing at all. When I went self hosted, I quickly realised just how restricted I was on Blogger, but I’ll always recommend it to newbies because it’s such an easy platform to use and to get used to.
Blogging Platforms for you to try:
- Easy to use / Very user friendly
- Everything is all in one place
- Unlimited memory
- Comments are easy to manage
- Google analytics is linked to it automatically
- You don’t get a lot of freedom with the design
- You’re limited in how you lay out your blog posts
- The server can be a little bit slow at times and make it a bit frustrating to use if you’re trying to hurry
- Your DA score isn’t relevant nor true – meaning you’re going to get a high DA score just because it’s linked up to Blogger and not because it’s your own site
- Very easy dashboard
- You can follow blogs and they show up on your dashboard (easy reading!)
- You get more variety with the designs you can pick
- More freedom with the article editor
- To get good designs though, it’s quite pricey and you’re better off using blogger for cheap layouts
- The dashboard is a bit cluttered and confusing to use
- Your site looks very generic because of the limited designs
WordPress.org (aka: self hosted)
- Your DA score is yours – you’re self hosted after all!
- Unlimited possibilities with how your website will look
- The same editor as wordpress.com makes it easy and simple to use
- The easiest dashboard out of the 3 to use – everything is all in one place and it’s very straight forward
- Complete control over your pages and it’s the easiest out of the 3 to navigate when you want to add or delete a page
- Depending on who is hosting you – your memory is limited
- You’re paying to be self hosted, so if this is a hobby and not something you’re taking seriously, it’s going to be expensive
- You’re going to need to crack down on spam comments a lot more
Now – here’s something I see a lot of new bloggers stress over and something I touched on a bit in those lists: The look of their website. When you explore the world of blogging, you’re quickly going to see how many fantastic websites are set up. I spent a lot of time worrying about this, because I didn’t want my website to look crap. Right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been with it but there’s still changes I’d like to make and things that I think would look better if done differently, but overall it’s the best my website has ever looked and I’m pleased with it. But to begin with, my blog was just post after post without a read more tag and tons of images. It wasn’t very user friendly but it did the trick and people did read, later on I realised how crucial the read more tag is and even spent some money on a nicer layout, but I was always comparing myself to established bloggers who had been in the game for a lot longer than I had. Don’t do this. Comparison is the enemy, understand that you’re new to this and that you have a lot of growing and a lot of time on your hands, you will get better, your blog will look better someday and when you finally get to that stage you’ll feel so proud of yourself.
Deciding on your content
I assume since you’ve been thinking about blogging, you know roughly what it is that you want to blog about. This is good but I also encourage that you read a lot of blogs before you start to write. You’ll quickly come to see what is interesting and what people like to read, and also how to write a blog post that isn’t just 10 pictures and a line of text (I made this mistake).
Personally, I consider myself more of a lifestyle blogger than anything else nowadays, because I like to write think pieces more often than not and talk about things, but back in the day I definitely wanted to be more of a fashion blogger, I liked the idea of it and thought that I knew what I was doing since I was studying fashion at college and I just knew what people wanted to see. I had a bit of a shock when I got more into the blogosphere and saw what other people were creating. I know I said comparison is the enemy, but it does help to be a fan of blogs and to have a few that you like to get inspiration first of all. Don’t copy people though, there’s a difference between being inspired by someone and straight up copying them.
Before you begin writing your posts though and getting into bulk writing, plan them first. This is also another mistake I made as a new blogger. I decided that since I was new, I had a lot of catching up to do and would write new posts to go live every single day. I did this for about two years before I realised that I was seriously burnt out and my content was seriously suffering for it. There’s bloggers out there who encourage you to write and write and write, but I think this is just really bad advice. If you plan one or two good posts to get you started, this will get you a lot further in the long run and will be a lot less frustrating when the time comes when you notice that your content is suffering because you’re over exerting yourself.
It’s also very important to set a minimum word count for yourself. On certain types of posts, for example fashion posts, it’s harder to reach higher numbers since there’s only so many things you can say about an outfit. For these types of posts my minimum word count is always 500 words. It’s easy to reach and you don’t struggle to find words this way, you can fluently write, and there’s no rule to say that if you’re really into writing, you can’t slightly go over those 500 words. For my think-pieces and reviews my minimum word count is always 1,000 words. I think that it’s easy to make a point about something you’re passionate about, so reaching 1,000 words is actually really easy. I also tend to enjoy other bloggers who write more over bloggers who fill their posts with images and some text, to me it’s more enjoyable to see and I love a good blog post that gets my brain ticking.
Your social media platforms are going to be the biggest source of content next to your blog. It’s fair to say that the days of iPhone selfies and photos your mates took of you on your night out are a thing of the past in the blogosphere, and if you’re taking your blog seriously, it’s fair to say that it won’t last long before you want to invest in a juicy camera and get started taking some nice quality pics.
I make sure to post at least once a day onto my Instagram account, and it’s actually my Instagram that attracts the majority of people to my blog, and then it’s Twitter. I don’t really use Twitter that much these days for the sake of posting to, and I keep trying to get into the habit of scheduling tweets when new posts go live but honestly, I find Twitter to be the most exhausting social media platform out of all of them, just because it’s a really negative space in my opinion.
I suggest planning your feed ahead of time, I use the app UNUM to see how pictures will look on my feed before I put them up, and I’ll change my mind on what looks good a lot before I finally decide on what to post, and sometimes I regret my choice but it’s too late to delete and start over!
Engage with your audience, tell them about your new post and ask them what they thought. Ask your audience about their days or their opinions on something going on in pop-culture right now that you’re really into, this builds a relationship with your audience and it’s also just really nice to see who is enjoying your content, the people behind the number.
But what about brand deals?!
Let me just get this out of the way: If you’re looking to start a blog to get freebies and brand deals. Don’t bother at all.
Fair enough, there’s a motive there, but you’re going to have a shock when you realise that blogging takes work and the deals don’t just start because you set up a site and probably spent a fiver on your domain. I was blogging for a year and a half before my first collaboration came my way, and I wanted it to be so good that they’d come back for more – looking back it’s my worst post that I’ve done with a brand because I didn’t have the experience, and also because I didn’t actually love the product that much and I beat around the bush big style in admitting that I didn’t think the product was that great.
If you’re willing to put in the work and the hours that comes with running a blog, and if you’re committed to making your social media accounts interesting and you’re willing to work to grow an audience, then the brand deals will eventually come, they always do when you’ve been blogging for a while and have a keen audience, but starting a blog with the intention of getting freebies just doesn’t fly, honestly, because you will get sick of it. When the deals do come, and you start to earn some cash or get lots of gifts, it’s definitely easy to get sucked into it all and only write with the intention of getting more and more work – but relax. Blogging used to just be about having fun writing, and I still see it that way. So have fun writing.
It’s also important to get clued up on just how complicated the whole world of brand deals and #ADs really are if you’re new to blogging. It’s not so much that it’s hard to get a brand deal (because if your engagement is good and your numbers high, it’s quite easy), but it’s also easy to break the law if you’re misinformed. The laws have recently changed again and there’s lots of new rules that we all have to comply with otherwise we can risk a nice fine coming for us in the post, it’s a tricky situation and a lot of bloggers have expressed frustration and confusion over it all, but transparency is key here. I’ve made it pretty clear that I’ve done sponsored posts on my blog every single time by making sure it’s at the very top of every post.
I definitely think that blogging is the most fun a girl can have once she really gets into it – or a guy for that matter. But it’s also something that you want to be committed to, something you want to spend hours and hours working on, perfecting and then growing with. I think that if you’re not willing to put in the work, you will only know after you’ve started your blog, and it’s always worth having a go at it. I for one don’t believe that this is an over-saturated market, and I think that blogging is a lot of fun, and everyone has the right to give it a go!