Thursday Waylay – Advice & Tips for New Bloggers

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We’ve said this a lot, but one of our favorite parts about blogging is the amazing, supportive and inspiring online contributor community we’re fortunate to be a part of. Simply put, we’ve met some seriously rad people in the past year we would never have run into otherwise (yesterday was our one year blog birthday – bring out the cake and candles!) In fact, we met one of my next door NEIGHBORS at a blog event – hi Nicole!

We’ve also received a lot of questions from people looking to launch a blog or just getting started this internet industry. Our advice? JUST DO IT! Don’t over think it or you will never get it off the ground. Before Peachtree Roadies I’d contemplated starting a blog for years – and finally over brunch and tons of  mimosas we decided to just…start. And we made a bunch a mistakes. Want examples? How about only taking pictures with our iPhones (tiny, tiny, pictures I might add) and not leveraging SEO to its full extent (uh, whoops.) However, for us, the scariest part was getting started, and once we did the mistakes didn’t freak us out us as much. In fact, I think we will always make mistakes, because that means we’re growing and trying to be better.

But we want to provide inquisitive minds with more advice than what we can simply provide, so we asked a bunch of our blog friends and influencers what their number one piece of advice is and what mistakes newbies should avoid. Turns out, this is pretty good advice for ALL bloggers, new or not. Get ready to take notes….

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Blog: Eat. Drink Repeat. 

What you need to know: Be humble. Thank the PR, media companies and owners if you received anything for free. They don’t owe you anything. Differentiate yourself with your writing, tone and photos. There are a million and three food/lifestyle blogs out there. What makes yours stand out?

Avoid this mistake: Not knowing how to better leverage the blog into an income resource through advertisements sponsored posts, brand ambassadorship, etc. Although this may not be the goal for most, it certainly helps offset the cost and maintenance of running a blog from web hosting services, convention registrations and meals that you may have to pay for.

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Blog: Peaches in a Pod 

What you need to know: Build a blogger community by commenting on other blogs and linking up. It not only makes blogging fun by building those relationships, but it will also help your blog get noticed.

Avoid this mistake: When we first started blogging, we didn’t realize how helpful social media would be. Joining Instagram and Facebook should have been our first action, but we didn’t join for a couple of months! Do these early and often, and don’t forget about Twitter and Bloglovin.

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Blog: Probably Polka Dots

What you need to know: Invest in a blog template/design from the beginning to make your blog look professional. There are a ton of affordable Etsy vendors (like this one) that have great designs for under $35. If you’re interested in monetizing your blog, I think having a professional look from the beginning is worth it. Of course, as you grow your presence, you can redesign your blog at any time. I’ve had three redesigns, all of which worked for me at that particular point in my blogging career. Designing the look and feel of your blog is a fun process, so enjoy every minute of it!

Avoid this mistake: One thing I didn’t take the time to do when I first started blogging was resize my pictures; this really makes a huge difference in the time it takes your blog to load for your readers. Plus, it’s one of the things that keeps them coming back for more. Don’t worry about dropping a pretty penny for Photoshop. Instead use a free resource like PicMonkey to make your blog images the same width as your text. This will help the eye travel seamlessly through your blog from text to pictures. In the blog world, bigger images are always better, so try to resize your images somewhere between 600 and 800 pixels depending on the width of your text. An easy trick for this? Take a screen shot/clip of the text of your blog. Open it in PicMonkey to see the width of your text. Then, resize all of your blog images within 5-10 pixels of that. For example, all of my blog images are 680 pixels wide which is just slightly smaller than the width of the text (but you can’t tell at all!)

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Blog: Bless Her Heart Y’all

What you need to know: You are going to make mistakes.   There’s no manual on how to blog, so mistakes are inevitable!  It will happen over and over again.  I have made so many mistakes and still continuously make them.  So don’t worry when it does happen to you, we’ve all done it!

Avoid this mistake: My pictures were way too small in the beginning.  I look back now and wonder how on earth anyone could see what I was blogging about.  My pictures were tiny!

 

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Blog: Sensibly Sharp

What you need to know: Don’t offer your services for free. As a blogger it might seem great when prospective people come to you for “free publicitiy” in exchange for them maybe sharing your content with their following, but it’s not worth it. Blogging takes a lot of work and effort on your part and the promise of just maybe isn’t good enough for free work. There’s no such thing as a free lunch (economics principle) and you need to get comfortable with saying no and hearing no as an answer. Chances are it takes money to run your blog, so you can’t just give away your time.

Avoid this mistake: Trying to be like every cut and paste fashion blogger out there. I’m a very word-y person, and I realized that people weren’t reading all of my “story” so I started cutting out a lot of what I had to say to be more like the popular fashion bloggers who write one or two sentences. I have since gone back to being word-y, if you couldn’t tell 🙂

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Blog: Buckhead Betty on a Budget

What you need to know: Write about what makes you passionate. If you are not interested in what you are writing about, your readers won’t be either. They can totally see through it, and your writing just won’t be at its best. If you don’t have something that really interests you that day or week, don’t force the post! Instead, take a step back, and think about what makes you happy. Maybe it’s a photo round-up from your Instagram feed, or some of the pins you are loving. A post doesn’t have to be paragraphs long. It could be a fun caught-in-the-moment burst of energy, giving you some much needed “real life” time, and your readers a glimpse into your heart of hearts.
Avoid this mistake: Not everything has to be blog-able. When I first started my site, I often got caught up thinking about what I was doing that week, and if I was going to be able to re-purpose any of it for my blog. I was forcing my real-life world of PR and social media onto my blog, trying to plan out each step and scenario. Guess what? That made my weeks hectic, stressful, and honestly, not very fun for me (or my then boyfriend ;)). Life should come first. Then your blog. Pre-planning content is great, but make sure you are enjoying what you are writing about, and living life more or less as normal. Then it will be (surprise!) way more fun for readers to read about your adventures!
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Blog: Casually Chic by Monique

What you need to know: Don’t be afraid to be you … truth of the matter, everyone else is taken, and might already have a blog. If you are true to yourself {and let your personality shine through} your readers will be loyal. They are already reading so and so’s blog for her, so make your blog unique and desirable!

Avoid this mistake: Figuring out Social Media can be tricky … so I mimicked the popular blogs social habits … this didn’t work for me. I had to learn what my followers liked and when they were on social media to make it effective. When I analyzed and learned their habits, I was surprised that it was quite different from what I was initially doing!

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Blog: 2 Cats and Chloe

What you need to know: Be yourself!  I know, you probably hear that from everyone.  But it’s 100% true.  If you want people to love you and your blog, you need to be yourself.  Don’t waste your time writing about a topic because you think that’s what people want to hear… write about something you are passionate about and your fans and followers will come.

Avoid this mistake: I made this mistake early on, and I’m still guilty of it every now and then!  You must be consistent!  Consistent with comments, consistent with posts, consistent with social media!  Blogging is fun, but it can also be work.  Plan blog-time into your schedule and stick with it!

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Blog: Supper Club of the South

What you need to know: Plan your posts ahead of time and stick to your calendar! Having more than one writer for our blog, it is easy to forget who’s turn it is to post and what to post about. Plan your posts out a few weeks in advance that way you are never rushed. We love blogging as a group because it shares responsibilities and makes blogging more fun!

Avoid this mistake: A mistake we made early on that surprised us was how you must be consistent on using a real camera and not your iphone for photos. It is so easy to snap away on your cell instead of breaking out your huge camera at dinner. We learned quickly that most blog societies do not accept blogs with iphone photos so make sure you use your camera!

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Blog: Peaches to Pearls

What you need to know: The best advice I can give is utilize your social media to promote your blog. I cannot tell how much this has helped my blog grow over the past year. Instagram has opened so many doors for me and even landed me some pretty amazing new friends. Focus on posting only good pictures that serve a purpose for your blog content. After attending various workshops and figuring it out on my own, here are my Instagram 10 Commandments:

1) Thou shall post pretty food pictures- stay away from most Mexican food and half eaten pieces of food.
2) Thou shall not post blurry pictures- even if its slightly blurry- do not post it
3) Thou shall try to have pictures of coffee, flowers and puppies- unless you don’t have a heart, these are always a huge hit.
4) Thou shall comment on others Instagram pictures- this has been a great way to build relationships and encourage loyal followers
5) Thou shall never be negative on Instagram- Don’t ever speak poorly of another blogger, vendor or anyone on your Instagram. And don’t complain. No one wants to follow a negative Nancy.
6) Thou shall not take too many selfies- Need I say more?
7) Thou shall thank all your kind comments- take the time to say thank you to your readers. This will build relationships and show what an awesome person you are.
8) Thou shall not be a copy cat- Don’t steal other bloggers material or Instagram pictures. Be original. Thats why you’re a blogger in the first place right?
9) Thou shall use hashtags- I know they are so annoying but it is crucial you use hashtags and lots of them. They will help you grow and cultivate relationships
10) Thou shall not follow people then unfollow them- This is tacky. Don’t follow people just to gain more followers then unfollow them. Theres apps out there to find out whose doing this and you don’t want to look desperate.

Avoid this mistake: A mistake I made early on was comparing myself to other bloggers. Its easy to look at some blogs and get really discouraged because you feel like you will never be as good as them. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to be a successful blogger. BUT the beauty of blogging is you will get rewarded after all your hard work. Keep you chin up and be YOU on your blog.

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12 thoughts on “Thursday Waylay – Advice & Tips for New Bloggers

  1. Kelly and Meg,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! All of the advice you compiled from other bloggers will be so useful for me as the start up process for my blog continues. I cannot thank Kelly enough for taking the time to meet with me in December (at Bartaco, of course!) when I was contemplating starting my blog. I have reflected on my conversation with Kelly so much during this first month. I can’t wait to watch as your blog continues to grow.
    Much love,
    Carly

    Liked by 1 person

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