Monday, August 11, 2014

Blogging FAQ

I always feel so flattered when people come to me and ask for advice or tips on blogging. It seems like I was just the girl with no thoughts on what blogging was or how big the blogging world was, and being able to help others with their own blog makes me feel so giddy. I wrote this way back in January and I think it all still stands, so here's a good starting point: So you want to start a blog. But every time someone's sent me a question, I try to be as thorough and honest as possible, and then save it all for reference later! 



How did you get started with your blog?
So my blog started two years ago when I got cut from my volleyball team and didn't really have anything else to do, so I started baking and crafting a lot. Crafting included making a monogrammed shirt for myself, and sometime in September, someone asked me to make one for them, and I figured I had a business. I created a Weebly site to have a platform for my shirts, and then people started wanting my recipes, so I created a blog on Weebly, but a few months later, I switched to Blogger, one of the biggest blogging platforms (Blogger and Wordpress are the two main ones- there are good and bad things for each, but I love Blogger!) It continued to be just a few posts, 1 or 2 a week, about baking or crafting recipes/DIYs, but there were a few posts where I shared different things and they got a lot of views or attention and I kept going with it and kept it more constant. I think that that was a good starting point because I had no concept of anything in the blog world- no fashion blogs, no 'preps', no social media crazes, nothing. I simply continued to blog because I liked writing and sharing the things I love. It was nice to feel like I could write or publish anything about my life and that regardless of whether or not people were actually reading it, it was still out there and it was fun to have! I tweeted it when posts when out and my friends read it and that seemed to be about it, but I kept going with it. I read a lot of different blogs and absolutely love the friendships I’ve made through blogs, and they always keep me inspired! I’ve learned a lot about myself through blogging because I’ve written about some of the most personal things in my life-- sometimes this is good and sometimes this is bad, solely because my blog is public to anyone who wants to read it (which means people I do know and people I don’t know all have access to my random thoughts), but I think God blessed me with an ability to write and share my thoughts, so that vulnerability has turned into feeling like I’ve helped others or articulate feelings of someone else and it’s made me a little bit more confident in what I write and how much I share. I like to blog about lots of different things, which categorizes mine more as a ‘lifestyle’ blog, but I like it because it in a way keeps a diary of my life and I love it! 

Where do you get inspiration for posts?
I think inspiration and writer’s block can be especially hard when you’re not really sure what you plan to blog about or how you want to go about it. The best thing that I always think about is to just go for it as much as you can. Even when you don’t really have much to say, there’s always something going on or some picture I took that day or some quote I saw or some article I read that always makes you think a little. Even if it’s something short, think about how each thing you see or do could be turned into something you share as part of a life story. It’s led me to take more pictures and write more, which is incredibly therapeutic in the long run! I get a lot of inspiration from reading other blogs, talking to other people, going shopping, reading magazines, checking up on social media (Pinterest is the BEST) and news, and staying aware of the things happening around me that could translate into something I could make my own! There are definitely days where I think of a million posts and some where I can’t think of one, but I keep a notebook with me with a list of possible posts, which helps a lot.


How much time/commitment do you put into blogging?
The work and time that you choose to put into it is incredibly up to you and your commitment. I really love blogging and prioritize over other things sometimes (whoops), but it can sometimes be a little bit of work, now that I’m this deep into it (but I wouldn’t have it any other way!) It takes a little bit of time to set up, but when you have a free platform, it’s not too confusing! I decided to invest a little bit more and I had someone design mine after I wanted to keep going with it. I spend a good amount of time each day going through the blogs I read, leaving comments, replying to emails and stuff (sometimes I get a lot about random things, sometimes they’re about opportunities with blogging), writing/scheduling posts, and incorporating social media into it.

What's a good way to make time for blogging?
The thing about blogging is that it really is a lot of work from different sides. It can be a time commitment, but some of the struggles come from coming up with something original all the time and staying focused on it. It's easy to have days where you think you have a ton of things to write about and then plenty of days where you completely neglect it, so you really have to make it a priority in your life- a priority where you sit down each day and write and schedule posts and social media things and think through it, more than just writing. But once you get into a blogger mindset and have it as a priority, it's easy to do that and other things. You just always have to be looking for opportunities for posts and doing things on the side, and then hunkering down and actually doing it. I see blogging as a way to keep my life organized and sometimes seems like less of a hassle and more of a way to feel put together, so it doesn't feel so time-consuming! I guess that's almost a confidence thing, having my blog organized makes me feel confident enough to handle other big things!


I'm not the best at having several scheduled posts at a time, I usually just wait until the day or two days before to write it, but during school, it'll be a little different. If your blog incorporates fashion, when you come home from school and you're looking nice or have on a cute outfit, go ahead and see if you can take pictures and upload them while you work and boom, you have a fashion post you can schedule later for the week. I also think that inspiration lacks a little for me during the school week, so if I have ideas on the weekend, I write them out so I can remember them and write/edit them when I get a chance-- also another great place to kill time. If I know it's going to be more writing-focused, I type it out on Google Docs on my phone while I'm in the car, babysitting, etc. Fun fact- my hip bones blog post was written one night while I was babysitting and the girls had gone to sleep and I was waiting for the parents to come home so I could go out with my friends, completely random for the subject matter, but it works!

What are tips you would give to beginner bloggers?
Like I said, when I started blogging, I had no concept of any other blogs or social media accounts. I had my own personal social media accounts and that was about it. Now, I think about how I read all of these blogs and stay up to date on social media and Tumblr and read a lot more than I did then, and it’s easy to compare myself to others and get down on myself because we’re all portraying reality to be better than it is (and I’m not ashamed to admit this- it’s an escape for me). But my biggest piece of advice is to stay true to what you really enjoy and like to do. Blog about things you care about…if you don’t care about the newest Tory Burch line, don’t feel obligated to blog about it to fit in to a niche of other bloggers. It’s easy to see which blogs don’t truly like what they’re writing about! The blogs that really start to ‘make it’ are ones that are true to themselves and don’t over-glamorize their lives. There are a blue million blogs, so try to make yours original and who YOU are! :)

That being said, the other two huge pieces of advice for blogging are patience, humility, and consistency. I started my blog without any expectations for what I wanted it to be and where I wanted it to go, which is why I never stressed about followers on anything related to my blog. I know people will say this over and over, but if you’re not blogging because you truly want to, then you will feel miserable doing it because this so-called popularity, or even the opportunity to be paid or sponsoring products, doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not fun to do something if you’re only doing it for followers and views. You have to have patience in that if you blog about what you love, keep true to yourself, eventually your readers will feel a connection to you and stay loyal to your blog! That being said, staying humble is important (but it’s okay to be confident!!!), and blogging consistently, even on the hard days, is a good way to maintain a blog. 

I want to go public with my blog and incorporate social media more, how should I do that?
There are a couple things to think about in terms of social media when going public with your blog. The biggest thing you'll want to consider is whether or not you want a blog account AND a personal account, or just one that's totally encompassing. I have just one Twitter account and one Instagram account, but that's because I started it as a way to share my monogrammed shirts and recipes, there never seemed to be a point early on where I thought I would have readers and followers that I don't know. I've debated it in my head a lot about whether or not I want to start accounts for my blog, but for now (and hopefully for a while), I've kept just one. This is because my blog is more lifestyle and I have nothing to hide from my friends or my readers, which is nice because they all kind of mesh into one big group. My blog is completely who I am and I think my Twitter and Instagram reflect that as well. However, I know that there are lots of bloggers that have two different accounts because they don't want to have personal pictures on their blog Insta, and don't want to overwhelm their friends with blog pictures. It's something I struggle with (the blog to personal pic ratio), but it's what I do and I love it!

Another thing to keep in mind: when you go public with your blog, anyone can read it, and assume that everyone does read it. You'll have the normal people, like your family that'll read it, but you can sometimes forget that your teachers, boyfriend's teachers, grandmother's friends, church pastor, potential employers, college people....anyone can read it. This is great for exposure (and for a resume), but you have to remember that anything you put out there and anything you link to it (including your Twitter) can be read. That's another reason that people choose to have different accounts- posting about funny things in your personal life may not exactly be what you want blog readers to see, and it may not be something that you think about now, but going forward could be an issue. 

Whatever you decide to do, keep it all streamlined. My biggest rule that I try to follow is same profile picture for Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and maybe even the button on your blog. This makes it easy for people to find you and realize that it's all the same person. You can schedule tweets (I use Hootsuite) so that you can tweet the link to your blog post whenever you want it to (also, I recommend hooking up Bloglovin' to your Twitter so that it sends out a tweet with that link when you publish a post). For Instagram and Twitter, again, it depends on whether or not you choose to have one or two accounts, but keep your blog name and URL in your bio (or make it your username if you're making two). Keeping it streamlined also means keeping your URL and blog title the same thing- it's confusing when the title of someone's blog isn't the same as their URL. For Instagram pictures, keep them fresh and don't post the same sort of thing over and over. If you have an outfit post, you can post a picture the day before about how it's a preview of tomorrow's post (it keeps people wanting to come back), or post a picture the day of and set your URL as the location on your picture. It's all about branding yourself and making sure that people know about your blog, but without being too annoying. Being annoying is my biggest fear as a blogger and simply as a person on social media, but think about it in terms of all of the people that are going to look at it-- "Would both my friends and my blog readers enjoy this?" Also, a HUUUUGE thing to keep in mind when you're starting out with social media is that numbers do not matter. Don't compare your followers or likes to anyone else because that's not what matters. Maybe this sounds too relationship-y, but if you lose followers or don't gain them quickly, don't worry about it, because you really didn't need them to comfort you to begin with. It's about posting quality content, and if you focus on that, then followers, likes, etc. will come naturally. 

Do you have any more questions? You can always feel free to email me at monogrammeredith@gmail.com, or tweet me, or ask on Tumblr... whatever, honestly! Hope this helped some!!

xoxo,
Meredith


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1 comment:

  1. Can you please, please, please tell me how to get those buttons at the bottom of each post (for pinterest, etc)?

    -Jordyn

    ReplyDelete

Well thank ya for wanting to leave a comment! I love reading what you think! xoxo