This week I'm kicking off a new blogging tips series:
How to Start a Blog
I’m really excited about this series because it's going to allow me to share everything I’ve done step by step that enabled me to quit my day job and pursue my passion full-time within 18 months.
This is my journey and hopefully it will be a great resource into starting or improving your own blog, and point you in the right direction into following your own passion. I'm still learning new techniques everyday- but I can at least share what I've learned up to this point.
Over the next few weeks I'll be discussing:
- WordPress vs. other platforms, Installation, Website themes, Widgets
- SEO, Google Analytics
- Social Media
- How to Establish and Grow Your Email List
And much MUCH more..
It's basically the behind-the-scenes mechanics surrounding, starting and maintaining a blog.
Most of the action items that helped me grow, I just figured out along the way through research, advice from coders or fellow bloggers…but I'm going to organize it for you guys so hopefully it will cut your research time way down… and if I can do it- anyone can, no joke.
I want to be a resource and help you anyway I can. Keep in mind though, nothing happens overnight. I’ve had many late nights, early mornings and frustrations along the way. It’s hard work- especially in the beginning with trying to get in the groove with everything and working full-time, but I'm so glad I made the decision to start my blog. It's been very rewarding and if you're committed- you can do it too!
I figured it would be best to break it down in the order I would have needed to learn when first starting out. I also didn’t want to create one massive blog post, it’s overwhelming and more difficult to digest… my own eyes start to glaze over after a few paragraphs- and like I said, it absolutely doesn't happen overnight. Breaking it down into separate posts will allow me to help you along your journey and answer any questions you may have during each topic.
So let’s begin the first topic of many:
Finding Your Niche.
Before you start a blog, you need to do a little research and planning. What you don't want to do is decide a few months later that you actually don't love the thing you are blogging about and want to switch your focus. Plan appropriately so you can be committed long-term. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Your Passion
Blogging is a ton of fun but also a ton of work and you want to be writing or producing content about something you absolutely love or you will honestly burn out. For me, that was vintage shopping, thrifting, scoring a deal, etc. Blogging about something you already know or do on a regular basis is much easier than trying to learn something just to hopefully turn it into a business. The topic has to be your passion.
- Write down three of your hobbies or areas that you truly enjoy- what do you envision committing to writing about regularly?
- If you had to write about something for the rest of your life (extreme I know), what would it be?
2. Be Unique
Ok so now you have an idea of what you want to blog about, but now you need to make it unique. This sounds so cliché right? Part of finding your niche is defining what will make your blog standout. There are a ton of blogs discussing fashion, food, travel etc., but what makes yours different?
Although blogging is a saturated market- there's still room to find your voice. For example, while reading style blogs before I started my own, I realized that not many bloggers focused on affordable brands or second-hand items in general, or maybe just not the more well-known ones. I loved checking out the inspirational images, but it didn't resonate as much with me in terms of actually buying anything.
I knew being stylish without spending a ton could be my unique spin and I also knew there had to be other girls like me that couldn't justify shopping designer clothing 24/7. I wanted to incorporate my thrift finds but also knew I didn't want to be pigeonholed into strictly thrift/vintage fashion.
Maybe your strength is photography or funny writing skills- use whatever makes YOU unique and incorporate that into your blog.
- Take your general hobbies you wrote down and write a more specific feature of each. Food (i.e. gluten free), Travel (i.e. mainly staycations in various cities).. you get the idea.
- Check out your market- is there anything missing that you could offer?
- Ask family and friends the question, “What do you think makes me unique?” Sometimes this gets the creative juices flowing and provides you with an outside view of yourself.
3. Be Consistent
Once you figure out your niche, stick with that. For me, I knew I wanted to keep it largely fashion and incorporate lifestyle with my family as well. However, you won't see me offering cooking advice or discussing mainly beauty brands. I like to mix a little bit of beauty when I find a product I absolutely love, but for the most part, if you visit my blog you know it's a personal style blog.
On the other hand, if I decided that I wanted to incorporate beauty, food and fashion as the main three focuses- you would see at least a post each week from each category to make sure I was evenly committed to what I was blogging about. Basically, don't be all over the place- if you're not completely sure about your blog's overall theme or message, then you can bet your readers won't either… possibly losing interest.
Be consistent with whichever areas you want to be your focus.
- Of your general hobbies and their unique spin, remove anything you can't see yourself being committed to in the long-term. Maybe you want to write about it here and there, but it's not going to be the main defining theme of your blog.
4. Create your Tagline
In one or two sentences, sum up what your blog is about for those who first land on your page. You want your audience to understand what they can expect right away from reading your blog. This will also help you figure out what you want to be blogging about overall.
Based in Southern California, Thrifts and Threads highlights my affordable style, thrift and vintage finds plus adventures as a wife and mom.
With that in mind, if I feature a higher priced item or a designer splurge, I make sure to mix in either a thrifted item or a more affordable piece. Being mindful of your tagline will help you stay focused on the overall theme of your blog, think of it as your Mission Statement.
- Pretend you met someone for the first time, in one to two sentences- explain what your blog is about.
Find other blogs you admire and figure out why you like visiting their page. Is it the photography, their writing style, interesting articles? For example, I followed wedding blogs when I first started out (mainly because I just had gotten married) and was always drawn to articles that were focused on more affordable style ideas or untraditional bridal party looks. Once I started taking a conscious mental note on what I was drawn to reading, it helped me realize even more so what I enjoyed.
Sitting down and taking a moment to figure out what you are drawn to might help clarify what you want to write about yourself. Clearly I don't have a wedding blog, but I was still able to identify my passion for affordable style options.
- Go to your RSS feed and see what you have been reading lately or what photos really inspire you on your Pinterest boards. These might hold the key to what you really enjoy.
These are the first 5 steps I did when starting my own blog and figuring out my niche. Hopefully they will help you as welllll! :)
I really enjoy reading your e-mails and understanding what you guys are struggling with the most- and love that you are asking me for help! But if you have questions, I'm sure other people have the same as well- that's why I encourage you to leave your questions below each post, that way I can hopefully help more than one person with my response (if I know the answer that is).
P.S. Just for fun, leave your tagline in the comments below. I would love to hear what your blog is about! If you don't have a blog and are just starting out, comment your ideas on what you have in mind for your tagline.