The No BS Way to Starting a Blog: The Basics
Hello & happy middle of the week!
I took to Instagram to see what you wanted to read this week and guess what? I'm not listening to you. I will absolutely be writing a blog post with my list of things artist should watch, just later this month. I strive for quality of post over quantity of posts, so stay tuned for that post in the coming weeks! In the meantime, I figured enough people voted for a basics to blogging post so I thought it would be a good way to occupy this space until then. So here's a little step by step, no BS, way to starting a blog based on my personal experience.
Start the damn blog.
There are a million blogs out in the interwebs. Probably more than that.
And your probably thinking, "Does the world need one more blog?"
And the answer is, probably not.
BUT YOU SHOULD START ONE ANYWAY.
If you want to, then do it. It doesn't matter how many blogs are out in the world, there's always room for your blog if you have it in your heart to create one.
I am of the opinion that you don't need to figure out what the exact name of your blog is or what content you will be writing about right off the bat. I know a lot of "How to Blog" starter posts say you should spend hours thinking about what you want to write about and your site name. But I disagree completely.
I started my blog December 31, 2016 (Woah didn't realize it had been so long ago). The first three months I wrote four posts total and then didn't write again until June 1st and then August 13th.
It wasn't until August 13th 2016 (months after my first post) that I decided exactly what I was going to write about on my blog and how I was going to brand it. I sat down and looked at all the posts I had written thus far (which was not many) and found the common themes: theatre, traveling, and eating & drinking. Thus the Tipsy Theatre Traveler was created.
I was so thankful I had not purchased my domain already because it gave me the time to figure out what I was doing and my focus for my blog. I waited almost another year after officially naming the blog before purchasing the domain. Needless to say, I'm glad I let this process happen naturally and didn't try to force it into existence.
*Bonus tip: Be specific. There are tons of travel blogs out there, but how many are there about traveling the US solely by unicycle? Think about what makes your experience unique and bring that to the forefront of your blog.
Write often and post frequently.
Especially at the beginning. Not all of it's going to be good. But the only way to get better is to get the words down on paper.
Plus writing often will help you find what you like to write about. And the only way people will know to read it, is if you tell them it exists. So unless you want it to be an online diary (which is totally fine too)- share it with your friends!
One of the best ways to get attention to your blog is to have other people write for you! When you have a guest poster, they tend to share their post on their personal social media page-which means more traffic and new readers!
1. Don’t do an open call. Most people aren’t going to take the initiative and ask you to be a guest poster on your blog. So reach out and ask them. Chances are they will be flattered you ask, which will increase the likelihood of them saying yes!
2. Have guidelines. I tend not to be to strict when it comes to guidelines for my guest posters. I try to ask that it’s kept in the theatre/travel realm when it comes to the post's topic- but length, deadline, etc. is pretty much up to them! And while some people will take this and run with it, others like to have specifics. So think about which guests might be more inclined to write their own piece and which might be better suited for a spotlight piece or interview.
3. Just ask. The worst they can do is say no. But most likely they will just say they are to busy and to ask them again at another time! While I’ve asked many close friends to write for me, I’ve also reached out to colleagues, co-workers, and some just straight up acquaintances. This can be intimidating at first (especially when you get talent crushes as much as me), but I promise you it gets easier and most of the time people are always super eager to be involved and help out.
Read other blogs.
Once you find what you like to write about, find other successful blogs in that field and read, read, read! Find their social media accounts and follow them! Surround yourself with inspiration and it will improve your work by just being immersed in the content. Some of my favorite blog inspirations are The Backstage Blonde and The City Sidewalks.
Repetition is key.
People love consistency. So make a list of all possible categories and themes for your blog and then narrow it down to a few to try out. Play around with it for a while and then slim it down even further. People will gravitate to certain things and if they know it’s a constant, will know they can keep coming back for more. My themes are: Motivational Monday (FB and Instagram), Travel Tuesday, Theatre Thursday, and Finance Friday.
While you don’t have to use alliteration as much as I do, if it floats your boat-go for it!
Make a schedule and stick with it.
This is not necessary when you are first starting a blog. But once you get into the swing of things, you should then make a posting schedule (again for consistency, but also for your sanity). My schedule (which I’m finally finalizing as I’ve figured out what I like) is as follows:
Monday: Email Out to Subscribes
Wednesday: Misc. Post/Guest Post
Friday: Finance Friday
The Next Week:
Tuesday: Travel Tuesday
Thursday: Theatre Thursday
…And so on and so forth, alternating weeks. I usually leave the weekends for drafting posts and giving my social media a bit of break. While you should do your best to stick with your schedule, sometimes life happens. So don’t beat yourself up if you miss a post every once in a while!
Build a network.
The biggest part of building your blog is building your network. While there are many ways to do this, the primary way is social media. So here are some tips based on my experiences with it:
1. Share every post on every social media account. If you are worried about annoying your friends, create separate accounts for your blog (tbh though that is A LOT of extra work). I personally only use one social media account because my blog is so heavily attached to my career that it has started to become a part of my “brand”. I also spend enough time on social media as it is, so trying to manage multiple accounts would overwhelm me. But you do you. However, your real friends will support your constant posting blogging dreams or at least pretend to and just hide your posts. So don’t stress to much about it.
2. Hashtags. Yes you all know the … trick in the comments (if you don’t message me). But don’t hashtag a trillion things. Make your hashtags specific and relatable to what you are posting and the brand you are trying to create.
3. Run a contest. This is an easy way to get more attention because people love free stuff! It doesn’t have to be every other week, but contests are a fun way to get people interested in your account!
4. Create an email list and get subscribers. Did you know Instagram has an algorithm (and all sorts of other computer-nerd stuff) that essentially means they own your followers? And that this is true of most social media sites? Did you know this algorithm can change at any given time without any warning? That those influencers that Instagram is so heavily populated with right now could become nobody’s tomorrow? Well it’s true. You can spend hours/days/months/ years building up your Instagram followers and lose it all. So instead of spending hours on that, try creating an email list with subscribers. An email list is all yours and won’t be gone with a new update. So create an email list and love your email subscribers, because they are loyal AF!
PS. About a month ago my Instagram follower account jumped about 600 people. Even though they were primarily spam accounts, I was excited to finally have over 1,000 followers. But I also felt weird because they were fake and they weren’t increasing my likes or bringing any more traffic to my blog. So I went and deleted each and every one of them individually (fr though it took forever -Instagram please think of a better system). Build a network that is full of real people that you care about because they are what’s going to make your blog worthwhile. Quality over quantity.
5. On that note, engage with your readers! If they comment, respond to them! Comment on some of their photos! Tag the restaurants you are going to and the clothes you are wearing! Spread the love and create a community.
6. In addition to this, see what people read the most of and post more of what they like. Post surveys and ask them what blog posts they want to see that week or how they feel about your content. You don’t always have to go with what they ask for, but it’s good insight to have while building up your blog.
7. Go live. I just love Instagram Live. So maybe don’t do it as frequently as me. But it’s a good way to get people involved and to create a community!
Keep it fun!
Your blog is first and foremost a creative outlet for you. Just like with anything in your life, if you aren’t enjoying it -stop doing it. Don’t stress about making it perfect. Nobody is perfect in real life so the more you keep your content honest and relatable, the more people will want to read it and see it!
Well I’m off to drink a bottle of wine because I just had to retype the entirety of this blog post because Wix is where dreams go to die. Pro tip: Type your posts in Word first and then copy and paste it into to Wix to format it. Prevents you from losing your entire post after spending hours working on it after an already crappy day!
Much love always,