I’ve ejected words into the internet for far too long now. I like to think over this time I’ve pretty much seen it all. Blogging isn’t particularly hard – however, getting it right IS hard. There are so many people keen to offer advice, and help, generally in return for payment. So, to help – I thought I’d assemble some top tips on how to be a new blogger and not be a dick. There are a lot of blogging dicks around. Be better than that.
1. Choose your blogging platform wisely.
I’m not going to sit here bitching about Blogger. There are very loud (often angry) voices that will tell you how great Blogger is as a platform. In my opinion – it isn’t – it’s dreadful. YES it works. YES it’s simple. However it’s aging, and not really getting the updates it needs. You can’t use https on your own domain. You can’t use Facebook Instant Articles with it. These are all things you SHOULD be able to use. Personally – I’d say to go down the self hosted WordPress path. Yes, it costs money, but see your blog as an investment.
2. Just.. WRITE!
You need to build your little empire on solid foundations. So many people don’t do this – try and write as often as possible, about whatever you feel. Write like no-one is reading, because, to start with – that will be the case. It’s a bit upsetting knowing that the 500+ words you’ve written might never get seen. That’s how it goes though. It probably WILL be seen and enjoyed at some point, but unless you’re incredible your first posts won’t go viral.
3. I want to get free things to review – How do I do this?
Hold your horses! Unfortunately, PR folk won’t send out product to someone because they like your blog name. You need a bit of a track record of solid reviews. To start with – review your own stuff. Whatever it is, write about it, photograph it, get it online. If you stay in a hotel – review it. If you go out for dinner – review it.
Reviews can be an excellent source of traffic, and fantastic practice for when you get sent shiny things. Try not to get into blogging for the Freebies though. Successful bloggers are always happy to show off new things they’ve been sent. We all do! However, most will have a solid back catalogue of writing.
4. Be different.
If you’re a new Daddy Blogger you’re entering a busy marketplace, if you’re a Mummy Blogger you’re entering a SATURATED one. There are countless ‘Whoops-a-Daisy Mummas’ out there. All with watercolour styled headers, children dressed in monochrome, and houses like show-homes. Or the other end of the market, where gin is consumed, children are bastards and fish fingers are for tea. You’re an individual – don’t try and emulate others. No one wants a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. Think about who you are, repeat point 2 until you find your style.
5. Don’t pay for advice.
There’s a real trend of big bloggers selling courses and guides about how to be a great blogger. Put your money away folks – there’s a mountain of help out there for free. You’re reading some! Your path to success is your own. Invest in your hosting, your camera, whatever – but don’t chuck money at bloggers. There are a lot of older bloggers who will happily help you. Just don’t take the piss – folk will help with a bit of css to fix a problem, or a WordPress query. Don’t go begging for contact lists or PRs. That’s a little rude.
6. Don’t BUY followers, EARN them.
Starting with 0 followers, when those around you have thousands, tens of thousands and beyond is a bit rubbish. We’ve all been there. Don’t let it get you down. Interact with people, keep posting. Social networks are about being social. Don’t just use them as a platform to shout from. Have a natter, get to know people. When posting on Insta, add a FEW hashtags too. Try not to have your social scheduled like you’re an international brand. Use it when you can. Let people get to know you. Not your scheduler. You’ll build a following slowly – keep working at it, invest your time in social, and you’ll find those numbers creeping up.
7. BLOGGERS ASSEMBLE!
Support is so helpful, non blogging folk don’t really understand it all. Make friends with bloggers – get your own little crew. Many bloggers are strange and socially awkward. Don’t always expect open arms. Start by speaking to people whose work you enjoy. Join in conversations on Twitter and Facebook – get talking to people. With bloggers it’s often best to dip your toes into the blogger buddy water online first. We can be a cliquey lot ‘offline’. When you’re new, Blogging conferences and events are daunting. Get your blog squad in order before you buy a ticket.
8. POD OFF!
Please, please, please – avoid pods like the plague. They are a quick and easy way of getting comments, or likes, or shares. However it’s not really authentic. The comments are shit, these people don’t really like your photos, and they’re only sharing because they have to. If you’re writing well, and producing engaging content, this stuff will happen naturally. Pods can be a lot of work, there are ‘RULES’ about how quickly you need to like something. Time limits on when you MUST comment by. Spend your time writing, Instagramming your heart out and pinging pithy tweets around.
9. Don’t set your standards too low
There are a LOT of PRs who are desperate to get their weird or wonderful product ‘out there’. They’ll be desperate for you to churn out a few hundred words on their latest bit of tut. If it’s not something you’d consider buying, say no to it. I’ve turned down so many weird bits of rubbish that aren’t really worth my time. If you’re willing to spend an hour writing about something that costs a quid. You’re earning a pathetic ‘wage’.
10. Remember, it takes time…
Don’t expect everything to happen overnight – this place took over three years before it started to get read. I just carried on bashing out words, and people came. The old posts I bashed out in those wilderness years still get Google traffic today. You’ll be so fed up with writing, you might want to stop for a week, or a month – that’s fine. If you’ve got a bit of a catalogue behind you, you can reshare older posts when you’re taking a break. Whatever you write – remember, keep it authentic, and real. If you’re willing to spend time in being better, you’ll get better. It’s absolutely fine to be a little fish in a big pond, just don’t be a dickfish.
Anyway – enough of me rattling on – go build your little world. GO!!