Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How I Began Blogging and Tips for Getting Started

I wrote my first blog post in February of last year. I created two posts, then I slacked and didn't really get into the groove until November. At that point I finally wanted to be serious and went full speed ahead. Although I definitely still consider myself to be a new/beginning blogger, here are some tips for people just getting started or contemplating blogging!

Get Started Girl: I planned on getting started with blogging much sooner than I actually did. Yes, I let procrastination get the best of me. Perfectionism also held me back. I spent way too much time drooling over gorgeous blogs and worrying that mine wouldn't live up to the standard I wanted. However, no one can judge something that doesn't exist! Sure, there are blogs that practically scream their superiority, but guess whatthey started at the exact same place you will. So, move past the intimidation factor and dive into the deep end. There are lots of other people out there swimming and they want to help you, not drown you! 

Pick a Platform Princess: Although I bought a basic template for $15 (Designer Blogs...they have some really pretty designs), I customized everything on my own and added numerous personalized touches. I spent reading tutorials online, and I'm so glad I took the time to do this. Although I felt like throwing my computer through a window occasionally, I learned a great deal of invaluable information, and I felt a lot more ownership over my blog than if I had paid someone to do everything for me. However, this process consumed a great deal of time that I could have spent focusing on content and diving into the social media scene. I advise contemplating this part of the process and choosing wisely based upon your budget and availability. You can go for Blogger or Wordpress, but I highly recommend choosing Squarespace, where I will soon transfer my blog. Watch the Squarespace tutorial video, and I'll be shocked if you don't choose this platform. 

Determine your Design Darling: This is the one area where I recommend procrastinating. Choose your blog design/scheme wisely. There are so many to choose from, and believe me, it gets overwhelming narrowing down the options. Regardless of which direction you go, there will inevitably be a blog you discover later that you think you like better than your own. I call this psychosis blog envy. But don't let it get to you. Here are the steps I recommend to happily date and marry a beautiful blog design, and to ensure a long, lasting, fulfilling relationship:

          1. Evaluate/study numerous blog designs and keep a running list with what you like 
          about each one.
          2. While researching other blogs, keep in mind your content and whether a       
          particular design will work for that niche. While you may like the design of a   
          particular photography blog, the same layout might not work if you plan to blog 
          strictly about cooking.
          3. Take on the viewpoint of your readers as you study each blog. Go beyond 
          whether you find the design pretty. Will your followers find it appealing and easy 
          to navigate?
          4. Ask yourself if the design is conducive to social media. One of my biggest pet 
          peeves is finding a great blog, but then no matter how hard you look, the social 
          media buttons are nowhere to be found. 
          5. Determine whether the design will meet all your blogging plans. How many 
          columns will best suit your needs? Will you have sponsors or use ads to monetize 
          your blog? If you plan to incorporate large photos, will that work with the design 
          you're considering?

Brand Yourself Baby: This type of branding doesn't involve burning yourself, but the process requires a great deal of effort. Check out Lisa Quast's article Branding 101 in Forbes to learn more about the intricacies of this process. Her definition of branding: "The overall goal with branding is to differentiate yourself (the product) in the market so you can attain your objectives, be those landing your dream job or becoming a famous singer. The process includes defining your brand and brand attributes, positioning your brand in a different way than your competitors and then managing all aspects of your personal brand." Easy breezy, right?! Just kidding. You need to know what you want and go after it. That isn't the easiest for some people, but if you have veins filled fire and enthusiasm, you, lovely lady, are on the right track. Note: See "Get on the Scene Sexy" below for an additional word on branding and social media.

Land a Logo Lovely: Branding yourself includes getting an incredible logo. The saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" absolutely applies in this situation. Jamie Herzlich, in an article for Newsday, quoted Andrew Bogucki, a partner and executive creative director at a brand consultancy in Manhattan named CoreBrand: "In a lot of cases, the logo is the first identifier someone sees in an organization. It might be the only visual they see." How do you know if you've chosen the right graphic designer? I landed an incredible one, Amber Asay, who led me through the design process seamlessly and painlessly. In fact, she made it fun. She created so many incredible mockups that choosing from all of them proved quite difficult. They were all spectacular. Similar to the blog design process, find a few logos you love, then examine the designer's body of work. Proceed cautiously, and definitely don't say yes to something that doesn't feel right for you. 

Get on the Scene Sexy: Some people will tell you to go social media crazy: "Start tweeting! Get a Facebook page! Update your Instagram! Have you pinned today? You are on Google Plus right?" I am a huge social media advocate, but I advise you to proceed with the attitude of "think before you speak." Once you step into the social media arena, you need to ensure that everyone sees you from the same angle. Your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. all need a great deal of cohesion. By staying seamless, people will get to know your brand better and trust. Check out the article 19 Things Successful People Do on Social Media via Forbes. Here's my take on how you can have a successful start with social media:

          1. Profile Photo: I've been a blonde and a brunette, but I keep the same profile 
          photo regardless of the platform. If I have a blonde picture on one and a brunette 
          on another, people will get confused. Having the same photo enables the people 
          you interact with to get to know you better and remember you.
          2. You ain't no follow back girl? Uh-oh!: Everyone wants "follow love," but unless 
          you're Jay-Z then you don't have the clout to only have followers but not follow 
          back. When I find a great Pinterest account, I generally click "Follow All" 
          (otherwise it doesn't count as a follow), unless the person has thousands of 
          followers and only 12 people they follow. Yes, I'm on Pinterest for great ideas, but 
          I'm also looking to connect with those who have similar interests.
          3. Follow the golden rule: Imagine the exhilarating feeling of getting retweeted 
          by someone with 1000s of followers... Guess what: It ain't gonna happen unless you 
          share the love! If you want people to reach out to you, like your Instagram photos, 
          and give you Facebook "likes," you need to be willing to give the same in return.
          4. You for real?: I swipe "delete" when I get a generic "Thanks for the follow!" 
          automated direct message from someone on Twitter. It's meaningless. If you want 
          to make a true connection, check out that person's blog or tweets and say 
          something real. 
          5. She's no you: Confidence is always in style, and so is being unique. I definitely 
          believe in having mentors or following in the steps of other successful individuals. 
          However, there's no need to be a copycat. The reason why we like others is 
          because there's something special about them that sets them apart.

Connect like Cray Cray Cutie: Reaching out to others beyond the social media arena says a lot about you. When I began joining Facebook support groups (for blogging, not an addiction), linkups, and giveaways as a host, I started meeting some amazing women. Connecting with other bloggers gives you support, energy, and opens up an entirely new world of opportunities.

Deem Yourself Dependable Diva: Truthfully, for me, this is still one of the most difficult aspects about blogging. I've already missed two days this week! There are days I'm overly emotional (a.k.a. PMS), sick, or tired as all get out, and I just plain don't feel like rolling out super creative content that will wow my readers. While we are all allowed a day off, with blogging, you must be generally consistent. Visiting a blog you like only to discover their most recent post happened weeks ago feels super disappointing. Don't let this happen to you readers. Plan ahead! Create a content calendar, write blog posts ahead of time, then schedule the posts. That way you avoid scrambling at the last minute, which can also result in sloppiness and mistakes. No bueno!


Site Design by Designer Blogs