Happy Thursday, gals! In the last several weeks I’ve gotten an influx of questions about how to start a blog and how to grow a blog. Back in July, I wrote this post and got so much positive feedback. It told me this is a topic you’re interested in reading about, so I’ve decided to kick off a little “how to blog” series. It’s crazy to look back one year to when I hit “publish” on my first post. I knew zero about blogging but realized there were a lot of things I needed to learn if I wanted to be successful!
Before we dive in, I want to say that while I’ve learned a lot (and a lot through trial and error!) I’m by no means an expert on this topic. Learning the ins and outs of blogging takes years to internalize and I’m still absorbing new information every day. That said, below are the things I see as crucial basics for establishing a successful blog.
And stay tuned because I’ll be diving into more specifics as we continue this series!
Pick the focus of your blog and determine what value it offers your readers.
Chances are if you’ve started a blog or are thinking of it, you already have a general idea what you want to write about. But with the blogging industry becoming so saturated in the last few years it’s become important to narrow your focus. If you’re blogging about fashion, maybe it’s your take on work wear fashion, or perhaps you tend to more boho chic. The more specific your style, the more easily you’ll be able to cultivate and project a brand that’s uniquely you. Narrowing your focus also means your readers have to come to your blog to get the type of content you’re offering.
I think the second part–determining what value your blog offers your readers– is just as crucial as picking your focus. Ask yourself, “how will my readers benefit from reading my posts?” If you can create content that provides a benefit to your readers they will come back again and again. And if it really helps them, they’ll probably even share it with their friends!
To decide what value you want to offer your readers, I highly recommend developing a mission statement. My blog’s mission statement is “to provide fashion and beauty inspiration and solutions for everyday girls with limited time” (you can read all about my mission here). Every time I come up with a topic, I ask myself, “will this post deliver on my mission statement?” If it doesn’t I scrap it. A good way to form your mission statement is to answer the question “my blog exists to…” Ultimately, your blog isn’t about you– it’s about your readers. They’re only going to take time out of their day to read if you’re providing them some sort of benefit.
Once you’ve decided on your blog’s focus and mission, you’re ready to start writing. I’ve heard bloggers say that posting consistently is the hardest part of having a blog and I’ve found this to be 100% true! Writing a post is typically very time-consuming because it involves so many steps: determining your topic, shooting your photos, editing them, and finally writing and editing your post. It’s a process that takes dedication and planning, but I think the key is to set a schedule and stick to it. Even if you can only post once a week, make sure those posts go out. If you go a long time without new content, your readers will stop coming back.
Conversely, consistency is a tremendous way to grow traffic and page views for your blog. I started being very consistent about posting in February and that is when my blog’s traffic began to grow significantly. Posting consistently trains your readers to know they can rely on you for fresh content each time they come back. Also, the more content you create the more likely your blog is going to turn up in a search engine query (especially if you apply basic SEO techniques). Consistently putting out great content is sooo hard but sooo worth it too! <3
Create Compelling Visual Content
Almost any article on how to grow a blog will talk about the importance of good photography. In the blogging world, visual content is huge! Think about the photography featured in your favorite blogs; chances are the images have a way of pulling you in to make you want to read the post. Viewing images requires much less effort than reading, so it’s the ultimate tool for drawing your audience in and making them want to read what you have to say.
What I’ve noticed is that while many posts talk about the importance of photography, very few discuss the mechanics of producing an eye-catching photo. There’s a lot that goes into creating a great photo and it’s something I continue to challenge myself on. What’s helped me really improve is learning the basic principles of photography and applying them. A few of my favorites are the rule of thirds, leading lines, and patterns, especially interrupted patterns.
Rules are also made to be broken but internalizing the rules of composition will go a long way in making your photos stand out from the crowd. When I find myself lost in a beautiful Instagram feed like this one, I find myself noticing how well various rules of composition are being utilized. Bottom line: there’s an art and a science to creating a beautiful image!
Leverage social media
Rewind five years and social media was a small component to a successful blog; these days however social media is fundamentally crucial to a blogger’s success! All of the social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) can be leveraged differently to build your brand and drive awareness and traffic to your blog. Social media is a terrific (free) resource to grow your blog, but at the same time keeping up with all these platforms can be very tiring!
The key is to find which platforms matter most and focus 90% of your efforts on them. In the fashion blogging industry, Instagram is the most important social media platform to focus on. Pinterest, which I consider to be more of a search engine than a social media platform due to its functionality, would be the second. The ability to build your blog’s brand on Instagram is crucial to its success so I’ll be focusing an upcoming post on how to grow on Instagram. When naming your social media accounts, name them in a way that reinforces the name you have chosen for your blog.
Hone your written content.
While strong visual imagery is the biggest piece to putting out amazing content, written style is crucial too. I’ve found that the bloggers I keep coming back to have developed a writing style that’s specific to them, easy to read, and flows from beginning to end. I want my written style to feel like a natural extension of my fashion aesthetic and therefore come across as relateable and accessible when you read it. One thing that’s helped me is proofreading my posts not just for punctuation but also for flow and style. I ask myself: is it easy to read? Is it something I would want to sit down and read?
Create realistic goals
If you want your blog to grow, I think it’s important to set realistic but achievable goals. What do you want your traffic to be in a year? In two years? Are there specific brands you are dreaming about collaborating with? Determine what your individual goals are, then come up with a plan for how you will reach them. In my job with Turkey Hill, there’s a focus on creating “SMART” goals and objectives (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound). As dorky as it sounds, I think it’s a great reference when deciding on your blogging goals too!
If you made it all the way down to here, thanks so much for reading! I know this is a long post, but so much goes into blogging and I wanted to make sure I was giving you some real “meat”. 🙂
I’d love to hear any feedback you have, and stay tuned for these upcoming topics on launching and growing a successful blog:
- establish your brand in the world of blogging
- drive traffic to your blog
- grow your following on Instagram
- take and edit photos for your blog and Instagram