Having been a blogger full time for over 4 years, there’s so much I still hope to learn, but there’s also a lot I wish I had known from the start. The truth is, you can’t do everything in the beginning (see my first tip), but there are small things you can do from the start to fast forward that success and prevent headaches later.
Things I Knew From the Beginning That Helped Me Out
There is a ton of blogging tip sites out there (this one included). However, you can spend forever browsing through these and never actually start! The longer you wait, the more you’re likely to feel behind or just never start. If the advice of just starting isn’t good enough for you, consider opting into a course (such as ours) that takes you step by step through all the basics. This way you don’t have to worry about missing anything.
Have a Blog
As much as people want to say that blogs are not vital, that’s just untrue. I love social, but it’s a wheel that you constantly have to push. While platforms like Tiktok are working in options to be viewed on Google, something you post today is ultimately lost in a mass of other posts a month from now. Blogs, while they reequire upkeep last forever. You also don’t have to worry as much about an algorithm and definitely not an unpreditable one like the others. We bring in income from our blog every month on posts we wrote years ago.
Additionally, our blog allows us to grow and transform. We can sell products, communicate with potential brands on who we are, and create additional ways for people to find us on the web and then follow us on social. And based on our analytics, yes, people still read blogs.
I read a lot about Squarespace vs Wordpress vs other sites. In the end I’m so glad I went with Wordpress. Squarespace is great, but as you grow, you will often find it’s limitations and likely feel the need to switch to Wordpress which will cost additional money. Wordpress is a little more difficult to get started with, but that’s because it allows for more customization and supports more apps and plug ins that you will need for your site. No matter how much more simple Squarespace is, take the slight additional time to sign up and learn Wordpress.
Choose a Name with the Long Term in Mind
It’s fun to choose a cutesy name and you want one that feels authentic to who you are. For me, I originally thought of going with a name that mentioned Texas because I wanted to mostly focus on Texas. However, at the time I wasn’t sure if I would always want to focus on Texas. Choosing MyCurlyAdventures allowed me to convey my character while also not confining myself just to Texas travel. Most of my content is Texas travel, but I get to do some out of state and out of country content as well which I feel is in part due to my name.
I was actually fortunate to have been into photography ever since high school. In college I emailed every photographer I admired in my small town over the Summer and asked to intern under them until one finally said yes and I also took several photography classes. I can’t be more grateful for that experience. Even now I still learn. I felt secure in my photography skills at the beginning of my blogging journey, but I’ve seen so much growth that has come from continued research.
Yes. You can do so much on your phone now. Our camera hasn’t been used quite as much as it originally was when everything was photo content. However, it’s still valuable for multiple reasons. Our blog, art prints that we create, social media cover photos, future products we may create, and the photos we sell to destinations.
Most people have a camera and never take the time to learn it. However, there are so many resources out there (one of our favorites being Skillshare because they have so many options). If you have one, I can’t stress enough the need to get a course now and immediately start working on it.
I had NO idea what I was doing when I first started. Everything was so confusing and I didn’t even know where to start when it came to learning things. How can I learn something if I don’t even know what to search for to learn? Networking was my biggest help and has created lifelong connections and friends.
Look up blogger groups in your area. Often there is some group facilitating meetups that you can join. If not consider finding bloggers in your area through hashtags. If you are reaching out to people, make sure you’re reaching out to people who have similar sized followings or are just starting out as well. They are more likely to agree to meetup, maybe take each others photos, etc. Then you get to grow together.
Protect Your Copyrights and Likeness
On contracts I’ve seen offers with sneaky phrases hidden in the contract such “brand owns content and likeness in perpetuity”. This is a major red flag and while it may seem harmless at the time, at some point it tends to come back to haunt creators. Also, this is unfair on the creators, a photographer or model would never allow this (or if they did it’s A LOT) of money and neither should Content Creators. This is a big issue so we wrote a whole blog post on how to negotiate copyright and likeness.
Have Stability Before You Quit
The excitement of going to events, creating your own scedule, and having the creative freedom might make you want to quit your job tomorrow. However, without stability a dream can eventually turn to desperation, taking campaigns that don’t fit your worth or values, and the opposite of freedom.
Before you go full time make you have a year of income stored in case there is a slow season (or a global pandemic where all of your campaigns and ad revenue get cancelled). Additionally, make sure you are making as much money as your current job. It might seem like taking a pay cut is easy, but if anything you’re likely used to your job income plus the additonal income your blog has brought in and it could be a greater loss of income than expected otherwiaw.
Things I Wish I had Known Before I Started Blogging
Get Rid of That Weird Date Thing
Oh how I wish I knew this sooner! At the time of writing this it still remains an issue, because of all the redirect links and recrawls Google will have to do. On your Wordpress settings there is an option for how you would like your URL to be. One of them includes the date plus title. There is an option for just the title. Choose that! Otherwise, even when you update a blog post it can appear old and affect rankings. Additionally, it will be annoying when you do realize you want to fix it.
Stick to Your Niche
When I first started I wanted to share local weekend getaways for people with a 9-5 who wanted to utilize those free weekends. However, as I started growing I started getting all of these cool offers for free items: cute makeup brushes, random beauty products, etc. Getting free things is exciting! Anyone would be excited to take a photo in exchange for free items. However, running a trusted social media account involves educating people, inspiring people, and providing resources. People weren’t coming to me for those items and I was wasting time and energy for content that my audience wasn’t interested in when I needed to spend most of my time buildig up my expertise. Despite having the best intentions, I was starting to let brands dictate my content.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have other interests and share them. However, in the beginning it’s important to spend as much time as possible making yourself the #1 go to expert every person thinks of going to when they think of your niche. Slowly you can learn how to incorporate seemingly unrelated brands into your content (ex: doing an on the go beauty routine in a cool glamping spot in Texas). Then as your audience grows and trusts you start playing with the 80/20 rule. 80% content your coomunity knows you for and 20% content you want to post.
Choose a Name With SEO in mind
I knew to choose a name with long term in mind, but I didn’t know the value of SEO in a name. Whatever is in your blog name url will have a little extra help when it comes to Google search results. For instance, if I write something about curly hair, because curly is in my name, it has a higher chance to rank up high in google. Same with anything with adventures. Consider how you can use your name to help boost up your Google rankings. (For instance, if I did decide I only wanted to write about Texas, having Texas in my name would have been a great idea!).
Of course there are other factors that come into play when it comes to Google rankings, but it’s a nice little boost to help.
Get to Pinterest Early
When you first start your blog, Google doesn’t know much about your site. Is it reputable? Does it have a lot of information people need? It will take time and lots of posts to help build this up. However, this is where Pinterest is helpful! Putting your blog posts on Pinterest can help bring people to your blog when nothing else is. You don’t need a big following (although it helps). You just need the right post to catch people’s attention and take off.
Don’t Participate in Mass Giveaways – My BIGGEST MISTAKE
I knew not to buy fake followers, but a giveway brings in real people right?! Unfortunately not. Buckle up, because this mistake took nearly a year to fix. It’s a long story so we wrote a full post on why you shouldn’t participate in mass giveaways and what you can do instead.
Don’t Worry About Brand Collaborations
Brand collaborations are exciting and of course you want to make money from what you do. However, I found that you only have so much energy and time of day and you have to balance your time creating more resources that help grow your brand and pitching brand collaborations. I’ve found my time is much more well spent creating as much content as possible and then the brands naturally come.
That’s not to say I don’t pitch ever, but I spend a lot less time pitching and because of that I grow my brand faster and make it better.
What Self Hosted Meant
I was sooo confused by this! I thought I had to get my own server and everything. It turns out it’s much simpler than that and I was already doing it. But, I sure did spend a lot of time being confused everytime I read how I needed to make sure my blog was self hosted. The quick simple version is that you have your own website name without any .wordpress or .blogspot attached. It’s your URL and just your URL. Luckily enough, you can easily get your domain and get the self hosting through platforms like Bluehost.
What Type of Followers Mattered
In the beginning, there were so many big bloggers and influencers I looked up to. I spent so much time following and commenting hoping they would take notice of little, but mighty, me and follow back. However, eventually I learned, they weren’t my target demographic. The time I spent trying to get their attention, I could have been working on creating content that got the right people interested and engaging with those who were already following. The truth is, most bloggers aren’t the right follower. They’re already doing their own thing so they’re less likely to make a purchase or take a recommendation.
$100 Per 10,000 is Not Right
Another myth I heard of and followed for the longest times was that you should charge a brand $100 per $10,000 followers, but that just not true and if you’re following this rule I promise you’re under valuing yourself. I’ve gotten campaings for one post has high as $1,800 with 10,000 followers. There is so much that goes into a campaign cost such as how much work, turn around time, exclusivity, usage, etc. However, a base price will still take time as it’s based on your following and how valuable it is to the brand. That doesn’t always mean numbers and the best way to figure it out is slowly ask for more and more until you getting just the right amount of yes’s and no’s.
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