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You know that excited feeling you get when you have a big idea that could change everything??
Well... that wasn’t how I felt at all when I started my first blog almost six years ago.
Too honest? 😂
Sure, it sounded fun, but I had no idea what blogging would eventually mean to me.
I’d just gotten married and a bunch of my friends started doing it to document their new cute married lives, so I jumped aboard. Soon I was taking pictures left and right with my little blue kodak camera. Trying to document all of the fun & "glamorous" moments of life.
At that point, I wasn’t really concerned with making money from my blog. It was more of an online journal, but soon I was swept up into page views, and followers and soon I wanted more. I wanted that number on my “Google Friend Connect” widget (P.S. who remembers GFC??) to be going up in my sidebar, but I was clueless.
I wish that now I could take the brand new baby blogger me and walk her through what I know now, but unfortunately, I haven’t figured out time travel...yet. But I still can share some of my best tips for you as a new blogger.
Tip 1: Blogger vs. WordPress vs. SquareSpace
For the love of all that is holy start your blog on WordPress, and not WordPress.com, WordPress.org. I know that is super confusing but stay with me. I’ve had blogs on all three platforms and trust me on this one, WordPress is where you want to be.
My first blog was on Blogger. I didn’t want to fork out the dough for web hosting, if it was just going to be a hobby. I didn’t buy a domain name either, so I rocked the .blogspot.com URL. Looking back we were both in school full-time and we were pretty poor so I get my thinking, but now I would definitely go with WordPress and get a custom domain name.
WordPress gives you much more customization and has become the “gold standard” in the blogging industry so there are a lot of resources, plugins, and tools to help you maximize your WordPress blog. SquareSpace and Blogger just don’t have abilities to grow with you as much as WordPress does.
Once you’ve installed WordPress you can choose a theme. There are free themes, which are totally okay if you are just starting out and then there are paid themes if you are able to invest a bit of money into your blog. These will have more features and functionality.
The premium themes that I like are,
- Divi - By Elegant Themes
- The Genesis Framework - By StudioPress
- Child Themes For Genesis (basically more design and features built upon the Genesis Framework)
Tip 2: Use High-Quality Images
Pretty, pretty please with sugar on top use high-quality images. This will make SUCH a difference in your readers experience and how many shares that you get on your posts.
If you have dark low-quality images people are way less likely to share them, (especially on Pinterest, which we will talk more about in a sec!).
If you have a DSLR camera to take your pictures that is great! Watch some Youtube videos about how to use the settings on your camera and then edit your images in Photoshop, PicMonkey or Gimp. Taking that few extra minutes to edit is SO worth it.
If you don’t have a nicer camera and you are using your phone camera that is okay too! You still can take really pretty pictures with your phone. Try to take your images in natural light. I take mine in my living room in front of our window.
There are also great apps that you can use on your phone to do basic editing.
My favorites are,
Use these to play around with the exposure, white balance and saturation to make your images pop!
Tip 3: Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest
Pinterest was just barely starting to get big in 2012 when I started my first blog. I was introduced to it in late 2011 when I was planning my wedding and had NO idea how powerful it could be at the time.
I was pretty much Pinterest illiterate.
I published my blog post, with dark, horizontal images, pinned it to my Pinterest board ONCE and then thought, “Sweet, I’ve covered what I need to do on Pinterest!”
NOPE! Pinterest is so much more than that. When pinning images on Pinterest make sure to pin crisp, bright, VERTICAL images.
There is much more to Pinterest than just pinning pretty pictures so if you are stumped on how to start with Pinterest check out this mega post that covers all about how to use Pinterest for beginners.
I also have a free five-day Pinterest course with video lessons to help you establish your foundation on Pinterest.
Tip 4: You Don’t Have To Post Three Times A Week
Phew, this one just about did me in. When I started blogging I was under the impression that to be successful I needed to be posting at least three times a week. I aimed to post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the beat myself up on the days that I missed.
Well, let me tell you something...
YOU DON’T HAVE TO!
I do think it is important especially in the beginning to post consistently, but it doesn’t have to be multiple times a week. That leads to one worn out blogger.
For the first year, I made it my goal to post once a week. Occasionally, I would post twice a week sometimes I would have to skip a week if things were really crazy or if my little one got sick, but as long as I was averaging once a week, I didn’t worry about it.
It is much better to have fewer high-quality posts on your site than a bunch of half-done posts that you threw up because you felt like that was what you were supposed to do!
Tip 5: Give It Time
In a world of instant gratification, we want everything now. We want the followers, the big page views and the “passive income,” but all good things take time.
If you want your blog to a source of income for you, please do not expect that you are going to be making buckets of money three months in.
It takes most bloggers six months to turn a profit, but once you get to that point it becomes so much easier. If you are in month five without making anything, don’t quit! Getting to your first 1,000 subscribers or your first $1,000 is so much harder than getting to 10,000!
I’ve spent years figuring out blogging, testing strategies, failing and succeeding, but now I am to a point where each month I consistently make more than I did working full-time with a college degree.
It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you want it and you are willing to work for it, it is absolutely possible for you!
If I could sit down with six years ago me, that is exactly what I would tell myself. I can’t get back that time, but you can use these tips to help you get started!
I don’t want you to feel alone on this journey! I’ve created a Facebook group just for new bloggers and there are over 18,000 members. Come connect, collaborate, and find your blogging tribe!
To help you get started I’ve put together some awesome resource for you too. Enter your name and email below and I’ll send you a 30-page ebook all about getting blog traffic, free stock photos and a list of my favorite free resources to help you get started!