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20 Tips For Starting A Blog and Building An Online Brand

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Over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of people reach out and ask me for advice on how to start a blog or an online platform. So today, I thought I’d switch things up and share some of my tips for doing just that.

I do have to say, I am both humbled and shocked when people ask me for advice on this – because most days I really do feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants and figuring things out I go. 

That being said, when I sit back and think about it, over the past few years I have learned a lot about blogging and building an online brand. I’m pretty thrilled to be able to share it with all of you! I wish that I would have had someone tell me the ins and outs of this industry when I first started. It would have saved me from a lot of growing pains!

Which brings me to the first point.

 
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We’re all just figuring things out as we go

It’s about trial and error, starting before you’re ready and just going for it.

Even though it may look like the bloggers and instagrammers that you follow know they’re doing, everyone is just figuring things out as they go.

When you’re creating a digital presence, it’s truly is about throwing shhhh at the wall and seeing what sticks!

With that said, the second point is….  

Just Start

Stop thinking about it and just do it. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for the past however long, then girl, start the damn blog.

You don’t want to look back on your life with a list of “I wish I would haves”. I know it sounds a bit cliché, but starting really is the hardest part. 

Don’t Give Other People Permission To Have An Opinion

Here’s the deal about blogs and creating online brands. Some people get it, but a lot of people don’t. 

When you start, there will be people who wonder why you are sharing your life with the world wide web. There will be people who wonder why you say the things you do. I know that was and still is the case for me. 


But remember, you’re not doing this for them, you’re doing this for you and your online community. All the most successful influencers have tonnes of stories about naysayers! Trust me! It’s just something you have to just turn a blind eye to.

Remember, you don’t understand everything everyone else does, so you can’t expect everyone to understand why you do what you do. We all have different interests, WHYS and purposes in life.  

Get Clear on Who Your Audience Is

Who do you want to write this blog for? What is the purpose of the blog? What are you trying to achieve? Who do you want to read it? WHAT are you providing your readers? What problem are you solving?

Narrow down your audience as much as possible. The goal is to create a loyal community of followers who come back to your online space again and again. If you’re writing to the masses and trying to appease everyone, then it’s going to be difficult to create that loyalty. 

For example, my target audience for this blog is

  • female

  • stepmom

  • age 28-45 ish (this changes as I age)

  • interested in personal development 

  • often has an “ours baby”

  • lives a balanced lifestyle – likes healthy eating and exercise

  • also likes to enjoy a good glass of wine and a bag of chips

  • Is looking for support and for someone to relate to

  • Is interested in improving their life and willing to do the work to get there

  • appreciates candidness and off the cuff comments

I’m not writing to every stepmom.  I don’t want to appeal to every woman who marries a man with kids. I am writing to stepmoms with certain characteristics.

Sure I have moms, single women, and stepdads who read my content, and I love that. In fact, last night my mother-in-law told my husband that she and all her friends are loving my latest posts (Hi Jacqui!).

That’s great! I love that my content resonates with a broader demographic, but that doesn’t change who I am writing for. I’m still focused on serving the stepmoms who love coffee, wine, and are craving positive change in their life!

Don’t Compare Your Day 1 To Someone Else’s Day 1000

It’s easy to scroll through Instagram, or look at someone’s beautiful website and compare yourself to them. The people with 100K followers of 10K followers have been doing this for a while. Some have teams, photographers helping them out, or people doing their social media for them. They have learned what works and spent a lot of time curating their online brand. 

I personally, look back on the content I created when I first started and cringe. But I shouldn’t. It’s all part of my process, and the truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m learning new things every single day, and you will too. Just start, get the ball rolling and stay in your lane.  


Understand that it takes time

Writing a blog and creating an online brand takes time and effort. There is this misconception that blogging is just about taking pictures, writing something down and then posting it online. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Starting a successful blog requires a lot of work behind-the-scenes.

Be Yourself - Don’ Try And Replicate What Other People Are Doing

Too often I see fellow bloggers say and do the exact same things as other people in their niche. They create content that is too similar to others content to be a coincidence. This is the HUGEST mistake ever.

First of all, I think it’s imperative to respect other peoples intellectual property and ideas.  
Second, and most importantly, you will never find success trying to be someone else. You don’t have to do what everyone’s is doing. You won’t find success trying to replicate someone else’s formula.

 
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Be Authentic

I cringe even writing this because the word “authentic” has become this buzz word that is over used and under practiced. 

Still it’s imperative.

Find YOUR voice. Find YOUR style. Stay true to YOUR why!. Like I just said, you won’t find success typing to replicate someone else’s formula. You also won’t find success trying to be someone that you’re not.


Be Vulnerable

Share your story. Own your story.  Be vulnerable. Put yourself out there and most importantly find your own way of relaying the message you want to relay.

In my personal opinion the internet needs less perfection (or people trying to pretend they’re perfect) and more real life, relatable stories. In fact, I believe that in the world of curated picture perfect Instagram feeds, people are craving imperfect people that they can relate to on a personal level.

For example, in my program The KICK-ASS Stepmom Project, I don’t just share tips and strategies for stepmoms. I share how these tips and strategies have changed my own stepfamily life. I also share some of the mistakes I made that have helped me learn these lessons.

The more raw and real the post. The better it does! It’s the story behind the message that people relate to!


Create pretty content

Not everyone agrees, but I think that creating visually appealing content is important. Sure it’s the actual content that matters, but when you have GREAT content that also looks pretty, it’s more likely to get the second look!

Your content represents you! How do you want to present yourself to the world?

NOTE: it is entirely possible to create a visually appealing brand and beautiful content while being relatable to your audience.

“Everything is Figureout-able” - Marie Forleo

If you’re open to it, you have the opportunity to learn to do a lot of things! The other day on the Rise Together Podcast, Rachel Hollis said that in this day in age, ignorance is a choice. Anything you want to learn is online for free.

People ask me who designed my website. I did. Through google, the Squarespace help desk and trial and error I figured it out myself.

When I say google is your best friend I mean it. If you want to know something, google has the answer.

 
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In the past few years, with no education in marketing, business or anything to do with technology,
I’ve learned:

  • digital marketing

  • how to create an online course

  • how to write, design and publish an eBook

  • how to edit photos

  • how to design a website

  • how to create and send invoices and do the accounting for my business

  • how to pitch and negotiate deals with brands

  • and more


… all through trial, error and a lot of google searches.

I’m not saying this to toot my own horn. I’m saying this to show you that you can do it too! Everything really is figureoutable - you really can do this on your own!

Saying “I don’t know how to _______” is not a valid excuse.


Start an Email List

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made when I started my blog. Until recently I never put much weight into my email list because I didn’t want to be that person blowing up people’s inbox (we all get enough spam right?)

Here’s the thing, sure having a following on social media is great. It’s great to grow a following on Facebook or Instagram, and doing so helps with traffic and building a community. But you don’t OWN that following. You don’t own the platform. FACEBOOK does!

If something happens to your account or Facebook changes it’s terms, you’re completely screwed! You’ve lost everything!

Over the past few years we’ve seen major changes in the Facebook - it’s now more difficult to reach followers with a simple post. Instagram, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is following suit.

It’s common for a Facebook Page with 20 000 followers to only reach 1000 of it’s followers with a post (guys that’s why likes, comments and shares are so important on posts – they boost the algorithm and increase the number of eyeballs that see your content - so always make an effort to engage with people’s content!)

This is why it’s “all in the list”

  • have an option to sign up for your list on every single blog post

  • send out a weekly newsletter with updated content

  • send out a message exclusive to those on your list

  • create a free offer that people have to sign up for - e.g. 10 Tips For Living A KICK-ASS Life

Just make sure you’re growing that list every single day!

Shameless plug – if you’re a stepmom who isn’t on my list yet, you can subscribe HERE!.


Educate Yourself

There are so many phenomenal resources online for people who want to write a blog or do anything online. Jenna Kutcher, Sunny Lenordonzi, Melissa Gryffin, Amy Porterfield and Marie Forelo are among my favourites.

Listen to their podcasts, read their blog posts, take their courses. You will learn SO much… a lot of it is free too!

Dive in and soak it all up. Like I always say,

 
You don't know what you don't know - Inspirational Quotes - 20 Tips For Starting A Blog
 

Attend Blogging Conferences

One the same note, I highly recommend attending blogging conferences. Yes, that’s right, there are conferences for bloggers. Until two years ago, I didn’t know that either.

Two years ago I attended the Mom 2.0 Conference, which that year was held in Florida. It was a huge investment for me, but I figured if I might as well go and see what the fuss was about. I flew down to Florida with a few of my fellow content creators and, guys, it changed everything for me.

I left inspired, with so many connections in the industry and with more knowledge about social media and online marketing than I ever anticipated. I was also given an opportunity that made back my investment x15 I literally cannot say enough about what attending this event did for me, my blog and my business.

Since, I have attended at least one conference a year, in fact this year I believe I will be attending four, even speaking at one!

Engage + Create an Online Community

Respond to comments
Comment on other peoples content
Create friendships and relationships online

1. It’s great to have friends in the online space for mutual support
2. It helps grow your community because like I said engagemet is everything.
3. It’s an amazing opportunity to connect wth likeminded people you would have never connected with otherwise!

Don’t get caught up in the numbers

When accounts you follow have 10K, 100K or even 255K followers, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. It’s easy to define your success by the number beside your name.

Often we focus too much on growing our followers, that we forget to serve the followers that we already have. The number of followers beside your name does not define your success! Engage with your community, create content you know they will love, build those relationships and you’ll organically grow.

You want to create a community that comes to your feed on a daily basis to see what’s next, not someone who clicks follow and never thinks about you again!

Engagement is important but don’t loose sleep over it

As I said, the Instagram and Facebook algorithm is a bit of a mess right now, meaning that less people are seeing our content. I will be straight up and say I have severally stressed over the number of likes and comments my photos get. It’s easy to get wrapped up and measure your success by that number.

Do people not like my stuff?
Why aren’t the commenting?
What was wrong with that picture?
Should I have captioned that differently.

Your head can spin!

I know that many people in the online space can relate to this. But we need to STOP. As I write this I have a post on instagram, that for lack of better words is sh*tting the bed. It’s been up an hour and barely has 100 likes. Last week a very similar photo with similar quality of messaging had over 300 likes within the first hour and had the most engagement I’ve ever had.

I could stress. I could delete the photo and repost - but guys, that would be wasting my valuable time and energy.

My success is not defined by the engagement on my photos. The algorithm is absolutely out of my control - and even though people claim to know how to beat it, it’s a wild, untameable beast!

Think of your followers as people

A few months back I got caught up in the numbers game and started to feel crappy about the number of Instagram followers I have. 13K didn’t seem like a lot compared to my industry friends.

But then I stopped and thought about it. 13 000 people follow me on Instagram. That’s 13 000 people I have the opportunity to touch or inspire. Thats almost three times the size of the small town I grew up in.

When you start to think about your followers as real life people, it totally changes your mindset!

People buy likes and follows - don’t be one of those people

Just so you’re aware, a lot of feeds buy likes and follows. You know the people who only have 10 000 followers but have 500 likes on a photo 2 second after it’s posted. Yeah they’re buying.

Scroll through their engagement and you’ll see that the accounts are pretty sketch.

Don’t fall into this trap. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, but remember, authenticity always wins, even when it doesn’t feel like you are.

Make a posting schedule and stick to it

Decide how often you’re going to create content and when you’re going to post it on your site and social media feeds. Then stick to that schedule.

For the longest time I resisted this idea, even though EVERYONE told me how important it was.

When I finally gave in an started to post once a week, on Mondays, I saw a huge increase in blog traffic. When you stick to a schedule, your audience knows when to expect new content, and will make a habit of coming to check it out! This is a great way to create brand loyalty and have your followers look forward to your posts.


Create a content calendar

For the longest time, I was flying by the seat of pants with my blog posts. I would create content when an idea came to me and didn’t have any type of schedule or plan in place. I’ve recently started planning my content ahead of time and it’s been a complete game changer. Every month (or every three months) sit down and plan your content for the coming weeks. This way you know what you’re going to write, or what you’re going to say and aren’t scrambling to find something to post.

 
 Calendar via  Lindsay Letters

Calendar via Lindsay Letters

 

Alright that’s a wrap! Confession, it was actually 21 tips, but who’s counting!

If you have any questions or are craving more information on a particular area, let me know in the comments below!

In the meantime, get working on that blog of yours! The only person who can make your dreams come true is you!

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hey stepmom, you need to read this

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hey stepmom, you need to read this

hey stepmom., before you go into another week

This post was originally sent out to my exclusive email list. Every week I send out an EXCLUSIVE email to stepmoms on my list, with tips, strategies and personal stories that never make it to the blog! If you’re not already on the list, you can sign up HERE!


Before you go into another week, I want to tell you something. 

For some it may sound a bit dramatic, but for others, it will be just what you need.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, being a stepmom can be HARD. 

You’ve probably experienced emotions that you didn’t know were possible.
You’ve probably felt so overwhelmed by things you can’t control that you felt like you were going to be physically sick.

I get it. I’ve been there. 

During the first year of step-motherhood I was so consumed by my stepfamily stressors that my hands would literally shake. 

There were times that I was so consumed, that I literally couldn’t focus on anything else.  My “to do” lists went untouched and I was a complete freakin’ basket-case. 

It affected the way I showed up for my husband, my stepkids and my daughter. It affected the way I showed up for myself. 

I often: 

  • felt alone

  • like no one in my circle understood what I was going through

  • like I was damned if I did, damned if I didn’t

  • like my whole life has been decided without my input

  • like I was good enough until I wasn’t

  • like I had no control

  • like my husband just didn’t get it

Now, I can honestly say that while many of stepfamily stressors remain the same, everything is different.

The stressors no longer affect me the way they used to. I feel confident and in control of my life.

If you learn one thing from my emails or blogs posts, please let it be this.  

It is entirely possible to transform the dynamics of your stepfamily, even the most high conflict situations. It is entirely possible to live a KICK-ASS life amongst all the stressors that come with being a stepmom. 

I’ll say that again. 

It is entirely possible to live a KICK-ASS life amongst all the stressors that come with being a stepmom. 

I know some of you are sitting there thinking to yourself, “No Jamie, you don’t understand. Things are really bad. We’re at the point of no return”

”His ex wife is really __________”

”The stepkids are really __________”

My husband just really ________________”


I DO understand. I’ve connected with and worked with countless stepmoms with co-parenting dynamics that would BLOW YOUR MIND.

Seriously, I’m not BSing you here!

No matter what your stepfamily dynamic looks like, if you want change, that’s on you!

 

Sitting around bitching about how hard being a stepmom is, will NOT make being a stepmom any easier!


You have to change your mindset, your reactions, the way you approach the relationships AND the way you take care of yourself and your family.

It sounds fluffy, and a tad dramatic, but it’s true.

So true that I’ve literally made it my mission to show you how.

 
Hey Stepmom You Need To Read This
 


This is the point of the email, where I should write a whole blurb about how and why my book will help you make that happen for you… but I’m not going to do that..

If you want to buy the book, you’ll buy the book.

If you want change, you’ll do the work to make it happen.

I don’t care if you implement change through the tips and strategies outlined in my resources, or whether you dive into other books like Girl Wash Your Face or The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck: the Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life The only thing that I care about is that you begin to understand that change starts with you.

So really, you have a choice. You can decide that you’re ready for change…

or you can carry on the same way you have been… and wait for your husband to “get it”, or his ex-wife to stop doing whatever it is she does that causes you so much grief.

You can cross your fingers that your stepkids will being to respect you, or that your mother-in-law will start to see you as a parental figure in your stepkid’s lives.

The choice is totally up to you.

I’ve seen how both options play out! I personally choose the first..

But if you’re going with the second option, I want to say just one last thing. You need to know that

You can’t control how other people act, the only thing you can control is your own reactions



Trying to do so, or waiting for other people to see the world through your lens, will be a long frustrating process. One that I am willing to bet, won’t end the way you want it to!

… and I say that with love!

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101 Ways To Be A KICK-ASS Stepmom - Stepmom Support - eBook - Jamie Scrimgeour
 

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All Stepmoms Are Not Created Equal

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All Stepmoms Are Not Created Equal

As a blogger, one of my favourite things to do is sip on my morning coffee and scroll through the latest blog posts from my favourite Blogging Websites.

Facebook, being the creepily perceptive beast that it is, has tuned into this favourite pastime of mine, and tailored my newsfeed accordingly.


However, as I scroll through my newsfeed, sipping on my java, I notice a very clear pattern in the parenting blogging world. 

As I am sure you’ve noticed, social media, bloggers and parenting experts have done a phenomenal (and I use that term loosely) job at categorizing the different types of parents.

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4 Tips for Keeping It Healthy, While Keeping It Real

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4 Tips for Keeping It Healthy, While Keeping It Real

I don’t know about you, but when things get busy and the “to do” list gets full, our healthy eating habits tend to go out the window.

Last year in particular, I was basically flying by the seat of my pants and it didn’t feel good at all. We hit up the drive-thru and local pub more than we should have, and I had major Mom Guilt over what we were feeding the kids.

This year I’m determined not to get to that place again. So far so good!

I finally feel like we have a system in place! With three kids in hockey, two with extra curricular jobs and one in gymnastics, it’s a good thing! This year is going to be our busiest yet!

Today, in partnership with Catelli Pasta, I’m sharing my four strategies for keeping it healthy, while still keeping it real (because hey, sometimes the gongshow is inevitable right?)

Hope this helps! And hey, if you happen to have any tips and strategies that help keep you on track with healthy eating, be sure to share them with me!

As things get REALLY busy, I’m going to need all the help I can get!

 

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