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.
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….
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
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.
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.
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.
In the past few years, with no education in marketing, business or anything to do with technology,
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
… 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!.
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,
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.
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!