How to Tackle this Blogging Business- Top 10 Tips

This summer I've been asked several times how to blog and I've even met with a few friends to help them get started.  I don't pretend to even be close to an expert on blogging but I thought I would share my tips, tricks, and ideas with all of you because I'm happy to share the little that I do know.  One thing I love about the blogging world is the idea of sharing and collaboration.  I've learned so much from other bloggers and would love to pay it forward.  It's in supporting each other that we all find success.
Some of my best advice is not to get into blogging because you want free stuff or to make money.  That's not how it works exactly.  Companies will see right through you and you won't get very far.
I started blogging as a diary for my first daughter and I soon realized it was a passion of mine and a great creative outlet for me.  It was when a PR rep contacted me as a "lifestyle expert" to be on a local tv segment that got me to start thinking about taking my blogging to another level.  I had no idea people were turning to my blog for advice and ideas until she brought it to my attention.
So be authentic and it will grow organically.

1. Pick a platform to start your blog.  
I use Blogger because it is free and very user friendly.  Now that I'm deeper into blogging and see it as a business I debate converting to Wordpress because it offers more but at this point I've decided to stick with Blogger because, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

2. Pay for a blog template.
There are templates on Blogger but I highly suggest paying the nominal fee to get a professional template.  I also suggest paying for someone to install it.  If you go to Etsy and search Blogger Template you will find hundreds of options.  Be sure to check out the Shop's reviews.

3. Buy a domain address.
You can buy a domain through Blogger or you can also use a site like GoDaddy.  When you buy a domain you drop the in your web address.

4. Pick a Niche.
I am a lifestyle blogger because I love to talk about a little bit of everything.  There are fashion blogs, food blogs, mommy blogs, etc.  You name it, there is a blog for it.  But in the beginning you want to figure out what lane you want to be in and stick with it.  You need to brand yourself and your blog and try to be consistent with it.

5. Photography
I am still working on this but the better the photos the better the traffic to your blog.  People love to see large and professional quality photos.  If possible invest in a DSLR camera to take all your photos.  Also there are hundreds of apps to edit your pics.  Again, this is an area where I have a ton to learn but here are a few of my favorite apps: Layout, iMovie, Photo Editor, and Color Story.  I also lighten my photos in iPhoto on my computer.

6. Content
What is your content?  What do you want to share?  What can you offer readers?
You've picked your niche, now what is your content?  Write about things other people want to hear about.  Share recipes, decorating tips, fashion advice, party planning ideas, etc.

7. Collaborate
Reach out to companies that you want to work with.  I only contact companies where I actually want the product.  I try very hard to keep my blog authentic.  If I'm endorsing a product I want to actually like it so that my readers can trust me.  At this point, companies are contacting me and there are times that I will turn things down because I'm not interested in the product or I don't think it fits within my brand.  
There isn't a secret to reaching out to companies.  I frequently use the Contact Us section of a companies website to send my pitch.  I simply tell them who I am and that I want to collaborate with them.  I also tell them I want a product in exchange for a review post that I share via all my social media channels.  I include my blog address and social media handles.
Eventually you need to create a Media Kit and send that to companies; especially if the company contacts you first.  Blogging takes a ton of work and I spend hours on each post.  Once you have numbers to support it you shouldn't sell yourself short.  There are bloggers who make a living just from their blog.  Full disclosure- that is not me, lol!

8. Host Giveaways
Not only can you ask companies for a product to review but also ask if they will provide an additional item for a giveaway (that they will ship to the winner).  Giveaways encourage people to follow you.  It's also just a lot of fun.

9. Grow Your Social Media
I have focused on Instagram but will eventually get to other platforms like Pinterest and Twitter.
My advice for growing Instagram is engagement.  Use the Explore button on IG and like and comment on other people's photos.  The more you do this the more you will get noticed by others.  The goal is for them to look at your feed in exchange and start following you.  
When you post make sure to use all 30 allowed hashtags.  Google "The most used Hashtags" and use different hashtags depending on the content.  Some for fashion, some for food, some for family, etc.  I split my 30 hashtags into two comments so it appears less spammy.  Once you finish your post, click on your hashtags and engage with people who are using your same hashtags.
Respond to comments on your photos.  Again engagement is key!
There are dozens if not hundreds of apps where you can pay for followers.  I haven't done this because I've wanted to grow my following organically and authentically.  I've heard from dozens of big bloggers that companies want to work with bloggers with good engagement not a ton of followers.  For example, a company may choose to work with someone who has 1000 followers but lots of engagement vs. someone who has 5000 followers and little engagement.  When you pay for followers your engagement tends to be low.  Those followers are fickle and are typically creepy men from another country! I'm not saying this is a bad way to go and it may be something I try in the future, I just want everyone to think about the pros and cons:)
Speaking of fickle followers you will find that every single day people unfollow you.  There are people who follow you only for a day or two in hopes that you will follow them.  If you don't they drop you like a hot potato.  Don't get hung up on this.  It's just part of the game.

I don't let it bother me but when I found this shirt I had to have it!
Another way to grow your social media is through pinning images from your posts to Pinterest.  With every single post pin one or more images to Pinterest.  Vertical and visually appealing images are best for Pinterest.  You also should consider converting to a business Pinterest account.

10. Join Networks
There are an endless number of networks to join.  I don't have a LOT of experience with most of these but here are some that I've signed up for and some that I use regularly.
SocialFabric, Share A Sale, Linqia, Blogher, Popular Pays
You have to be accepted to these networks and they will pay you in exchange for campaigns, posts, or ad placement.
Also join StumbleUpon, add your pages and make sure to stumble other content outside of your own.

What the...

...Heck? Why did you unfollow me???

In the end be you and keep a smile on your face!

I hope my top 10 tips can help and inspire you.  Please feel free to contact me with specific questions; I would love to help you.

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