|photo via: Style Me Pretty|
Hi lovelies! Ever since Sparkle & Mine really started taking off, I've had a lot of readers and friends reaching out asking me how to go about starting a blog. I'm often asked what my "secret" is to making my blog successful. And the truth is, there is no magical way to become an overnight hit. The advice I always give is to work hard, be patient, and learn everything you can about the world of blogging.
Of course, that's easier said than done. When I first started out, I was completely in over my head. I had no experience in blogging, and no contacts or resources to help me. So I did what I do best, I Googled. Every question that popped into my head as I went along, I painstakingly combed through page after page on the internet to find the answer. How do you get your blog seen? Where can you find design tools to customize your blog? How can you earn money with a blog? I was definitely giving my search bar a workout.
Since I love you all so very much, I don't want you to have to take the long way like I did. So I've started a new post series where I answer all of those questions and a whole lot more. I hope that by the end of this series, I will have created a thorough guide to starting a blog that makes the process easy and fun! I absolutely love the world of blogging, and I am so excited to share my experiences and insight with all of you!
If you haven't read part one yet, you can find it here!
Now, let's get started on part two!
The Write Stuff
Once you have your blog all set up and ready to go, it's time to start writing! The biggest piece of advice I can give in terms of writing posts is to make sure that you maintain your voice. There are a million blog posts out there about the best eyeshadow palettes or the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. What will make readers gravitate to your chocolate chip cookie recipe is you. Be genuine. Be original. Be funny. My favorite bloggers are the ones that write conversationally, as if you're sitting down face-to-face with them and they're just chatting with you about a product or idea. Of course, it's also important to write in proper English. No netspeak please!
If you're struggling with writers block, think about what you've been doing lately that relates to your blog's theme. Did you just buy a new pair of sandals? Write a post on the best summer sandals. Did you explore a new city? Write a guide to your favorite places there. Did you just try a life-changingly good mascara? Rave about it! Your blog is a reflection of you and your life, so share it! When I started really getting into false lashes, the first thing I did was type away a guide to buying and applying falsies. The trick is to strike while you're feeling inspired.
Along with great writing, another key element to a successful blog is a quality graphic to accompany your posts. One of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers make is using generic clip art or stock images on their posts. The graphics you use on your blog posts are like the cover of a book. While it may not be right, readers will judge you for it before they even begin to read your blog. Stylish, clean text and images will draw readers in, while cluttered or amateur-looking images are likely to do just the opposite.
I use an online program called Canva to create cover images for my posts. It's a tool that is made for blogging graphics, so it has everything you need to create beautiful text and image combinations with ease. Other fantastic programs for creating and editing graphics include PicMonkey, Ribbet, and Pixlr. Another great way to spice up your graphics is to download freebies from design blogs. These freebies can be anything from hand-drawn arrows to watercolor clip art. I find most of my freebies by following lots of design blogs, or simply doing a search on Google when I need something in particular. It takes a bit of practice to pull all the elements together, but tutorials like the ones you'll find on Canva really help. When in doubt, go with the tried-and-true formula for a pretty graphic. Grab an attractive (yet fairly simple) photo that relates to the topic, and layer bold, attention-getting text on top of it.
Now that you've written great posts and made graphics to match, it's time to update the overall appearance of your blog. While the standard templates that come with your blog are fine at first, you'll need a custom design if you want to make your blog stand out from the crowd. As I've mentioned before, creating a blog is all about branding. And you want to create a memorable and unique brand for yourself as soon as possible.
The best method for doing this is to simply hire a graphic designer and let them do all the heavy lifting. Designing a blog is incredibly complex, as it requires a great deal of knowledge in HTML coding and graphic design. I found my blog designer on Etsy. She was new to the industry and looking to build her portfolio, so I was lucky enough to commission a custom design for just $25. For that cost, she created my blog layout from top to bottom, and I was able to give my input on what I liked and didn't like every step of the way. I tried reaching out to her recently, and she doesn't seem to be actively working anymore. However, there are tons of other wonderful (and affordable) graphic designers you can hire on Etsy.
If you're not comfortable putting any money into your blog just yet, you can also find free templates and backgrounds at The Cutest Blog on the Block. Obviously these are not going to be custom-made, but they are good enough to do the job when you're just starting out. I do strongly recommend that you commission a custom design as soon as possible, as you want to create a consistent and unique brand for your blog that readers recognize as soon as possible. Plus, custom designs just look way more professional.
That does it for this week! Next time in part three, I'll share everything you need to know about using social media to reach your current readers and gain new ones! Until then, feel free to share your tips or ask any questions in the comments below!
P.S.- If you're looking for a website to host your blog, Bluehost is a fantastic option! They provide you with a free domain, 24/7 support, blog design tools, and WordPress integration- all for about $4!