Blogging has absolutely exploded over the last few years, and thousands upon thousands of people worldwide are making a full-time career out of it, including myself. I started blogging for a hobby in Transition Year aged 16. I had read an article in a magazine (correctly) predicting that blogging was going to be the ‘next big thing’ and decided to give it a shot.
I set up a blog within days and more or less wrote for myself and a handful of people for a year or two, before the ball really started rolling for me. 2012 was the year that blogging took off, so to speak, and became a ‘thing’. 6 years later, it’s now my full-time career at the age of 22 and I have a loyal international readership. Although I’m immensely grateful for how lucky I am to be working at something I love doing, I know that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my teenage-self being focused and determined to succeed. Well, what’s the secret?
One of my most read blog posts is ‘How To Start & Run A Successful Blog in 2015’ – it still rakes in thousands of hits per day and it has been called a ‘bible’ for some of my readers who were either struggling with blogging or wanted to dive straight into the industry.
I’ve decided to squeeze the most important advice (in my opinion) into 5 essential points for you here and hopefully they’ll help you in your quest to become a top blogger!
1. Starting a blog can be really exciting and a fantastic venture to focus on in your spare time. However, you need to start blogging for the right reasons: event invites, “freebies” (nothing’s free in this world) and internet fame aren’t legit reasons to start, and you’ll probably find yourself packing up after a few months if you’re focusing on the wrong things.
If you start a blog because you have a genuine interest in writing, creating, building up an audience and you have a true passion for whatever you may be blogging about, then go ahead. Remember: blogging doesn’t revolve solely around fashion, beauty, travel and food. You can start a blog on ANYTHING – whether that be psychology, knitting or motorbikes. It’s up to you!
Are you scared people won’t have an interest in what you write about it? Trust me, there WILL be people out there who’ll be delighted to find someone with a common interest, whatever that may be. If you’re initially writing for you and about what you love, an audience will follow. That may take weeks, months, even years, but patience and determination will stand to you.
(Also: it may seem pretty obvious to point out but you do need a BLOG to be a blogger. Calling yourself a ‘blogger’ with nothing to prove for it, confuses people and will definitely deter them away from your work. Starting a blog is really simple and there’s a range of different platforms to use; Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr being the best (I think), for beginners especially.)
2. Equipment is hugely, hugely important and if you’re serious about blogging, you’re better off investing in some good products as it’ll benefit you in the long run. 3 essentials are: a laptop, a smart phone with internet access and a camera. I’m not saying go out and spend €1,000 on a new camera but do consider spending an extra few bob on a product that you know will make your blog super-professional looking. If your smart phone takes extremely good quality photos, make sure the resolution is high and that the shots are super-sharp if you plan on using them for your blog.
Shop for secondhand cameras and laptops online or post a status on Facebook to see if anyone has any lying around that you can buy off them. You don’t need to be a millionaire or professional photographer to run a successful blog; you just need to be wise with your investments, train your eye and know what makes a good photo. Natural daylight is your best friend.
3. Networking is an important aspect of blogging, getting your voice heard, building an audience and making friends within the industry. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, make it so simple to follow other bloggers with similar interests to you. Some of my closest blogger friends, I’ve known since the beginning; we’ve seen each other grow and prosper, and they’re always there for advice and a helping hand if things get a little tough.
Be conversational, friendly and if you’re funny, don’t be afraid to show a little wit – that goes for social media and your blog! Remember that networking and spamming are two different things and sending someone “Follow me back!!!” tweets on a daily basis most definitely won’t secure you friendship.. or a follow back.
When and if you do start getting invited to events, try and talk to everyone and carry around business cards with your blog address and social media sites displayed on them. People love networking at events, and it’s usually way more fun and natural than behind a computer screen.
It can be quite nerve-wracking if you’re shy (like myself) but ask the PR if you can take along a +1 with you for a helping hand. Bringing someone fun and outgoing is a great way to help break the ice between you and new people and sure, everyone loves getting invited to something!
4. Being regular and consistent with your content is a must. If you feel like children, work or college may get in the way of writing daily posts, then make sure you’re active on at least two social media platforms every day. Twitter and Instagram are really fun to use and are brilliant ways of catching up on your favourite bloggers during your lunch break or before bed.
Writing in bulk on your days off is a fantastic way to ensure you get regular blog posts up. Try and aim to write 3-5 on your day off and schedule them in throughout the week. Your readers will appreciate the fluidity of your blog and it will show PR’s and companies that you take it seriously and can balance your blog with your ‘outside’ life.
5. My final point may sound like a cliché but it’s extremely important to stay true to yourself when blogging. Trying to step into someone else’s shoes that you think people will prefer or react better to, will only make you feel drained and bored. Your readers will catch on soon enough, there won’t be any trust there, and you probably won’t last very long in the game. Staying true to your passions, morals and being a genuine person will stand to you and your audience will appreciate it.
Blogging is a very tough business, it can become bitchy and intimidating and this scares people away from being ‘themselves’. Building a brand around YOU can only be done if it’s truly you working behind the blog. Don’t engage in trolling on social media or forums if you’re stuck in a rut; instead ask a blogger friend for advice. The chances are, they’ve felt the same at some stage.
Remember, stepping away from something for a while is perfectly okay. It’s important to evaluate your priorities in life and if it’s disrupting your mental health or your life in general, have a think about what you could do to change it. Again, alike to stepping away for a bit, it’s also okay to hang up your coat. Never try and force yourself to do anything if alarm bells are going off.
I hope these tips have helped some of you and I wish you the best of luck with blogging! We don’t bite – promise!
BY Leanne Woodfull