Advice // tips for a successful blog

Hey Babes!

 

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. Well, I kinda knew what I was going for, but I just started writing posts, taking pictures of my outfits, and posting. I had know idea what WordPress really was, just that it was a blogging site. I didn’t know that it was a whole community where you could follow, like, and comment on other blogs until I posted my first post and other bloggers started “liking” it. Besides that, I’ve learned so many other things along the way, so if you don’t know where to start, feel overwhelmed. or want to get more exposure, read this post for some of my top blogging tips.

 

1. Be Consistent

When I decided to start this blog, I was really excited and super into it. I was posting multiple times a week, and put in a lot of effort into my photos. It was also the summer of 2016, and I was only taking one class, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. When school started to pick up, my blog was harder to manage, and I would sometimes go a whole week without posting, which is why planning is important. I’ll get to planning later, but just know if you don’t plan, it’s harder to be consistent.

Unfortunately, my blog started to go downhill in the summer of 2017, when I had some medical issues, and I took a break from it. I went to posting multiple times a week to not posting at all. I posted a little bit in the fall of 2017, but I didn’t start picking my blog back up until 2018. Even though some circumstances were out of my control, my blog suffered. I lost quite a few followers, and went from getting 15-40 likes on posts, along with several comments, to maybe 3-8 likes and no comments at all.

Obviously, I didn’t know that would happen, but I’m slowly getting back to where I was when I first started. If you’re consistent, people will take you seriously, and you’ll get more views, followers, and comments.

2. Take REALLY Good Photos

If you are going to have photos in your blog, make sure they are up to par. You don’t need a fancy DSLR camera, just pay attention to the background, lighting, and know your angles. If you do want to invest in a DSLR camera, do your research. I have the Nikon D5200 and a Canon Rebel T7i. The Nikon D5200 is a little out dated, (I got it in 2013), but there are updated versions of this camera, like the D5600. I like these cameras because they both have a live view shoot, and the cool thing about the D5600 and Rebel T7i is that  they have wifi built in so you can connect them and shoot from your phone. Even though my Rebel T7i is newer, I use the D5200 because I have a 50mm lens which is perfect for portrait shots. The 55-250mm lens, which I have for my Canon camera, is also great for blurred backgrounds and portrait shots as well, but I like to stick with the Nikon because the lens is less bulky, and I was advised it was better for the type of photos I was going for.

Along with being consistent to help you gain exposure, having quality photos also helps. Below are some photos from my recent most liked posts, vs. some photos from some of my less liked posts.

It’s probably obvious, but the two photos on the left (the ones I’m wearing boots in) are what I would consider “bad ” photos. The lighting is bad, they’re under exposed, and you can see an outlet in the background with my camera charger plugged in. There’s also a stain on my gray sweatshirt which is a no-no.

In the “good” photos, the lighting is good, the exposure is good, and the backgrounds are something other than a blank white wall.

This also proves that you don’t NEED a good camera for good photos. All of the photos above were taken with my DSLRs, and while they helped a lot, the photos on the right still didn’t come out well. It’s not about the camera you have, but how you use it!

3. PLAN

Up until recently, I would have a blog post in mind, and write it whenever I felt like it. I would tell myself something like “I’m going to write the post tomorrow, and take pictures the day after.” But when tomorrow came, I would sometimes put it off. and then I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do. I was also stressed sometimes, because I couldn’t think of anything to write. If you plan out your posts, and plan ahead, getting a post up will feel a lot less like a chore.

I used to write down the posts I wanted to write in the ‘Notes’ section of my phone, but I found that investing in a planner and actually writing in it is a much better way to keep yourself on track. I got this August 2019-December 2020 planner from Anthropologie for $30, and it’s my new best friend! It has stickers, tabs, and even a bookmark to mark the current week. The thing I love about this planner is that it has a calendar page for each month, along with a week by week section. If you’re in school, it even has a class schedule section, so you can fill out your class schedule along with anything you need to bring, like books.

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For August 2019, I filled in everything that I knew was going on, and anything I was planning for, on the calendar page so that I can see my month at a glance. I filled in future events on the weekly pages also, and I added notes for anything I needed to do that specific day. I even color coded the events I have, like blog posts, work, and appointments. Another thing I did was set aside a certain time for blogging when I knew I wanted to get a post up. For example, I worked 9-1 on The 29th of July, and I gave myself a three hour break and set aside the time slot 4-10 to blog and get a post up.

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While all of this is really practical, life happens. You never know when a friend is going to spontaneously ask you to hang out, or if you get called into work or asked to stay late. When taking photos, weather is also a factor. A cloudy day isn’t ideal for blog pictures, and that’s why if you ever have free time, or are just bored, you should work on your blog. Right now, I have about four drafts for posts I’m going to publish. If I decide to change an outfit, or details about the post, I can always edit it later. If I need to go out and buy something, I won’t realize it at the last minute and take time away from getting the post up to go shopping, because in that amount of time, anything can happen. If you get overwhelmed easily, you can write a post little by little, and if you do it ahead of time, it won’t be stressful. Putting together an elaborate post all in one day can be challenging, and like I said before, anything can happen.

I filled out my calendar at the end of July, but in that first week, my work schedule changed. So, instead of messily crossing things out, I used white-out to override events. By using a tool like white-out, my planner is easier to read and I won’t have to struggle to read things or go searching for them.

 

Don’t get me wrong, you could do all your planning in the ‘Calendar’ app on your phone and set reminders, but technology isn’t always reliable, and for me personally, a physical planner is much easier and keeps me motivated to complete tasks.

4. Writer’s Block? Just Keep Writing!

Every writer experiences writers block at one point or another. I definitely have. A lot of times, I know what I want to write in the middle of the post, but I have no idea how to start it. This situation leaves me staring at my computer blankly for 30 minutes, and I get really frustrated. To overcome this. I start writing what I already have planned, and then it just seems to flow from there. If you have nothing planned, and have absolutely no idea where to start, just start writing the gist of what you want to say in sentences, and ask yourself your opinions on the topic.

For example: If I’m writing about snakeskin, I would ask myself things like “what do I know about the trend?” and “How do I feel about it?”

This leads me to write down things like “I’ve seen snakeskin in every store,” “I hate snakes, but the snakeskin pattern is cool.” From there, your mind will flow as you’re writing, and it should help a lot.

If neither of those tips work for you, just WRITE. Jot down anything you did today, what you’re doing tomorrow, how you feel today, or even fun facts about yourself. This also helps your mind flow, and you just might come up with something awesome!

Another thing that helps me with the dreaded writer’s block is changing positions. If I move from my bed to my couch, I feel more comfortable and not as restless, which ultimately helps me to come up with a great post.

5. Engage With Your Audience

When you start to grow an audience, whether it’s on social media or your blog itself, it’s important to engage with them. If someone leaves a comment, comment back! And if they have a blog, check it out and maybe like a post or leave a nice comment. This helps make connections and may even lead to a cool collaboration. It also shows your personable and likable, and you’re more likely to get regular readers.

6. Utilize Social Media

In the first year or so of blogging, I decided NOT to use Instagram. Big mistake. I thought that I would grow a following first, and then start using social media to promote. What I didn’t realize, was that Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, are great ways to gain exposure if you’re just starting out. If you’re making a brand new account, you should post at least five photos on the first day, so that people can see what you’re all about. You should also switch to a business profile so that you can see how many profile views you are getting per week and certain stats like demographics.

If you do some research, you’ll find tips to help you grow your Instagram, like this article, this article, and this article. One major thing you should do is post frequently, however, it can be stressful if you’re trying to keep a post schedule and don’t have the photos for it. This is where planning comes into play.

Like planning your blog posts, you should also plan your instagram posts. There are apps out there that allow you to schedule your feed and tell you what the best time to post is on what day. I used Preview for awhile to look at my whole feed and see what pictures would look good in what order, but as of right now, it doesn’t schedule your posts automatically, and instead, gives you a notification when it’s time to post. That’s why I switched to Apphi. Apphi easily allows you to schedule your posts and post them for you. The only downside is that it only shows your 12 most recent posts, where Preview shows all of them. Both of them allow you to add multiple photos and move them around so you can see what your feed looks like. They also have a  feature where you can add hashtags to your captions, and they tell you how many out of 30 you have left. While Preview lets you save a group of hashtags, Apphi has the option where you can add a ‘first comment’ and place your hashtags there. There’s nothing wrong with putting your hashtags in the caption of your post, but I prefer to place them in a comment, which is why I like that feature a lot. The first comment is also posted when you initial scheduled post is posted, so you don’t have to worry about doing anything extra.

By the way, hashtags are super important. If you don’t know what a hashtag is, it’s where the “#” symbol is in front of a word, like #this. All the posts with the same hashtag are grouped together, so anyone, let’s say searching the hashtag “#fashion”, may come across your post. Hashtags are a great way to get likes and followers, and you can use up to 30, so make sure you take advantage of that and use them wisely! There are plenty of sites that tell you the best hashtags to use for a certain category, or you can search hashtags in the Preview and Apphi app.

 

Even though I’ve been blogging for three years now, I’m still working on things like getting better photos and posting consistently on social media. But, If I knew all of the things I know now when I first started, I would have been a lot better off. It’s a learning process though, so keep calm and blog on!

dress well. eat well. live well.

xx,

Addie

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