Today kicks off a weekly series all about starting, writing and building a blog. I’m teaming up with four other bloggers to offer advice based on a specific topic each Wednesday in October. So, after you read my post, pop over to the others. It’s interesting how we each approach the same job in different ways. Today’s post topic is all about developing your blog/brand.
Most of you know I started blogging when blogs were relatively new. No Pinterest, no Instagram, no magazine-worthy post photos required. Ahhh, the simple days! I started blogging because A.) I really, really loved decorating our house, and my mind was pretty much consumed with it. And, B.) I thought it would be a good way to organize my thoughts, save future project ideas, etc. I never had a clue that it would/could become a job, because there just weren’t that many full-time home decor bloggers out there at the time. Sometimes, I think that going into this blindly with no expectations or marketing plan was a really, really good thing for me. Pure love for what you do is often the best formula. (I know this because I’ve also had a couple of jobs that I absolutely detested. It’s not fun.)
image: Better Homes & Gardens
“Branding” is such a big buzzword among bloggers now, but I kind of fell into my “brand” without knowing it. I didn’t have a strategic plan going in. I’ve just always written about what I know. If it’s of interest to me, then surely, it will be of interest to some other people. On the other hand, I won’t be the blog for every decor enthusiast out there because my style is too simple. Too cluttered. Too family-friendly. Too colorful. Too bland. (I’ve heard it all.)
image: The Every Girl
Even today, after blogging for six years, I still don’t make decisions based on formulating some dreamed up brand. I do, however, refer back to my “design. simplified.” tagline a lot. Are the ideas I’m presenting achievable/attainable/unintimidating? Do they line up with the overall theme of my blog? Are they true to who I am as a decorator, as a mom and as a person? I think that sticking with a general theme can be a big draw when building a blog following. People like to know what to expect and will keep coming back for more when the content is consistent. Chasing the wind and trying to keep up with every blogging trend is exhausting for both the blogger and the reader.
So, what if you’re a brand new blogger—or are just thinking of starting a blog? Here are a few practical tips from someone who has learned (and messed up) along the way.
image: Better Homes & Gardens
1. Decide who it is you’re writing your blog to, and stick with it. I don’t think enough bloggers consider this, but I do think it’s super helpful in letting your true voice come through in your writing style. You can’t be everything to everyone. Are you writing your blog for your readers, for companies, for other bloggers? Believe it or not, your writing will reflect this and readers will notice. You may even want to think of a specific person, and write as though you’re talking to them face-to-face.
2. Write often. Like more often than you think. Even when it feels like no one is reading it. When I started blogging, I wrote almost every week day. I don’t think that’s necessary, but it definitely got me into the practice of coming up with content on a regular basis. And, the more you write, the better you’ll become at it and finding your voice/writing style.
3. If you’re even kind of thinking/hoping/dreaming that this might turn into a job (now or in the future), put your best foot forward from the start. Buy your domain name and have a custom blog header. Even if the rest of your blog isn’t super slick, a nice clean header will make a good first impression. (I wrote more thoughts here on the business of blogging.)
4. Support other blogs. Networking is an important part of making your blog known, but so is good old-fashioned support and encouragement for other bloggers. I will once tell you that I was afraid mentioning another blog would send tons of traffic away from my own site, never to return. That’s just silly. Supporting other blogs is not only a good gesture toward other people who are interested in the same thing you are, but I believe it also gives you some credibility with your readers that they can trust you to recommend the best things/blogs/people you find online. I love that my Saturday 6 posts can send traffic to new and growing blogs and get some of the most positive feedback about those posts.
5. Read, research and keep teaching yourself new things. Google has been (and will continue to be) my very best business partner. I have put hours into learning and figuring things out as they come up. I even understand a tiny bit about html now, which is a small miracle in itself. Analytics, SEO, page rank, page views, etc., were all completely foreign terms to me (and maybe to you, too!) when I started. But, there’s an abundance of information out there, if you have the inclination to learn it.
Keep reading. Here are four other bloggers sharing their stories and advice: