So you want to write a blog?

I only started my blog back in November 2013, so it’s only three months old and by no means established yet! However, for a new blog I don’t think it’s doing too badly! I get a decent number of views and visitors and I’m regularly being approached by companies to review for them and write for them.
Recently, I have had one or two friends ask me about blogging and setting one up, so now I’ve got to grips with the basics, I thought I might try and give some advice and tips from a newbie perspective!

1) Time

Blogging takes a fair amount of time, so make sure you have plenty of it. It’s not the actual blog writing that is time consuming, but the photo editing, the promoting on social networks, the networking with other bloggers, tweeting, reading blogs and commenting.

2) A hosting site

You could jump straight in deep end, buy yourself a domain, and go self hosted. This means your blog is entirely your own – consider it as having a mortgage rather than renting, which is what a free blogging site is. The benefits of being self hosted is that you have complete control over what it looks like, what you install on there, adverts etc. The downside is you have to pay for it, and if something goes wrong it’s up to you to sort out. I would personally recommend using a free site to start with, as you may well find blogging isn’t for you but you’ve spent the money! I have aimed for my 6 month blog birthday as my target to go self hosted.
The two main free host sites are wordpress and blogger. I can’t comment on what blogger is like as I use wordpress. It’s simple to use, even for a technophobe like me, and you can download an app for apple or android devices.

3) What you will blog about

Have an idea of what you will blog about. Anything and everything goes when it comes to blogging, from crafts, parenting, lifestyle, food, fashion, beauty, technology….just make sure it’s relevant to you, and it is something you would enjoy writing about. If it doesn’t interest you, you’re going to struggle to wrote anything half decent and you’ll run out of steam very quickly. Try and plan a few posts in advance. I know roughly what I’m going to be blogging about for that week or so, and everywhere I go I take a notebook and pen in case inspiration strikes! My ideas have a habit of popping into my head just after lying down to sleep – and the odd one has happened in the middle of the night so I keep a notebook by my bed. I also have a few posts lined up for when I don’t have any ideas and I just hit publish!

4) Be a blogger and not a blagger

If you’re doing it to make money or blag freebies, don’t bother! Sounds blunt but that’s not what blogging is about, and it doesn’t work! I get sent plenty of gorgeous freebies (which aren’t technically free, they’re
payment for my time!), but they really are just a nice perk. I blog because I enjoy writing and sharing ideas.

5) Reviews

Saying that, there is no harm in asking for or keeping an eye out for reviews. I’ve sent the odd cheeky email and had a few things sent out – but these were things that I genuinely use and refer to a lot in my blog and would probably feature organically anyway. I’ve turned down plenty of products which personally I would have loved (things for my cat!) but would have being completely irrelevant to my blog. Watch out for hash tags on Twitter such as #prrequest or #pbloggers (parent  bloggers). Also, wrote about products you already own or love. My first review was about a set of kids books we adore (‘That’s Not My…Review’)  We weren’t sent them, we already had them. I emailed the company the review which they loved, especially as I had done it off my own back, and sent me a lovely craft book to review (100 Christmas Things to Make and Do review) I’m now on their PR list!

6) Get on the social networks

Bloggers love Twitter. It’s a great place to promote your blog, ask for advice and network with other bloggers and companies.
I’m on all the main social networks: Twitter,
Facebook, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest

7) Interact

Interact and talk to other bloggers. I try and read and comment on five or so blogs a day – and quite often they will return the favour! Here’s a few of my favourite parenting and lifestyle bloggers:

Crazy with Twins
Motherhood Journeys
Baked Potato Mummy
Wiggy’s Wardrobe
Redhead Babyled

8) Blogging Communities

Join them! As a parenting kind of blog, I’m registered with:
Tots 100
Mumsnet Bloggers
Netmums Bloggers

9) Link up!

Join in with linkies. This is where you link your post up to a hosts blog usually around a theme but there are some generic ones. It’s generally considered good manners to visit and comment on a few other blogs that have linked up. It is a good way to network with other bloggers, get a few more visitors and give you inspiration! They usually start on the same day each week and are open for a few days to add your post.

Some of the linkies I participate in are:
Binky Linky (for new bloggers)
Pocolo (to get some comments and love for any post you have written that week)
Country Kids (about being outdoors with kids)
Messy Play for Matilda Mae  (messy play ideas)
Blow Your Own Blog Horn
(promoting your blog)

10) Proofread

Check several times for spelling and grammar before you hit publish. We are all human and yes the odd mistake slips through the net (I noticed and corrected one tonight in a post I wrote in December!) but there is nothing worse than reading a post peppered with mistakes. I’ve read several blogs with no capital letters or all stops – needless to say I didn’t visit them again!

So there you have it. There’s more to learn about – guest posting, disclosures, media packs, follow and nofollow links (pretty important to read up on if you do any paid reviews or sponsored posts). But never be afraid to ask for help. Twitter is an amazing resource to get help from other bloggers, and there’s lots online – tots 100 has lots of tutorials.

Good luck!