15 tips for aspiring bloggers

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I have been blogging for nearly a year now. I set up Inkluded (this tattoo blog) from scratch in November 2014, and to date it’s had 22,600 online hits.

I’m stubborn. Apart from my boyfriend coming up with the genius brand name (I will have to tell him the cat’s finally out of the bag!), I’ve sort of done all of this on my own. I didn’t go to any blogging seminars, ask for help from other bloggers or go on any sort of course. Mainly because, more often than not, I don’t like doing what I should, but also because sometimes the best lessons, are the ones you learn by yourself.

There’s no right or wrong way to manage a blog, or do anything else for that matter. But, if you have just started your own blog and are looking for a bit of inspiration from someone that’s just experienced what you currently are, then here are 15 motivational, sparkly (and pink) tips from me.

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1. Just Teach Yourself

The best way to learn how to do something, isn’t by watching an expert do it, but by just doing it yourself. Don’t know how to create a website on WordPress? Just give it a go. I hadn’t used WordPress before I set this blog up, and now I know it inside out. Have a play around, click buttons, break things… you’ll work out what’s what. Creating a website on WordPress, launching a Facebook advertising account, getting on Twitter – information about how to do all of those things is on the individual websites themselves. WordPress is really user-friendly, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone starting their first blog. Everything within the site is very self-explanatory = ‘Create Blog Post’, ‘Customise Design’, ‘Change Colour Scheme’. Have a nosy around and things will start to make sense.

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2. Make Time

If you’re really serious about launching a successful blog but you’re an extremely busy person, set aside ‘blog time’. It might be on the train to work, on particular evenings each week… for me, it’s Wednesday mornings and Sunday evenings. If you make the commitment and block-off those time periods in your head, you shouldn’t make the mistake of neglecting your blog. It can be difficult to get things off the ground if you’re also working full-time like me, but if you’re serious about what you’re doing, and fully committed to it, make it a priority at certain times.

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3. Play Around

This blog has had 4 different themes so far. I’m quite often up till 1am testing out a new WordPress theme, changing my Twitter handle or learning how to create shiny, glittery JPEGs with words on (ahem, not that you’ve noticed). Just play with things. Download different apps – the one that I used to create these quote images is called ‘Font‘, and is a free typography app available on iOS. In a month, I might have moved onto a different obsession. If you don’t play around, you’ll never know what you like and dislike, what’s easy to use, what fits your blog and what’s worth investing time in having or doing.

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4. Seek Out Answers

If you have a question about something, the answer is out there somewhere. Saying you haven’t succeeded in one element of your blog because you don’t know how to do it, just isn’t option! Keep telling yourself that. I had absolutely no clue on earth how to purchase a domain and map it to my blog, but after a few hours reading online articles, I’d just about worked it out. I purchased inkluded.co.uk on 1-2-3 Reg, a website where you purchase your domain (web address, URL, whatever you want to call it). It cost about £6 and then I went back into my WordPress account, and used the live FAQ help section to link it. Someone from WordPress over in the US took me step-by-step through what I needed to do. On a lot of websites, there is a live help functionality so always look around for it, or read the FAQs.

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5. Have A Mission

Whilst playing around and just seeing how things pan out is a good strategy, you also do want to set yourself some sort of mission before you start. Before I wrote anything for this blog I sat down and really thought about what I wanted it to achieve, and wrote these down on a live mission page for all to see. If you’ve got clear goals that you’re working towards, you’ll find it much easier to produce relevant, interesting content that feels like it has a purpose. Always ask yourself… why am I blogging about this? Does it fit into my mission? Do people care?

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6. Have Patience

Nothing is going to happen overnight. In the first six months your blog could completely change as you start to discover what is and isn’t working. It could take years to build up a following and identity. You’ll have days when you hate it and want to click the delete button… stay calm, have patience, don’t expect big things to happen straight away.

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7. Create A Community

Blogging shouldn’t be one person, sitting behind a computer, telling the world what they’re doing. It should be a huge, tangled, messy, complicated spider web of connections between people, places and experiences. If you want engagement with your blog, start off by thinking about who you can collaborate with to raise awareness of your brand. Do you blog about movies, for example? Don’t just sit in your front room and write about what you’re views are… get some other opinions, go to a networking event, review some industry talks, interview some other film bloggers, get involved with local events. Create links to other brands and people online, but do it in the real world, too.

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8. Say Yes To Everything

I’ve seen many fashion and beauty blogs (with very small followings) who have pages on their website stipulating that they will “only work with and promote brands that they feel are completely in keeping with their own blogs”. That is a good view to stand by as it means you’ve got a clear idea in your head of what your blog should be… but don’t be too fussy if you’re relatively new to all of this. Up to this day (16th August 2015), I haven’t said “no” to a single opportunity or person that’s contacted me. Artists asking to be interviewed, products asking to be reviewed… I haven’t said “no thanks” to anyone. You might be up till 3am typing up interviews, but remember, you’ll only ever get out what you put in.

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9. Tell Stories

You’ve been to an event that was really great, you love a great new range of make-up, you’ve read a book that you loved… so what? Don’t just present your readers with the facts, tell them how it made you feel and what you learnt. Were you taken on a  journey, do you now see the world in a different way? There are a lot of blogs out there that just aren’t interesting. Personally, I think the best way to be interesting is to be emotive, challenge perceptions, have an opinion, and tell stories.

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10. Write From The Heart

Have you started your blog because you feel desperately and hopelessly in love with the topic you’re writing about? If no, then turn around now. The best blogs are built on passion, emotion and soul.

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11. Encourage Change

If you have to go back to that original mission statement and change it, then do. If your blog brand name no longer works, or your Twitter handle doesn’t really fit what you’re trying to achieve… just change it. The best brands in the world regularly change their logos and how they look, feel and communicate. Consistency is great, but the world changes every day, and so should your blog. Try and always be one step ahead of everyone else, and the best way to do that is to encourage change.

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12. Let Your Personality Shine 

After you have written a blog piece, ask yourself, would another blog or website out there have the exact same article on there? If it’s not bespoke to you or your blog, what motivation do people have to return to your blog to read again? The best way to be unique and original is to write from you, write from your personality, and write from your heart… because no one else out there in the world could copy that.

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13. Never Let A Fact Ruin A Good Story

Don’t get bogged down in very small unimportant details! I will explain this point by showing you two separate sentences below:

“Last week I was ambling aimlessly through the countryside with my niece when I spotted a beautiful yellow bird.”

“The week before last, I was walking through the countryside with my mum’s friend’s younger daughter, because I was looking after her and dropping her back off at home, when I spotted something at a distance that I think was a yellowy-brown bird.”

The second one is a more accurate and truthful representation of what happened. The first one sounds better.

Just lie.

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14. Be Yourself 

The reason why people might read blogs rather than magazines or websites, is because blogs have a personal touch. They’re written by individual human beings and that’s what makes them so special. You’re not a multi-million pound organisation, you’re one person, and never shy away from that. Starting a blog will help you discover more about yourself – me, I have learnt that I’m stubborn and passionate, energetic and enthusiastic, love learning things, love meeting and talking to new people, actually have a little bit of a sense of humour (where did that come from?!) and I like trying to do things in different, unusual ways. I embrace that now through all aspects of my blog. From how I talk to people on Facebook, to how I write a blog post, always have YOU at the centre of everything you do.

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15. Have Fun

If you’re doing this in your free time, you need to be enjoying it. When things get difficult, remind yourself that you started this as a hobby, and it should remain a pleasurable and rewarding aspect of your life. Be lighthearted, laugh at yourself when you make mistakes, don’t hesitate to be silly, keep smiling along the way and HAVE FUN. It’s only a blog.

Words: Beccy Rimmer
Twitter: @beccyrimmer

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