I have to say, for the past 7 months or so I have been REALLY dedicated to growing my blog and I have learned so much in this short time that sometimes it is information overload. The catalyst to the focus I have now to make Sideline Socialite thrive was going to a blogger conference in February. At the time I had my blog but I hadn’t written anything for it in months. Cameron, who does photography in the fashion industry mentioned to a co-worker that I had a blog. She herself was a blogger and convinced him to get me tickets to a blogger conference for Christmas last year. Unsure that I would really get anything out if it, I went and it completely changed everything. Since my new found passion, I have had several people tell me they want to start a blog and have asked me how to get started. I am not expert, but I will tell you that in this 7 months I am beginning to understand what it takes to be a successful blogger and have loyal readers. Here is my list of 7 Tips To Consider Before Getting Started on your blog.
Let me tell you something…if you are starting a blog with the sole focus to make money, it’s not going to get you very far. I have had people tell me they want to start a blog so that they can get free stuff all the time. Uf! If only it were that easy. Find what it is that you are passionate about and let that be your focus. Figure out if there is a way you can spin it to make your blog different from other blogs out there. What value could you add to someone’s every day life? Who is it that you want to reach?
When I started Sideline Socialite I was a marketing director for a pharmacy chain in Houston. Our company recently purchased a suite in the Toyota Center (where the Houston Rockets play) and it was my job to get clients there and to schmooze. I had to know a little somethin’ somethin’ about basketball which forced me to have to pay a little attention. When I tried to talk to Cameron about sports I would remember players by who they are dating or by how their team colors really made their eyes pop. This commentary to Cameron is what sparked me to start the blog in 2013. Things have evolved big time since what I am calling my re-birth of Sideline Socialite in February 2016 and with that re-birth came a re-focus. Yes, I know a few things about sports here and there, but I had to consider who I wanted my audience to be. My girl is dating, married, friends with, someone who is into sports. She may just be enthusiastic about it because HE is. What do I want to say to her? What value can I bring to her? And this is when the game day hostess, and recipes, and cocktails, and style, etc. came in. You may not be into the Super Bowl girl, but I am going to share with you a mean recipe for some killer guac to bring to your friend’s watch party!
Whether you are a chronic nail polish buyer, love the latest kitchen gadgets, or have really great tips for potty training toddlers, find your niche and own it! Make sure it’s something you enjoy and be determined to be the cyber world’s go-to person for that thing. That being said, it’s ok to have some off-topic posts because…sometimes you just want to twirl around in a pretty dress and talk about blogging, or maybe you have something you want to get off of your chest or need support from others. My rule of thumb is to have at least 70% of your blog content be your niche.
2. Get Involved With The Blogger Community
This has been huge for me. Committing to being a consistent blogger can be a daunting task but when you have other people in your corner who are in the same boat it makes that burden so much easier. In Houston I have been really fortunate to find a really great community of bloggers who have now become friends. They are quick to answer my questions, send me an encouraging text, like my photos, comment on posts, and genuinely want to see me succeed. It’s refreshing really. With social media, it’s super easy to find your tribe. There are infinite groups for bloggers on Facebook which is a great place to start. Attending workshops and conferences can also help you find other bloggers to connect with, more on this later.
3. Post Consistently
Grumble, grumble. I know. Consistency is the “gotcha'” of the whole thing. But once you settle in your mind that you are going to kick ass at this blogger thing, you are also signing up to be consistent. You will be surprised how the ideas just roll in when you have found your niche. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start with a small goal. 1 post a week and 3 posts to social media. Then once you get the hang of it, go to two posts a week and a post a day on social media. 3 blog posts a week is the goal for me for SEO purposes. I am not there yet, but it’s just around the corner. When you are posting don’t forget to get personal. Your readers and subscribers and followers want to get to know you. They want to know you are real and that’s how you build trust with them. If you are giving reviews or plugging brands, be authentic. Once you’ve build trust with your audience they are counting on you to be real about things you do or don’t like.
4. Have Great Photos
Your photos are the “face” of your blog. If they are blurry or low quality, brands and readers will not really take you seriously. Clear, high quality photos are a must. Like, for real. Consider a good camera as a great investment into your blog business. It’s also a really great idea to know a good photographer. I am fortunate enough to be sleeping with mine, hee hee! But seriously, consider paying a photographer for great quality photos as another investment. Lots of photographers will give you an hourly rate and you will be surprised how many looks, products, and items you can squeeze into that hour if you thoroughly plan ahead. If you are fortunate enough to have a good camera and a good man that doesn’t mind taking your pics, that’s even better!
5. Be Social On Social Media
This is huge for growth. On social media you get what you give. If you like and comment on people’s posts, chances are they will do the same for you. Like I mentioned before, people want to get to know who you are. Talk to them. Comment on your followers pictures so that you can get to know them too! I have connected with some really great people on Instagram in particular some of which I talk to on a daily basis about blogging highs and lows, parenting advice, and more. I also find social media as a great source for inspiration and I love connecting with those that have inspiring content or are at a place where I strive to be. I have Instagram friends from Utah, to New York, to the UK, to Australia that I interact with all the time and I love getting to know them. You will not get very far as a blogger if you are not social on social media. There are lots of resources on Pinterest on “how to grow your social media following” and I can bet that most if not all of them touch on the fact that you have to interact.
6. Go To Conferences & Workshops
Just like you would if you have a day job, you need training, and continuing development as a blogger for sure. Conferences and workshops can hone in on specific areas where you might have questions. They are also great for helping you meet other bloggers and networking. Do some research on blogger conferences and GO! You will learn a lot and meet lots of people who are in your stage of blogging and beyond. When I began, I attended Thrive and it changed my whole perspective. I would highly recommend looking into this conference. It will make or break your blog. In 2017 I am planning to go to more conferences so that I can learn as much as I can and connect with other bloggers.
Please notice that there are 6 other things before I got to this point right here. Collaborating with brands is a great way to start making some income on that blog of yours but it’s A LOT of hard work to get to that point. Brands will be looking at the quality of your photos, the quality of your content, whether you are interacting with people on social media (not necessarily the number of followers you have but the comments back and forth with followers), and frequency at which you post. All of the points above need to be clicking on all cylinders before you can think about asking a brand for money. When you do get to that point, a pitch to a brand that you really want to work with can seem really scary. I have to admit, it’s still scary for me. You may send out 100 emails to different brands and hear back from 5. That’s just the name of the game. But when you do hear back from one then another, it feels so good! Keeping in mind that I am still in my first year of blogging consistently, I chose to do a number of free collaborations in order to get my feet wet and build up my content. All though I do/did free posts I created the content as if I was being paid $1,000/hr. for it! I want to do a really great job for the brand so that they will want to work with me again and again. That has really paid off, figuratively, and literally. After you have built up your quality content compensation is a must. Think about all of the time you spend getting your post together, hiring a photographer to shoot the content, getting a sitter to watch the kids while you are doing a shoot, gas to get to the perfect location to shoot, money you spend on props or items to create your content…all this before you even type one sentence on the blog post! This work and money you put in does not constitute a free t-shirt honey! A t-shirt ain’t gonna’ pay your photographer! Your hard work in making sure that the brand has a great quality post or images for social media deserves some monetary recognition. Go get yo money girl!
Shop this look that I felt really feminine and pretty in…can’t you tell?!