Blogging- from the beginning
I have had many emails, questions and queries on blogging. From the technical to the intrigued, from people wanting to start a blog but too worried what others will think, questions on the business side of it, how it can generate an income and the creativity of it. I hope in these next series of blogs I can address these questions and try to answer from my experience. I am by no means a professional blogger but I have been toying with this gig for a few years now and am becoming a little more savvy in a few areas, I'm a small fish in a very big ocean but the ocean has enough space for everyone. A few months back I wrote this post here on my relationship with blogging, it does cover some points but I hope in this series to go into it in a lot more detail. Blogging is not an exclusive invitation club, it's open to anyone that fancies giving it a go so I hope maybe I can help along the way as when I was starting out I had no one to ask, until I met Emma and loved that support of bouncing ideas off each other and questions when working with companies and campaigns. I hope this is a little way of giving people some insight into blogging, encouraging anyone who is thinking of giving it a go to document a time in their lives may it be fertility struggles, renovation projects, life with family and everything in between or taking that next step and helping their blog head towards making a little income as a reward for all the time and effort, I hope these blogs help. There is a lot to cover and wayyy too much for one blog post but I'll try my best to break it down.
I am going to share the good, the bad and the ugly too (and I don't mean the outtake pictures of me).
This may not be the most formal structured series, probably more like how I talk and jumping back and forth between things (I'm working on it) but I will be writing after work and when the kids are in bed so bare with me.
So why blogging?
For me it was to give me a little creative fulfillment, I had one baby, a very busy and at times (most) stressful job, I was pregnant with baby number two and struggled with the energy to do anything else. It was my hobby on the sofa, a way to document days and share ideas. So many people tell me that they would love to blog but worry what others will think or don't know if they want to go public with their private thoughts. Blogs can be set to private and you only share what you want to share so you could use it as your own digital diary, update it when you want to and keep it to yourself. My aim with the blog was never to work with businesses through it, that developed over the years from the hobby that it is but I'll come back to that soon. 'I worry what others will think'
Don't we all, I do too everyday and wish I could say I am so confident in myself that I don't care but I try to remind myself that life is short and we only have one shot at it so do what you want and not what you think others want or you will never get it right anyway. I struggled the first year with blogging, I read very clear comments that where clearly directed towards me (so much so that I would have friends highlighting it to me), my reaction was not to bite back (that was hard) but I'm not going to lie, when at home with an upset baby and not getting to leave the house it consumed me more than I'd care to admit. I am so glad it didn't stop me though, looking back it maybe encouraged me to keep going, the determined '2 fingers back at you' streak and I'm so very glad now it did. Maybe I've a lot to thank them for. The pros far, far, outweigh the cons and the support will be more than those who don't get it, but us humans can focus on that tiny spark of doubt, we just need to always be aware not to give it too much oxygen. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will. I wrote this post here way back in the very early days when I just thought 'to hell with it' and needed to give myself the push to shop worrying what others may think, and that's the thing too, a lot of it can be in our own heads.
Also Blogging is becoming more and more common too with 6.7 million people having their own blog and a further 12million using their social media profiles to document and blog through and also companies that blog have 97% more inbound links of people shopping online with 81% of businesses describing blogging as important or critical (Information up to date as of March 2017 from Hubspot). How can I start up a blog?
Ok, so as for the technical set up I am the worst person to ask. You have a few options of hosts, Wordpress (which I use), blogger, self hosting (paying for your own webpage/ address, which can be done and transferred over at a later date if you think that you would like to create a business from your blog). Wordpress, blogger etc offer free hosting so you can just go on to their site and step by step set up your blog address. You will need to choose a Domain name (mine is blossoming birds, it is the name you want to be known by). I would recommend you think of you the blog topics you want to cover now and in the future and make it relevant to that... for example when I set up a blog I wouldn't have called it "Anna and Bella" because I knew another little person would be joining us and also I didn't want to reference it directly to parenting as I wanted to keep it open enough for many topics. Think of the future as well as the here and now.
Once you choose your host, domain name and register you can then choose a theme and start writing your content. As far as blogging I am very, very basic. I hit the 'Write' logo, write my content, add a few pictures in between and publish. This year after almost 2 years with a really basic Wordpress theme I decided that my blog had grew enough and oppurtunities where arising with some lovely companies so I invested in paying a professional to set up a great theme in my blog, I went 'Self hosted' so I own the name and that little space in the net, it was a very small investment but not one I think needs to be made right away. Starting blogging should not cost you, see it as an online diary.
'I don't have the time'
Well time is a big factor and I'm not going to lie it is very time consuming. It totally could be the hours of a full time job and the work that goes behind the scenes of a blog can be huge. It can take hours to write content, take and edit pictures, publish, reply to comments or questions etc BUT you can also make it as detailed and complex as you wish and also when you are writing about something you love, know you are helping others, documenting your days... it can be all worth it! It also depends on how much you want to write also, it could be the 3 times per week (recommended for professional bloggers to keep their audience engaged, yip I fail there, more like whenever I can squeeze it in), it could be once a week or just whenever you fancy writing and documenting.
What I loved about blogging in the early days was that I had the Wordpress app on my phone and every time I sat down to feed Annie and Bella was napping I wrote blogs on my phone like emails, added the pictures and posted. It was easier than keeping a baby book for me and I used Instagram for the same reason, posting daily with a little summary of our day... just the other evening I scrolled back 2 years and had a little tear in my eye reading the good days and tough days.
'I don't know what to write' or 'My grammar is awful'
Write what you love, it will never feel like a task. Don't try and mimic others, yes take inspiration but just be you and that shines brighter than not being natural to try and be like others. As for grammar, mine is awful... I use commas and apostrophes wrong and in the wrong place but if I waited until I totally had it nailed I would never blog. My followers know I blog about manic life with 2 kids, a high pressured management job, juggling a house and life. It's not perfect and it's Patti of the charm (ok I tell myself this), If they wanted a piece of English literature there is blogs out there perfectly suited. I think you just have to trust your own content will shine brighter than a missing capital letter.
And I am going to stop there for now, the technical and set up part isn't really my forté but you could google 'How to set up a blog' as loads of helpful step by step guides can take you through it. Next post is going to be about blogging for business, how to make an income and why businesses utilize bloggers for campaigns.
I hope this is of some help!
Let me know and any questions you have!