I’ve been a blogger since 2009 and am often asked how I got into blogging or for tips on starting a blog. So in this post, I’ll give you a brief run down of my journey and personal suggestions on how you too can get started as a blogger…
Blogging for me was always done in my spare time, it was a creative outlet around my Graphic Design job back when I started 6 years ago. My journey began in the twittersphere and soon after, I launched my website using the OnSugar platform. Melbourne Girl has grown over the years, with a makeover onto the WordPress platform before finally taking the plunge and investing some money to buy my own domain name(s) and having it redeveloped/built by a web designer.
I have focused on Melbourne Girl as my main profession for the past 18 months or so, after building up an audience and also being able to split my time working in my husband’s landscape business (and being a new Mum). I didn’t start earning any money for what I was doing until about 2012/13 (3-4 years after I started). So lots and lots and lots of work has gone into it, because it’s my passion – I recommend you start off doing it as a passionate hobby too.
Over the years I’ve completed a lot of study to help me get to where I am today; Bachelor of Arts at Uni (although I would recommend a communications or journalism degree these days) and then some shorter courses on ‘The Fashion Industry’ and ‘Interior Decoration’. The web knowledge I learned during my Graphic Design studies was also very helpful.
TIPS FOR STARTING A BLOG
So what is blogging?
A blog is an online journal – so you can pretty much discuss anything you like – fashion, food, holidays, pets… whatever tickles your fancy.
My first piece of advice would be to blog about a topic which is your passion. To keep everything as honest and authentic as possible. Any readers you do attract want words of wisdom from someone who is genuine and sincere, and are coming to you for that specific reason. Your blog posts should be on point – I blog about travel and lifestyle, specifically in Melbourne, and these types of posts will always be my biggest traffic generators.
** 2017 update I’ve grown my monthly blog traffic from around 1,000 page views to 40,000 – 60,000 page views (depending on the time of year) in the past four years. Admittedly my growth was slower than I would have liked. But I had no advice, no guidance or no mentor to help steer me on my course… It’s been a serious learning curve and I want to share with you all the things which have now become tricks of the trade… Maybe ‘a little good love that goes around, will come back around’ as they say!
Blogging for Beginners’ tips
• Firstly, determine your blog’s name and the theme
IMPORTANT – be unique!
SECONDLY – keep the spelling simple!
HAVE FUN – choose a blog title which resonates with who your audience will be, and what you are passionate about.
• Set up your new blog on WordPress
Blogging requires software, and my platform of choice is WordPress. It is an easy to use, fast and flexible blog script.
It comes with a great set of features, designed to make your experience as a publisher as pleasant and simple as possible. To get started, follow their simple tutorials to create posts and upload photos etc. They are there to help, so get all the advice you can.
I’ve tried a few other platforms (like OnSugar and Blogger), and none of these stack up to WordPress in my opinion.
• Start thinking about some categories
A blog category is a topic you cover on your blog. Your category list is kinda like the table of contents for your blog. Categories are broad and can encompass smaller, more defined topics (i.e., tags). A category title should be descriptive and can be several words long.
Choosing the best blog categories before you start blogging, will help guide you in the right direction for staying true to your niche. To assist create ideas for new posts and importantly kick start your blog in the right direction to have seamless navigation for your audience.
• Begin publishing live content
Now comes the fun part!
Here’s my simple formula for composing a blog post:
Step 1: Start with a working title.
Step 3: Write a killer intro (usually one-three paragraphs).
Step 4: Write your content (blog posts should have a minimum of 300 words)
Step 5: Wrap up with a snappy conclusion and any relevant dates, weblinks etc.
Step 6: Edit and proofread your post, and be sure to check your formatting.
Step 7: Hyperlinks – be sure to connect to other websites for users to click through.
Step 8: Don’t forget photos.
Writing the blog post text is equally as important as having quality, unique photos. Just as you wouldn’t ‘take’ anyone else’s writing, please remember never to ‘take’ anyone else’s photos. Simply including a credit or source note is unacceptable. It’s not your work, so don’t use it should be the motto of all bloggers around the world. Please know that all photos created in Australia are protected by the Copyright Act 1968 – copyright is automatically held by the photographer and there is no requirement for registration, or even the need to add a copyright notice to a work – so all photos online are protected by the Act.
I recommend investing in a good quality camera (speak to the Professionals at Camera House) and then doing some light editing of brightness/contrast, before you size your photos to fit to the size of your wordpress theme. I use Adobe Photoshop for editing.
An alternative to taking your own photos is to purchase some high quality shots from a trusted supplier like Stockify, a disruptive new twist on stock photography offering thousands of customisable images created expressly for small businesses’ digital marketing.
Step 9: Publish
Grow your blog traffic >
Hopefully this helps you decide if blogging is for you?
Good luck on your own journey and shout out below if you are thinking of taking the plunge?
Some top blogging resources >
Other resources for bloggers >