I wish I had read something like this 6 years ago. Blogging is tough and not a lot do it for a long time. With the following tips, I hope to inspire you to keep pushing through if blogging is your dream.
If you are looking for an advice on how to make money with your blog etc. , you’ll find more suitable material in the Blog resource section, as this post won’t deal with this topic. But please feel free to read the following text as well if you plan on becoming a full-time blogger and stay one.
I read a comment on another blog this week, where a person that bloggers do not share their “secrets” or what they do in order to be successful. They would fear that people might copy them and eventually steal their audience. Well, I think I don’t lose anything by sharing what made me successful. I don’t mind if people have the same theme on their blog like me (because it is a really good theme and every blog will look different anyway!)if they use the same plugins as I do or if they follow the same Pinterest strategy as I do.
HOW TO START
Many people ask whether they should go with a free WordPress solution or buy a domain and find a hosting partner when they start. When I started I had a free WordPress blog for almost a year and it WAS ENOUGH! Seriously, your blog has to grow you cannot expect it to be perfect from day one and spend a lot of money on it at the beginning won’t make your blog more popular. Remember it is still the content and your way of writing that attracts people and makes them come back again and again.
When you have over 50 blog posts you can still migrate all of your content and pay for your page. This will take you less than half a day. I changed my blog many times, adjusted it and changed it completely. I personally think it is a wonderful thing because you grow with your blog and your blog grows with you.
OUTSOURCE OR LEARNING BY DOING?
What I learned in this 6 years is that I found it really helpful that I have built up this blog all on my own. Of course you can let other people make your blog look nice or source it out to an expert but the problem is as soon as there will be a technical problem on your blog (and there will be many! I am not sugar coating anything here) you will have no idea what is going on and have to turn to the person who did it for you and eventually pay again. See it as a chance to get to know CSS or HTML. I know all these codes can be pretty scary but there are tons of Youtube videos where you can do step by step manuals. Believe me, you will be so proud when you implement your first plugin or make your first change in the code.
With so many blogs popping up during the last months, it can be kind of a challenge to find your place and space and distinguish yourself from others. Many bloggers start a blog with great motivation but after some time, they stop posting or they loose interest in improving their page and interacting with their readers. Professional blogging is nothing different from a real job. It can get boring sometimes and then it is on you to chance something. This can be the look or the “style” of your blog.
I would never deny that for me my blog is like a baby. I want to treat it the best way possible and always make sure that I can add new features in order to improve and grow.
THE RIGHT DESIGN (YOUR THEME)
When you start your blog the one thing that is the most fun but also fundamental decision is how you want your blog to look like. If you like the design of my blog, it is the Foodie Pro theme. I explain my love to this theme a little bit more here. But to sum it up you should look not only for a theme that looks pretty but also make sure you have a contact person there that can help you when you have a problem or question with something. I think I texted Shay from the Foodie Pro 6 times in my first month and she always replied and helped me. The Foodie Pro theme allows you to put in ads and has further the option to show a beautiful big slider of pictures.
When I started my blog I had one of these templates from WordPress for free and I really enjoyed changing it every single week to another one. When you start a blog it is fun to experiment and it is also really what you should do in order to learn all the features your theme offers. Don’t be afraid as it might be overwhelming at first, but soon you will be familiar with all the tools.
I switched my theme to the Foodie PRO as it allows me to do a lot of customization. Further, the owner Shay, provides a lot of information in tutorials about the implementation of widgets and the set-up of the theme. Also, most themes are messing with your mobile design, whereas the Foodie Pro theme adapts so nicely and let the pictures even on the phone shine brightly.
EDIT: 4 years later I am still rocking the FOODIE PRO theme that I’ve now updated to Foodie Pro 3.0 (for free)
Of course, the blog lives from its content. Unless you are a pure food blog I guess. But still, then I love to read the story around the food. My favorite blog for years is the Vanilla Bean Blog (not biased because of the name ;)) from Sarah. I mean listen how she describes a chocolate cake:
And yes, this cake is amazing. It is elegant: dark and deep, like a dreamy daze from one drink too many. The chocolate and cinnamon hits you at once, while the wine takes it’s time, working itself through your mouth, slowly setting off your taste buds. Then the cream cheese topping finds you; the tangy cheese and vanilla beans compliment the chocolate and the wine perfectly, and it’s all one lovely flavorful affair. You find yourself reeling for another bite, and you give in.
Ok, sorry I drifted away with that chocolate cake, but now I am back to pictures.
I mean it would be very hard to describe this moistness and chocolate heaven only in words right?
Over the years I figured that I have more talent to picture food than anything else. (I started as a very very bad photographer but thought my pictures were kind of OK when in fact they were really bad :D) (if you are interested you can see a timeline of shame here.) Of course, I did not want to post personal blog posts and then a cake next to it. (It would be nice but also kinda weird). So, what I do, is that I go to free picture websites and chose pictures that match my content when I don’t find the ability to do it by myself. There is no shame in doing that. My favorite page to pick a picture is Unsplash.com. This is also the place where I have the pictures from the first collage picture of this blog post.
TALK TO YOUR AUDIENCE
You can have the best analytics tools and spend hours on analyzing everything but you will never know what people really think when they read your articles. Until you ask them. Seriously. Blogging is not about me sitting on my bed, sending some words and paragraphs into the universe and then forgetting about it. It is about talking to people. I am doing this on a weekly basis where I ask people on Insta stories what they like, what they think, how they feel? You can learn so much from people and that is why I appreciate every single comment on the blog so much and I answer every single one.
I often feel that no one is really interested in reading my stuff but then I get this one text where I girls write me that she is so inspired and loves to read my blog. If you are a blogger this means the world to you and I am begging you to tell people more often when you like what they do.
Why are you blogging? Of course, you love what you do. If you would ask me some years ago I might answer because it is fun to write and upload pictures and have a collection of what I’ve done so far. Like a nice online diary. But then blogging became a place where I could actually exchange myself with other people and connect. Show your readers who you are and that you’re a real person that wants to connect with them makes you seem more human and approachable.
Don’t hide behind the computer. If you are reading this and you don’t know me feel free to get to know me. I wrote a very personal blog post and told my readers some fact about me. Since then I feel like people have a better understanding who’s the girl behind the dough. It was so worth it.
SPREAD AND GROW
NEVER STOP EXPLORING BUT ALWAYS STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
As the years go by many bloggers let their blog down or stop completely. Blogging is like a job as I said and in order to be motivated, you have to reinvent yourself and your blog. Always be curious and open for new things but always stay true to your values. You will find stuff that you are good at, that you like and you will try stuff that might not fit and that you have to give up. Check out my personal fail project where I thought I could make great Youtube Videos 😛
PINTEREST AND GROUP BOARDS ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS
Pinterest has been and still is my number 1 traffic source. I joined group boards where I fit in and my pins spread like crazy since I did that. if you like you can check out my Pinterest boards from Vanillacrunnch. I also started doing large pin collages with the title on the picture. Those pictures seem to be way more popular on Pinterest.
Make sure you check your page speed! you can do this with the Google Speed tester. There is nothing more annoying than a page that is not loading or just slowly. Most of the time, huge pictures are the problem. It is totally enough to upload your pictures with 200K in order to maintain a fast page.
BE VERY VERY! SELECTIVE ABOUT SPONSORED POSTS/BRANDS AND DON’T RUIN YOUR BLOG WITH IT
Nothing to add here you know what I mean.