Growing up I was always that shy girl in class. I always wished I had the courage and confidence to walk up to someone and say “Hi! I think you’re really great. Want to be friends?”. I was the quiet one in groups and the thought of having to speak in front of a large group of people made my stomach sick. As I entered university I made it a personal goal of mine to challenge myself to talk to new people, to raise my hand in class, to speak my mind in a big group of people. I slowly crawled out of my shell, but it wasn’t until I graduated from university and entered grad school I began to develop the confidence I so desperately wished for. In 2013, when my cousin Ashley Brooke encouraged me to start a blog I laughed out loud. I thought to myself “I’m not interesting, I’m not anything special… why would people want to read about my daily ramblings?”. I immediately reverted back to that shy girl I wanted to escape from all those years. After a few months of encouragement – I finally swallowed my pride and decided to start my blog. I named it “Mash Elle” an alternative spelling to my name and a more confident, radiant alter ego. Once I started blogging, I became hooked. It was my online journal and to my surprise people began reading! I began receiving amazingly supportive comments, emails and letters encouraging me to continue my blogging journey. To this day, my blog is my greatest accomplishment and my pride and joy. The confidence and happiness I have gained throughout this journey is more than I could have ever imagined and for that I am so grateful.
Starting a blog is not easy, in fact it is the hardest part! I’ve decided to put together a list of tips on how to start up a successful blog for those who want to start a blog – but need that extra confidence boost to do so! I am here to help!
Starting A Blog: 10 Things You Need to Know
1 Discover Your Niche
What is your passion? What could you write about endlessly? Maybe it’s cooking, fashion, travel, dating – choose one or two main niches and go from there. It is important to have a focal point when starting a blog. For me, I absolutely adore fashion and beauty. I decided to focus on those two categories when starting and from there branched out to other topics including travel, DIY and home decor!
2 Select a Name That Represents Your Brand
A blog is more than just an online diary – it is your brand! Dreaming up a name for my blog was no doubt the hardest part of starting my blog. Start brainstorming! Write down a bunch of words that describe you and what you want to accomplish with your blog. Once you come up with a name – make sure it isn’t already taken! Remember – you want your blog to be unique!
3 WordPress Vs. Blogger
Ah the age old debate: WordPress or Blogger? When starting your blog you will need to choose a blogging platform. The two most popular choices are WordPress and Blogger. For beginners and those who don’t have HTML coding down pat – I would recommend Blogger. Blogger is a much easier platform to use and the inner workings are pretty straight forward. For those of you tech savy computer nerds I would highly recommend WordPress. WordPress provides you with more personalization features and can be a lot of fun once you get the hang of it! Don’t fret too much on this decision – you can always switch platforms and carry your archives over!
4 Create a Clean, Professional Looking Blog
Whether you are tech savy or not – I would go ahead and purchase your first blog template. There are a ton of affordable and cute pre-made blog templates on Etsy for as little as $25. When it comes to blogs – aesthetic can make or break a blog. Keep this tip in mind: less is more. When it comes to your blog, you want your content to shine (ie. photos and text). Minimalist blog templates with white backgrounds are the most pleasant to read. Keep it simple. However, don’t forget to personalize your blog with a fun header with your blog title and photo of yourself with a short bio blurb underneath. Your readers want to see your personality shine!
5 Purchase a Domain Name
At the end of the day www.mash-elle.com just looks better than www.mash-elle.blogspot.com. Even if your blog is strictly a hobby – I encourage you to purchase a domain name. A domain name helps to brand yourself. A domain name shows you are serious about blogging! Plus buying a domain name is totally affordable – you can easily purchase a domain name ending in .com or .org for $10-$13!
6 Your First Blog Post…Eek!
Now that you’ve set up your blog – it’s time to start writing! But where to start? Again, this was once of my biggest challenges when starting my blog. Here’s a tidbit of advice: don’t place so much pressure on your first post! My first post was laughable at best and luckily is hidden under 2 years worth of blog entries. Your first blog post can literally be anything. You can choose to have an introductory post or… dive right into your main content! Fashion blogger? Go ahead and post an outfit of the day and include a sentence or two about yourself! Food blogger? Share your favourite recipe and why you love it so much! As long as you write from the heart – your content will shine!
7 Be Yourself
I can’t stress enough how important this tip is! This is your online diary. This is essentially an extension of yourself. You don’t need to pretend to be someone you’re not just to impress everyone. Be yourself! You don’t need to appear ‘perfect’. No one is perfect! Readers tend to connect more with bloggers they can relate to. You’re not a size 2?! Don’t worry – neither am I! What makes bloggers so interesting is their unique quirks and traits! Just remember to remain authentic… trust me your confidence with skyrocket!
8 You’re Not Going To Make Millions (In Your First Year)
If you’re starting a blog hoping it will become your full time job within a year – I’ve got news for you! The majority of bloggers don’t see ANY income in their first 6 months. This is the harsh reality of blogging. You absolutely have the opportunity to make an income from your blog (and you should!) however you need to give your blog time to grow and attract readers. Companies looking to sponsor bloggers want their brand to be distributed to a large audience. There is no magic number – some companies are more than willing to work with new and upcoming bloggers! However it is important to have realistic expectations of your blog. Don’t get discouraged and don’t focus on the money. For the first little while focus on creating great content and most importantly – have fun! Celebrate your creative juices!
9 Get on Social Media!
Pinterest? Instagram? Twitter? Facebook? You need to have a presence on all of those platforms. These accounts are vital to drive traffic to your blog. Promote the heck out of each blog post! Also, make sure to add a bunch of other bloggers within your niche and introduce yourself! Blogging is more than writing posts – it is about networking! Use these platforms to connect with other bloggers and suggest a blogger collaboration!
10 Don’t Compare Your Blog To Others
This may be the most challenging aspect of blogging! Comparing your blog’s success with that of others is the best way to flatten your confidence and drive for blogging! Every blogger excels at their own pace and opportunities always arise when the timing is best. Instead of developing jealousy or anger towards a fellow blogger – use their growth as inspiration for your blog! Most bloggers are more than willing to help fellow bloggers out – so why not shoot them an email, introduce yourself and ask them if they have any tips of their own!
Now that I’ve shared some start up tips I want to know what accomplishment you are proud of!