New Bloggers: Now What?

Advice for New Bloggers Search Engine Optimisation Photography Blogging

Hey Owlets.

I don't know why this week in particular, but I've been snowed under with DMs asking me questions about starting a blog or being a blogger in general. Don't get me wrong, I'm always happy to answer but a lot of them have been the same questions so I thought I'd write a post with my top tips for you to refer to.  I won't cover how to actually set up your blog here - it's pretty much a case of go to whatever site you want to use and click new blog. But I will answer the questions I've had.

What platform should I use?

I'll be honest (and probably unpopular), I think Wordpress is the most overrated platform out there. I actually tried it for a little while by making a new site, and basically if you want to do anything you have to pay - you also have to pay to host which is like paying twice to have your own domain. It's all down to personal preference - I love blogger because it's so easy to use as well as being free but if you read the terms and conditions,  Google effectively owns your site, meaning they could shut it down any time and you would have no say. I actually download a copy of my blog every month so I always have a backup.

How Do i Build a Website?

There's a whole rabbit hole that I can fall down here, but the honest answer is that it depends what you want your blog to do. If you just want to have a space to document your adventures then you're probably not looking to spend money on your site. If that's the case then there are hundreds of free templates for Blogger and Wordpress on the internet - the platforms actually both offer some free templates in house, but they're not great.

If you're looking to turn your blog into a business, run an online shop or just get your website looking really professional then you might like to consider hiring a professional web design company to create your website for you. I started off using a free Blogger template, but now I'm rebranding and creating new sites I've been considering working with a web design company myself. A few of my blogger friends have actually worked with a web designer to create their sites, and not only do they look stunning but they're ranking much better for it. What I mean by this is that their website is appearing higher in Google. If you're just starting out search engine optimisation can sound really daunting, and as well as giving you a professional looking website, you'll also get a professionally functioning website.

Web designers have always sounded scarily expensive, but thankfully things are starting to get a little more affordable now. The Website Group offer pay monthly websites from as little as £19 per month, which includes hosting, your domain name and a dedicated designer. The higher package includes SEO too so you can be sure that everything is taken care of and your website is going to function exactly as it should. Paying monthly is definitely the way forward for web design and is how I'll be doing things when I redesign my website.

Advice for New Bloggers Search Engine Optimisation Photography Blogging

How do I grow my following?

I feel like I could do an entire post about this so if you want something more detailed let me know. I constantly get asked how I got so many followers on social media so quickly. The short answer? Be social. I know that sounds stupid but so many people think there's a secret formula to gaining followers and get obsessed with numbers - don't set out to grow followers. Set out to make friends. Follow people first, like and comment on their photos and get the conversation flowing. The numbers will follow. Sorry but there's no magic formula, unless you want to be one of those bloggers that flex a credit card to get followers (seriously, please don't do that).

How do you work with brands/ get invited to events?

Honestly, brands come to me and ask. But that's after a year of obsessing over my blog - please don't think you're going to set up a blog and suddenly be contacted by Chanel offering up a Boy bag for review. I don't like to overload my blog with brand posts so I usually just wait and see if brands ask me to work with them, but equally you don't ask you don't get. If there's someone you really want to work with, email them and ask if they have a press list you can be added to.  Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable asking to be sent things as I think that's kind of rude, but it's more a case of introducing yourself to a brand or PR company so they keep you in mind in the future. 

Equally with blog events, I will never buy a ticket to an event. There's a lot of people that are out to make a quick buck from blogging, and when I've already got to shell out £50 in train fare to London, I don't have the cash to buy a ticket as well. Also, when I've been given a free ticket to paid events, I've found that they tend to be more geared to money making than education and networking. Check out my ways to keep yourself safe at blog events for more guidance. Also, there's some great Facebook groups to connect with PRs. UK Blogger Opportunities is a great one to join.

Advice for New Bloggers Search Engine Optimisation Photography Blogging

Do I need to write about something specific?

I cannot tell you how much I hear this asked and also how much it annoys me. I realise that from the point of view of getting eyes on your blog it's good to have a strict niche, but if you're only blogging to become a big blogger then you're doing it wrong. If you start a beauty blog and decide you want to write about fashion then go for it, if you decide you want to write a life update or about your latest holiday then you do that. A blog shouldn't be a way to make money, it should be something you do because you love it -  that will show through your content and if you're writing about what you genuinely love, your readers will love it to. Choose a blog name that doesn't tie you down to one topic then write what you feel.

But I don't have a professional camera/ a good laptop etc etc. What do I do?

Seriously, you don't need any of that. I'm lucky that I work as a freelance photographer so I had the professional camera already,  but that photo of me on a boat was taken on my iPhone by my dad and edited using Photoshop Express on my phone. If we throwback to a few years ago when I was still Becky Louise Beauty (I know, cringe), I actually used to blog from my phone, using photos I'd taken on my 3GS (it worries me that some of you are too young to remember that being released). I work with professional photographers because it's what you've told me you like seeing, and I blog from my MacBook because it's what I bought to help me in work and uni, but if you don't have that you can still do what you love. They're nice to have, but the only real essential is a passion for what you're talking about, even if you end up writing a blog from a computer in the local library. 

Advice for New Bloggers Search Engine Optimisation Photography Blogging

I hope this has helped some of you - I know a lot of people that read The Owlet don't have an interest in blogging but recently I've had so many people ask that it made sense to write a post. If there's anything I've not covered, feel free to ask in the comments and I might make a part two. And if you are a blogger, what's the biggest lesson you've learnt? I'd love to hear them!

Love and Feathers,
 The Owlet 💜

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bloglovin & Snapchat.

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