Now I have announced to my friends & family that I blog, and actually earn money from it, I get the same thing all of the time. “Blogging?! That sounds easy. You get to sit at home and receive free things and just write about them! How? Where do I start?”
Blogging isn’t easy. Once it is all set up, and you have gained an audience and know exactly what you’re doing, it gets easier, but it certainly isn’t easy. I have seen this one written a thousand times, but I thought i’d put my 2 pence in. We are talking domains, engaging, building your DA, pitching to brands, and that’s just the beginning.
Just a quick note too – this is mainly for people who are looking to start a blog or who are in the very early days of blogging and are wondering what to do next. If you are quite an experienced blogger, you will already know most of these things.
Let’s get started.
Can I Earn Money Blogging Straight Away?
The short answer is no. Unless you have a really successful social media following on one of the many platforms, you will be dismissed by any brand you approach.
I pitched to FitBit when I had about 200 followers, and they basically said no thank you in the nicest way possible. Now I look back, I can see how ridiculous that is. Why would they send a £100+ product to someone with 200 followers? You can’t knock my confidence though, I guess.
My best advice for anyone looking to start a blog would be to do it because you want to write, as opposed to doing it for money.
If you’re in it for the money alone, you won’t last five minutes. Blogging is time consuming and could be incredibly boring if you are writing something that isn’t interesting to you. I never looked at money as an end goal, because I didn’t even know you could earn anything until I had been doing it for months. Instead I just wanted to gain followers and have an audience who cared enough to keep returning.
Patience is incredibly important too. I didn’t earn a penny for a year and a half, but continued writing posts that I hoped people might read anyway.
If you’re just looking at blogging as a quick way to earn money… well, I hate to tell you, you will be sadly disappointed.
First of all, you need to think of a name for your brand and register it as a domain (when your website ends in .co.uk or .com as opposed to blogger.com etc). This will stick with you and portray your full image. A lot of people opt for their own name, which is what I wish I had done, and some people (like me) opt for something that gives you a bit of an insight into what the blog is about. When people see ‘Mumconventional’ I would hope they immediately think parent blogger, as opposed to “food” or “beauty”, etc.
It’s also worth thinking about the future of your domain too. I regret mine because I now feel limited to parenting posts, so what am I going to do when my babies grow up? Some people also use their first child’s name, but then go on to have another baby. This is difficult when it comes to your domain authority score (also known as DA), because you can’t just swap and change your name once you start earning money, unless you have an excellent following.
I would really recommend checking the availability and buying your own domain instantly too. This is something I didn’t do for almost a year, and again, I will get into why DA is important in a little bit.
Next you need to choose a platform to blog on. There are many options to choose from, but the most popular choice is usually Blogger or WordPress. I started my blog on Google’s ‘Blogger’, but I do wish I had started on WordPress instead. I would recommend really researching which platform you are going to choose before you sign up, especially if, afterall, you will be working from that said platform eventually.
Where Do I Go Next?
So now you’re all set up with a blog, you need to create social accounts and an email address too. Make sure they match your blog name, otherwise people may struggle to find you after reading your posts. This is the last thing you’d want, as most people would give up after an initial search, and, ultimately, you will lose out on followers.
Your biggest goal when first starting out, is to build your audience and to also make them aware that you are a blogger. Create a Facebook page and share things on it continuously. Have your website in your Twitter and Instagram bio. Switch to a “business account” on Instagram and Pinterest. Follow your insights and use them appropriately to gain the most out of your social media posts.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, buy followers. You would be surprised at how many “big bloggers” have bought their followings, and now with platforms like Twitter and Instagram cracking down, I am awaiting many explanations as to why the majority of people’s followers have vanished. Not only is it hugely disingenuous, it also is extremely obvious and will forever ruin your engagement rate – how many times your followers interact with your posts.
Now you have to create. Create, create, plan content, and create some more.
Encourage people to comment on your posts, and return the favour. Follow hashtags like #lifestyleblogger #foodblogger #parentblogger (depending on what niche you’re going for), and try to follow other bloggers who are posting similar content. Be inspired, but do not copy. Making friends with people who blog in your category will also help you out, not only when it comes to stats and the possibility of sharing your posts, but also with any questions you may have too. I have made some wonderful friendships through blogging and I actually care about these people way more than some people I know in real life.
There are also Facebook groups for every type of blogger imaginable too. I follow groups such as “North East Bloggers”, “UK Parent Bloggers” and “UK Bloggers”, because they’re all relevant to me. A lot of opportunities pop up in groups like this, so it is always worth joining them just in case. Again, these wonderful people will also help with any questions you may have too. Don’t ever be afraid to ask anyone for help. I am yet to meet anyone who hasn’t helped when I have asked.
Focusing On DA
DA is a tricky one, and it took me such a long time to wrap my head around it. Basically, the higher your domain score, the higher you rank in google. If someone searches “best baby toys 2018” and you have written about it, if your DA is high you will show up as one of the first results displayed. This means more people will click on your blog as a result. A lot of brands prefer you to have a higher DA, because it means your blog review will show up first in a search engine and provide them with the higher chance of sales/traffic/interest etc – especially if it is a positive review.
Brands will also pay you to review their items, which I couldn’t believe when I started up. It amazed me that they would send you a free item AND pay you, but it makes sense completely now, because you’re essentially doing work and advertising a product. What you are offered in terms of payment will totally depend on your DA and social following – so you can see why they’re important.
Once you buy a domain and set it up, you will be given a score of 0. You can build it up by getting people to link to your blog (for example, guest posting for other blogs, joining in on ‘tag’ posts, etc), leaving comments and joining linkies (you can read what a linky is here). The longer you own your domain, the higher it climbs too. This is why I wish I had bought mine from the start, as opposed to leaving it as long as possible. You can check your DA for free by signing up to MOZ.com and using their new pro link explorer tool.
Growing Your Socials & Pitching To Brands
Now, it’s just a case of continuing to grow your social media accounts and being as active and engaging as you can across all platforms. I still find Instagram so hard to crack because I just don’t have the time, but when I have spent days liking and commenting on peoples pictures, I seem to get an influx of followers. The higher your number of followers and engagement rate, the more chance you have of brands taking you seriously.
Make sure you post to your blog regularly and schedule tweets and Facebook posts for old posts so you are continuously bringing traffic back to your blog.
Finally, start emailing pitches to brands you would like to work with as regularly as you can. Some people write an individual pitch per brand/PR (which is what I recommend), whereas others have a template they just change depending on who they are sending it to. I think if you write it fresh every time, it feels more natural and you can make it way more personal than a generic pitch. I think brands will be able to spot a copy and paste job from a mile off too.
There a lots of brilliant posts available on google if you need help writing a pitch, also. Just make sure to do lots of research beforehand.
Lastly, don’t be nervous to put yourself out there, because the worst anyone can say is no.
If there is anything you are confused by, please do leave me a comment and I will try to help as best I can. There may also be terms you don’t understand, but hopefully a quick google search will assist you with more of an explanation.
Make sure to follow me on my social accounts to keep up:
and if there are any other blog related topics you would like me to cover, do let me know. I am not anywhere near as successful as I would like to be, but I do try to help as much as I can!