I’m regularly asked; how do I start blogging? The simple answer is you’ve just got to start. But in this often complex world of blogging, I feel it can become overwhelming to truly know how, where or why to begin this journey. So I’ve created a guide on how this ordinary mum started a very ordinary blog. What worked for me, what didn’t. The ups and the downs. And a few words of wisdom to get you on the blogging bandwagon.
KNOW YOUR ‘WHAT’ AND ‘WHY’ // What type of blogger do you want to be? Why do want to start a blog? It’s so important to establish your ‘what’ and ‘why’ at the very beginning of your blogging journey. There are so many different types of bloggers on social media; beauty, photography, lifestyle, fitness, reviewers, parent blogging, brands and business. But beyond that, it’s important to focus on what you will share or showcase. Will you focus more on your content and writing, or more on day-to-day life and daily updates? Having a clear WHAT will make the starting process so much easier. Once you know what type of blogger you want to be, it’s important to know your WHY. Why do you want to share your life or passion? For me, I started my blog because I felt extremely isolated as a new mum, and blogging became an outlet to share my journey.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to replicate another page or profile. You are unique, and that’s what will draw people to your page. So stay true to your WHAT and WHY. These will of course evolve with time, but they will always remind you of the reason you began this journey.
CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM // Facebook? Instagram? Website? YouTube? WordPress? All of the above? Without complicating things, play to your strengths. If you know how to navigate and use one platform better then another, start there. I started my blogging journey with Instagram, but found the word restriction frustrating. So I purchased a domain via goggle (lexieking.com) and opened a generic blog site with WordPress. I now have the freedom to post long blogs via this platform. This website is very easy to use and update via my mobile or laptop. I want to expand and update this site in the future, but for now it works well. I do however utilize Instagram for the most part; daily stories, updates, blog excerpts etc. I occasionally push these through to my Facebook page. However I feel that Facebook takes away a bit of my anonymity, as so many friends and family can see everything posted. I will continue to grow my Facebook page as time goes on, however I do feel as though Instagram offers a better platform for novice bloggers. The remainder of this guide will focus on Instagram.
OPEN A PRIVATE ACCOUNT // This an optional way to get started. But by starting out in “private” mode, you can build upon your blank canvas. Post a few photo’s, follow a few accounts. Once you’re ready to go public, your profile won’t be blank.
FILTERS AND PRESETS // Okay, so I’m not very good at these. But for my type of ordinary mum-life blog, it’s not very important. If you’re unsure what a preset is, put simply it’s a combination of filter, hue, exposure and other photo settings utilized through apps such as Lightroom and VSCO. If you are a business, brand or professional blogger, these can be used to make your page flow seamlessly and look very appealing. To achieve this, the same preset or filter is used for each and every photo. Good examples of this can be seen at @justanothermummyblog and @reviejane.
As I mentioned, I’m not very good at this. I’m sure if I sat down and figured it out, I’d utilize presets more effectively. But as I also mentioned, it’s not very important for us ordinary mum-bloggers. A great example of a successful preset-free account is Adele Barbaro from @real_mumma.
PHOTOGRAPHS // So if you’ve been following my journey you’ll know I suck at photos. I look at the big accounts and bloggers and think, my photos are just crap. But that’s OK! If I learnt one thing about photos it’s this; people are well and truly over the perfectly stagged, heavily filtered photos. There has been a shift from the perfect curated page to those who illustrate reality. I mean real life reality. The mess. The chaos. The wobbly bits. The raw and the real.
So don’t invest too much of your engery into worrying about that perfect photo. If you’ve got content to share, don’t be held back by your photography skills (or lack there of). Share your reality. If your photo is out of focus, under exposed, make-up free and covered in snot, POST IT! People will relate to this far more then a gloriously organized kitchen with a rosey hue filter. Which brings me to my next point…
BE AUTHENTIC // If you are going to be REAL and RAW and HONEST, that first post will be tough. But people will connect with you. They will see your vulnerability and relate to it. Authenticity draws people in. Posting bland, every day updates, with no substance is easy. Posting honest, unapologetic, thought provoking peices will light up your page. But it’s tough. Being so open and vulnerable has it’s difficulties. But as you continue to write and post, it becomes easier. You reveal parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed. It’s almost like therapy. Turning the camera on yourself can be confronting. It takes practice to accept the face looking back. To speak freely and without censorship. It’s so much more complex and beautiful then those generic posts.
Delete facetune or those apps that provide basic photoshop. If you are going to be real and authentic, let it all hang out. Show us those double chins, the wobbly bits, the tired mum eyes, the yogurt stained top, the regrowth, the reality. People will relate and will respond. There is far too much fluff and bubble on social media. So stand out and be YOU!
WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT? // Simply put, everything! When I first started writing, it was very conservative. But as my confidence grew I began to expand into all the nooks and crannies of mum-life. Exhaustion, poo explosions, fussy eaters, marriage after baby, returning to work, formula feeding, self care, body confidence, post-natal anxiety, toddler tantrums. The monotonous, the melancholy, the miraculous and the mind-numbing stages of mum life. I lay it all out there. It took time to get to this point. Where I’m comfortable to share so much of it. So start small. Think about what’s affecting you right now. Right at this moment in time. It may seem small or ordinary, but don’t be afraid to share it. People will connect with it on some level. Take notes throughout the day if something pops into your head. Build from these notes to create interesting and beautiful content. Good writing is so important. So take your time, take notes and don’t hold back!
BUILD A FOLLOWING // One question I get asked allot is ‘how did you get followers?’. Well first thing, they are not followers. I hate that word. They are not sheep. They are not being mindlessly lead. These people take what little down-time they have and connect with me. It’s a community. They help me just as much as I help them. By sharing our experiences and our lives. With this mindset comes a unique ability to grow this community. Engage with the people who connect with your content. See what other bloggers or brands they follow. Look at what hashtags they’ve subscribed to or what interests they have. KNOW your audience and engage with them. Respond to their messages and comments when possible. It takes time, but you will gain a beautiful community who are genuinely interested and engaging in your content.
In the early days I participated in things called ‘loops’. These loops would require you to follow every account on the list and they would follow you. If that makes sense. I actually discovered a few gorgeous fellow bloggers this way. But for the most part I was left following allot of people I didn’t connect with. It was helpful in the early stages of my blog, and I wouldn’t discourage you from trying it.
Hashtags. These are a double edged sword. Using them in posts will allow people to find your content, especially if they are subscribed or searching for a specific tag. This also allows problematic accounts to discover you. The spammers. The “let me see your bobs and vagene” type. So research what hashtags work. See what the big accounts use. As I mentioned, find out what hashtags your community follow. It’s trial and error.
Algorithms. I don’t know what this is and I’m too old to find out.
Posting at certain times of the day. Sure, this works for increased engagement. But when your only time to post is that split second you get between shutting the toilet door and having it violently reopened by toddler who needs to watch you pee… post whenever you get a damn chance.
Paid posts. Never tried this. But I would recommend growing your audience organically first, before ever considering spending money.
GIFTS, COLLABORATIONS AND SPONSORSHIP // Early on, when my page started to build momentum, I made the mistake of accepting every gift and freebie. At first I thought it was a dream come true! But then I realized that gifts and freebies often come with an unspoken agreement. To post post post! And I resent the feeling of being forced to post. There are now only two reasons I will accept a gift.
1. I love the brand and know the requirements of accepting a gift.
2. I want to support a small business.
So I will say this and I’ll say it in capitals. DO NOT GET INTO THIS FOR FREE STUFF! It’s like selling your soul and you will lose your ‘WHY’. Why did you start blogging to begin with? For free shit? If so, then you might not be as successful as you had hoped.
So this now moves us onto sponsorship or paid adds. You see them everyday on social media. I have personally never participated in a paid add. Am I against it? NO WAY! Ordinary mum bloggers are the new influencers, and it couldn’t be more refreshing! But I have a job outside of blogging. And at this stage I would rather focus on this type of stuff: the writing and connecting. I’m very terrible (in fact incredibly shitty) at flogging products or selling stuff. Hence why I left my job at Flight Center. I couldn’t even sell travel for God sakes!
Collaborations. I feel like this comes in so many different forms and variations. Discounts, gifts, ambassadors. So again I’ll just say this; know your requirements in accepting products. Never forget why you started. And never feel pressure to post.
KEY BOARD WARRIORS // With the good, comes the bad. Sharing so much of ourselves means we unfortunately and unintentionally give bullies a platform. I’ve said this before; sharing our journey makes us vulnerable but not weak. Never let the cruel words, snide comments or a judgmental nature stop you from writing. You will never please everyone, nor should you try to. Stay true to your authentic self and this will attract the community you deserve. These bullies are the minority. Block them and keep on blogging. Never let their words affect you. Block and move on.
PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY // Some days I’m too tired or distracted or overwhelmed. And as therapeutic sharing and connecting can be, switching off is equally as important. Having time away from social media hits the metaphorical reset button. You will not miss out on anything. In fact, when you log back on, you will be reinvigorated and refreshed. With more ideas and stories to share. Being present in the moment is something we often lose thanks to social media. So make sure to put your phone away every now and then, and really live in the moment. It’s good for the blogging soul.
and finally TIME // The big accounts. Your Revie’s and Steph Phase’s and House of White’s and Noonan’s. They have been doing this for a VERY long time. Years in fact. They didn’t get 100k plus followers in a few months. And they’ve had time to get good at this, so give yourself time! Time to learn and grow and evolve. I’ve been blogging for over a year, and some days I find myself frustrated with my progress. But then I have to remind myself of my WHY. Why did I start my blog? Not for followers. Not for notoriety. Not for freebies. I wanted to write. I wanted to connect. I wanted to share. I wanted to feel less alone in this crazy journey. And I achieve this every day I’m on here. Each day I connect with more people and brands. My writing evolves and becomes more beautiful with each post. And I love this! It’s a process. It’s slow but glorious in its own right. So give yourself time.
And above all, do it for fun. As a hobby. As an outlet. Never get caught up in comparing yourself. Never try to copy someone else. Always be authentically you. Because you are imperfectly perfect, and that’s exactly what Instagram needs right now. So get blogging!
From your fellow ordinary blogger,