Tips & Training
My Top 7 Blogging Tips For Creating A Successful Blog
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Sarah Dickerson
Pet lifestyle expert Serena Faber-Nelson is the founder of Pretty Fluffy. A contributor to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog Magazine, Cesars Way and more; her modern, stylized take on DIY dog treats has seen her recipes viewed millions of times over.
Serena is the author of the go-to dog mom bible, Dog Mama, and the popular dog treat recipe book, Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.
Next month Pretty Fluffy will be celebrating our 4th anniversary – crazy!
So I thought today I’d reveal my 7 Top Tips for Blogging.
For me blogging started out as a hobby, however I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to make Pretty Fluffy a business. From that very first post I had a spark in the back of my mind wanting to create an online space dedicated to pet friendly living and the people that love their dogs like family.
It’s taken a lot of hard work and far too many weekends and late nights to count, but I’m happy to say that in the four years since Pretty Fluffy started it has truly become the online home I wanted it to be. I’m also incredibly grateful that it’s now in a stage where I’m able to create income with the site, which in turn allows me to devote my full energies to bringing you fresh and inspiring content every week.
But all of this wasn’t served on a platter. I leant a lot of tough lessons along the way, and hope by sharing my best blogging tips with you today your journey will be that little bit smoother.
1. DEFINE YOUR NICHE
Most blogging tips and guides will tell you to blog about something you’re passionate about. This is totally true. Every topic is fun for the first 20 blog posts, but if you want to be writing about a subject matter in years to come, you need to genuinely be interested in it.
But I’m here to say today, passion is not enough on its own. You need to hone in on what your speciality is. Say you love baking, honestly another blog about generic baking is really not what the world needs. But the world may need a blog about baking where each recipe teaches a specific cooking technique. Or a blog that’s all about gluten free baking. Focus where your expertise is, look for what the world needs and go for it.
Remember – you can’t be everything to everyone. By defining a niche you are able to give the right people exactly what they need.
2. KNOW YOUR READER
After blogging for a year or so, I discovered having an ‘ideal reader’ in my head when creating and writing blog posts makes things so much easier!
Go beyond your basic customer profiles of age, location etc. Get to KNOW them in your imagination. Who are they? What movies do they like? Where do they shop? Where do they vacation? What other blogs do they read?
As a blog evolves, and we ourselves evolve and grow, it can become easy to lose yourself in a world of PR pitches, trends and what other bloggers are doing.
By always going back to that ‘ideal reader’ you can ask…Would they enjoy this blog post? Would it make their life happier, easier, or fuller? Am I adding something worthwhile to their day?
This means, while your blog may grow, your logo may change and you may begin to work with bigger brands, you will always have the heart and soul of the reader at the forefront.
3. TAKE A BLOGGING COURSE
In my first six months of blogging, I took the Blogging Your Way e-course by Holly Becker and it was perfect for me during those very early days. During that course I also met some amazing blogger friends that formed a supportive community during those early, lonely days of blogging.
Most recently I joined Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily’s Bloggers MBA eCourse (formerly known as Secret Bloggers Business) and I can’t rave about it enough. It’s 100% dedicated to taking your blog from a middle of the road side project to a full time powerhouse – so you can actually earn an income doing what you love.
While it does have a lot of tips, ticks and worksheets that get everything from your SEO to your media kit sorted, the resource I used the most was the real life examples from Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily’s founder, Kate.
In a move I’ve never seen before Kate literally spills everything – stats, income, failures, successes – from her 7 years of blogging that saw her grow her blog from 0 to 180 000 monthly readers, which now takes in a multiple six figure revenue. I could literally compare her journey with my own, and see with a few more tweaks, I could reach that level as well. Talk about inspiring!
You can sign up for the Bloggers MBA eCourse here.
I’m now also a member of Blogger Boss – a tech course designed to make your site look a million bucks (without having to pay a web developer that much to do it!) Run by tech-whiz and all round superstar Madeleine Burke (who developed our site here at Pretty Fluffy!)
Blogger Boss is the first course I know dedicated solely to all those annoying tech things that take your site from ok to oh-my-god. Think SEO, wordpress plugins, hosting tips,social media integration, website layout and coding for dummies (and I mean dummies – if born-in-the-age-of-rotary-phones me can do it, you can). Oh how I wish I could jump in my Marty McFly Delorean and go back in time to do this course when I was in my early days of blogging. It would have prevented so many meltdowns and full on tears…and oh yeah, my site would have been kick ass from the get-go!
You can sign up for Blogger Boss here.
Note: I must disclose, I am an affiliate for the Bloggers MBA eCourse and Blogger Boss, however I only joined both programs because I honestly believe they are a great asset for any blogger wanting to turn their blog into a fulfilling career. Plus, if you sign up, I’ll get to chat with you in the members only Bloggers MBA & Blogger Boss facebook pages! Come say hi!
4. PREPARATION IS KEY
One of the biggest disappointments I see every month are fabulous new blogs where people post awesome new content for about 3 weeks and then you never hear from them again.
To avoid this, preparation is key.
Very few people have the luxury to blog full time. So you need to set aside time devoted to creating posts for your blog. To keep a good mix of content I’ll plan out my blogging schedule up to 3-6 months in advance. This allows me to prepare for big photo shoots, holidays and special promotions. Then I usually blog at least a fortnight in advance. This way, my blog is never left by the wayside when life gets in the way.
If you’re just starting out, I’d suggest having 2-3 months worth of content written before you launch, and then form a weekly schedule so you are creating new content on a regular basis.
Supporting this, don’t forget to schedule your social media. Facebook allows you to schedule posts now, you can schedule pins using Viraltag, and although you can’t schedule on Instagram – you can prepare any images you want to share and keep them in a DropBox on your phone.
By all means, when creativity strikes and you want to upload a post or social media update not in your schedule – do it! But by being prepared, you’ll never feel stressed about getting content up at the last minute.
5. EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
Starting out, I fell into the trap of feeling I needed to post everyday to be taken seriously.
While I do feel consistency is important, I would warn against putting up posts just for the sake of it. Make each post count. If you’re not proud of a post, if it doesn’t excite you, inspire you or make you smile, why would anyone else want to read it?
Edit your posts. Post only the best photos, the best words, the best ideas…If you’re stuck on how to do this, when you’re about to put up a post ask yourself “If a new reader was coming to my blog for the first time, would I be happy that this post is what they would judge my blog by? Would this post make them stay?”
If the answer is yes, post away. If the answer is no, edit.
6. MAKE IT PRETTY
I’m talking blog design here. Now by pretty, I don’t mean every blog has to be the inside of a Ted Baker store.
By pretty I mean, clean, easy to navigate and in line with your blog’s brand. Less is always more. Don’t fall into the trap from adding every widget, award and blogging badge in your sidebar. They will just compete for your content’s attention.
If you are serious about blogging and want to take it to the next level either take a design course or hire a designer. It needn’t cost you the earth, but your page needs to be on brand and professional to be taken seriously.
Along that same vein, start working on your photography skills. You don’t need to be perfect to start, but great photos make a great blog, so make sure you devote time to improving your photography.
7. CREATE DON’T CURATE
I’m so passionate about this topic, I want to shout it from the rooftops!
When I started blogging, nearly every second blog post around was a wrap up of gorgeous images or fabulous products to buy. People would create inspiration boards of their latest finds and trends. But with the advent of Pinterest, this kind of blogging is becoming archaic.
To stand out as a blogger you need to CREATE your own content. By all means, share products, content or images you find inspiring; but by focusing on what you have to share and create, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Whether it’s great writing, creative projects, styling your own shoots, personal photography – whatever you have to share, just give people something they haven’t seen before. Your readers will get something new and you’ll enjoy the process.
Blogging takes sacrifice. It means time away from your friends and family, it is hours attached to a computer dealing with IT problems you never knew existed, it means failed projects wasting your time and money (oh I’ve had some major FAILS when it comes to DIYs!), you may spend weeks on a fabulous post only to have no-one comment…
Blogging certainly comes with its fair share of loneliness and disappointment. There can be days when you just feel like giving up.
But know this: We all started somewhere. One of my tips to beat the blogging blues is to go back and read the archives of huge blogs like Style Me Pretty and Decor8 – see where they started, in those early days…and then look at what they are today. Keep faith that with hard work and commitment you’ll get there too.
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Photography: Sarah Dickerson