Last night Amy and I spoke at The Rising Tide Society about blogging, photography and the businesses Amy and I have built. While I definitely don't consider myself an expert, I've received a handful of messages asking for tips on blogging so I figured in light of us speaking I would put them together to share with you here. It's hard to believe how far we've come in the past year or so, but it goes without saying that I couldn't have built Household without Amy's photography, guidance, last minute babysitting skills or her comforting hugs. She's beyond talented and if after you're done reading this you're like, "But how do I up my photography skills?" sign up for her Documented Workshop mailing list - she will keep you posted on our next workshop! Here are my top ten suggestions on how to start a blog, run a blog and love the process.
1. Stay true to your mission. Ask yourself this question before you get started and probably every couple weeks after. For me, it has always been to portray our lives as they are. It’s easy to get caught up with what’s popular and what you know will gain traction, and while those are areas I have to stay conscious of since this is actually a business, it’s important that Household reads as authentic as possible. This started as a journal for Owen, Zack and I to look back on and I want to remember our lives as they were - not what was trendy at the time.
2. Identify your voice. Practice makes perfect, and while I am by no means the perfect writer, my writing has come so far from the first posts you’ll find on Household. It’s quite the process and my suggestions here is to keep writing and you will undoubtedly get better. It doesn’t mean you have to publish everything you write - I find myself jotting thoughts down on my phone while I’m on the train or chasing Owen around. Getting those thoughts out while they’re fresh makes going back and elaborating much easier.
3. Tune into your audience. Who do you want to read your blog? Where to they engage socially? For me, my audience is 89% female, and a lot of those women are moms. Since I fit into my own demographic I know that Instagram is the best social channel for this group. Blog traffic isn’t going to happen magically, so you’ve got to drive it on your own. There are plenty of ways to do this, but to give you some perspective over 50% of my traffic comes directly from Instagram so this is a channel I put a lot of energy into.
4. Find a photographer. A lot of bloggers are photographers themselves, and while I’m sure that comes in handy, no outside contribution has been more vital than my photographer, Amy Frances. She’s been with me since day one and is not only becoming more and more talented daily, but she’s the perfect person to check back in with as a expand the Household brand.
5. Decide whether you want your blog to be for profit or not. While Household Mag. is a for profit blog, not every post is sponsored. There are plenty of posts, like this one that are shared knowledge, personal experiences of mine and so on. There’s nothing wrong with your blog being a personal outlet that supports your pre-existing business or simply just a journal, but if you’re going to take on sponsored posts make sure you follow the correct business practices and that you always disclose sponsored posts.
6. Learn how to say no. Once things pick up you’ll have a lot of companies and brands reaching out to you. Always check back in with my first point and ask yourself does this support my mission? If the answer is no then you know your answer. There’s also some level of free work that everyone in this space does. I’ve referenced it before, but Amy shared this great chart a while back that’s great to look to when you find yourself torn between doing work for free and saying no.
7. Network with the right people. This is something I’ve only gotten better at, but it can be intimidating in the beginning to reach out to people you admire for advice, or attend events that you’re not entirely sure why you got an invite to begin with, but I have to say it’s all worth it. Put yourself out there, make some friends, learn more about your field. Working on a computer from home can be a lonely profession, but it doesn’t have to be.
8. Develop a structure and stick to it. Being consistent is important if you ask me. You don’t have to set your expectations too high, so start small with one post a week. Do a little research on the best time to publish blog posts and plan the rest of your social schedule around that (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook). As you progress, build on this schedule until you’ve reached the level of content you feel is best for your blog or brand.
9. Utilize free analytics. I host my website through Squarespace where I can directly access my analytics at no additional charge. This is helpful because blogging is so much harder to track engagement than Instagram is for instance. People are far less likely to comment and like your blog posts so it’s important to know how many people are seeing your hard work and what posts are driving more traffic than others.
10. Check back in with yourself. There’s been a lot of talk this past year on staying authentic when it comes to blogging and social media in general, and enjoying these platforms. My advice is that if you’re not enjoying it stop now. Life is too short to waste your time doing something you don’t love or to feel pressure to engage with something that doesn’t give you joy.