*Disclaimer: I am not perfect, nor an uber-succesfull blogger. I am just sharing with you some of the things I have learned over the years. It has taken me a lot of trial, and a whole lot of error, but these are the 10 things I wish I was told when I started my blog years ago.*
So, here it goes!
1. Be Original, Be yourself. This is one rule that I really cannot stress enough. Starting a blog can be a very scary thing, and deciding what to write about can be tricky. My advice is to always write for yourself and stop worrying about pleasing everyone. We all have blogs whose success we idolise, but there is no point trying to imitate something that someone has already done, just because you think it make you successful. You’re uniqueness is what will make your blog special, and people want to hear your words, your thoughts and your ideas, not someone else’s! Be true to yourself and your blog will soon find its niche, and with that will soon come your readers.
2. Put Yourself Out There. There is no point having the most amazing unique blog, and not letting anyone read it! You must put yourself out there, so share it with everyone! If you’re too nervous at first, which is very common, why not try having a backlog of 10 or 15 posts published on it, and then start by sharing it with some close friends. You’ll have to get over your nerves sooner or later though, as sharing and promoting your blog is key to it becoming successful! You just have to be confident and believe in yourself. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s the only way!
3.Know your Audience. Some people can forget that when you make a blog public, that means it is totally public. Which means anyone can see it – your mother, your grandmother, your ex boyfriend, and most importantly, prospective employers. I don’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity, or dictate to people what they should and should publish, however I will offer some advice. If you are looking to work in the fashion or media industry, or indeed involved in anything creative, employers will most definitely look at your blog. Don’t ever forget that. Those photos of you dancing on a table at your 21st birthday are best left to your personal Facebook account, and that rant you went on about your best friend should be best shared just with the girls, not on your blog! Sharing your joys and sorrows with your readers is part-and-parcel of being a blogger, but intimate details like that could make you look unprofessional, and could damage potential opportunities for you.
4.Social Networking. Twitter, Facebook , Tumblr, Lookbook, Youtube, Pinterest – you name it, you should be on it! Social networking will undoubtedly serve as the strongest tool for building your blogs readership. It will also enable you to connect with new networks of readers, find new blogs to read, and of course engage with your readers beyond your blog. These websites should be used with the same caution that your blog is used with, but done correctly, they are extremely powerful, hugely beneficial, and lots of fun!
5.Engage with your Readers. Blogging is a two-way system, and don’t ever lose sight of that. You would be nothing without your loyal readership, and you should cherish them as much as your blog, they are its very life-force! Always do your best to reply to comments, compliments, and questions, no matter what they may be. Ask your readers questions. What do they think of this outfit? How would they have styled it better? Having a real interest in your readers is so important. When people see that there is a real person behind the blog they are reading, and that you are warm, kind, and willing to answer their questions, they will come back to you again and again. Treating your readers like this creates a bond. It builds loyalty that goes far beyond “likes” and “hypes” – it is something far better than that.
6.Don’t get Bogged-down by numbers. With so many new blogs popping up, a sense of competition can emerge between people. I urge you, do not get caught up in the numbers game. Hypes, Loves, Hits, Likes, Comments – they don’t matter as much as you think they do, so please don’t get bogged down in them. I love getting good feedback, seeing an increase in hits and likes, and I will be the first to admit that I sometimes get frustrated if I feel that something I’ve posted hasn’t gotten enough attention, but I always take a deep breath, and remind myself that this is not why I started my blog, and that the joy I get from blogging and writing should be reward enough. The hype will come and go, and yes it is lovely when it’s plentiful, but you should never measure your blogs worth in how many people click “like” on Facebook.
7: Feed your Blogging Karma. I always do my best to support my fellow Irish bloggers. I have the utmost respect for them, they have advised, inspired, and entertained me over the years, and they deserve all the support that I can give them. I am forever reading, praising, and engaging with them whenever I have a spare minute, and I am glad to say that they have done the same for me. We are forever retweeting, liking, and sharing each other’s work and we have built a little online community of support and camaraderie. I have learned that there exists such a thing as “Blogging Karma”, which means the more love and support you put out there into the Blogosphere, the more love you get back. I urge anyone starting a blog to engage with and support as many other bloggers as possible, and I assure you they will show you the love right back.
8: Discipline. This might not be the most fun of all the rules, but it certainly is one of the most important. Firstly, you have to put the time and effort into your blog, and you must do it consistently. Sporadic blogging is not enough to keep you on the path to success, you must devise a schedule and stick to it as best you can. This schedule will obviously vary in intensity depending on your work, life and family responsibilities, but keeping it consistent is key. The second part of this rule is so important, and often overlooked in blogging – grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They are so important, and if ignored, your blog will be read by very few, and with every computer having tools such as grammar and spellcheck, there is no reason not to utilise them.
9: Proof -Read. This one is a Golden Rule in itself. Before you hit “Publish”, YOU MUST PROOF-READ. Seriously guys, you might think you’re telling your readers about your wonderful new shirt, but leave out an “r”, and your left with a very awkward situation. I speak from experience! Proof-read!
10: Enjoy it! My final piece of advice to anyone starting a blog, is to enjoy it! Starting a blog can be scary and it can be testing, yes – but once your little blog finds its feet it becomes the most wonderful thing ever. Not just a hobby, but a passion, and in many ways a lifestyle. I cannot count how many ways my blog has benefited me, it has led to me to some amazing opportunities and experiences, and through it I have met some wonderful people and made some lifelong friends. If you work hard (and follow these guidelines) you too will reap the benefits, and you should enjoy every second of it. Plus, think of how wonderful it will be when you’re a wrinkly old Granny or Grandad, and you can gather your grandkids around your blog and proclaim “I was cool once!”
(Wild Child Stories is one of the four "Fashion Friday" bloggers writing for Diet Coke. These monthly posts are published both on WildChildStories.com and the Fashion Friday tab on the Diet Coke Facebook page to 1.9 million people. )
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Photo Credit: Joe Shaughnassey