Are you a professional woman with a small business, brand or interest that you would like to promote? If so, you should consider starting your own blog.
By: Thea Easterby
A blog is an excellent platform for selling your products, promoting your services and growing your brand. Blogging allows you to make valuable connections online while building a community of like-minded individuals.
Here are the basic dos and don’ts for starting a blog.
If you are serious about blogging you should purchase a domain name and set up a self-hosted blog. Hosted blogs such as Blogger and WordPress.com will not offer the level of ownership, control and flexibility you will most likely require for your blog going forward.
Provide Valuable Content
Your content needs to be valuable, useful and/or interesting. Preferably, it should help the reader with a problem or issue they are having. Mix up your content with a combination of written posts, guest posts, video blogs and podcasts. It also pays to be consistent with your publishing schedule. Work out a suitable editorial calendar and stick to it.
Have a Good Design
You don’t need to spend a fortune on your design; a stylish theme reflecting your brand will be sufficient, at least when you are starting out.
Watch out for having too much clutter or advertising on a page and avoid flashing neon signs. Ensure your blog has easy to read fonts and color combinations and break up large blocks of text into shorter paragraphs.
Make Sure You Have Time to Invest in Your Blog.
Running a successful blog takes time, effort and a lot of work. While producing original content can be time consuming, you also need to factor in blog promotion, responding to comments, keeping your blog up to date and maintaining social media platforms. Keep in mind, these tasks are the bare minimum required to run a blog.
Work With Other People
It is important to start collaborating with other people as early as possible. Whether it’s working on projects with other bloggers, organizing sponsors or networking, it is important not to isolate yourself. While blogging may seem like a solo enterprise, the survival of your blog is based on interacting with people and building strong connections both online and off.
Other types of collaborating could be working with a blogging mentor or joining a reputable blogging group.
Start Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is where you offer to write posts for other blogs. Writing for popular, well known blogs in your niche or topic range exposes your blog to a wider audience as well as directing links and traffic back to your site. Before you approach bloggers for guest post positions, it doesn’t hurt to have a collection of good quality posts published on your own site.
While approaching experienced blog owners can be a little intimidating, guest blogging can mean the difference between your blog stagnating with little traffic or it becoming a roaring success.
Start an Email List From Day One
Admittedly you probably won’t get any subscribers on day one, but you need to have a facility in place to capture email addresses as soon as you start your blog. Offering a free eBook, email series or regular newsletter is a popular way of encouraging people to subscribe.
Use Social Media
Right from the start, set your blog up for social media. Readers need to be able to easily share your content directly from each post.
Your blog should also be connected to social media accounts. The trick is to understand which accounts work best for your blog and then learn how to use them effectively for optimal traffic, interaction and promotion. Start with the two most popular sharing platforms, Twitter and Facebook and go from there.
If you are trying to establish a presence online, it is important that you be yourself. Pretending to be someone else or something you are not will ultimately damage your reputation and business.
Don’t be afraid to draw on your personal experience, though know where to draw the line. Often posts where a writer expresses vulnerability, then describes how they overcame the issue can be beneficial to readers experiencing a similar problem.
Despite the work involved, being a blogger can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. Enjoy helping and inspiring people, building relationships, and expressing your creative side.
Don’t Be Unprofessional
Avoid swearing, vulgarity or over-sharing personal details. Granted there are some successful women bloggers who break these rules, however these women have already proven themselves in their respective professional fields prior to starting a blog. Their bold personalities are also a genuine expression of who they are.
Don’t Try to do Everything Yourself
If you are not familiar with the technical side of blogging (i.e. HTML, CSS, PHP) setting up and maintaining a blog can be a bit overwhelming. Your first piece of code could send you running for the door. Instead of wasting time trying to work out code, find a reasonably priced web designer who can help you with setting up your blog or making adjustments to your theme.
Don’t Ignore Technology
Social media and blog technology are constantly changing. Make sure you keep your blog up to date. This doesn’t mean you need to jump all over the latest fad. It does mean you need to keep your plug-ins updated, watch for changes in social media platforms, do regular backups and keep on top of security issues.
Don’t Expect Overnight Success
While there are stories of bloggers who have rocketed to early success with an incredibly unique concept or were helped along by knowing a lot of influential people, in general building a loyal audience of readers takes time. Work hard, promote your blog and be patient.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start blogging.
Thea is a freelance writer/blogger. Having resigned from her corporate job in February 2011, she is now working full time on her freelance writing business. Her blog www.writechangegrow.com
offers inspiring tips on writing, career change and personal development. For more information, click here
to read her About page.