Blogging 101

Hope you have had a great start to September. I've slacked on blogging lately due to a ridiculous amount of new (and amazing) opportunities! For starters, my little invitation business is getting off the ground and I couldn't be more excited and nervous. Soon, this blog will incorporate both Weekending & Victoria Austin Designs, LLC. (YAY!) I have also become a DIY contributor for another blog and can't wait to reveal it! Lastly, I picked up a PT position at J. Crew doing sales and visual merchandising. Just to feed my J. Crew obsession a little more! Now that you are all caught up:

BLOG TALK time!

So many friends and acquaintances have asked me about blogging. Where to start, how to choose what to blog about, how to stay consistent (still working on that), how to make a blog look pretty, making money off of blogging, etc. So here are some tips to get you started.

1. Choosing a Platform

Wordpress was my first choice. I have had experience with Wordpress since 2010 and I find it extremely user-friendly. Not to mention it is FREE. I completely recommend a free platform at first because there is no way to determine if blogging is for you until you try it. The other most popular blogging platform is Blogger. Blogger is linked with Google and is also FREE. Judging by the amount of Blogger blogs out there, it has to be super easy to use (although, I can't speak from experience). Once you choose; sign up, choose a blog name that is easy to remember (possibly your name), and fill out all the details first. Make it a point to create an "About Page" early on. This is one of the first places readers go and will also help you figure out why you have created a blog if you haven't any idea yet.

2. Choosing What to Blog About

Sounds silly! But many people start blogs without a clear direction, I know I did! Choose a topic that you are passionate about; traveling, cooking, home improvement, crafting, weddings, graphic design. These are just a few common topics. It doesn't have to be one specific thing but narrowing it down will help get the ball rolling. You must be passionate about it or it will never stick. If you want readers to come back, your posts MUST be authentic and unique. Readers must gain something by reading 

3. Making A Blog Pretty

Ah! The fun part. Making your blog "pretty" or appealing does one thing and one thing only; attracts readers. You can make it look anyway you want but if it doesn't appeal to your projected readers, they will not come back. Custom blog designs can be very expensive and time-consuming. Etsy has many sellers of custom blog designs!  Before investing, you can do simple things to make your blog look better... 

Add a sidebar with a photo of yourself, badges that link to other blogs you like or blogs you have been featured on. Make a contact page so readers have a way of getting in touch if they have questions. Add a "custom" title banner (DIY this in a Word document with fonts or graphics, screenshot the correct size, and then upload). Add social media icons for readers to follow you elsewhere. Make sure all your photos are the same pixel width! Use a white or soft colored background and easy-to-read fonts. These are just some things that add curb appeal.

Eventually, I used countless tutorials (found online and specifically, Pinterest). These tutorials helped me do so much, like adding social media icons

4. Staying Consistent

Ah, the golden question! This one is hard because I still struggle with it. Staying inspired and consistent takes a lot of time and energy. It is worth it. Find out what your readers (even if they are just your Mom and BFF's) like to read. What do they connect with most? This will inspire more posts. Get out in the world and explore! Anytime I have writer's block, I go out. I browse my favorite stores, go on a walk, listen to music, read a book, etc. These things get me refreshed. Set personal goals and deadlines. Create a blogging calendar (Emily Ley has the best printable calendars and checklists, like this Blog Calendar). 

5. Blogging: More Than a Hobby

Blogging helped me showcase some of my passions and talents to people who would have never found me. I now have a resume on my website so readers can easily see what my experience and skills are. You can be paid for side bar advertisements, mentions of brands or products in a post, etc. I am weary of these opportunities because it is very important for me to stick to my core and not let my blog drift just for an extra dollar. However, I do allow sponsored posts every once in a while if they are something that fits my style and my readers will enjoy. Most of all, blogging is a hobby for me that actually brings in business. It gets my name out there and is a very inexpensive marketing tool. It isn't for everyone but I suggest anyone interested to give it a go! Even if you don't share it with anyone. 

Feel free to ask any questions, 

T