Today I’m sharing everything I wish I’d known when I started blogging- here are my best blogging tips and tricks for beginners. These lessons are perfect for you if you’re looking to start a blog, already are a blogger, or if you’re just curious about influencing!
I’ve been blogging for a little less than a year- my first blog post went up March 10, 2020. Since then, my instagram following has grown by 8K, my blog gets over a thousand views a month, I have a large email list, my Pinterest went viral….my growth has been overwhelming in the best way!
I’ve loved blogging since I first started- when I write blog posts, the world melts away. It’s just me, sharing my experiences and taking the time to reflect, even if it’s just reflecting about a weekend getaway. When I take pictures, I’m so excited to edit them that I bring my equipment in the car because I can’t wait to see how they look after I’m home. And creating a community of women in Atlanta? That was the icing on the cake- I feel like I haven’t just found a home in Atlanta; I’ve made one.
However- blogging is so much work (you can see how I balance it all here), and there are so many things that I wish I’d known when I started blogging! Sometimes I question why I did this to myself when it’s Sunday night and my friends are taking baths or have nothing to do, and I’ve given myself a week’s worth of “homework” doing SEO analysis, content planning, editing, and social media strategy. But, then I get a DM about how much I helped someone settle into Atlanta, or how people look forward to my posts every week, and it’s so worth it. Plus, I’ve been so incredibly fortunate with the collaboration opportunities I’ve received with this blog.
I’ve learned so much this year about blogging that I want to share with you- here is everything I wish I’d known when I started blogging.
Disclaimer: This advice comes from my unique experience blogging & these are my opinions- I don’t claim to be an expert and you might disagree, haha! These are just my best blogging tips and tricks that I’ve shared with beginners, and the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn. I felt like when I started blogging, it was hard to find realistic advice that wasn’t just “be yourself and you’ll grow”…. so I’m sharing my genuine blogging tips with you!
Everything I wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging…All the Tips & Tricks
Tips on How to Add Value as a Blogger
Add value and distinguish yourself.
There are millions of lifestyle influencers that share cute outfits, and I think aspiring influencers need to realize that the market is already saturated with generic fashion and lifestyle bloggers. These days, if you’re not actually adding value to your audience, you won’t grow. What sets you apart? What information is your followers walking away with? I wish I had realized how important this advice was when I started blogging- it would’ve made finding my niche so much easier.
How I do this: Setting myself apart was the most important thing I did when I chose my niche. There are quite a few Atlanta blogs and influencers that share their style in Atlanta, so I chose the Everygirl’s Guide to Atlanta, which is unique and matches my personal style. I describe my blog as “exploring Atlanta in a dress”- if you look at the photo above, it describes my niche perfectly! The Varsity is an Atlanta icon that is a staple for Atlanta bloggers, but I added my spin on it by posing with an entire themed outfit.
To add value, I like to consider the needs of my audience- I ask myself what I wish had been available when I moved to Atlanta or even what questions my friends are asking me currently, haha. For example, it’s been chilly and I was looking for places to eat outside and stay warm- and I turned it into my blog post about restaurant with patio heaters in Atlanta! As a blogger, you want to be the expert in your field- what questions are your friends asking you? What do you know a lot about? If you’re unsure of where to start, survey your audience on Instagram stories and see what they ask you!
Be a consistent blogger.
Show up every day consistently and give it your all. I see so many influencers posting high quality pictures on Instagram one day, and blurry selfies the next. Or, I see bloggers go months without actually posting on the blog! There’s nothing like clicking the link in someone’s Instagram bio to realize that the last blog post they wrote is from over a year ago. Your audience needs to know what to expect from you and see you as professional, especially if you want to get collaborations.
How I do this: I post blog posts every Thursday, every week. Then, I send out my weekly newsletter every Friday morning (you can subscribe here!). Having a routine is beneficial to my followers, and for me when planning my content.
I personally post on Instagram every other day, instead of every day, because I know that my photo quality would suffer if I doubled the quantity. If you find yourself posting low quality pictures just because you “feel the need to post”, consider decreasing the frequency of posting (while staying consistent!). Also, make sure that your photos are consistent across your feed- some people use planning apps, but I personally don’t as I know my aesthetic enough to know if my photos will be consistent.
Tips on How to be Professional as a Blogger
Show up as your best self.
A lot of influencers hope for brand deals and to be seen as an expert in their field, but aren’t professional- they have bios with too many emojis, all caps text, or no defined niche. This is just my opinion, but another pet peeve of mine is influencers that will completely overshare in stories or have a lottttt of awkward selfies. I truly believe that you should be your authentic self- but I also think you should make your content polished and professional. If your dirty mirror is in the photo, or you have a crazy mess in the background of your instagram stories, your audience is judging you, make no mistake.
There is a fine line between being authentic, and being completely unprofessional- it’s hard but necessary find the balance. In my opinion, you should be more professional when you are starting out- then you can slowly add in more “realness” as you establish credibility. Finally, make sure that you don’t have spelling mistakes anywhere in your content- it’s the fastest way to make it look like you have no idea what you are doing.
How I do this: To keep my instagram professional, I avoid going on Instagram stories unless I look put together, I have a professional instagram bio, I respond to all emails and DMs within 3 business days, and I also keep my branding consistent. When it comes to working with brands, I keep my emails professional and prompt, and I have business cards for in-person meetings. I also have a branded email signature, professional responses at the ready, and branded media kit I send to brands.
Being professional is so important when working with brands and PR professionals. I wish I had realized how important professionalism was when I started blogging- I was so nervous working with brands at first, and because of that my professionalism suffered! With practice, I learned to treat my blog as a business and found my professional voice for negotiating contracts, which helped me land more deals with brands.
Use professional photos and editing styles.
If your want to grow your social media accounts, having high-quality content is key. So many influencers are posting blurry, low quality instagram photos with crazy Lightroom filters (If I see another person with an orange photo…!). I take a lot of photos for the blog and Instagram, but only about 10% of them make them online because I care about quality so much. Sometimes I sacrifice quality for authentic content (like my Galentine’s pic above!), but it’s rare and I make sure to spread out that type of content in my feed.
How I do this: To get better photos, I recommend buying a “real” camera- I use the Sony A6 point and shoot, which is lighter than a DSLR but still gives that blurry bokeh effect with my 35 mm lens. I firmly believe my growth was due to my photo quality- my camera makes a huge difference in my photos, epescially when lighting isn’t optimal.
If I’m using my iPhone (I upgraded to the 12 pro max for better photo quality), I always use a phone ring light as well. I edit all of my photos in Lightroom with custom presets, and also use the Remini app to boost quality if the photo was shot my phone. One question I always ask myself before posting is, “would famous blogger X post this?”. If the answer is no, I don’t post it.
Blogging Tips for Instagram
Show up polished and put together.
This was a tough lesson to learn and I might be projecting my own insecurities, but since growing quickly, I’ve been very aware of my appearance, even if I’m just popping on Instagram stories to talk to my followers. I’ve quickly learned that when I wear “photo” makeup, dress well, and bother to style my hair, my content performs a lot better. It seems a bit shallow, but my analytics on Instagram engagement definitely proves this, haha.
How I do this: Quarantine laziness has taken a real toll on me, haha- it seems like such a big undertaking to get ready these days! I make sure I take some extra time to get ready, and I always pack a powder compact and lip gloss to touch myself up just before a photo.
I’ve also learned a lot about styling clothes for photos- some items might look great in person, but not great on camera. For example, I have a poncho I love to wear with leggings that is super cute in person, but is way too baggy to look cute on camera. Now, I make sure to wear clothes that are a bit more defined on my waist when I’m shooting photos.
You can see in this instagram post my engagement was low- probably becaue I’m not wearing a ton of makeup, my waist isn’t defined, and I didn’t bother to do my hair, haha:
If you want people to save your photos, make saveable content.
This is my unpopular opinion but I’m sharing it anyways- I’m so frustrated by the influencers that are asking their followers to save their content to please the instagram algorithm. I think asking your followers to save your photos is both ineffective and unprofessional. Do I think the ever-changing algorithm is dumb? Yes. But, if the algorithm is prioritizing save-able content, then as an influencer, just….make saveable content.
How I do this: I’ve started re-purposing my content from my blog onto Instagram, and it’s done so well! It’s a lot of extra work to make graphics for Instagarm, but it’s worth the time (when I post pictures with graphics, the engagement is off the charts!). I keep my first photo the same as my usual feed for the sake of consistency, then slide to repurposed blog content. I make the slider photos in Canva, and I always put a teaser directing my audience to my blog for more information.
You don’t have to create slider posts like I do so that your audience saves your content (in fact, I encourage you to not copy me haha!), but you can encourage your audience to save your posts through your caption, or just the nature of your post. One post I did about Juliana’s, my favorite hidden gem in Atlanta, got almost 100 saves just because people wanted to remember it for later! I didn’t even intend for that level of engagement- it was completely organic. Now, I know to post more content with other hidden gems. If you’re not sure where to start with similar content, consider looking in your own bookmarks on Instagram. What content are you saving? Can you make something similar?
Blogging Tips on Managing The Behind-the-Scenes
Give your blog the time that it needs.
I completely underestimated the hours and hours that go into blogging when I started, if I’m being honest. Prepping blog posts, doing SEO, editing, planning content, shooting photos, editing photos, social media…the list never seems to end with everything you have to when blogging! When I get lazy and don’t put in the hours, there are real consequences- my posts aren’t as well-edited, they’re shorter, or I end up with a lot of last-minute stress pulling things together just before deadlines.
How I do this: I shared my daily routine here, and put about 15 hours a week into my blog. I don’t believe in doing things halfway, so I take the time to add real value with my blog. I spend mornings before work on the blog, evenings when I’m free, and invest a few hours every Sunday. It’s not easy to adjust your lifestyle to allocate time for blogging, but it’s necessary and worth the investment.
Invest in your blog if you want to be successful.
This is just the honest truth- if you want to be a blogger and grow, you need to “do it right”, which costs real money. The cost of operating a blog was my biggest lesson out of everything I wish I’d known when I started blogging. Site hosting and domains, email services, professional equipment, paying photographers…it all adds up. I believe that if you’re going to put in a lot of hours, it’s worth spending the money and investing in your business, but it definitely comes at a cost.
How I do this: To be honest, there’s no secret here, haha. So instead of telling you how to spend money, I’ll give you a number to give you an idea- I spent two thousand dollars in my first calendar year blogging. I turned a profit thanks to my paid partnerships, but I think that without the growth that came from my initial investments, I wouldn’t have gotten those partnerships. One word of warning, though- consider that a lot of these expenses are annual, not a one-time fee.
There you have it- everything I wish I’d known when I started blogging, A.K.A. my best blogging tips and tricks for beginners. I hope these lessons were helpful- let me know in the comments if you want me to start blogging about blogging (LOL) more!
Want more of the Belle on the Beltline and a downloadable Atlanta Bucket List? Scroll down & sign up for emails! Or, follow me on instagram and pinterest to see what I’m up to and see more of my favorite spots in Atlanta!