This post is part of a sponsored partnership with Nakturnal.
It’s summertime (almost). The official start to summer is still two weeks away but everyone I know is embracing the season. One of the thing I notice every year is that summer seems to inspire new blogs. Everyone is looking for ways to share their summer vacations, bbq recipes, warm weather fashion, and new blogs keep popping up. I’m always hit up for blogging advice during the summer. That’s why I want to take time today to share my best advice for new bloggers.
I’ve been blogging, in one form or another, since the mid 90’s. I went from GeoCities to OpenDiary to TypePad to LiveJournal to Blogger to WordPress. Some blogs were successful and others, well, not so much. I sold a couple and transitioned others to partners that took over the sites. I shut a couple down. Now, I figure it is time to share some tips and advice for new bloggers.
My best advice for new bloggers
I want you to build your best blog and love it from the beginning. To do that, this is what I recommend you do:
Set up Gmail for Work + Necessary Extensions
Gmail for Work allows you to set up an email address of (name)@(yourdomain).com rather than using a generic @gmail email. It instantly adds credibility and professionalism to your blog and it only costs about $5 – $10 a month. Now, I use a workaround for that. I set up my email address through my web host and then connected that email as an alias to my regular gmail account. In simpler terms that means that both my @gmail and my @farbeyondlove email addresses go to the same inbox and I get the Google for Work apps for free.
There are hundreds (thousands? millions?) of extensions available for Gmail but two of my favorites are Boomerang and GMass. Boomerang allows you to schedule emails to be sent at a later time. When I am up blogging at 2am, I can schedule an email to send at 9am the following morning instead. It keeps me from having to disclose what a night owl I am by sending emails during regular business hours.
GMass is a powerful mass email and mail merge system for Gmail. Using it, you can send email marketing campaigns to thousands of email addresses and mail merge with data from Google Sheets (if you use Google Forms to collect data you can automatically sync that with Google Sheets to make this process easier). If you are big on analtyics (and if you’re not, you will be once you become a blogger), GMass tracks opens and clicks then allows you to follow-up with people that didn’t engage with your message. My favorite feature has to be the ability to send emails as replies to the last conversation you had with each recipient. This way you’re not spamming them with message after message, it’s all a single email thread. <3
Write Your “Why”
This applies no matter what niche you’ve chosen for your blog but I’m talking especially to lifestyle bloggers. There is a lot of noise out there that says that lifestyle bloggers can’t be successful because they aren’t niche enough or they haven’t “niched down” and I call BS on that over and over again. It’s not about finding your niche. It’s about knowing your why. Why did you choose a rural life? Why do you grow your own organic vegetables? Why do you DIY? Why did you choose to stay at that hotel? Why? Why? Why?
Sharing the why behind your decisions, your purchases, and your choices helps your audience connect with your decisions and understand your lifestyle. It’s not enough to share pretty pictures of your fashion choices or your latest recipe. You have to explain your reasoning to your audience if you want them to connect.
One of my favorite “why” bloggers is Christine from Simply Stine. She is a beauty blogger that always goes in depth about why a product may or may not work for you and why she recommends it. I always feel like I can trust her and that is why I continue to read her blog.
Be Legal + Plan Ahead for Growth
In the beginning you may feel like your blog is just a hobby blog. You’re not planning to monetize it or accept sponsorships. It’s never going to be a business…or so you say now. Surely you can forgive me for chuckling to myself over you thinking that. It’s just that it seems all bloggers say that but 6-months to a year into it that all changes and they are late to the game.
From the very beginning, file as an LLC. You can learn more about registering an LLC at IRS.gov. Doing this protects you as an individual in the event that you find yourself being sued over copyright issues or failing to disclose affiliates or sponsored content. Another great resource is Blog Legally. At Blog Legally, Rachel teaches you how to protect yourself from lawsuits and how to comply within the law so that you don’t find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
You’ll also want to become very familiar with FTC regulations regarding disclosure of sponsored content and affiliate links. They could get you into big trouble if you’re not upfront and honest about using them. My standard practice is, “If in doubt, disclose.”
Focus on the Future
At least every 3 months, take the time to sit down and brainstorm goals and dreams for your blog. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be known for? Why are you writing (it’s ok if this changes). What long-term goals have you set for yourself? Very Erin has a great post about how to stay focused and achieve your long-term goals.
It’s ok if your answers don’t change often. It’s still important to re-evaluate your answers and confirm that you’re heading in a direction you want to go. The last thing you want to do is find yourself deep down a blogging hole you never wanted to be down. I found myself in that position when I was being viewed as an infertility blogger when I wrote about our miscarriages and our struggle to conceive. Yes, it’s part of our journey but no, it’s not my focus. It took me months to shift gears again and redirect back to my blogging goals.
What blogging questions do you have? Do you currently use Gmail for Work? Have you ever used Boomerang or GMass?