I’m sharing my best advice for new bloggers because it’s almost summertime and one 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 which is why today seemed like the perfect day to share my top beginning tips and tricks to get you started. This is a summary of my best advice for new bloggers and more blogging posts can be found right here.
I’ve been blogging since the mid 90’s. I have been on GeoCities, OpenDiary, TypePad, LiveJournal, Blogger, and 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. Over the years I’ve obviously learned a lot and feel I’m in a good position to share 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 adds credibility and professionalism to your blog and costs $5 – $10 a month. I have a workaround for that because I set up my email address through my host and connected that email as an alias to my gmail account. In simpler terms, both my @gmail and my @honeyandpine emails go to the same inbox and I use Google for Work apps for free.
There are thousands 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 blogging at 2am, I schedule an email to send at 9am the following morning.
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). GMass tracks opens and clicks then allows you to follow-up with people that didn’t engage with your message. My favorite feature is the ability to send emails as replies to the last conversation you had with each recipient so you’re not spamming them with message after message.
Write your “why”
This applies no matter what niche you’ve chosen for your blog. There is a lot of noise out there that says you can’t be successful if you haven’t “niched down”and I call BS on that. It’s not about finding your niche, it’s about knowing your why. Why did you choose a rural life? Why do you grow organic vegetables? Why do you DIY? Why did you choose that hotel? Why?
Sharing the why behind your decisions, purchases, and choices helps your audience connect and understand. It’s not enough to share pretty pictures, you have to explain your reasoning if you want your readers to connect.
Be legal + plan for growth
You may feel like your blog is just a hobby because you’re not planning to monetize or accept sponsorships. It seems all bloggers say that but 6-months to a year into it that changes and they are behind. From the very beginning, file as an LLC. You can learn more about registering an LLC at IRS.gov. This protects you as an individual if you find yourself sued over copyright issues or failing to disclose affiliates or sponsorships. Another great resource is Blog Legally. At Blog Legally, Rachel teaches you how to protect yourself from lawsuits and how to comply with the law so you don’t find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
You should also become familiar with FTC regulations regarding disclosure of sponsored content and affiliate links. They could get you into big trouble if you’re not upfront about using them. My standard practice is, “If in doubt, disclose.”
Focus on the future
Every 3 months take time to sit down and brainstorm goals for your blog. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be known for? Why are you writing? What long-term goals have you set? 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.
This post is part of a sponsored partnership with Nakturnal.
Do you currently use Gmail for Work? Have you ever used Boomerang or GMass?