The 10 Steps of Successful Blogging
How to Succeed as a Blogger. You can make your blog a success! But before you read this guide, make sure you have these things:
* Passion and curiosity for your topic
* Drive to succeed as a blogger
* Time to give to your blogging duties
* Honesty in your work and voice. I have found that effective bloggers leave a little piece of themselves in their work, their blogposts speak from the heart and with honesty.
* And lastly, creativity, talent and innovation really helps too!
1. Find Your Focus. Start with an idea, a passion, a topic, and refine it. Find your niche. Once you uncover your unique blogger identity, the rest will be easy!
* Make a list of keywords that describe your brand.
* Write a list of topics you are passionate about.
* Research other blogs with similar styles and topics, what do you love about those sites?
How I Did it: Vegan Recipes + Wellness Advice + Personal Stories + Lifestyle, all wrapped up and delivered via my California girl, kitty-loving, happiness and health seeking attitude.
2. Domain + Hosting. This is the BIG step that makes you a blogger! I advise new bloggers to use BlueHost. I also advise you read through my Quick Start Page, which includes my how-to video.
How I Did it: I have two URL's I use for my blog (HealthyHappyLife.com and Lunchboxbunch.com), which is less than ideal. Do not make my mistake. Do this: choose one good domain name and use that as your blog name as well. Find a domain now..
My Tip: For your domain name, keywords (words that represent your blog topic) are good to have in the domain. Also, when it comes to domain name length, the shorter the better, when possible.
3. Content Creation. The long term success of your website will be dependent on one main thing: the quality, effectiveness, beauty and relevance of your content. If you are doing a food blog, this means your recipe blog posts need to motivate and inspire your readers to get in the kitchen.
My Tip: Instead of starting your blog content by facing your computer, start by experiencing something. Create recipes and play in your kitchen. Go on a trip. Meet new people. Experience something and then start writing about it and share those experiences and discoveries with your readers.
How I Did it: Cooking + Recipe Testing + Eating at restaurants for inspiration + Meeting other vegan cooks.
4. Photography. Every website needs great photos. And for blogging, most of the time, YOU are the photographer!
My Tip: If possible, invest in a high quality, professional camera. Read up! Check out this book, I love it: Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
How I Did it: I started out with a basic point-and-shoot camera. A year later, I got a Canon Rebel for my birthday. I then started teaching myself photography by using "how-to" and "tips" blogposts online. A few years later I upgraded my camera body and lenses. Check out what is in my camera bag here!
5. Get Social. Online! Social media skills are crucial for bloggers. You will need to utilize the power of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more to really bring your blog to the next level.
I was a very early adapter to Twitter which is how I gained quite a few followers in the beginning, by connecting and following others. I was excited to reach out to as many people online as possible to let them know about my blog, my recipes and my brand.
On outsourcing social media. I do not outsource any of my social media. Every tweet, status, pin and Instagram is done by me personally. But every brand is different. Some bloggers thrive on outsourcing their social media.
Bottom line, just be sure that what you are putting out there, under your name and brand, is authentic and useful to those on the receiving end. Social media posts should be a colorful potpourri of links and information, sometimes whimsical, sometimes personal, sometimes inspiring and oftentimes just plain useful!
Social Websites: Submit! Food bloggers, submit your blogposts to FindingVegan.com, my other website with close to half a million LIKES on facebook! I would love to see your recipes there.
My Tip: Do not get overwhelmed. Everyone can be effectively "social" online. Start with one social media network to be active on, and add more active accounts later on. Follow through and be consistent on the sites you embrace. (And even if you are not active on other sites, you should still claim your blog username so someone else doesn't snag it!)
How I Did it: Start, grow and use social media accounts. I am active on social media every day, multiple times a day.
6. Branding. Looking at the design evolution of my site over the past eight years is pretty funny. (Photo at end of post!) My logo and site design have constantly evolved, but my brand has stayed true to its roots and core personality. Yes, blogs have personalities just like people! And most of the time the two are pretty similar; the look, energy and feel of a blog and the energy of the blogger.
Once your "branding" is clear, you can grow and nurture your blog much more efficiently.
You, in the Spotlight. Some bloggers love to be public and other prefer to stay 'out of the lime light' as they say. I love including photos of myself on my blog and posting personal posts and videos. I love feeling like my readers are getting to know me in the same way that my close friends know me. However, I do keep some things private and choose not to share "everything" about myself on my blog. Every blogger will have a different "sharing style." And while I find that blogs that share more about themselves to usually have a stronger fanbase, there are always exceptions to this observation. It all depends on the goal and vision of your website.
My Tip: If you do use your image/face in your branding, take some time to get professional photos/makeup/hair done, or if you can, set up your tripod and use a remote and take them yourself.
How I Did it: My brand: I feature healthy vegan recipes that are accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike. I showcase happy, cheerful images with real stories about wellness and people in the vegan and wellness world. I take care to make sure the images on my blog and my logo align with my brand. My blog is my full time career and my readers understand that part of me as well. I am not just a blogger, but an entrepreneur!
7. Get Out There. Most people think blogging is about working from home and having your pets as your only office mates. My cats are my assistants, etc. Well yes, true. But networking, meeting fellow bloggers, attending industry events and partnering with brands is a huge part of bringing your blog from hobby to full-fledged career!
So change out of your PJ's, aka official blogger office-wear, and brush your hair, step into some shiny shoes, print up some business cards and get out in the sunshine and mingle. Your blog may be an online phenomenon, but you are a real person, with the ability to give your blog and your brand legs to go for a stroll in the real world.
My advice: Network with local bloggers of all blogging niches. I love my vegan recipe blogger friends dearly, but I also love my non-vegan-blogger blogger friends! It just makes good sense to find a community of people who support you, no matter where that may be! A few other ways to meet bloggers: conferences and retreats and professional networks.
Read my blogpost on The Social Side of Blogging
How I Did it: Attend events, make lifelong blogger friends, network, travel, explore, keep going further. I am a member of IACP, a part of the BlogHer Network, Blogger Babes, also TasteMade for my YouTube Channel, as well as a few local blogger meet-up and event groups.
8. Expand. Once you have a successful blog, you can use your brand as a platform to start other exciting projects. Maybe you want to write a cookbook, open a restaurant, teach cooking classes, start a food or clothing line, cater, do professional photography, host a radio or TV show, consult and on and on. There are so many doors that having a successful blog opens, which one do you want to step through?
Other successful bloggers have gone on to host TV shows on major networks, partner with leading brands, start their own product lines, become best-selling authors and on and on. Blogger today are influencers with loud voices, and when they speak up, brands and decision makers pay attention. Bloggers are creating trends and starting conversations. And I do not just mean "big bloggers." If you have a blog, no matter how big or small, you have a voice. And that is a very powerful thing!
How I Did it: I have written two cookbooks published by major book publishers and worked on many photography, writing, recipe consulting and cooking projects. I have sold hundreds of branded T-shirts. I am working on my second iPhone App. I also founded a second website called FindingVegan.com. And I would love to someday open my own little smoothie and sandwich cafe, or become a brand ambassador for some of my favorite brands and continue being able to write, cook and photograph for my blog as my career.
9. Monetize Monetize Monetize. You may have already started monetizing your blog from the very beginning, but whether you start early or later, monetizing your blog is an crucial step to long term success and satisfaction. Most part-time bloggers I know would love to quit their day jobs and blog full time.
Most bloggers start by using google ads and or joining an ad network. Soon they will be contacted by PR agencies and brands. From here you can start to collaborate with companies to create curated sponsored content for your blog. When collaborating with brands, the trick is to stay true to your brand. Never work with a brand that doesn't align with your brand values. And never participate in a sponsored relationship or project that "just doesn't feel right." Go with your gut here. You can usually judge a lot about a brand and their intentions by a phone conversation or series of emails. People are everything when collaborations occur. Ideally, you want to make sure you mesh well with the people on the other end of the project.
Bloggers are always looking for new opportunities to refine their monetization strategies and create new ones.
How I Did it: I monetize my blog via ad networks, affiliate links and google ads as well as occasional sponsored posts that align with my brand. I hope to build my brand relationships and become a brand ambassador and work more closely with select brands in the coming years. I also monetize my blog by the sales of my cookbooks, T-shirts and iPhone Apps.
10. Have Fun. Blogging is fun. It is an exciting adventure to be a part of a growing community of creative, inspiring, fun, diverse, motivated entrepreneurs.
Never forget the reason why you started blogging. What were you passionate about in the beginning? This passion will surely evolve and change over time, but that core reason will always be there.
I started blogging because I loved being able to inspire others to try vegan recipes and discover that veganism is really pretty accessible, delicious and vegans are cool and kind. I love that get to share intimately share my story and journey with the world.
How I Did it: I am always looking for new projects, stories, recipes and people that inspire me. When it stops being fun, that is the day I turn in my laptop. And after 8 years, I am still typing away with a smile on my face.
11. Bonus! Give Back. Giving back by using your voice online to support causes and organizations that you care about is a must. It will make you feel great about yourself and you will be helping make this world a better place. Double score.
Do it: Some ways to give back: simply re-tweeting a charity you love or donating a blogpost to give a voice to a cause you care about. Another way to give back is by mentoring fellow bloggers who are just starting out.
How I Did it: I love working with animal rights organizations as well as always helping out fellow bloggers and keeping communication lines in the blogging world open and available! One example here: Farm Sanctuary.
Want Personalized Help? I offer blog consulting via email, Skype and in person (LA only). For details on blog consulting, email contact AT lunchboxbunch DOT com with the email subject "Blog Consulting Inquiry" and I will get back to you with details! consulting services subject to current availability
Resources + Links:
* BlueHost domain and hosting
* PicMonkey for creating and editing cool, pin-able, sharable images.
* MyFonts for buying unique fonts to use on your blog or in a logo/header.
* 99Designs for web and logo design.
* My Photo Bag
* Food Photography Tips
* Photography book I love: Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
* My Quick Start Blog Guide Here!
Check out how my website design and logo branding has evolved over the past eight years!..
My Blog Adventure. I have been a website owner and blogger for close to eight years now. It has been a wild adventure. I am now a two time book author and have two successful websites that I tend to each workday: HealthyHappyLife.com and FindingVegan.com. Let me know in the comments how I can help you on your blogging adventure!