For some time now I've had it in the back of my mind to share some blogging tips and tricks with you all. I've been blogging for two and a half years now so feel now is as best time as any to start with these types of posts. I intend to go to the depths that no blogger has ventured before in terms of the detail I'm going to include in the posts, the posts will all have a clear theme and some that are also coming up will be: photography tips for beauty blogging, information on 'sponsored posts', how to get invited to events as a blogger, designing a header and index page etc.
I'm going to kick the series off with a post on how to get started as a blogger.
- Once you have come up with a name for your blog (try to make sure that it's unique and doesn't include many numbers or x's) find 'settings' from the Blogger dashboard. From here, click the 'basic' section and find the 'publishing' heading, you should then see a section that says 'need a domain? buy one here' and it's fairly straightforward from then on. If you decide to purchase a domain after already trying your hand at blogging, don't fear as your readers will all be redirected automatically. Having a custom domain means that there will be no '.blogspot.co.uk/com' at the end of your URL, and overall looks much more professional.
Have a clean looking and easy to navigate template
- Make sure that you use 'labels' in your posts so that people can easily find what they are looking for on your blog. For example if you do a couple of posts on different nail polishes and label the posts with 'nail polishes' your readers can see all nail polish related posts in one place. To do this: click 'labels' on the sidebar to the right-hand side of where you edit/create a post.
- Create an index page or use a label cloud in your blog's sidebar. This relates to the point above and is a place where all the labels that you have tagged your post with can be clicked. To do this: click 'layout' from the blogger dashboard and then click 'add a gadget' and finally click 'labels'.
- Have an archive, visitor count and 'popular posts' displayed clearly in your sidebar. Google translate can also be a handy addition for any foreign visitors to your site. To do this: add these as gadgets to your sidebar in the same way as above.
- Adding pages to your site is a good way for your readers to check out information on things that they are particularly interested in. This can be anything from an 'about me page' down to a 'PR and advertising page' for companies to head over to. To do this: find the 'pages section' from your Blogger dashboard and create the different pages that you want. After you've created your pages, add them to your layout as a 'gadget' in the space that you want the list to appear. You can either place it beneath your header (like mine) or as a column list in your sidebar.
Be honest, engaging and use spell check in your blog posts
- The first big 'turn off' to readers is bloggers that are easily swayed to give a glowing review of a crappy product. I'm not saying you have to be brutally negative about everything either, that is just as much of a turn off. Put products through a thorough test as best you can and just share your thoughts and feelings of how you got on with them, it's as simple as that. Be sure to be aware of the amount you waffle on about a product too, you wouldn't want to have a massively in-depth review of a nail polish and a rushed review of an expensive moisturiser for example.
Contact PR companies
- One of the questions that I get asked most is how to approach PR companies in terms of getting sent press samples for reviewing purposes. I've even had a few people tell me that they feel 'rude' contacting PR companies about this as a blogger. To be completely blunt: if you don't ask, you don't get. Now I don't mean send an email to every company out there in a 'give me freebies' tone. It takes time to build up an established blog and also a fair amount of reputation with PR companies to get to a level where you are being sent out samples regularly. It personally took me around a year of blogging before I started to work with PR companies and once I did I made sure that I completed my reviews in good time. It's good practice to send them over an email once you've received the products in the post and then another with the link to your review once it's up. Also don't feel like you are being done a huge favour, your honest opinion on the product and views from your readership on the review is just as much of a good deal for them as it is for you. To do this: Have a search on Google for Beauty PR companies or have a look on twitter to which companies other bloggers work with.
- In my opinion, I find Twitter crucial for helping my blog to grow and develop. If you have done any reviews featuring a certain brand then make sure you send a tweet out to your readers including the link to you new post and @ mention the brand in question at the end of the tweet. You can also see what is the current obsession in the beauty world by following other beauty bloggers and see tips and tricks on blogging by following #bbloggers. And Facebook is also a great way to get your blog known about, set up a page and get all of your friends to 'like' and 'share' it. You can also update your blog's Facebook page with your new posts and statuses about beauty offers and deals, or even set up little giveaways.
- Nothing is more disheartening than putting time and effort into a blog that you think no one reads. We've all been there, even the most established bloggers out there all started off with '0 followers' on their Google Friend Connect. Leaving comments on other blogs, hosting small giveaways and tweeting to your favourite bloggers can all help with this but the most important thing to remember is that getting your blog well established takes a lot of time and effort.
- Also make sure that people can follow your blog via Blog Lovin', Hello Cotton, Google Friend Connect and even add an email subscription option to your blog's sidebar.
Track your stats
- Using Google Analytics is pretty much essential in running a professional blog so make sure to keep an eye on your stats. Once you get the hang of using it properly it's really easy to check every now and then which are your most popular posts, where your traffic is coming from, what keywords people search in google to find your blog, the total amount of visitors to your site and which countries they are coming from, pretty amazing right?
I hope that this post was helpful to some of you wanting to start up a blog or even those of you that are no stranger to blogging!