Thursday, August 10, 2017

Blogging 101: Tips & Tricks to Run a Blog

Even though I've been blogging for over two years, I still consider myself a "newbie" blogger in some ways. Obviously, some other bloggers have been blogging for years but there's still new blogs being made every day, which is incredible to think about.

I decided to start my blog in March of 2015 after months of thinking about it (no kidding on that one!) and blogging definitely teaches you a lesson on its ins and outs. I decided to share some of my favorites tips and tricks for blogging to help y'all who are new to blogging or just want to step up their game.

image via my Instagram

Be Consistent
Consistency is key when it comes to establishing yourself as a blogger. To grow your blog, you want to set a schedule and stick to it. I personally post every weekday at 8 AM with the occasional weekend post. Posting consistently on a schedule helps readers know when to return to my blog to read my latest post and also helps as there will be new content for new readers to look at when they visit my blog.

Consistency also helps when it comes to social media as the more consistently you post, the better your engagement and growth will be. For Instagram, I try to post at least once a day with  stories posted throughout the day while on Twitter, I try to tweet a few times a day.

Focus on quality, not numbers
This goes into "blogging for the right reasons" aka blogging because you love blogging and sharing content rather than wanting a million followers and free clothes. Even though numbers seem more and more important, the quality of what you're posting also matters. 

Engage
If you think of blogging as a party, you can't sit in the corner of the room and expect to form relationships without talking to anyone. Engaging with other people, whether that means commenting on their Instagram pictures or commenting on their blog posts, allows you to connect with other bloggers and form those friendships.

Similarly you can't just post pictures on Instagram (or pin items on Pinterest, or tweet on Twitter, etc.) and expect them to perform well without engaging on other people's posts. Commenting and liking other people's posts show that you're interested in engagement and will help you grow.

Create Content that you would want to read on other Blogs
When brainstorming posts, I think about if I would be interested in reading this post on someone else's blog. I also will read through other blogs for inspiration and usually come up with ideas for what I would love to read on their blog (how they decorate their dorm room, Q & A, etc.) and then turn that into a blog post to share with y'all. This helps me create engaging content for y'all.

*Note- This is not endorsing stealing someone else's ideas for a blog post. Just like you may look to a magazine or a book for inspiration, blogs can be a great source of information without copying that blogger's ideas*

Stay true to yourself
While it may be easier to fall into the "typical blogger" stereotype as it may help you gain followers, staying true to yourself will help your followers stick around as they follow you for who you truly are not some alternative persona of yourself. If you don't like preppy fashion, don't force yourself to wear it because all of the other blogs you follow do. If you don't like a certain brand of shoes or purses or whatever, don't buy it just because it's popular.

When I post on Chic in Carolina, I try my hardest to keep my tone as I would I talking to a friend. For me, that is an easy way to make sure I sound like I do in real life and I'm not "faking it". It's actually funny as the first time Renee and I met, I'm pretty sure I asked her if I "sound" the same as I do on the blog.

Have a running list of blog post ideas
In my notes section of my phone and computer (it syncs via iCloud), I keep a running list of ideas for blog posts to share with y'all. Not only does this keep the creative juices flowing, it helps me decide what posts to share with y'all each week as it's a lot easier to decide what post to write when you have a list of topic ideas rather than trying to come up with something completely new.

Build Community
You know the mantra "community, over competition"? I know it sounds cheesy, but it's honestly so true in the world of blogging. Are there bloggers who focus more on the competition part? Yes...but the blogging community is so strong and I'm so thankful that I've found such a supportive community both online and "in real life".

Since starting my blog, I've been lucky enough to meet a bunch of bloggers in real life (which sounds scary the first time but everyone has been so sweet! Just be sure to be safe about it at the same time). Charlotte has a fairly strong blogging community and I've been to a bunch of meet ups where I've connected with other bloggers in the area. Back when I was in the midst of the college search process, I reached out to bloggers I know at the schools and it was so helpful to hear their take on the school and meet them. I'm also excited that there's a few other bloggers at Clemson!

Just like any friendship, though, friendships with other bloggers do take time. Online it seems like you can make a "blogger bestie" overnight but it takes time to get to know each other and connect. Respond to their tweets, comment on their pictures, reach out and send an email to build your community. It's definitely worth it as I've been able to make genuine friendships with other bloggers that go "outside the blog" as well.

Respond to Emails Quickly & Be Professional
Blogging brings a lot of "side work" that you may not think of when you think of blogging. Emails are one of those tasks as tackling may not be as exciting as shooting outfit pictures or taking Instagrams of your coffee, but it's so important for the upkeep of your blog as emails in your inbox can pile up quickly.

Respond as quickly as you can and remember that how you respond in your emails is just as important as how you act on social media. Be polite and courteous in your emails to ensure the best experience for both you and the person you're emailing (whether that is a reader or a representative for a brand).

Only Partner with Brands that Fit your Blog
Going off of emails, you may start receiving emails for various brands inquiring about collaborations. I remember when I first started blogging, I would say yes to as many emails as I could, which is fine but it's better to be selective for both your blog's sake and for the sake of the company inquiring about the collaboration.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you would buy this product/service if it wasn't sponsored for you. If you say yes, go ahead but if you say no, it may not be the best fit for your brand. Look for companies that fit your personal brand (ex.: My style is preppy and classic so I look for collaborations that fit that) but don't change your personal brand to fit a company's.

When you decide a company isn't the best fit for you and your blog, you still need to respond politely as 1. it's more professional 2. you never know where that representative may wind up as they may start working for a company you would want to work with or they may recommend you to another brand (or bad-mouth you if you responded rudely).

Plan Ahead
In order to improve and grow your blog, you can't really throw up a blog post only when you feel like it. I know life can get busy so planning ahead for your blog content is so helpful in making sure you consistently have posts going up. 

I personally like to pre-schedule my blog posts each weekend so I have more time during the week to focus on the social media aspect of blogging. When I know there will be a week or two where I won't have a lot of time to blog, I will pre-schedule a bunch of posts so that y'all will still have new content to read while I'm "away". I typically do this for while I'm away on vacation so I can enjoy my trip and I'm planning on doing this for the first few weeks of school so I can focus on sorority recruitment and getting adjusted without neglecting the blog.

Make Social Media work for you
Social media may be one of the most important aspects of blogging nowadays. They can be time-consuming but if you use them correctly, they can both promote and grow your blog. Since there's so many different types of Social Media, I decided to break it down by each platform, share what I use it for, and my tips for each platform.


Instagram is the primary social media I use and I use it for everything from sharing pictures from blog posts to sharing my everyday outfits to sharing fun pictures. I also love to share more "behind the scenes" content on my Instagram stories as I share snaps of what I'm up to, haul videos from packages, etc.

Just like your blog, it's helpful to be consistent in your Instagram posting, whether that means new pictures or content on your stories. Using hashtags is another great way to expose your account to potential new followers. Another small trick is to always respond to comments on your pictures, it creates a better community on your page and people are more likely to comment again if you engage with them regularly.

Twitter:

Compared to Instagram, I definitely share more of my "real life" on Twitter. Twitter is definitely a bit harder for me than Instagram is but I try to be fairly active on it. I also share my blog posts on Twitter each afternoon.

Share real life on your Twitter: share links to what you've been loving, random thoughts, or just whatever you can think of. Twitter can be a great place to promote your blog posts but be sure that your Twitter feed doesn't turn into link after link for your blog.

Pinterest:

I primarily use Pinterest to share images from my blog and to re-pin Pins from my feed into my various folders.

Group boards are a lifesaver on Pinterest as they expose your pins (and your blog!) to new users, helping that pin perform better. Posting often on Pinterest helps your following and I know a lot of bloggers who use services to schedule pins but I just haven't had the time to try that out myself.

Facebook:
I am definitely not a pro at Facebook but I do share my posts each day (usually around lunchtime) so a different audience can see them! A lot of people also share links to other blogger's posts, which is a great way to both boost community and build engagement.

Tumblr:
I honestly rarely go on Tumblr but I do share each of my Instagram pictures on there. I definitely need to work on this one!

Bloglovin':
I use Bloglivin' to both share my blog posts and catch up with some of my favorite blogs. I like to think of Bloglovin' as Instagram for blog posts, a post will show up in your feed each time a blogger posts.

Bloglovin' is super easy as it will automatically upload each of your new blog posts. I also have mine set up to share the link on Twitter. Other than that, follow some of your favorite bloggers and engage with them through Bloglovin'.


My fellow bloggers, do you have any other tips to add? Let me know in the comments!

4 comments:

  1. This was such a great post, sharing so many great tips! It was so helpful to read!

    Ashley // MyWellDressedLife.com

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  2. Katie,
    You know, the timing of this post was just perfect...thanks!! I have sort of gone off of the "blogging grid" for quite some time and I was thinking about ending the hiatus. This post definitely gave me some helpful tips to get back at it. Consistency and content are huge for me as both a blogger and a blog reader. I don't want to read random posts about nothing nor do I want to write that way. Thanks for the post, the tips amd the inspiration. I'll be back soon!

    -Jessica

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    1. I am so glad this post was helpful, Jessica! Good luck getting back into the swing of things with blogging!

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