When I started my blog, I knew there were certain things I had to have if I wanted to be serious about blogging. I had been planning it out in my head for a while before I dived in at the deep end and began my blogging journey.
The first thing I needed was to buy my own website. The whole process of getting my own domain was terrifying, it was something that was completely new to me. I’ve had blogs before, but they were all free ones and it was never with my own website name or anything. I made the whole thing more complicated by deciding to use a different platform, one I had never used before. I had been used to Blogger previously, but I was told that WordPress has many more features and is better overall for blogging, so I decided to go with that. With that decision, it meant that there was a whole learning curve of using WordPress too.
Number two, I needed a good blog name and logo. To be honest, I really struggled with this and I’m not sure if I made the right decision on my blog name, it doesn’t really say much about my content… but the fact is I want to cover a lot of things and I don’t want to be just a beauty blogger, or just a food blogger, or just a mental health blogger etc etc.. I want to cover a variety of things. I really enjoy reviewing products, but I didn’t want to just be a reviewing blog either. I don’t want to cover one topic is basically what I’m saying.
So coming up with a name was tricky and I just went with two things I love combined; mermaids and cats. I’m not sure if I made the right decision creating my own logo either, some days I am super proud of it and other days I think it looks awful and I should just pay someone to make me one. At least I know it’s unique and nobody else has it.. and there’s no copyright infringements because I hand drew it myself on my graphics tablet.
One more thing I knew I needed, I needed a good blog layout. Thankfully, I knew how to get that and I’m glad that I paid for a good one. I think investing in your blog is kind of a necessary evil if you want to be taken seriously. A lot of the time you have to put money into things initially to get things off the ground and I think blogging is no exception.
After I had those things in place I just thought it was down to me to write, but I soon realised there were lots of things I didn’t have a clue about. There were a lot of things I wish I’d known when I started my blog and I still feel like every day I learn something new. I thought I’d share some of the things I wish I knew from the beginning here, maybe it will help someone else who is trying to figure things out.
1. Nofollow links
I had no idea that I needed to make my links “no follow” when I started. Google doesn’t like it when you don’t do that for brands you collaborate with. Say you do a review for a brand or you create a sponsored post, then you should make it no follow. It’s so Google doesn’t count your link to their web page and boost that websites ranking, it’s a way of making it fair for everyone I guess. It also means your blog doesn’t get penalised for having too many links which they think didn’t come about organically.
If you’re wondering how to make a link in your post a “no follow” one, just edit the html of your link:
<a href=”www.fakewebsite.co.uk” rel=”nofollow”>text you want to appear in your post that you click on to go to link</a>
Obviously change the website to the one you want your link to go to and the text to what you want the link to display too.
2. Domain authority
Domain authority (or DA) is super important if you want to work with brands, as they tend to look for those with a high DA. I had no idea in the beginning that this was even a thing. I had no idea how to get a higher DA, or even that brands prefer working with bloggers who have a higher DA. I’m working on trying to get mine up, but your DA score depends on so many factors. This is basically how trustworthy Google sees your site (as I understand it) and the more trust they have in your site the higher your DA and the higher you will rank in Google search. Getting backlinks seems to be really helpful in boosting your DA, but getting them is another hurdle all together. The age of your site is important too, the longer it has been around then the more trustworthy it appears.
A higher DA is essential for your content to be seen higher in Google rankings and that means that more people will be able to find you.
3. The need to disclose free products etc.
I didn’t know I had to say that I received something free to review, or even that a link on my blog is an affiliate link. I just figured it was at my own discretion. Apparently it is considered an extremely bad thing to do when you don’t disclose this information and the more I think about it the more I understand why. This goes for sponsored posts too. It keeps everything transparent.
4. The importance of keywords in blogging
This is something I’m still getting to grips with, but keywords are pretty important if you want your blog to be found. There are lots of different tools out there to help you find the best keywords to use for your content, which is very helpful. I didn’t really anticipate how important they would be in SEO (search engine optimisation). I highly recommend installing Yoast to help with SEO, it’s been a game changer for me.
5. How difficult it is to get followers
I figured that just posting my blog posts on Twitter would be enough and people would find me somehow and I’d have loads of followers. That’s far from reality! I have to really fight to get any followers and I’ve been stuck at the same amount for a while now. Just when I think I get over the hump someone unfollows me and then I’m back at the same level again. I often get followers who purely expect a follow back and sometimes even if they get it, they unfollow. More often than not I won’t follow back and that means they unfollow me pretty quickly. I only really want to follow people whose content I like, otherwise I’m purely adding people just to boost my numbers and that’s not what I want to be about.
I’ve seen people pay for followers and they make it so obvious too, not only is it an unethical way to obtain followers but it just looks really bad. I’ve had the opportunity to buy followers a few times and each time I’ve ignored it. I might be considered a micro-influencer and therefore will find it harder to get anyone to work with me, but at least the followers I have are genuine and they want to read my content.
6. Hashtags. So many hashtags!
There are so many hashtags out there, for everything and anything. I had no idea that I’d need to use them, or that I would become as reliant on them as I have. The hashtags I particularly favour are the ones that will retweet my content and that means that other people following that account will see it. I wish there was a list of the best hashtags to follow, because it really is a minefield and so hard to know if you’re using the right hashtags or whether you’re using them too much or not enough.
7. How snarky some other bloggers can be about their fellow bloggers
This one really annoys me. I was hoping that the blogging community was going to be a really positive one where everyone supported one another, but I find that is not the case. I have talked about this before (see my post here) and it’s sad to say that my opinions haven’t changed. The one thing I’ve seen more and more though, is bloggers shaming other bloggers for not doing things correctly. I keep seeing posts along the lines of, “I keep seeing one blogger that never discloses any of the free products they receive” and they post that to ALL of their followers.
If I did something wrong and someone noticed, I’d hope that they’d message me personally and let me know rather than tell everyone I screwed up. That person they’re talking about in such a public way may not even know what they were doing was wrong and they should be informed of such. Educate rather than shame. I’m terrified I will do something wrong and will be called out in this manner, rather than just tell me. Can we all just be more supportive of each other please?
8. Emails back and forth constantly
I didn’t realise how much back and forth I’d have to do with brands. You spend ages going over what the company wants of you and agreeing to terms. It’s amazing how much time goes into e-mails, especially ones you think would be relatively simple.
9. Constantly comparing yourself to other bloggers
As much as I want to say I don’t compare myself to other bloggers, I do. From how the other blogger looks, to their lives, to the opportunities they receive, to how their blog looks, to how they write, to how their photos look, to their followers and the blogging relationships they have developed. It can mess with your head if you let it. I have to step back and breathe sometimes and remind myself that we’re all different. It’s not a competition at the end of the day.
10. How much time blogging takes
Depending on the type of post, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. My longer posts I will type up and keep coming back to, making revisions to it before I feel confident enough to schedule it for publishing. I had it in my head that I’d bang out a post in less than an hour and I’d be able to type up so many posts, but that is the furthest thing from reality.
So, if you managed to make it this far, these are the ten things I wish I’d known at the beginning of starting my blog. I hope they can help someone else who is navigating the weird world of blogging, or maybe make someone else chuckle at how naive I was.
I know one thing I want to learn next is all about guest blogging, because I have no idea how it works. I’m too scared to approach anyone that is looking for guest posters because I don’t know how it works and I’m not even sure if I’d be able to create the type of post they want.
I’m sure there are lots of things I will learn while blogging and perhaps in a year or so I will be able to make another post with another ten things I wish I’d known from the start, who knows?!