How-To Start a Blog (Successfully)
"you should do a blog post on how to start a blog, or get yourself out there"
Probably the #1 direct message received on Instagram — and #1 item discussed with my mentees from my Mentorship Program — so I declared that it was time to do a write up on it. For many creatives, starting a blog is the first step in an amazing self-branding venture. But, there are a few items that will make it so you either: fall into the typical stereotype as a blogger, or really stand out as an individual. It is important to start out strategically, thus we are here today!
When you are coming up with your brand, always always always remember that self-branding is key. It is important to keep it centered around yourself. This will make it so whatever creative ventures your future holds, your brand will follow. You don't need a fancy name, or something completely out of the ordinary like most blogs these days "Cupcakes & Cigarettes" or "Butterflies & Mascara", keep it about you — for me that meant the launch of MaddyCorbin.com. No matter what I do creatively in the future, the self-brand that I have build will follow, Cupcakes & Cigarettes won't do that as easily.
"But what am I going to talk about, I need to find one thing that my blog will be about, right?" — Wrong. Look at how I have structured the blog section of my website, you have Life, Education, Projects, Style & Travel. Those 5 items alone open me up to endless talking points. When thinking about what your categories should be: take a moment to ponder what makes you stand out in everyday lifestyle. Do people compliment your hair & makeup a lot? What about your clothes? Are you business-minded? Maybe you've got a crafting eye and DIY's are how you make it through the day. Find what you're passionate about and expand on it!
FInd what you're Passionate about & expand on it
Keep it simple, keep it about you, make open-ended categories, and go more in depth through the content within them. Basically, leave yourself breathing room for whatever creative ideas come with this new venture.
02. CHOOSING YOUR PLATFORM
In the blogging realm, you have tons of options when it comes to choosing where you will host your website — SquareSpace, Wordpress, Wix, & Blogger are just a few! For me, there is no second guessing using SquareSpace, it is by far ahead of it's competitors when it comes to usability, code-ability, store integration, customization, and no matter what question you have, if you pop it in Google and end it with SquareSpace 9/10 there is a forum of people that have an answer. I do know quite a few people that use Wordpress, and I have seen a few Wix and Blogger websites, they just (generally) do not have as much breathing room for customization and it makes it harder to curate a uniquely brand-encompassing site.
Once you find your ideal platform it is theme time — again, if you are on SquareSpace you don't have to take the themes too literally as you can completely customize them to be exactly what you want. For some individuals, having too much flexibility can be overwhelming and they require more structure. If you are looking for an easy setup and want to immediately start generating content, I would go for your Wordpress, Wix, or Blogger for your website.
For all of my SquareSpace folks — the gals at GoLive create the most beautiful templates that require no code and are truly unique. I am not currently using one, but have in the past and I have nothing but kind words to share about them. Just make sure you spend tons of time getting to know SS, it hold endless opportunities and the more you know, the more you can customize.
Probably the most important aspect of having a blog, right? Being able to continuously generate and push content. As I was starting up my blog this quickly became a struggle — thus, I began each week with a written out plan for content that I would be sharing. For generating content ideas, think similarly to when you were selecting what your blog-brand will encompass, think about what makes you unique. For me, my thought process was: "okay I have food allergies/skin conditions, so I could share my story or journey to how I've worked along side them thus far" or, "I've spent so long educating myself in the realm of self-branding and personal business growth, I could share a post about how to get started in the blogging realm". Use your unique traits to your advantage. Find inspiration: from Pinterest, other blogs, magazines — work to not copy, but be inspired.
Visuals. It is 2017 and everything is visual in today's world. We try teach to not judge a book by its cover but it happens anyway. The photos that represent you, your blog posts, and your Instagram account are everything. They are the backbone of your brand. Make sure you seek time purely for education in the photography world (even if it is just through your iPhone).
04. outside collaborations
When you have a blog/business driven Instagram account you have the opportunity to work brand collaboration into your content. Begin strategizing new ways to create unique content for brands & how teaming up would benefit both parties. For more information on self-branding collaborations, see my Mentorship Program.
The hardest, scariest step in the process — BEGINNING. Starting a blog is a lot less daunting than it may seem, and I hope that is apparent after reading this post. Get a URL, find a platform, gather your brand & content and get going. You can sit and think and strategize and plan as much as you want, but nothing starts unless you do. Starting a blog opens you up to another world in the creative industry. You will find new opportunities, connections, friends, and working on your self-brand will teach you more than you know. I cannot wait to see what you all create. Leave a comment with your websites so I can check some of them out, and let me know what you think the Education section of MaddyCorbin.com should hold next!
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