OH GOD ANOTHER ‘BLOGGER ADVICE’ POST – I hear you cry! Well, not exactly – it’s not all advice from me to you. But more of a collection of advice I’ve been given and taken on board over the years that has helped me with blogging in different ways. I guess that having done this for over six years now I like to think I’ve done something along the way right and have a few tips that I’ve been told along the way to thank for that. So without further ado, the best advice I’ve had (as a blogger):
1. Comparison is the thief of joy
Not a ‘blogger only’ quote by any means, but it’s one I first heard and became totally relevant when I was looking at life through the eyes of a blogger. As near on impossible as it is not to compare yourself it’s so important to try – because it’s generally not a positive process. Nine times out of 10 you will compare yourself to someone you think is doing better than you – in whatever sense that is (bigger/quicker/better etc) and under whatever circumstances – and you will beat yourself up about it. This is not a healthy practice and very little good comes of it. So my approach is take that moment of comparison and use it to fire you on and keep going, not to feel down and inadequate.
2. Never f**king assume anything (swearing probably not essential, but it had impact when I was told it this way so is how it stuck in my head)
Actually another piece of advice, or words to live by that I heard in the very early days of blogging for me and something that stuck in my head. It wasn’t even about blogging as this was in a work context from an excellent boss I had in a previous job. He was brilliant at getting me feeling totally confident in all the decisions I made and taught me to have conviction in whatever I decided. It related to the idea of taking something as fact when perhaps there are a lot of grey areas still uncertain. NEVER assume – always check, confirm, be sure and push for answers. Don’t assume and don’t fill in blanks with your imagination. How does this apply to blogging? For me, in many ways – from assuming you have all the info in a press release, to assuming an opportunity is off the table because you haven’t heard anything. You can’t really be passive as a blogger, you need to be pro-active and these little words of wisdom are a reminder to me.
3. Don’t rest on your laurels
Blogging, and anything online is a fast moving business. You might find the perfect formula for blogging and social media success one day and then a week later it will have died out and people will have moved on to the next new thing. Just think, when I first started my beauty blog people didn’t always take their own photos… now you have anything from expertly taken clear swatch photos, to glossy magazine-worthy product shots. All taken by bloggers. I don’t think there’s a blogger out there who has been doing this for some time and not looked back and realised how much things have changed and how they have changed/adapted. One of the things I find most fascinating is the constant effort of trying to keep up with what is wanted from this blog. Not necessarily as simple as just doing what everyone else is doing – if only it was that easy! But trying to put my own spin on things or do something new. Something to make your own content stand out but still tick those boxes that make someone click through – not as simple as being well written any more, it now needs to be the full package of words, images and original content. You can’t just sit back and watch the hits come in as a blogger – you need to constantly keep at it.
4. Scheduling is your friend
In the blogging world I think there are two camps of people when it comes to scheduling. I am firmly in the scheduling lovers camp. I know some think it takes away from the whole ‘live/real’ aspect of online but I don’t think anyone can argue that it just can’t always work that way. I’m talking scheduling for blog posts so you can plan your content in advance. This for me works well as it means when I have my creative juices flowing and time I can dedicate to making the most of it I can type out a series of posts and plan the content to go live over a period that works. Or I can plan posts in advance of when they need to go live for launch dates, embargoes or planned in sponsored content. It also really helps to be able to do some scheduling with social media – I get some people don’t like this as much, but having worked in social media for many years I can really appreciate the value of this. Not to take away from the live ‘me’ content that still happens but to automate or schedule things like sharing of latest posts, reminders of social channels or tweets to reach different time zones can be really helpful for managing time. So if you’re juggling your blog with full time work or a pro-blogger and just want to manage your time I suggest setting up a few way you can either schedule or automate those key tweets that give people a heads up of the lovely content your creating.
5. Make sure it’s fun
This is one I’ve said many a time before and stand by. Blogging always started for me as a fun thing to do. A hobby I loved and something that allowed me to be creative. When it stops being fun, that’s when I lose sight of why I’m doing it. That’s happened from time to time, more so since I went full time on the blogging front as there’s is a different approach and motivation to some extent when you need to do it to pay your bills. But I always remind myself of why I started, and why I am grateful to have this as my job. But as much as it’s a job, it’s still meant to be fun and I’m determined to make sure that’s the case. It’s blogging, it’s not brain surgery, I’m not creating world peace or curing diseases. Therefore I shouldn’t take it too seriously and need to have fun with it. The bubble that is the internet can test that sometimes – but it is fun and needs to stay that way.
6. It only takes one weirdo
This one might need some explaining, but it’s basically a little warning about online security. In a world where your specific where-abouts can be shared with the world at a touch of a button, it’s worth reminding yourself that you don’t know who it is that reads what you put out there. It only takes one person to not read it in an innocent and interested way to let things take a risky turn. Be conscious of what you share online – address information, personal details etc. All of this can leave you vulnerable – not to say you need to be paranoid. But just worth remembering that someone who might be interested to know your home address, where you work or when you’re away on holiday for the wrong reasons. I’ve heard quite a few scary stories over the years from friends, so keep the important personal details safe! I guess same sort of awareness goes for all online activity really – blogger or otherwise. Even extending to just generally remembering that anyone could read what you put out there.
7. Don’t fake it
This is not talking about overly stylised instagram pics showing your life through an ever-perfect filter (more on this another time), but more about being you and not trying to be someone else. My favourite blogs (and You Tube channels) have always been by the people who are 100% themselves, 100% of the time. No faking it or trying to be someone else required. Always be you, because you’re ace. It’s too much hard work to try and pretend to be someone else anyway.
8. ALWAYS re-read before posting
I’m not the grammar or spelling police by any means, my writing isn’t perfect. But sometimes (especially when I just write the thoughts coming out of my head) I can tend to not make 100% sense or just make glaring typo errors. So whilst a blog doesn’t have to be a perfectly written piece of prose, it’s good to not lose readers at the first hurdle…by making it easy to read. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had is always to re-read, edit and pauses before you post (same applies for basically all written work… pause before send/post/submit). If in doubt, when you’re writing it can be great to have a trusty friend or family member to give it a read for you as they will invariably spot something you missed – sure, not always possible when blogging – but worth considering if it’s maybe a weakness of yours. When I was at Uni my wonderful friend Hannah (who is now an Editor FYI) was always amazing at going through my essays or dissertation chapters and not only giving it a once over but if there was a glaring error I was making she would explain it – and it stuck (mostly). So thank you to her for making me pay more attention to this side of writing.
Now, a few little tips from others – because I am not a blogging oracle and everyone has something useful and/or interesting to pass on. Keep your own advice/tips coming if you like – either leave in the comments or drop me a tweet and I’ll add in here:
@beautyjunkieldn Be genuine in everything you do. From how you engage on social media, to the tone of writing and the content you create…
— Paws & Prada (@pawsandprada) July 13, 2015
@beautyjunkieldn ‘it’s OK to be nervous, if you weren’t – it would be worrying’
— Sarah Sandiford (@citygirlsblog) July 13, 2015
— Lady Eagers (@LynnEagers) July 13, 2015
@beautyjunkieldn don’t touch your brows.
— Corrie♡ (@dizzybrunette3) July 13, 2015
That the key to social media is being social. Speak to people, actively engage with others & always help when you can x @beautyjunkieldn
— CherrySue (@ItsCherrySue) July 13, 2015
@beautyjunkieldn Keep writing. I don’t always follow it though!
— Stefanie Haigh (@stefaniegrace) July 13, 2015