Tips for Starting and Growing a Blog

In the last few months, I’ve received a lot of questions about how I started and grew I Believe in Pink.   I’ve been blogging for the last one and a half years, and never imagined that it would grow as fast as it has, and that I would have found such a creative outlet and niche within the blogger world. I’ve been keeping track of the questions I’ve been asked, and have been working on a “tell-all” post for a while, and am so excited to be able to share it with you today! 

Since I’m an organizational freak who loves lists, I found that my blogging advice can be best explained  through these five tips!



1. Come up with your “brand” 

This seems obvious but isn’t easy to say the least. Everyone has a certain look, style, niche, etc., which makes them stand out. That is what your blog should be about.  For me, I would describe my blog brand as “a twenty-something girl who celebrates the everyday through classic fashion, colorful travel, and innovative decor– all with a touch of pink!” I know that encompasses a lot, but it is simplified through specific categories and truly embodies my personality and personal “brand.” 

What’s Your Brand? 
How do you figure out what your personal brand entails? Are you inspired by beachy style and coastal living? Do you especially love baking (and eating) deserts? Are you really into thrift shopping or DIY? Or do you love high end fashion and runway looks? Those are few examples of specific niches that you can build an entire blog around. I would focus on your favorite colors, hobby, place, etc., to get started and hone in on what really interested you. From there you need a catchy title and a fabulous design… 

2. Choose a cohesive design 

$15 Template
As a total internet-obsessed geek, I am fascinated by blog and website designs/layouts. Lucky for us though, we don’t have to be HTML pros to be able to have a gorgeous blog design. My first design was a $15 Designer Blogs template, which the amazing team at Designer Blogs installed for me. Their templates are a brilliant and a less expensive alternative to having a design custom made. They’re all so simple and beautiful and will look unique with your own header/title. I bought a few widgets from them as well, such as the “Pin It” button and the “About Me” blurb. It’s honestly up to you to decide which add-ons you think your blog needs most. You can pick and choose and always add them as you go! 


Custom Design 
After a little over a year of having the Designer Blogs template, I knew that I wanted a design that was completely unique and represented an older and more mature look. I did a ton of research on blog designers, and decided to work with Aubrey KinchThroughout the brainstorming process, I looked at a bunch of blogs I love and got design element ideas from them. Aubrey was extremely detail oriented and made sure that my vision became reality, and I could not be any happier with the result. You can read all about my re-design process and the new features I added to my blog here
3. Be consistent and original 


One of the most important tips I can give for starting a blog is to be consistent with how often you post new content and to write about things that are original and genuinely interest you. This also demands that you post high quality content. Crisp, clear, and large pictures are a must. As well as writing that reflects your personality and has a unique tone. 



Posting Content

Posting consistent content has definitely been one of my biggest challenges as a blogger. I try my best to post at least three times a week, and I shoot for Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I use the scheduling option through Blogspot to schedule my posts when I’m not on my computer to publish them. However, most of the time life happens and I am scrambling to finish up a post at 12:30 at night or at 6:00 am the day it’s supposed to go up, ha. I’ve also been known to blog from just about anywhere (beach, boat, car, plane… you name it), to get the most out of my spare time. So I think it’s important to take a hiatus every once in a while– a few weekends ago I went to Chicago to visit my boyfriend and left my computer at home and it was a BIG DEAL (my friends and family were in shock, let me tell you). SO, what I’m trying to say is that it sometimes can seem that bloggers are dating their laptops. But if you truly love your blog and the work you put into it, it just becomes part of your life.  



Photography
I would definitely recommend investing in a digital camera (I have the Sony A7) or a professional photographer to take your blog photos. It’s amusing how most top tier bloggers have their boyfriends take their photos (“hey, do you mind snapping a quick photo of me?!” We’ve all been there…), but that doesn’t always have to be the case–your dad or little sister is a great option too:) If you ask around, you’d be surprised at how many aspiring photographers would love to add a few fashion shots to their portfolio! I’ve also recently reached out to a wedding photographer in my areaand she has graciously agreed to take pictures of me in her spare time! 


Blog Graphics 
 Regarding blog graphics, like the one I made for this post, I use Canva, which is a fool-proof and free graphic design program. It is super easy to use and creates beautiful graphics! I create collages featuring items on a blank slide on Powerpoint (Powerpoint can do EVERYTHING!), though Photoshop can do the same, and link them through rewardStyle, which I will explain more… 

4. Market your posts & integrate your social media  


When it comes to marketing your blog posts, your ultimate goal is to direct traffic to your site. One of the biggest marketing tools I use is social media. By integrating all of your social accounts to represent your blog’s brand, you can build an entire network of platforms that can market your blog posts. I would recommend having a Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook page, and Instagram account all for your blog. It’s smart to use the same photo you use for the “About Me” section on your blog as the profile photo for all of your social accounts, so that they can be easily identified with your blog.  


#Instagram
My favorite marketing tool is definitely Instagram. My photos are my favorite aspect of my blog, and Instagram allows me to share them all effortlessly. I announce almost every blog post I put up through an Instagram. I track my Instagram statistics through the program, Iconosquare. It allows me to track my engagement and see which photos received the most likes, comments, etc. It also shows me which days and times are the best to post photos to receive maximum engagement. SO helpful and super interesting. Check it out and let your analytics freak flag fly!!

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization is also something to consider when trying to optimize the traffic your posts receive.  In a nut shell, SEO is about getting your site to appear high on the list of results in a search engine, such as Google. For example, when someone types in “I believe in pink,” I want my blog to be the first thing that comes up on the Google page. There are certain things you can do to maximize the chance your site has of showing up on search engine pages. For example, you can use specific “search engine friendly” key words in the title of your blog posts and in the names of the photos you use. There really is no specific recipe to mastering SEO, but be sure to check out this article on the basics of SEO for blogging for more info. 


5. Collaborate and network 


Connecting with Other Bloggers
Have you always admired a particular blogger? Reach out to her! You have absolutely nothing to lose. I’m writing this post because girls reached out to me. Before blogging, I didn’t really know how to connect with other people who had the same interest in writing, photographing, design, etc., like I did. But by participating in blogger meet ups and get togethers, and having many social media friends (ha), I’ve definitely found that community. Just this past week I was able to meet Summer from Mermaid Stilettos for a drink in NYC, and we immediately connected over our common experiences with the ups and downs of blogging. There’s nothing like having a whole network of fellow #girlbosses to encourage you to stay focus and motivated. I’ve learned so much from reading other bloggers’ posts about how they started and grew their blog, so it was about time that I share my tips and tricks too! I’m a big believer in that there’s room enough for us all to succeed in our own way:)

Loop Giveaways
 To grow my Instagram specifically, I’ve done a few loop giveaways. This means that I go in with a group of bloggers/boutiques on an amazing giveaway item, such as a Macbook and a Kate Spade tote. For people to “enter” the giveaway, they have to follow everyone in the loop. I have kind of mixed feelings about loop giveaways because I feel that they can look kind of distracting or annoying on my Instagram feed, but at the same time, it gives me the chance to introduce my feed to a ton of people who have never seen it before, and to give away a truly amazing gift to the lucky winner!! (seriously, sometimes the gifts are so good I want to win myself..) This is just another way I get to know and collaborate with other bloggers as well. 


Affiliate Links
There are various affiliate programs that allow bloggers to track the purchases their readers make through their links, which bloggers usually state in their blog’s disclosure. I am a part of rewardStyle, which allows me to include interactive widgets in my posts where you can shop the products I’m wearing as well as most of the products I share through my Instagram. You can read more about rewardStyle works here. While I’ve found these blog widgets to be extremely helpful and widely accepted by my readers, I’ve heard of bloggers getting flak for earning commission on affiliate links or for charging companies to post about their product. As someone who is constantly juggling collaborations and diligently crafting posts on products I’ve tried and loved, I can tell you, it’s a lot of work! The best kind of work if you truly enjoy it, but work nonetheless. Compensation should be given where it is deserved. So if you have a phenomenal site and a professional media kit to go along with it– by all means, go for it! You go girl. 


Staying Organized

This all may seem a little overwhelming. Especially if you’re jugging school, work, a full social calendar, and the general craziness of life. As you can imagine, blogging can quickly end up on the bottom of your list of priorities. In order to make sure that this doesn’t happen for me and I Believe in Pink, I utilize a few key resources. Keeping an editorial calendar is extremely helpful. Usually I only plan as far as one or two weeks in advance, but knowing the order of blog posts helps me to determine what I need to be doing more of. Should I be working on more outfit posts? Or expanding my Travel tab? Those are questions that are easily answered when I can look at a calendar of my future blog posts. I’ve researched blog editorial calendars extensively, and found that Heart and Arrow Designs Boutique has a blog planner notepad that looks amazing (the Etsy shop is opening back up on August 5th). For printable blog calendars, check out the one Emily Ley designed as well as Cortney from the blog Cort in Session. Also, if you sign up to receive the Designer Blogs newsletter, you will automatically get a free download of their blog planner kit, which includes a bunch of great PDFs to help you organize your blog. It’s helpful to write down all of your collaborations too, so you can keep things such as coupon codes straight!  

Keep Reading! 
If you are really looking to learn even more about blogging, I would check out The B Bar and Blog Better By Leap for lots of tips and chit chat about every aspect of blogging. Also, take a look at my “Bloggers Gonna Blog” Pinterest board, which has a few more additional resources. The bottom line is that blogging is essentially what you make of it, and it has the ability to provide you with an amazing space and creative outlet where you can keep a personal journal or connect with others. If it wasn’t for blogging, I might still be painting seashells in my garage in order to have calming and creative activity (I really did that, ha). Thankfully, I Believe in Pink provides me with that space, which I love. And I know that there is so much in store for it in the future!

If you’re a blogger, I would love to hear your tips and tricks for blogging as well, so leave a comment or shoot me an email!

p.s. This is the last weekend to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! If you haven’t taken a look at the amazing deals yet, get your booty over there before everything goes back to full price on Monday!! Scroll down to the next post to see the few last-minute items I’m shopping! 

6 Comments

    • August 11, 2015 / 10:26 pm

      Thank you Carsyn!! I'm so happy that it could help you out a bit!

      xoxo
      Amy

  1. August 4, 2015 / 2:33 am

    Great pieces of advice!! Your blog is always fabulous!

    Carley @ preppylane.blogspot.com

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Audrey Hepburn
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