July will mark 2 years of blogging over here at The Alisha Nicole (TWO FREAKIN' YEARS) and about 4 years of blogging in general if you count my music blogging days back in college. To say that I have learned A LOT would be an understatement! I went into starting T.A.N with one goal and one goal only, to simply document my journey as a business owner & share a little inspiration every now and then.
Since then, this space has formed into something that I would have never expected and I'm so blessed for all of the opportunities it has brought me. But the journey ya'll, the journey wasn't an easy one. On too many occasions I suffered from comparison to burn-out to letting fear get in the way. Which is why now, I try to be as transparent as possible to hopefully prevent you from making some of the mistakes I made.
Today I wanted to share a few things that I have learned over the past 2 years and what I wish someone would have told me before!
DECIDE IF YOU'RE DOING THIS FOR FUN OR FOR FUN AND BUSINESS
Yes blogging can be seriously fun and is a great way to vent, meet new people and document your life BUT it can also be another source of income. If you're doing this for fun then AWESOME , don't let anyone tell you you should be doing any more than that. But if you want to potentially make money from this thing (or use it as a marketing tool for your business) you need to take it seriously from the start.
PURCHASE YOUR OWN DOMAIN NAME
TheAlishaNicole.com looks a lot more professional than TheAlishaNicole.squarespace.com, right? Not to mention it is a lot easier to remember. Plus it's YOURS!
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, NAME IT AFTER YOURSELF
Naming my blog after myself was the best decision I have ever made. And it happened because I couldn't think of anything cool. The best brand you can have is the one you were born with so don't be afraid to show it off. You never know what it may lead to.
START OFF WITH A NICE DESIGN
You do NOT have to spend a ton of money to make your blog look great! All you need is a simple design (you can either pay a designer or purchase a pre-made template from Etsy), no more than 3-4 different colors and fonts and an easy navigation. A nice, uncluttered design will take you far!
Looking for a web designer? Check out my resource page!
I mentioned a nice web design but branding goes so much deeper than a logo and pretty website! You need a mission, you need to know who your target audience is and you need to be clear on what your unique story is. The list goes on and on. If you need help figuring out all of the above, check out my Branding For Creatives Masterclass.
NARROW DOWN YOUR NICHE
It's so tempting to want to blog about everything under the sun, especially if you consider yourself to be a Lifestyle Blogger. But even in that category, your content should have some type of direction so that your blog won't confuse your readers. My friend Maya recently published a great post that is all about finding your blogging niche!
REALIZE THAT YOU CAN BE MORE THAN JUST A BLOGGER
Ashley from Ashley Brooks Editorial just wrote an EXTREMELY inspiring post on why you are more than JUST a blogger. To sum it up, don't limit yourself to being just a blogger when you have the potential to be so much more!
INVEST IN YOUR BRAND
There are so many amazing resources out here for you to learn everything you need to know about building a blog that people will love. And a lot of them are FREE! Pinterest is the mecca for amazing tips and resources. You can also invest in online courses or hire a coach! And don't forget about investing in a great book as well.
REMEMBER IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU
The best way to build your community and grow your blog is to share the love! Make it a habit to read, comment and share blogs other than your own.
START YOUR EMAIL LIST FROM THE BEGINNING
I was so afraid to get into email marketing when I first stared because I thought you had to wait until you had thousands of readers. But I was WRONG! Weekly or even monthly newsletters can be a great way to stay at the front of your readers minds, build community & bring in a little extra cash. Mariah is about to launch a new course that will show you exactly how to get 1000 subscribers and your first $1k in 60 days or less!
MAKE IT VISUAL
It's sad to say but these days not too many people will take the time to read an entire blog post. Making your blog visually appealing, meaning creating large on-brand photos for each of your posts will not only attract new readers but also keep them interested.
Check out this post by Lauren on how she creates graphics for her blog!
DON'T OVERWHELM YOURSELF OR OVER COMMIT
If your schedule is insane then don't stress trying to get a post up every single day. Remember it should always be Quality over Quantity. Also don't feel bad for saying NO to certain opportunities if you're already swamped with work. Over committing can lead to serious burn-out.
CHARGE & THEN CHARGE WHAT YOU'RE WORTH
As you grow as a blogger, brands will be coming out the wood works wanting to send you free stuff in return for a blog post and social media posts. Your time is valuable, and while receiving free stuff is always awesome, you can't pay your rent with clothes. Don't be afraid to speak up about proper compensation when you receive these pitch emails.
Also check out this post on why you should raise your prices!
DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE NUMBERS
When I first started blogging I would literally stay up until midnight each night just to check my blog stats so I could compare it to how I did the previous day. I was literally obsessed with wanting to see growth & it wore me out & partially grove me crazy. You won't receive 10,000 monthly visitors over night but if you continue to create amazing and helpful blog posts the numbers will come!
DON'T GIVE INTO COMPARISON
If you don't take any of my other advice, PLEASE take this one. In the blogging world it is so easy to dwell on the fact that you may not be as big as other bloggers but you cant compare your chapter 1 to someones chapter 9. They all started exactly where you are so don't let it discourage you. You success will happen in due time!
NETWORK & COLLABORATE
Being apart of the blogging community is a huge blessing! I have met some of the most amazing women through my blog (some that are even my real life friends) but you have to put yourself out there and be known! Attend different blogging events in your area, email a blogger that you admire & introduce yourself or attend something like a conference to meet others in your niche!
Another great way to build your blog and build relationships is to collaborate on projects with your blogging buddies! Two minds are better than one! This post by Regina gives you 33 ways you can collaborate with bloggers for fun & for profit!
At the end of the day, blogging is damn fun! It can bring you all types of new opportunities, connect you with so many like minded people & give you a space to share your voice with the world. Whether you are doing this as a hobby or as a business, remember to simply enjoy it!